We talk to vehicle owners every day about the challenges of keeping their car, truck, SUV or van road worthy and reliable, whether that’s via phone, email, blog post, marketplace review or other means. One of the most common topics in those interactions is related to preventive maintenance charging and maintaining of their battery(ies) to be sure that their equipment will start when they need it. For sure, this is a top three most popular topic for us.
Preventive maintenance charging is a great topic and one that we love to talk to customers about. It’s a useful exercise, whether you drive your vehicle every day or only occasionally, as we will get into in a moment. It’s also useful regardless the size of the vehicle or equipment to be serviced. Finally, while it is more critical at this time of year, it is a process that delivers value all year round. There are many ways that it delivers real value to end users, professional and consumer alike, but today we are going to focus on three key benefits for vehicle owners.
The first key benefit is to the general long-term health and longevity of your battery(ies). Regular charging of any lead acid or lithium LiFePO4 starting battery type, using a quality smart charger, is very beneficial for long term battery health. As a battery expert friend of Clore’s has noted on numerous occasions (Hey Bill!), driving patterns can be quite detrimental to battery health, especially when the vehicle is primarily driven for short trips. This often leads to an undercharge, or excessive discharge, condition, which invites sulfation and battery deterioration.
In addition, the significant amount of electronic drain on the battery in late model vehicles during operation (which largely didn’t exist twenty years ago) also can result in the vehicle’s battery often being short charged, with the same adverse impact as the above scenario. In other words, many factors are working against your battery’s health. Regular charging (every 1-4 months, depending on your specific situation) can go a long way toward negating these impacts, again assuming that you are using a quality charger that features temperature compensation and a battery repair mode.
I cycle through my vehicles every three months, preventive maintenance charging each one, and believe it is the reason why I get as much as a five year lifespan from my batteries, despite the brutal Kansas City summer heat. Remember – summer heat is especially damaging to your battery’s internal chemistry. Our expert friend, who is even more diligent than I am, has reported even better results over the last ten years, with his PRO-LOGIX charging routine significantly increasing the life of his batteries. This is despite the fact that his family’s primary vehicle usage mode is “short trip” usage, which is the worst for battery health.
The second benefit is related, but worthy of standing on its own as a key point. This one is very simple. Batteries are very expensive these days. Back when Clore was formed in 2001, a decent replacement passenger vehicle battery could be had for $75-$90. As we all know, those days are long gone. A quick survey shows that a quality flooded lead acid battery for a 2019 Toyota Camry will set you back almost $200 and, if you choose an AGM replacement, it will cost much more. So, it is totally worthwhile to invest in a simple process (preventive charging) that could extend the life of your battery one, two, or even three years, depending on several variables.
Separately, worn out or depleted batteries are very taxing on the rest of the system, particularly rotating electrical components like the starter and alternator. The professional literature is awash with articles and case studies highlighting spent alternators that met their demise due to a bad/weak/compromised battery. Keeping your battery well charged and in good health helps to avoid wear and tear on these critical components, which can be expensive to diagnose, repair or replace. If the $200 required to replace your vehicle battery sounds bad, wait until you see the bill for an electrical system overhaul.
Finally – and, since the leaves are starting to fall, you knew this was coming – preventive charging and battery maintenance is absolutely critical for seasonal use vehicles and the battery(ies) that power them. The absolute worst thing you can do for your seasonal equipment (motorcycles, third cars, wave runners, boats, ATVs, riding mowers, tractors – you name it!) is to let them sit unattended all winter longer. We can’t begin to tell you how seriously bad that is for your battery(ies). Even if they do start your equipment come spring, which is at best a 50/50 proposition, you will have significantly reduced the lifespan of the battery.
Keeping the battery connected to a quality battery maintainer during periods of non-use (whether that occurs for you in winter or any other time of the year) is a much better option. First, it ensures that your equipment will start when you are ready to use it. Second, it is great for your battery and its long term health. Third, it will save you tons of money over time. We all know that seasonal use “toys” typically involve a lot of batteries. If you could extend your battery replacement cycle by two to three years, the cost savings would be significant. We have a customer who owns a cottage in Michigan who has multiple boats and personal watercraft. Their total battery investment easily exceeds $1000. With regular preventive maintenance charging and off-season maintaining, they have been able to extend the life of their battery fleet by two to three years. That results in a huge savings, not to mention the hassle saved by cycling through their batteries far less over time.
Keeping your batteries in good health is what PRO-LOGIX is all about. With advanced features like temperature compensation, battery repair mode, soft start mode (for excessively discharged batteries) and an enhanced maintenance mode, beneficial charging with restoration of reserve capacity is delivered with each unique charging sequence. Whether you need an all-purpose charging solution, like our PL2320, a dedicated maintenance solution, like our PL2140, or a multibank solution to manage several batteries simultaneously, like our PL4050, there is a PRO-LOGIX model for every application need.
We have a 2015 Cadillac Escalade that we seldom drive. During the winter we store it with one of your Genius battery maintainers. During the summer which we occasionally use vehicle I still keep the maintainer hooked up during non-use. My question is am I hurting my battery by keeping the charger hooked up all the time or should I unhook charger during summer months?
I appreciate your informative articles.
Byron – Thanks for your question. It should not hurt the battery. That said, during periods or reasonably regular use (if you are driving it every 5-7 days), it wouldn’t hurt to keep the vehicle off the maintainer. Thanks, Jim from Clore Automotive
I have a Ford e-350 diesel ramp truck.It has two batteries.I now only use the truck about once a month for short hauls.I recently had installed a shutoff switch.Can you tell me what is the best way to charge these two batterys and maintain them.Whatever maintenience I do it needs to be done while the battery is in the truck.Love your products and newsletter
Jack – Thanks for your comments and question. I assume the two batteries are together and connected in parallel (so, they are essentially one big 12V battery)? In this case, I suggested connecting a PL2140 (https://cloreautomotive.com/product/pl2140/) to the pack. This will work great with the batteries installed in the vehicle. It will keep them fully charged until you next need to use the truck. Thanks, Jim from Clore Automotive
I have two of the PRO-LOGIX battery chargers/maintainers.
I have a question. In both cases the PRO-LOGIX is left connected to the battery and connected to power.
One is in my hydraulic dump trailer and One is in my enclosed trailer, the Mobile Garage.
It appears the PRO-LOGIX doesn’t start charging until I push the button on the device. Thus my batteries run down.
Doesn’t the PRO-LOGIX start charging when the charge begins to drop? Yes, I have seen them in the maintenance mode, a little draw and a little charge. But they don’t stay there. How come?
Stuart – Thanks for your question. For all PRO-LOGIX charges and maiintainers (except the 1002), you have to set your charging parameters and press the start button. Once the battery reaches full charge, the charge should maintain the battery at full charge for as long as the unit is connected and power is available. I suggest speaking to our Tech Service team at 800 328 2921, option #2. They will be able to better assess the situation and explain the operational mode of the product. Thanks, Jim from Clore Automotive