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Author Topic: Best battery for cars that sit  (Read 1196 times)

stros

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Best battery for cars that sit
« on: December 15, 2019, 02:38:01 PM »
It’s that time of year again.  My Optima Red Top was unable to start my T/A this morning after not driving it for about a month.  The Optima is 6 years old however it has only about 5K miles on it.

Has anyone been successful finding a battery that can still start after sitting awhile or is it just a fact of life that any battery will need a tender/trickle charger in this scenario?

Thanks
Darryl

'77 black TA Hardtop LS3 / 4L70E swap
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81Blackbird

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #1 on: December 15, 2019, 03:14:21 PM »
IMO one month shouldn't be too long for a battery to sit if there isn't anything pulling power like the clock.  It doesn't draw much, but if you have an old battery it may be just enough to send it below the CCA/Volts need to turn the engine over.  I have used a HF trickle charger from time to time just to keep the battery happy.  But even that will not help if the battery cannot hold the charge.  Perhaps a Battery ON/OFF switch is in order or just remove a battery cable until your ready to play.

stros

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #2 on: December 15, 2019, 03:30:51 PM »
Thanks yeah the clock was still moving when I started it up today.  Just curious what battery are you using?
Darryl

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Build thread:
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=61066

737driver

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #3 on: December 15, 2019, 10:06:07 PM »
The optima batteries work well, but they don't like to sit for periods of time. What I found that works well is a simple battery maintainer, or a charger that that goes into trickle mode.
Jim
1979 Trans Am- Heritage Brown -W72 (Pontiac 400) -4Speed-WS6
1972 LeMans Convertible
1977 Trans Am
1972 Firebird
1971 Firebird
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1977 MGB  Roadster Convertible

81Blackbird

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #4 on: December 16, 2019, 04:28:01 AM »
I switched to Champion after I could no longer find the Bosch. in the size I needed

OptimaJim

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #5 on: December 16, 2019, 08:25:11 AM »
That is the wrong question. A better question is "Best maintainer for cars that sit?" Cars that don't see regular use should have their batteries plugged into some kind of quality battery maintenance device at all times and we're obviously partial to our own. I've shared this video of Ken Lingenfelter's collection countless times over the years, because I know a lot of folks have seen it before. However, I always ask folks to watch it one more time and to pay attention this time to see the wires coming out from underneath the cars.

Someone who owns a collection like Ken's could obviously afford to buy a new battery every day of the week, but why should he? I think he values his time a lot and when he wants to take a car out and drive it, the last thing he wants to worry about is whether or not the battery is charged, so he has hundreds of maintainers in his collection. It's also a fallacy to believe that batteries in older cars don't get discharged as much when they sit. While there may not be as much of a parasitic draw on older cars, the way they are driven often results in the batteries not being fully-charged when they are parked.

When batteries do become discharged, but can still start the car, then the alternator, which is designed to maintain a battery near a full state of charge, not recover deeply-discharged batteries, really needs to start working. That shortens the lifespan of the alternator. There are also a lot of people who think they're "keeping their battery topped off," by starting their car and idling it for a while. That can actually have a net negative effect and leave the battery with a lower state of charge than when it started the car. There are also people who mistakenly believe a fully-charged 12-volt battery measures 12.0 volts.

Any battery that measures 12.0 volts is actually more than 50% discharged. When any battery is discharged below 12.4 volts, sulfation starts to form in the plates, which diminishes battery capacity and lifespan. If you don't have electricity where you store your car and you know it's going to sit for a while, fully-charge it to at least 12.6 volts with a quality battery charger right before you put it into storage. Then, disconnect the battery from the car. When you go to bring it back out of storage, fully-charge the battery with a battery charger again, as soon as you can.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eMQMgwouKlU&feature=youtu.be

Jim McIlvaine
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www.pinterest.com/optimabatteries

roadking77

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #6 on: December 16, 2019, 08:35:53 AM »
Good info Optima Jim,

Unfortunately I let my car sit too long between starts sometimes. I usually try to get it out at least once a month. At times it has been 8 weeks plus between start ups. Only time I have ever had a problem was when my alt. crapped out. I replaced my battery with one of the best ones Auto Zone had cca wise. It was about 40% less than the optima which I was going to get but could not afford. The AZ battery has done well by me. I also live in a moderate to extreme temp range, which can be in the high 90's summer to 0 in winter. I have a battery tender brand maintainer on my Harley and keep it hooked up all of the time. It always starts as well, and I cant remember how old that battery is. I do not keep a maintainer on the T/A, however one is on my want list just because.
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737driver

