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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone. I'm new. I picked up my 2014 Mazda 3 S GT about a month ago. I love everything about it and have even been buying aftermarket accessories to make things even better. I do have one concern though:

I drive everyday back and forth to work. That's the only trip I frequently make. My work is only three miles (about five minutes) away and I always have music playing, sometimes AC is on, and there's usually headlights on when I come home.

I'm afraid that using all this power during such short trips will cause the battery to lose all its juice. Am I correct? If so, how can I keep my battery full?
 

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A good highway drive on the weekend will suffice. May not be a huge deal now, but once the temperatures drop for winter depending where you are, it will become an issue.
 

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The way alternators charge these days i wouldnt worry about it. As soon as the pcm sees a load it, raises charging voltage to maintan the battery. Three miles is plenty of time to keep the battery charged.
 

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Nothing to worry about. RS/SS 4.8 nailed it. The system will adjust to maintain, and store, plenty of battery voltage. You do need to take it out on the highway, once in a while, and let it "stretch it's legs". That short drive is a little harder on the engine, than the charging system. Bump up your oil changes.
 

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on a brand new battery no issues. now once that battery gets 3-4 years of age on it you might start feeling some sluggish starts in the winter.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I took her out for a 20 mile trip today to let her stretch her legs. I'll try to do that once a week or so because I know it'll help with a lot of things.

As for the oil, I'm well aware. My oil changes will be time-based, not mile-based. I don't even have 200 miles yet.

Something that you guys might be able to help me understand: Yesterday, I borrowed my friend's battery tender and hooked it up for 8 hours at 1.5a. After 8 hours, it still wasn't 80% or more. Is that a sign that I need to keep it hooked up or is a battery tender that much slower than the alternator? For all I know, the minute spent starting the car and moving it to an outlet is why it needed the charge.
 

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Depending on the tender charger, yes the tender charger is slower than an alternator. Tender changers are generally trickle chargers. More for achieving, and maintaining, the correct voltage over a longer period of time. For instance, keeping a car battery in good shape, if it's only driven occasionally. They aren't designed for a quick charge. Again, this depends on the charger and the settings that it offers. If you're really concerned about the battery, consider upgrading to a high end battery. You really shouldn't have a problem, unless the car is rarely driven, or there's a short in the system. Alternators are designed to charge, and maintain, the battery voltage in a very short distance.
 

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I had a situation like this for my commute a few years ago. In the winter it became an issue. Using the headlights both morning and evening and also using the defrost prevented my battery from getting charged. Another thing that happened is that my MPG tanked (pun intended). My engine just never warmed up on those short trips. That was an iron block V6 which took longer to warm up than our aluminum 4 so it may be less of an issue for you. If you avoid using the heater while the engine is too cold to do you much good it will help this problem.

Back to the battery question, during severe cold you might consider letting your car idle for 5 minutes in the morning before turning on all the electrical accessories (except the defrost as needed). This will charge your battery and warm up the engine (which is also good for oil longevity). Then you shouldn't have to mess with a separate charger.
 

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Back to the battery question, during severe cold you might consider letting your car idle for 5 minutes in the morning before turning on all the electrical accessories (except the defrost as needed). This will charge your battery and warm up the engine (which is also good for oil longevity). Then you shouldn't have to mess with a separate charger.
Not to stir up another debate, but modern cars don't need a lengthy warm up period. Even when below 0°C, it's better to just perhaps let it settle for 30s-1m after starting then drive off slowly. Drivetrain components warm up better when driven versus idling. Plus, it's better for the catalytic converter.
 

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Not to stir up another debate, but modern cars don't need a lengthy warm up period. Even when below 0°C, it's better to just perhaps let it settle for 30s-1m after starting then drive off slowly. Drivetrain components warm up better when driven versus idling. Plus, it's better for the catalytic converter.
Not stirring up a debate here. I absolutely agree. In addition, cars charge more at higher rpm's so driving it sooner does a much better job of charging. But the rejoinder here is that you don't want to race your car or accelerate fast until it is warm and the oil gets a chance to circulate and achieve the right viscosity. All you have to do to realize this is to hook up a multimeter and measure the voltage at different rpms. After all, that's the first thing you do to check charging systems.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Okay. Thank you all. I'm not going to worry about the battery unless I actually notice a sign that there is an issue. Just wanted to be sure that I'm taking good care of her. I really love my car and enjoy driving it everyday.
 

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Not stirring up a debate here. I absolutely agree. In addition, cars charge more at higher rpm's so driving it sooner does a much better job of charging. But the rejoinder here is that you don't want to race your car or accelerate fast until it is warm and the oil gets a chance to circulate and achieve the right viscosity. All you have to do to realize this is to hook up a multimeter and measure the voltage at different rpms. After all, that's the first thing you do to check charging systems.
The point here is that in the dead of winter the drive won't be long enough to charge the battery. But I suppose holding to lower gears for the short trip would do the same thing. My short commute wasn't an issue until the days got so short and cold that using headlights, cranking up the heater fan and defrosting ice off the back window became the routine. Within 2 weeks may battery died. I started to let it idle for an extra few minutes under those conditions and the battery held up fine.
 

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The point here is that in the dead of winter the drive won't be long enough to charge the battery. But I suppose holding to lower gears for the short trip would do the same thing. My short commute wasn't an issue until the days got so short and cold that using headlights, cranking up the heater fan and defrosting ice off the back window became the routine. Within 2 weeks may battery died. I started to let it idle for an extra few minutes under those conditions and the battery held up fine.
Get a battery maintainer if you're really worried. I live in NJ and it is colder than MD. My last Porsche was loaded with electronic gadgets and a powerful audio system. The maintainer worked great. Of all of the maintainers I've owned, believe it or not the best one was the DieHard unit from Sears. It ran about $25. I only needed to attach it one night a week to solve any problems. You should also buy a battery with extra amps.
 
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