Everyone loves listening to music while driving. It keeps us free from the stress we deal with every day. But can you listen to the radio with the engine off?
The answer is yes, some people do that. However, it is not advisable. You may wonder, why?
Your radio can drain your car battery if you use it while the engine is off. In order to keep your battery alive for a long time (you can try this one keep your battery alive: Battery Tender Plus Automatic Battery Charger and Maintainer), it needs to be charged after some time. Your engine always keeps the battery charged.
When you run it with starting the engine it will eventually get drained after some time. So, the question is, how long can a car battery last while playing radio?
How Does a Car Battery Work?
Let me explain this situation with an example. Think of your car battery as a bucket of water. Only batteries store energy in cold cranking amperage (CCA).
Now, batteries are usually full which means the bucket is full. After starting your car your alternator will keep your car battery full no matter how many electrical components you use.
If your engine is off, the alternator cannot keep the bucket full anymore. The water level in the bucket is lowered when an electrical part is turned on.
If the electrical parts draw or absorb a lot of amperages, it will drain your car battery more quickly. Every component draws a different amperage amount.
Nevertheless, if you ever wonder does listening to the radio drain car battery? You’ll know the answer to this question.
How to Keep Radio On When Car is Off?
It is nice to be able to still listen to the radio as you put on the sunshade and grab your belongings. Keeping your radio on while the engine off is quite an easy process. Many people don’t know this simple technique but it is quite useful.
All you have to do is put the vehicle in neutral first and then turn it off. And if you want to put the car in the accessory mode you just have to turn off the engine and press the start button once with foot off the brake.
How Long Can a Car Battery Last While Playing Radio?
If you ask me, does listening to the radio drain car battery?
Theoretically, leaving the radio on while the engine is off could drain the battery in the car. Normally radios do not use a lot of power though, so battery leakage is more likely to be triggered by other things like lights, fans, and heaters.
Getting the heating on when the engine is off is much more likely than leaving the radio on to kill the battery. The amount of battery power your radio uses will depend upon your car’s audio equipment.
If you have loads of strong speakers or a power-hungry subwoofer, the battery can drain much faster than if you only have a normal car radio.
Also, if your radio has a large screen, and you fiddle a lot with the buttons, the battery can drain faster. So, if you ask me, how long before car battery dies with radio on?
I’d say if your battery is in good shape you will be able to listen to the radio without problems for hours. Make sure heaters and lights are switched off, as these may cause the battery to drain quickly.
When you are concerned about running down the battery, using a portable radio in the car instead of the built-in radio may be a smart idea.
What to Do If Car Battery Died While Listening to Radio?
If the car battery died after leaving the radio on for a few hours, then the battery is possibly at the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced.
A standard car radio (our pick: SiriusXM SXPL1V1) will last in good condition for anything like 10-15 plus hours on a car battery.
The most common way to deal with a dead battery is by jump-it. All you need to jump-start a car is a set of jumper cables (our pick: CARTMAN Heavy Duty Booster Cables) and another car with a functional battery.
Keep in mind that if the battery is damaged and the acid is clearly leaking you will never attempt to jump-start a car.
Another thing is, if you do a lot of stop-start driving with very short trips, you may just need a good charge on your car. This might be an hour or two of steady driving, or better still, an overnight load with a wall loader-one with 4 or more amps (4000ma) charging say.
Can The Radio Drain Car Battery When It Is Off?
If you’re ever in a situation where your radio draining car battery when off then you need to get it checked out.
When the radio is turned off, the battery will not be drained. However, if it’s wrongly configured or defective, there’s a risk that it will drain the battery.
If this happens to you, make sure that the radio is wired correctly.
Since it is very unlikely that even when switched off, a radio will drain the battery, considering these other potential reasons may be a good idea:
- Verify that the radio is really switched off, and not just silent.
- The battery could get old.
Is it Necessary to Turn Off Radio Before Turning Off Car?
If you drive a modern vehicle, there is usually no benefit in turning off the radio before switching off the engine.
In older cars (in the 1960s and earlier), the extra power required to get the radio started, and the car started often stopped the car from starting. New cars are more powerful and efficient. So, they don’t have a problem starting the engine and radio at the same time.
If your car radio continues to play when you turn off the engine, you’ll save some battery power by shutting off the radio before turning off the ignition, but it won’t make a major difference.
The Bottom Line
We can all agree that everyone loves listening to music while driving. However, when you decide to do it while turning your engine off you need to consider the capacity of your car battery. Always take care of your car, battery, and its components. In return, your car will thank you for the beautiful music.