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #7 on: December 16, 2019, 12:52:06 PM »
One thing I have noticed about optima batteries is that if they get drained to low a few times they tend to never recover. Honestly if they are not on a battery maintainer and not frequently used they tend to have a very short lifespan.
Jim
1979 Trans Am- Heritage Brown -W72 (Pontiac 400) -4Speed-WS6
1972 LeMans Convertible
1977 Trans Am
1972 Firebird
1971 Firebird
1970 Firebird
1977 MGB  Roadster Convertible

stros

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #8 on: December 16, 2019, 01:34:33 PM »
One thing I have noticed about optima batteries is that if they get drained to low a few times they tend to never recover. Honestly if they are not on a battery maintainer and not frequently used they tend to have a very short lifespan.
Jim

I think I'm seeing the same thing. I have one of the Black & Decker battery charger/maintainer/conditioners and yesterday I couldn't get the Optima to charge beyond 75%.  I'm trying to run the reconditioning on it now to see if that wakes it up again. 

I checked the mileage again and I've got about 6700 miles on the battery - bought back in October 2014.  Not sure if this is beyond the expected lifespan or not.   
« Last Edit: December 16, 2019, 04:57:06 PM by stros »
Darryl

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Wallington

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #9 on: December 16, 2019, 05:20:03 PM »
I've had a lot of trouble with batteries that have a cell die. This can be a car that's used twice a week or one that sits for months, while others kick up first go everytime. When they get to that stage they seem very sluggish even a day or so after fully recharging, occasionally they come good again, but often it's as good as they'll ever be again. Got one doing that now, but since I rarely drive it, meh. Add it to the pile of things for another day.

stros

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #10 on: December 16, 2019, 07:38:11 PM »
It would still be interesting to hear if anyone has had more luck with other batteries lasting 2-4 weeks without a tender.  I’m curious if one of the Dual Purpose / Deep cycling batteries may be better in these scenarios.  This is the first time I’ve had a car that’s not a daily driver. 

My other concern is driving the car to work in the morning and still having enough juice to get back home at the end of day.  I definitely don’t want to run the tender at work.

Darryl

'77 black TA Hardtop LS3 / 4L70E swap
Build thread:
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=61066

Wallington

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #11 on: December 16, 2019, 09:30:33 PM »
The alternator should be running above the draw on the battery when used for quick trips. If not then battery was already suspect.

stros

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #12 on: December 17, 2019, 02:20:28 PM »
Interestingly after running the conditioning process for 24 hours on the batter I'm back up to a 100% charge.  We'll see how well it holds. 
Darryl

'77 black TA Hardtop LS3 / 4L70E swap
Build thread:
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firebirdparts

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #13 on: December 18, 2019, 08:27:42 AM »
Jim, welcome to TAC!  I appreciate your input. 

I fixed the clock on my 78 and thus killed the battery.  I have had to keep the Firebird and the Lincoln on maintainers for many years.  When my clock wasn't working, the Firebird could sit probably 3 months.  That was inside.

« Last Edit: December 18, 2019, 08:31:37 AM by firebirdparts »
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stros

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2019, 10:00:37 AM »
Interestingly I believe most of my issues started occurring after fixing my clock as well.
Darryl

'77 black TA Hardtop LS3 / 4L70E swap
Build thread:
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=61066

Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #14 on: December 18, 2019, 10:00:37 AM »


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Wallington

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #15 on: December 18, 2019, 08:38:29 PM »
Old style original clock vs repro Quartz? Certainly a power trickle there, albeit minimal, but so do many newer cars with computers and clocks.

Strangely enough, the Firebird can sit for months and still start perfectly. I have another part-time driver that I start once or twice a week and it can be a struggle, battery a year old but suspect a dead cell as it will fully charge but be back where it was a day later.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2019, 08:41:39 PM by Wallington »

OptimaJim

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #16 on: December 18, 2019, 09:34:41 PM »
Jim, one of the first thing I noticed about Optima batteries when I started working for them, was the vast amount of warranty returns that come back to us that are discharge-only. That means the battery was just deeply-discharged and works fine when it is properly-recharged. Unfortunately, most folks either don't think to do that or don't attempt to do that and a whole bunch of retailers don't either.

