Does The Car Engine Need To Be On To Charge My Phone?

Although most people won’t admit it, seeing the low battery sign on their phones can cause anxiety. They like to avail every opportunity to charge their phones, and their car is just another place to stock up on some extra power. The next-generation plug-and-play devices make it easier to charge your phone even when your car engine is turned off. 

Many car models nowadays allow you to charge your phone even when the engine isn’t turned on. However, avoid this if your car battery is old. Leaving a phone plugged in every now and then is ok, but, like leaving a light on, it can deplete your battery and leave you unable to start in some cases.

Automobiles nowadays are manufactured with many components and features with a wide range of use. Not having full knowledge about these functions limits your ability to benefit from them. But is it safe to charge your phone while the car engine is turned off? Let’s find out! 

Does the Car Engine Need to Be on to Charge My Phone?

Charging Smart Phone in Car

Many car models allow phone charging through an accessory socket even when the engine is turned off. In some models, you can even charge your phone when the car is in ACC mode.

However, a few models prevent the electric charge from moving toward the USB port or the accessory socket when the ignition is off. Most Japanese car models, such as Toyota, Honda, and many others, don’t allow you to charge your phone when the ignition is off.  

Depending on the make, year of manufacture, and options available in your car, there are a couple of ways with which you can charge your smartphone. These include:

Via the Cigarette Lighter

You can easily plug it into the cigarette lighter if you have a car charger with a USB port. However, you’ll need a current of 2 amperes at the very least to charge your phone easily. The cigarette lighter can handle this, but check the packaging before buying your car charger.

Via USB Port

There may be more than one USB port in your car where you can connect your charger. However, several tests have proven the current from these ports is too limited to charge your phone effectively. In addition, some apps require quite a bit of energy. 

For instance, if you use your phone for navigation while driving, this power-guzzling app may drain your phone’s battery, and the power supplied by the USB port will not cope with this.    

Via Wireless Charging

Many latest car models feature wireless charging technology in the form of a drawer or a tray under the armrest or the central console, eliminating the need for cables. You can easily charge your smartphone by placing it in the tray.   

Will Charging My Phone Drain My Car’s Battery?

Although charging your phone while the engine is off can drain the battery, the drain is so minimal it doesn’t affect the performance of your car battery. However, you should also avoid charging your smartphone when the ignition is turned off if your car has an old battery. 

How Long Does it Take to Charge a Phone in a Car?

This depends on several factors, like the charger you’re using and the capacity of your battery. For example, the latest smartphones typically take 40 minutes to two hours to charge. However, this is an estimate as the real charge times vary, even between phones of the same model and company.    

Tips for Charging Your Phone in the Car 

Businesswoman charging her phone car

Multiple tips can help prolong your battery’s lifespan. For instance, it’s not recommended to fully charge or empty your phone’s battery. 

Similarly, the following are some tips that should be kept in mind when charging your phone in the car:    

  • If you’ve plugged your phone charger into the cigarette lighter, unplug it promptly when you’ve switched off your engine or are stuck in a traffic jam. Small cars or those equipped with old batteries may not be able to start again just after half an hour, especially in winter.  
  • Make sure you use good-quality charging cables that are in excellent condition. For the safety of your phone, it’s also recommended you use charging cables of the same brand as your smartphone instead of using a cheaper alternative.
  • Read the instructions provided by the manufacturer carefully because every battery operates differently. Always charge your phone using your original charger, as this will ensure your phone is being charged in the best possible way. 

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