Since You Asked: 'Spare' car battery like a plunging stock

How long would a new car battery hold its charge for starting a car if you would just put it in a battery case in the trunk of the car and used it as a spare? It seems that would be a good investment.

— Frank K., Eagle Point

Frank, did you perchance read a recent Southern Oregon Journal column about one of our reporter's sad tales of battery blues? Trying to offer our beleaguered writer a helpful tip? Or are you, too, plagued with low automotive energy?

Either way, we took your query to the experts at Medford Automotive Service Center on Table Rock Road. Owner Josia Higgs says your question is an interesting one. But the implementation might be disappointing.

"Batteries work better when they are in a vehicle getting used," Higgs said.

Batteries get charged every time the car runs, and many will last 5 years or more. But the average battery that is just sitting around may only last one year — even if it is kept in a cool, dry location, he said.

"In my opinion, batteries are good for only a certain amount of time if they are just sitting stagnant," Higgs said. "A battery that sits can lose its charge."

Also, batteries are not necessarily cheap. Since they can run from $30 to more than $100, buying a steady supply of back-up batteries that will go dead from disuse while you're waiting for your installed battery to take a dive might not be the best use of your moolah.

We suggest the best bang for your buck is to keep that Auto Club membership paid up and your cell phone bill current (don't forget to keep the battery fully charged), just in case your car's battery gets a case of the blahs.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to

Share This Story