That works out great for everyone in the office, the guys at Roadkill and a bunch of Chumpcar fields, because we hand out someone else's “dead” Optima batteries to those folks like candy and they continue working for years after, however, it's quite wasteful for the ones that just get recycled when they still had a lot of life left in them. It's certainly not an issue unique to Optima either, as our parent corporation manufactures most of the batteries in this country and they see it too, as do other brands and manufacturers. In fact, some other manufacturers have dealt with the issue by simply voiding the warranty on their batteries, if they get discharged below a minimum voltage level. That's why I always advise folks to read a battery warranty before they make a purchase. You can find our warranty here- http://d26maze4pb6to3.cloudfront.net/9613/4997/8047/Optima_Consumer_Warranty_101112.pdf

Darryl, it sounds like you're averaging about 1,100 miles per year on that car, so I would presume that battery is connected to your maintainer whenever it isn't being driven. If that is the case, when did you notice it wouldn't charge past 75% and how long did you have it connected to the charger at that point? If you keep your battery properly-maintained, you shouldn't have to worry about it discharging while you're at work, unless you have a massive parasitic draw. You can check that by connecting a meter to your battery as explained in this video. If you have a high parasitic draw, you can start pulling fuses, to see where the draw is coming from- https://youtu.be/-yPlx4MBNRU

Wallington, at the risk of repeating myself, if you start your other part-time driver once or twice a week, you are doing the battery no favors. The battery would be better off if you didn't start it at all, as it is unlikely the vehicle's charging system is able to replace the energy consumed during storage and by starting it and running it for a short period of time.

Jim McIlvaine
eCare Manager, OPTIMA Batteries
www.pinterest.com/optimabatteries

stros

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #17 on: December 18, 2019, 10:22:18 PM »
Jim M - first I’d like to thank you for taking the time and responding to my questions.

In terms of the clock - it’s a reproduction OER one.

After putting the Optima thru a 24 hour conditioning with my Black & Decker BC15BD Charger it seems to be charging to 100% again. Not a huge test but I gave it 2 days off (no maintainer) and it started fine tonight.

I will look into the parasitic draw.  Hopefully I don’t have one.

This car has been out of commission quite a bit over the past couple of years.   With the new LS3 installed this summer I’m trying to drive it at least once per week to work but the weather hasn’t cooperated lately.  Hence I haven’t gotten into any battery maintenance routine, and wasn’t sure if I needed one if it was driven weekly. Maybe to be safe I hook the maintainer up at least the night before I plan to drive to work.
Darryl

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Build thread:
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=61066

Wallington

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #18 on: December 18, 2019, 11:03:59 PM »
I didn't say I was running it for short periods of time,  I have a 2-3 hr round trip to work or 30 drive to the shops. I don't run it and then turn off. I use it. But yes, fully understand how constant starting but not using would drain faster than it would replenish in some cases.

737driver

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #19 on: December 18, 2019, 11:12:42 PM »
In regards to the optima battery,
 what would be the best recommendation for maintaining and recharging them if they do sit for a while and need to be recharged?
 I have optima batteries in several cars. I only had one issue where I returned a battery after having it for six months. During that time , it was at the paint shop and it was left in key on position several times and went completely dead. I returned it and received a new one, no charge.
Thanks,
Jim
1979 Trans Am- Heritage Brown -W72 (Pontiac 400) -4Speed-WS6
1972 LeMans Convertible
1977 Trans Am
1972 Firebird
1971 Firebird
1970 Firebird
1977 MGB  Roadster Convertible

OptimaJim

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #20 on: December 20, 2019, 07:14:46 AM »
If anyone is leaving any battery sit in any car for any extended amount of time, I would recommend connecting it to a quality battery maintenance device. If that isn't an option, fully-charging and disconnecting the battery would be the next-best option, as long as the battery is fully-charged again, before bringing the vehicle out of storage. We have a whole section on battery charging on our website that really gets into the weeds, for anyone who is interested- https://www.optimabatteries.com/en-us/support/charging/charging-tips

Jim McIlvaine
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MNBob

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #21 on: January 10, 2020, 03:35:18 PM »
My original factory clock still works and keeps good time, but I don't use it because it drains the battery in 2-3 days.
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Grand73Am

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #22 on: January 11, 2020, 08:46:58 AM »
That's strange. I also have a 79 with working original quartz clock. I often don't drive it for a week or more, and it's never affected my battery. Always spins good. 2 year old Autozone Duralast Gold battery.
Steve F.

stros

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #23 on: January 11, 2020, 12:09:58 PM »
So far I've been going with the routine of charging the battery the night before I plan to drive it if it has been sitting over a week.  The battery has been around 85%-90% prior to charging.

Since running the conditioning routine the gauge voltage is holding at 15 and not bouncing at all when turning on accessories & turn signals.  It used to bounce down to 13 volts a lot before the conditioning.

