How Long Does a Car Battery Last with Radio On? 

Modern cars are equipped with a variety of features and equipment that require a battery. These include the headlights, power windows, climate control, and the car’s infotainment system. The oldest trick used by automakers to …

car battery die while listening to radio

Modern cars are equipped with a variety of features and equipment that require a battery. These include the headlights, power windows, climate control, and the car’s infotainment system. The oldest trick used by automakers to entertain their customers was to add a radio to the car.  

Even if you check a decades-old car, you’d find a radio for infotainment purposes, in comparison to the radar and camera systems found in modern vehicles. The radio has evolved over the years and so has the battery technology, and people love to listen to the radio or use their infotainment systems to enjoy their rides, even when parked. 

How does a radio affect the car’s battery? Can you listen to the radio while the ignition is off? How quickly does a radio drain the battery, and how can you avoid it? Let’s have a detailed understanding of how this works. 

Does Leaving the Radio on Drain the Car Battery?

In simple words, Yes! A radio is a minimum 12v electrical devise that gets its power from the car’s battery. Like other electrical components, it also requires a continuous power supply to function, and mostly takes negligible power from the battery when the car is running. 

When the ignition is off and the radio is left on, then it becomes a different story. Your car might have a simple 1 Din, 12v radio that drains almost negligible power, or a full-blown sound system with a hi-fi infotainment screen that requires substantial juice from the battery.  

So depending on your car’s infotainment system, leaving the radio on can definitely drain the battery, in a few hours.  

How Long Will a Car Battery Last with Radio On?

On average, a car battery will last 8-12 hours with the radio on. Although this depends on many factors, including the type of the battery, age and capacity of the battery, type of the radio, and wattage of the sound system in the car. 

Cars usually have a 12v battery that is used to start the car with the help of the starter, and in return get charged with the help of the alternator. Most modern cars come with a dry battery, which is better than the one with liquid electrolyte and lasts longer.  

If a basic 12v radio is left on, and the car has a healthy battery, it would easily last 8-12 hours depending on the volume, any lights left on, and lights in the infotainment system.  

How to Listen to Radio Without Draining the Car Battery?

The best way is to get a portable radio that has rechargeable batteries, so you can charge it at home and use it while you’re waiting in a parking lot or sitting idle somewhere.

That way you would not have to worry about your car’s battery, and to take things further, get a power bank as well. It would also keep your phone and radio backed up, and spare you the headache of a drained battery. 

If that is not feasible for you, you could always take your car for a spin around the block and keep the battery charged if you are a frequent radio listener. Unsurprisingly, all the smartphones have built-in radios and you could even mount them on your cockpit and use them as an infotainment screen while parked, by pairing them with Bluetooth Speakers. 

How Long Can I Leave My Car in Accessory Mode?

Cars’ accessory mode is useful in various situations. You can operate the car’s accessories without having to start the engine with this option. In the older cars, accessories were only useable when the engine was running. The question now is how long you can leave your car in accessory mode? 

Are you concerned about leaving your car in accessory mode for an extended period? The answer to this question is very simple. You could leave your car in accessory mode for 3-4 hours, without it having any effect on the battery.

However, this is only true if you do not use the accessories or electrical components. Otherwise, your car’s battery may get depleted quickly, and it is advisable that you should only leave it on for a few hours only. 

The length of accessory mode also depends on the following aspects:

  • The type and capacity of the battery
  • The charge left in the battery
  • Temperature 
  • Number of appliances running

How Can I Tell If My Radio is Draining My Battery?

If you come across the following symptoms, there’s a likely chance that your radio I draining your car’s battery:

  • The car fails to start, even with a new, problem-free battery.
  • The engine gives clicking or cranking sound when ignition is attempted.
  • The most obvious sign is the battery warning light on the odometer. 
  • The headlights and interior lights, including the tachometer lights become dim or flickering. 
  • Faulty or suppressive functioning of the components, such as the windshield wipers or power windows. 

Final Thoughts

Your car’s battery is one of the most important and most-used components of the car. It powers everything, starts the car, and keeps you entertained via the radio and sound system. How long can you run your radio depends on your battery’s capacity, age, and charge.

Depending on your radio type and battery, your radio could run for 8-12 hours before the battery drains completely. Anything wrong with the components, lights, or starting the engine indicated that something is wrong with your battery, and you need to get it checked. If your battery is already showing signs of deterioration, the car battery could even die while you are driving and listening to radio on the road

It is ideal that you use your cellphone or a portable radio of you like to enjoy stations while parked. Not only would this save your battery, but would spare you the trouble of recharging or jump start as well.