Tow Vehicles That Aren't Driven Much

I have a 2014 Tundra that I love when hauling stuff, but right now I am not using it much at all and the battery is draining down pretty quickly. It does not recharge if I just run it in the driveway; it actually has to be driven regularly to hold the charge. My other vehicles were older and I never had this problem. I just bought a battery tender; it is solar powered and I am not sure it is going to work as the battery went from low to nothing overnight with it on. Unfortunately plugging in a tender is not an option. Is this a problem with all newer trucks? Seriously considering trading it in if I could find something that will not drain the battery like this.

How old is the battery itself? As they age, they don’t hold a charge as well/long.

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Replace with AGM style, those can set for years without discharging

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Did you do anything aftermarket to this truck that could have a slow drain?

Regardless:

You need to drive this vehicle regularly anyways. The seals and gaskets need to be regularly moist in order to maintain their pliability. The brake rotors need to have the rust buffed off of them regularly to maintain condition with no pitting. The brake lines need to be exercised so fluid flows freely back and forth in them without getting stuck at one end or the other. Everything about a rotating piece of equipment (an engine) needs to be operated to be maintained in good condition.

That said, it sounds like you need a new battery.

If you don’t want to do that, get a swan terminal disconnect for your ground. https://www.amazon.com/HTS-290B0-Swan-Style-Disconnect-Negative/dp/B014I073QQ

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I have this issue too in an older diesel truck with two batteries. :laughing:

So I compromise and on the weekends I run errands in the truck. It’s enough to keep the batteries going and like Endlessclimb mentioned, it’s enough run-time so that nothing rusts or stays in place. The motion is the lotion – especially for older vehicles.

One thing I used to hear said all the time - the worst thing you can do for your tow vehicle is let it sit.

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Learn from my Fail.
F250 did not fit in my garage, so it sat outside on a gravel pad.
Where the brake lines rusted :weary:
It was a MonsterTruck - crewcab, long bed…
I drove it to work once a week to keep things moving, but hated having to do this.
Small parking spaces were a nightmare.
My solution was to loan it to a neighbor who needed it, with the caveat that he keep it maintained with my mechanic.
This worked for almost 2yrs, then he got it sold for me.

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Two things. Your alternator should be charging your battery anytime the engine is running, even at idle. The fact that it’s not makes me wonder if your alternator is going. Have it tested.

Your battery shouldn’t really draining itself. How old is it? Have you ever replaced or is it original? If it’s never been replaced, replace is ASAP. The electronics, computers and other things are not meant to be subject to low voltage. I would assume damage could be done over time if exposed or attempted to run on lower than 12v.

If your alternator tests fine, and you’re battery is new within 24 months, I’d be looking into what’s called a “parasitic draw.” Something weird may be draining the battery from an electrical standpoint. Remote starters are a big offender, next to leaving headlights/dome lights on. Even a bad connection can do it. If you find something you don’t like, get it fixed and replace your battery. Pretty much once a battery dies, the cells are damaged. They will never hold a good charge again, although it may be suitable to use for a little while.

There is a reason why vehicles that sit are hard to work with. Part of maintenance is driving, not your short drives around the block… Get the motor up to temp, let your thermostat open and close a few times, oil pressure and temp up, left and right turns, go a variety of speeds. Highway, rural roadway, city and stop and go type… Idling in your driveway for longer periods of time will actually do more harm than good.

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Our tow vehicle sits 99% of the time with no issues. It may get driven 1-2 times a month in Winter and a little more in the using months. It is a 2000 model.

I second the need to see if you have another issue that would cause the battery to be drained, Or you might have a bad battery.

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Learn from my fail as well.

Parked the F250 along the driveway for the winter, didn’t move it once it got plowed in (although we did start it once a week) and by spring, it was entirely infested with rodents in the engine … which became rodent pâté thanks to the fan when I DID drive it, which became Ode De Rodentia within a week and then you Could Not Be in the cab without gagging.

Cost a small fortune to get all the chopped up rodent bits cleaned out of the engine and AC system and you can bet your bippee that I drive that truck once a week now, no matter what.

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I have a Tundra that isn’t my daily driving vehicle but make a point of it getting out a couple times a week. Yep, need to keep the belts moving etc. Drive that beast! :crazy_face:

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:scream::face_vomiting:

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That is THE most horrifying story I can imagine.

OP, I second what literally everyone else has said, get a new battery if it’s not within 2 years old, and make sure to really drive your tow vehicle at least once a week. My F350 isn’t exactly a fun commute vehicle, but sometimes it has to be, just to get it moving. I usually try to take it out to the barn on the weekends if I am not hauling on weekends. In the winter I haul less, so I have to make a more concerted effort.

Along the lines of the battery- I share a AAA membership with my parents. Since I normally pay the membership fee, my mom kicks in and goes for the upgraded battery coverage. This means, if your battery is truly dead, they will replace it. At first I thought this was a bit “extra”, but didn’t complain. Then I ended up having the battery in my car replaced. The year after, I had one of the batteries in my truck replaced (it has 2), so that upgrade has certainly paid off for me haha.

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Battery is new; just replaced the last one that was only a year or so old.

Thank you; never heard of these and will investigate!

Yea, I DO need to drive it more. It just gets half the gas mileage as my car (if that) so with gas being so high, I haven’t been so happy to drive it. :slight_smile: Thanks for the link!

It is on the 4th battery that I am aware of (bought it used.) Alternator tests fine. I wonder about the parasitic draw…the only after market part is the brake control that i know about. I know the issue is with not driving it; I am just longing for the days of my 1995 Chevy that could sit for a month with no issues. :slight_smile:

Ugh…it is one reason I didn’t get a diesel! Need to stop being lazy and just run it I know. My catalytic converters were stolen in January and ever since that happened, I am afraid to park it anywhere.

Yep, I had a 2008 Tundra that I could let sit for a month with no issues. I guess the newer models just aren’t like that. New battery so I just need to drive it I guess!

I didn’t know that about AAA; I have the membership but not the upgrade. Good to know! Costco has a good replacement program; they replaced the last one free of charge, no questions asked. I think it is a 3 year warranty.

I understand. My diesel sits a lot as well, but do try and get it out once a week - gas mileage and tire costs be damned. Truck repairs are quite expensive, no need to add extra ones!

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