Could listening to the radio for hours on end drain my car's battery?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Dec 01, 2003

Dear Tom and Ray:

My son and his friends sometimes sit for an hour or two in my 2001 Mercury Grand Marquis. They sit with the motor off, listening to the radio with the key in the accessory position. They usually do this on Friday or Saturday evenings instead of coming inside and going to bed. Will listening to the car radio for two hours drain the battery? Should I chase them out of the car and tell them to go to the mall instead? -- Ed

TOM: Absolutely not! This is exactly where you want them. I'm sure there are parents out there who would love to know that their teenage kids are right out in the driveway listening to the radio, instead of doing who knows what. This is a blessing, Ed.

RAY: The battery will be fine. Unless you have one of those 5,000-watt master blasters -- which we rarely see on Grand Marquis -- they'd have to run the radio all night, and then some, to run down the battery to the point where the car wouldn't start.

TOM: And even if they did, say, accidentally leave it on all night and kill the battery, it wouldn't do any permanent damage. You wouldn't have to buy a new battery. You'd simply have to jump-start the car, and then drive around to charge it up. Once you did that, everything would be fine again.

RAY: But under no circumstances would I throw the boys out of the car. It's kind of charming that they like pretending they're older and driving around listening to the radio. And unlike in future years, there's an extremely low likelihood that they'll crack up your car while it's parked in the driveway, Ed. So enjoy these good old days while they last.

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