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Will you car battery charge while idling?

Has your car battery ever gone dead? Well if you don’t use your car regularly, it is highly possible that you have faced this before. Many of us have moved to parts of a city, where we rarely need to use the car. Well, the question which arises is how rarely do we use the car and how long before the battery flats out.

One month is a good amount of time. Your car can sit parked for a month before the battery goes dead. The battery in cars with more power might well be dead in two weeks, like a BMW or a Mercedes where the components of the car need the power to survive. Having said that, it is highly possible for you to face a situation where you have kept the car idling to let the battery charge.

Yes, your car battery will charge while it is idling and this is possible because of the alternator in the battery itself. The alternator will charge the car’s battery by providing it with electricity. The alternator, on the other hand, is driven by the engine in your car. As long as the engine is on, the alternator will keep on charging the battery.

It is a give and take sort of relationship between the two. But it is safe to keep a few pointers in your mind. The alternator will turn at idle but does not produce the maximum current. So, if you are trying to pull out a high amount of power from the battery while the car is at idle, the input charge will be a deficit in regard to the charge which is being drained out from the battery. This may cause important components like the car’s computer or the ignition to fail. From this, we can conclude that the battery gets charged slowly at idle and it would be the wiser decision to not place a high electrical drain when it is idling.

Does your alternator charge your car battery at idle?

Yes, the alternator does charge the battery in your car but it must fulfill two criteria:

  • The engine must be running (even at idle, the engine runs).
  • The alternator must be in a proper, working condition.

The engine basically turns the serpentine belt which in turn moves the alternator. The alternator now puts a charge in the car battery. Even though the belt turns faster when the car is in motion but the charge produced in the alternator is regulated by the ECU in the car and it produces the same voltage even when the car is in motion or it is idling.

But my suggestion would be to take the car out for a spin now and then otherwise it is impossible for the battery to recharge fully. This increases the longevity of the battery by a considerable amount.

How long does it take to charge the battery at idle?

Even after considering the fact that your battery is dead, it will not take an eternity for your battery to charge. The battery will demand a lot of current because of the fact that it has been discharged. Around 60 amps or more.

Realistically speaking, a flat battery can be charged up to 80 percent in 2 hours. But to make this possible, the alternator has to manage 14 volts at the battery terminals, the whole time it is being charged.

It is also important for people to realize that cars are not meant to be kept idle. They are supposed to be driven around.

Some basic facts:

  • A question might arise in your mind about whether the alternator will charge your battery if the car is in neutral. Well, the answer is yes. We know that it is unlikely for someone to be sitting in their car while it is neutral but as long as the alternator and the engine are in good condition, the car will acquire charge at neutral.
  • Does your car charge while driving? Yes, this is the best way to charge your battery. Driving the care more will recharge the battery fully. The various components which draw power from the car’s battery work the best when the car is being driven around. This is a fact known by most car owners.

How to recognize if your battery is being charged?

You can check the battery with a voltmeter to make sure it is being charged.

  • The black lead should be connected with the negative end of the battery and the red end to the positive side.
  • You should be getting a reading of around 12.6 volts.
  • You can also turn on the vehicle and check the voltage at the battery terminals.
  • If it is around 14-15 volts, the alternator is working just fine and there is no need for your battery to be replaced.

A battery lasts for about 5 years. If your battery has crossed the threshold limit, you might need a replacement.

Final Thoughts

It is quite possible that you are in that stage of your life where you don’t really need to drive around anymore. Well, you have deserved it, but what can you do about your car?

You can use a smart charger which gives your battery exactly the charge it wants. Unlike a traditional charger, it will not overcharge your battery and you can plug it in and forget the rest. Otherwise, you can always take it around for a spin! Remember the time, when you got the car for yourself? You would have never imagined that it would be lying around as this, did you?

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