Not sure if my clock is causing any of the drain but it has been working like a champ.

Darryl

'77 black TA Hardtop LS3 / 4L70E swap
Build thread:
http://transamcountry.com/community/index.php?topic=61066

ih8z28s

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #24 on: January 11, 2020, 01:55:37 PM »
Jim, one of the first thing I noticed about Optima batteries when I started working for them, was the vast amount of warranty returns that come back to us that are discharge-only. That means the battery was just deeply-discharged and works fine when it is properly-recharged. Unfortunately, most folks either don't think to do that or don't attempt to do that and a whole bunch of retailers don't either.

That works out great for everyone in the office, the guys at Roadkill and a bunch of Chumpcar fields, because we hand out someone else's “dead” Optima batteries to those folks like candy and they continue working for years after, however, it's quite wasteful for the ones that just get recycled when they still had a lot of life left in them. It's certainly not an issue unique to Optima either, as our parent corporation manufactures most of the batteries in this country and they see it too, as do other brands and manufacturers. In fact, some other manufacturers have dealt with the issue by simply voiding the warranty on their batteries, if they get discharged below a minimum voltage level. That's why I always advise folks to read a battery warranty before they make a purchase. You can find our warranty here- http://d26maze4pb6to3.cloudfront.net/9613/4997/8047/Optima_Consumer_Warranty_101112.pdf

Darryl, it sounds like you're averaging about 1,100 miles per year on that car, so I would presume that battery is connected to your maintainer whenever it isn't being driven. If that is the case, when did you notice it wouldn't charge past 75% and how long did you have it connected to the charger at that point? If you keep your battery properly-maintained, you shouldn't have to worry about it discharging while you're at work, unless you have a massive parasitic draw. You can check that by connecting a meter to your battery as explained in this video. If you have a high parasitic draw, you can start pulling fuses, to see where the draw is coming from- https://youtu.be/-yPlx4MBNRU

Wallington, at the risk of repeating myself, if you start your other part-time driver once or twice a week, you are doing the battery no favors. The battery would be better off if you didn't start it at all, as it is unlikely the vehicle's charging system is able to replace the energy consumed during storage and by starting it and running it for a short period of time.

Jim McIlvaine
eCare Manager, OPTIMA Batteries
www.pinterest.com/optimabatteries

so how can I get one of those hand out batteries!
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OptimaJim

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #25 on: January 18, 2020, 01:29:51 PM »
Work for us or work for Roadkill (we don't currently sponsor Chumpcar/Champcar).

Jim McIlvaine
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73ta

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #26 on: January 20, 2020, 01:44:32 PM »
Quality maintainer is the key. I had to switch maintainers as my smaller one could not keep up. Clock, stereo memory, amp turn on etc.

roadking77

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #27 on: January 20, 2020, 02:54:18 PM »
OptimaJ, you mentioned in a post that starting a car periodically does more harm than good? I do not doubt your battery credentials, but my wife has a MB and if I let it sit for more than a week in the winter the battery will be dead. I can go out and start it every 4 or 5 days and let it run for 5 minutes and it will continue to start every time. To me it seems that the periodic starts are giving the battery a fresh charge, why is this wrong?
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85 T/A - Sold
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82 Firebird - Sold
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Grand73Am

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #28 on: January 20, 2020, 03:37:27 PM »
OptimaJ, you mentioned in a post that starting a car periodically does more harm than good? I do not doubt your battery credentials, but my wife has a MB and if I let it sit for more than a week in the winter the battery will be dead. I can go out and start it every 4 or 5 days and let it run for 5 minutes and it will continue to start every time. To me it seems that the periodic starts are giving the battery a fresh charge, why is this wrong?

Me too. I have 2 project cars that have sat for years waiting for me to get to them. I have one 8 year old battery that I swap back and forth between these two cars, and I start them once a month, and let them run 15-20 minutes. Running them long enough so the thermostat opens, and fully heats up the engine burns off any moisture or condensation in the engine, which is better for the engine of course. The battery is still going strong. I think the charge it gets from the alternators is better than a battery charger or tender. The battery sits disconnected in the garage until needed. It's an Autozone Duralast Gold.
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737driver

