With so many things to think about, we can’t blame you if the lifespan of your car battery isn’t on top of your mind at the moment. But knowing how long your car battery lasts might be the only thing that could keep you from getting stuck in the middle of nowhere with a dead vehicle.
But the truth is, answering such question with any degree of certainty can be quite challenging. Even the most seasoned mechanics and distinguished experts will have a hard time providing you with the exact answer.
You can tell when your battery is failing when the engine won't start as it will not have the voltage it needs for the starter motor. However, there are also other signs to watch for.
So, the best thing that you can do is make an intelligent estimate of your car battery’s lifespan, which you can do through the following:
Quick Ways to Check Your Car Battery’s Lifespan
First of all, check the package or manual to know how long your car battery lasts. It might sound common sense, but it’s the easiest and most overlooked way to check your battery life.
Reputable manufacturers are known to provide accurate car battery lifespan information on their products. Most models today have an average life expectancy of four to six years. But then, keep in mind that different manufacturers use different materials, so quality batteries may only have a lifespan of one to three years.
But then, is there any way you can verify such information? You can do so by reading reviews or testimonials written by customers who have used their products before. You may also visit their website to obtain more information about the longevity of their car batteries.
Another information you can check is the product warranty. Almost all batteries have a warranty of one to three years depending on the cost and quality. But most batteries extend longer than their warranty period, so you’ll find that the number of years indicated on the warranty is lower than the typical average lifespan provided by mechanics and users.
Factors Affecting Car Battery Life
It’s pretty much established at this point that each car battery has its own life span. After all, it is not only the ignition that requires power from the battery, but also the electronic systems, including sound system and airconditioning units.
But have you ever stopped to wonder what factors make one battery last longer than the other?
Here are some factors that affect your car battery’s life expectancy:
Did you know that car batteries used in colder climates
tend to last longer than those used in hot, tropical climates?
These power units work harder when they are hot. The chemicals they contain are also more active, with liquid chemicals evaporating under extreme heat.
But when it’s cold, car batteries don’t need to work double time, thus helping them conserve energy and making them last longer.
Dirt and Corrosion
Believe it or not, dirt and grease can drain the life out of your battery.
Corrosion can also lead to a reduced flow of current, significantly affecting battery performance.
Bad Charging System
You also need to charge your battery, so make sure that you choose a reputable car battery charger. Low-quality ones can easily drain your battery as your vehicle starts.
A defective alternator also doesn’t provide enough voltage, causing your battery to drain more quickly than usual. A faulty alternator diode can also reduce your battery’s performance since it causes the current to flow in the opposite direction.
You also need to look at your battery’s charge cycle, which is the number of times you can completely recharge and discharge your batteries. Absorbent glass mat batteries have approximately 300 to 700 cycles, while gel batteries have about 500 to 5000 cycles. The depth of charge also affects the longevity of your unit.
Personal Driving Habits
You can drain your battery fast if you frequently turn your engine on and off.
Using your car’s entertainment systems, like stereos, radios, GPS, USB chargers, and subwoofers can also cause your battery to work more.
The more your vehicle accommodates electronically dependent items, the shorter its battery life becomes.
Signs Your Battery Needs Replacement
While you may always consult a professional mechanic, it’s still in your best interest to know when your car battery needs to be replaced. The dashboard battery light signals a troubleshooting need when the vehicle senses a problem with a battery or start-up.
Here’s are some signs that you might notice when your car battery starts failing:
- Engine cranks but doesn’t start
- One day it is able to start the engine, the next day it won't
- No lights, no start, and no crank
- Cold cranking and weak rotations of the engines
Tips on Picking the Best Car Battery
Now that you know the signs to watch out for, it will be easier for you to determine if you need a new battery or not.
And if it so happens that you’re in dire need of a new car battery, make sure that you pick one that lasts for a long time.
Now, you might get confused with all the options available today. So, here are some tips to make battery shopping easier and less stressful.
Conduct Online Research
Research, research, research. You can read tons of reviews online of the best car batteries in the market, and they’re all accessible with a simple click.
Find out what the users are saying about each car battery’s performance. Does it last longer compared to other brands? Does the product have numerous positive reviews and high ratings from previous and current users?
Compare Different Brands
Take the time to compare different brands out there. Look at their specifications, features, and even the materials they’re made of to know if they’re durable or not..
Remember, making comparisons helps you make better and quality decisions.
Check What’s Best for Your Car and Driving Needs
Always make sure that you choose a battery with the right size. It’s baffling how many times people buy a battery that doesn’t fit perfectly in the battery tray or in the terminal locations of their vehicles.
Similarly, you should go for a car battery that ticks the power requirement you need. For instance, if you live in colder climates, you’d need batteries with higher cold cranking amps.
Get Your Battery Tested
Though most batteries today are maintenance-free, it’s still highly recommended to have the battery load-tested by a professional at least once every four years for cold climates and once every two years for warm climates. Why? Automotive batteries maintain the electrical energy needed to power your car. Automobile batteries are typically covered by a warranty and should last at least the lifetime of the warranty.
Check for Warranties
Every brand has a different warranty length, so better choose one with the longest free replacement period. The average warranty length of most car batteries falls between one and three years.
Taking Good Care of Your Car Batteries
It’s no secret that these batteries are an essential part of any vehicle. A healthy battery allows your vehicle to start at the first turn of the key, but as we all know, it doesn’t last forever.
Just like the batteries inside your phone or laptop, car batteries can only withstand so many charges and discharge cycles. Taking good care of these power units means that you properly charge it using the right charging system.
Keep your battery fully charged all the time. Avoid leaving your headlights or electronics on when you’re not using your vehicle.
It’s also important to note that vibrations from long and rough travel can affect the life of your battery, so make sure that you properly secure your battery and connect the right cables to the right terminals. If in doubt, don’t hesitate to call a mechanic.
You also need to learn how to properly do routine maintenance if you want your car battery to last longer.
Just keep these tips in mind to help you extend the lifespan of your car battery.
Head over to our car batteries buying guide
and choose the one that suits your needs.
Commonly Asked Questions
How long do car batteries last on average?
Normally, a car battery will last from 4 to 6 years. However, the battery might serve you for a shorter time span if your driving
habits include high electrical demand, or you live in a cold climate.
How long does a car battery last without driving?
It is highly recommended not to let your car sit with the battery intact over a long period of time. For instance, according to BMW,
this time should not be longer than 4 weeks.
If you have to let your car sit for a long time, make sure you take the battery out and store it in a safe and warm place to avoid any battery damages and, surely, failure.
How can battery terminal oxidation be treated?
Using a baking soda-water solution and an old toothbrush will help you remove corrosion from the battery terminals if your battery is heavily corroded.
What causes brake and battery light to come on?
The battery tells you if the battery is damaged. The brakes light comes on when the brake fluid or pressure differential is too low in the master cylinder. Check that the alternator is okay and make sure the battery cables are on there.