Battery Maintenance in Stored Vehicles

Posted on 5 March 2024 | 4 minute read

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Leaving a vehicle battery unattended for long periods, such as when your car is in long-term storage, will damage it. Car batteries aren’t cheap, so you don’t want to purchase a new one every time your ride comes out of storage. 

Follow these tips from the storage experts at 1800 We Store It and keep your battery in excellent condition while you aren’t using your vehicle.

How Batteries are Damaged During Storage

There are two primary types of batteries: traditional lead-acid and AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat). Conventional lead-acid batteries use a liquid electrolyte (sulfuric acid), are prone to spilling, and require topping up with water. 

AGM batteries use a fibreglass mat that absorbs the electrolyte. They are sealed, spill-proof, vibration and impact-resistant, and don’t require top-ups. 

Both types of batteries are susceptible to deep discharge during storage, which leads to the buildup of internal sulfation on the plates inside. Proper charging is essential to preventing the batteries’ early demise.

Higher humidity areas can increase the battery’s corrosion, particularly for traditional lead-acid batteries. Without proper maintenance, corrosion and the formation of leakage currents between the terminals can occur, leading to faster discharge and reduced battery life. 

Both types of batteries can experience accelerated self-discharge when stored in areas with high temperatures. Traditional lead-acid batteries discharge faster than AGM batteries, and higher temperatures can exacerbate this issue, resulting in reduced battery capacity.

Improper storage conditions, especially in unheated environments during cold weather, can lead to the freezing of the battery’s electrolyte if the battery becomes deeply discharged. Additionally, overcharging due to improper maintenance can cause permanent damage to the battery’s capacity and performance.

Without regular cleaning and inspection, both types of batteries can accumulate corrosion on the terminals and cable lugs, potentially causing high resistance and potential battery failure. Physical damage, such as cracks or bulges in the battery case, can also occur, leading to leaks and other issues that compromise the battery’s performance. 

Without proper monitoring and testing, the state of charge (SOC) of both traditional lead-acid and AGM batteries can decrease over time, leading to reduced performance and potential irreversible damage. Routine open-circuit voltage and specific gravity readings are essential indicators of a battery’s overall SOC and health, and without these tests, the battery’s condition may deteriorate unnoticed.

Battery Storage Tips

If your vehicle will be in storage for a while, you will need to make a plan for the battery. Otherwise, you may discover it no longer has the juice to get you on your way. Use these battery maintenance and storage tips to keep your battery in good condition. 

Storage Location: Batteries in storage will need lots of ventilation. They should also be isolated from flammable liquids as lead acid batteries expel oxygen and hydrogen while recharging. Keep the battery away from heat sources like heaters or sunlight through windows. High temperatures accelerate self-discharge, which decreases the life of the battery. 

Monitoring and Testing: A physical examination of a battery won’t tell you much about its condition. Regularly test open-circuit voltages and specific gravity readings to get a better understanding of the battery’s overall SOC and health. 

Cleaning: Clean the battery terminals and cable lugs before placing the battery in storage to prevent corrosion. You should also clean the case according to the manufacturer’s instructions, inspecting it for cracks and corrosion as you do so. Use a mix of baking soda and water to clean the terminals or use a battery spray cleaner. 

Regular Charging: Make sure the battery is fully charged before you store the battery. This will help prevent a deep discharge. A maintenance voltage should be 12.5V for long-term storage. Keep an eye on the charge level. If it drops below 12.5V, top it up with a suitable recharging device or attach a battery tender that monitors the battery and periodically recharges it to keep it at recommended levels. 

Need More Battery Storage Advice?

Taking care of your car’s battery, through smart storage and upkeep, is key to ensuring it remains a reliable power source for your vehicle. By following the recommended storage tips, monitoring and testing, considering temperature conditions, cleaning and inspecting the battery, charging at regular intervals, and using the right charger, will significantly extend the batteries lifespan.

If you want your car’s battery to last and perform well, follow these key tips closely. For more professional advice about vehicle storage, whether it’s your classic weekend ride or a home-on-wheels, call 1800 We Store It. We will be happy to help you ensure your batteries are charged and ready for action when you need them. 


Terry Davison