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #29 on: January 21, 2020, 12:47:33 AM »
Recently I got the optima battery maintainer and really like it. I have a optima red top on my 79 TA with had issues with battery draining. I kept it on a maintainer and honestly it didn’t really work well with the red top optima. The optima charger has been working very well so far. I have a yellow top optima battery on my LeMans and I haven’t had any issues with that battery so far. Honestly I think that having the right charger / maintainer is important to maintain batteries. The maintainer I was using previously was a cheap one I purchased at Harbor Freight. It’s a charger isn definition, but really is minimal at charging and maintaining any battery. I used to have quite a bit of experience with Nicads and Lipo batteries.  From that experience, having a quality charging device made quite a bit of difference getting the best out of those batteries. A device that can charge ,cycle and maintain a battery is a good option to have for batteries that are not used on a daily basis. Just my 2 cents.
:)
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1971 Firebird
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OptimaJim

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #30 on: January 21, 2020, 07:09:03 AM »
roadking77 (and Grand73Am), I can't speak to what, if any benefits might be offered mechanically from starting your car and letting it idle periodically while in storage, but if you have a car that will discharge a battery in a week, you either have an issue with that battery or a significant parasitic draw on that vehicle. Either way, you are putting stress on your vehicle's charging system, which is designed to maintain batteries near a full state of charge, not recover deeply-discharged batteries and you are probably not fully-charging the battery in five or even 15-20 minute's time anyway.

Whenever any battery gets discharged below 12.4 volts, sulfation starts forming in the plates, which diminishes capacity and lifespan. I did a discharge test with an alternator manufacturer several years ago and my '92 Silverado was still starting until my battery was discharged below 9 volts. So, just because the car still starts, it doesn't mean the battery is anywhere near fully-charged. What we also noticed was how hot the alternator got after starting the truck with a deeply-discharged battery.

While the best course of action is keeping stored batteries on a maintainer, if you don't have access to electricity, making sure it is fully-charged to at least 12.6 volts and completely disconnected from the car is a viable alternative and that can be easily accomplished with a quick disconnect knob.

Not all chargers are created equally. Generally speaking chargers that are microprocessor-controlled will do a better job of charging and maintaining batteries, than ones that are not. Many chargers and maintainers with more basic functionality will just deliver constant current to a battery, which is ok for getting it charged, but not ideal for long-term use.

Jim McIlvaine
eCare Manager, OPTIMA Batteries
www.pinterest.com/optimabatteries

roadking77

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #31 on: January 21, 2020, 07:15:24 AM »
Thanks for the reply. In my case the car is not in storage, it is a daily driver that may sit for a few days whilst the other car is being used. BUT it def, has a parasitic draw, unfortunately the poor old girl is going to be put out to pasture:(
Finished!
77 T/A - I will Call this one DONE!
79 TATA 4sp-Next Project?
79 TATA - Lost to Fire!
86 Grand Prix - Sold
85 T/A - Sold
85 Fiero - Sold
82 Firebird - Sold
'38-CZ 250
'39-BSA Gold Star
'49-Triumph 350
'52-Ariel Red Hunter
'66-BSA Lightning
'01-HD RoadKing

firebirdparts

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #32 on: January 21, 2020, 07:17:26 AM »
Old style original clock vs repro Quartz? Certainly a power trickle there, albeit minimal, but so do many newer cars with computers and clocks.

I should have answered this, sorry.  I put a quartz clock in the Redbird.  So it doesn't take much power, but then 3 months is a long time.  It could survive that before I fixed the clock.
I want to be like Paul Kenny when I grow up
Joe Bays
1977 Y82 4-speed (red interior)
1978 Skybird 350
1978 Redbird 305
1979 Redbird 301 4-speed
1992 Lincoln Mark VII LSC/SE (red)
1970 Datsun Pickup
1953 Chevy pickup (converted 4x4)
1988 T-bird Turbo Coupe

78TA_In87

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #33 on: January 23, 2020, 12:50:42 AM »
I replaced 3 batteries on my modern car in 1 year because it would go for weeks without being driven.  Then i got something like this for it:

https://www.amazon.com/Battery-Tender-Maintainer-Trickle-Charger/dp/B015KBIHDU/ref=sr_1_11?keywords=junior+tender&qid=1579762061&sr=8-11

The battery's I bought it since then, 2013, has had no issues. 

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roadking77

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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #34 on: January 23, 2020, 07:39:55 AM »
That's the same I have for my m/c.
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77 T/A - I will Call this one DONE!
79 TATA 4sp-Next Project?
79 TATA - Lost to Fire!
86 Grand Prix - Sold
85 T/A - Sold
85 Fiero - Sold
82 Firebird - Sold
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'39-BSA Gold Star
'49-Triumph 350
'52-Ariel Red Hunter
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Re: Best battery for cars that sit
« Reply #34 on: January 23, 2020, 07:39:55 AM »
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