Modern vehicles offer drivers a smorgasbord of onboard accessories and entertainment, from multimedia players and Bluetooth connectivity to backup cameras, GPS navigation and heated seats. These items draw power from the car battery, slowly depleting its strength and ability to do its most important job: start your vehicle!
Here are four little known culprits that may cause accessory overload and slowly kill your battery:
1. Accessory Socket Plug-Ins
The accessory socket (i.e., cigarette lighter) is a handy spot to plug in phone chargers, radar detectors, air fresheners, dash cams and other gadgets. The 12-volt outlet is powered by the car battery, even when the ignition is off. If an accessory remains plugged in with the engine off, it continues to draw current from the battery, gradually depleting its ability to start your car.
2. Key Fob
Modern vehicles are opened with the click of a button using a key fob. Some vehicles even detect when the fob is near, allowing the driver to simply touch the handle to open the door. When the key fob is close by, a receiver inside the vehicle wakes up to wait for instructions (e.g., lock or unlock the car, start the engine, open the trunk, etc.). If you leave the fob within 15 feet of your car, the receiver remains engaged as it waits for your command, slowly discharging the battery.
3. Aftermarket Car Stereos
Car stereos installed by the automaker typically will not drain your battery. However, if you have an aftermarket stereo system, the larger and more powerful the system, the greater the potential for battery drain. Sometimes aftermarket stereos are installed in a way that the wiring causes the system to continue to draw power, even when the car is not in use. This causes the battery to become overworked and drained and can result in a completely dead battery.
4. Car Alarms
Like stereos, car alarms installed by the automakers generally don’t cause trouble, but aftermarket car alarms are a different story. If installed incorrectly, they can cause a significant drain on your battery.
Is It Time to Replace Your Overloaded Battery?
Car batteries have a three-to-five-year lifespan when driven under normal circumstances. If your battery is reaching the end of its lifespan, or worse, has died unexpectedly, AAA is here to help 24/7.
Deena Grabowski is the Director of Corporate Communications at Club Assist.