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Is Accessory Overload Draining Your Car Battery?

Learn 4 culprits that can slowly draw power from your battery

Planning a road trip? Before you hit the road, learn 4 little known culprits that could be draining your car battery.

Modern vehicles offer drivers a smorgasbord of onboard accessories and entertainment, from multimedia players and Bluetooth connectivity to backup cameras, GPS navigation, and seats that can be heated or cooled. These items draw power from the car battery, slowly depleting its strength and ability to do its most important job: start your vehicle.

Learn the 4 culprits that could be slowly draining your car battery. When the time comes to replace a car battery, a AAA Washington Battery Service Technician comes to AAA Washington members – at work, at home, almost anywhere – to deliver and install it onsite. Photo: AAA Washington
When the time comes to replace a car battery, a AAA Washington Battery Service Technician comes to AAA Washington members – at work, at home, almost anywhere – to deliver and install it onsite. Learn more about battery replacement and what to do if a car battery is drained here. Photo: AAA Washington

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. Check to make sure accessories aren’t slowly draining your car battery.

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.

Get AAA Washington battery service

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 Washington is here to help 24/7. We’ll send a trained Technician to solve your problem and get you back on your way.

AAA Washington technicians provide your ride with our “black glove service” to test, diagnose and replace your battery before you take off on a road trip to see family, after your car has been sitting idle, or if you have had your battery for 3-5 years.
Watch for these 4 culprits that could be draining your car battery. AAA Washington technicians provide your ride with our “black glove service” to test, diagnose and replace your battery before you take off on a road trip to see family, after your car has been sitting idle, or if you have had your battery for 3-5 years. Photo: AAA Washington

Visit AAA Washington Mobile Battery Services to schedule service online or call (800) AAA-HELP. Mobile battery service includes: 

  • Battery testing with state-of-the-art technology (no emergency needed) 
  • Diagnosis of common battery related problems 
  • On-the-spot battery replacement at a special AAA Washington member price 
  • Service where you are: at home, the office, the grocery store or on the road 
  • Safe disposal and recycling of your old battery 

To learn more about how to maximize the life of your car battery, click here.

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Road Trip Tips

Before you go: Get ready for your road trip with a AAA Membership. Get peace-of-mind on the road plus travel and insurance services and much more.

Save on hotels and rental cars: Unlock savings on hotels with a AAA membership. Plus, AAA members save up to 20% with Hertz.

Save on car insurance: AAA members save up to 8% on car insurance.

Get battery service: AAA Mobile Battery Service uses state-of-the-art technology to accurately diagnose battery-related problems. We’ll even replace your battery with a brand-new one if necessary, at a special member price.

Save with AAA member discounts: AAA membership gives you access to exclusive entertainment discounts nationwide.

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