Your car battery is an important part of making your car start. Without a fully functional battery, your car will be rendered useless and you’ll be heading nowhere.
While jump starting your car might get it back running again, doing it more often can be frustrating. That is why you should know when it’s time to finally replace your car battery to avoid future problems.
Car batteries certainly don’t last forever. However, there are factors that reduce car battery life sooner than expected — something you should avoid. Before we explore strategies to maximize its lifespan, we need to answer the question, “How long do car batteries last?”
How Long Do Car Batteries Typically Last?
There is no definitive answer to this, but most car batteries usually last between 3-5 years.
Things That Shorten Car Battery Lifespan
Some of the best car batteries out there can give you up to 5 useful years maximum. But, certain things can reduce car battery life, prompting the need for an untimely replacement.
Like most things, car batteries deteriorate with time. Battery deterioration occurs gradually every time the alternator charges it. After a while, the maximum amount of energy the battery can store drops, and it can’t be charged to its full capacity anymore. As time passes and with regular usage, battery deterioration continues at the same rate until it fails.
This is why after 3 years of regular use, your battery will slowly start to show signs of decline. The most that you can get out of your car battery is 4-5 years. Pushing it beyond that causes failure.
Heat has a two-way effect on your car battery, particularly lead-acid batteries. While heat helps stimulate the chemical reactions needed to generate electricity, it also hastens battery deterioration.
Your car battery life is significantly reduced with extremely hot weather or engine as they cause battery fluid to evaporate, damaging internal cells in the process. That is why car batteries last longer (5 years) in cool regions, but only around 3 years in hot environments.
While it’s true that frequent driving may reduce car battery lifespan over time, the same can be said with under usage of battery. Your battery recharges as you drive, and leaving it stationary for an extended period of time will deplete its charge. The longer you leave your car sitting idle, the more your battery will drain.
Charging System Malfunction
The alternator plays a crucial role in recharging the battery while the engine is running. Problems with your alternator can cause a charging system malfunction, shortening your car battery life. Overcharging can cause leakage of battery fluid, while undercharging can speed up the drainage of your battery.
Your driving pattern greatly impacts car battery life. If you’re the type of driver who doesn’t make a habit of turning off your headlights, hazard lights, or even cabin lights, chances are, your battery will lose power quickly. Also, leaving the engine running for a long time while parking idle drains your battery faster.
As your car moves while driving, it creates vibrations that cause internal battery parts to break down. You must secure your battery firmly in place to minimize vibration effects that reduce battery life significantly.
Signs That Your Battery is Low
You’ll know that your car battery is dying by noticing these signs:
A slow starting engine
Car batteries become less effective due to wear and tear over time. Because it takes longer for your battery to charge, starting your engine would take time as well.
Dim lights and electrical issues
The battery fuels all the electronics in your car including the lights, radio, and air conditioning. If any of these things are not working at full capacity, your battery may be losing its charge.
The check engine light is on
When the check engine light or the dashboard battery light is turned on, it could mean your battery is failing or there’s a problem with the alternator.
A bad smell
If you smell like rotten eggs as you open the hood, your battery might be damaged or leaking some gas. When this happens, replace your battery immediately.
If you notice a white substance on the metal parts of your battery, you may have a corrosion issue. Corroded terminals on top of the battery can lead to voltage issues and starting your engine will be difficult.
An old battery
Your car battery life is expected to start deteriorating once it gets near the 3-year mark.
How to Maximize Car Battery Lifespan
Now, you know how long should a car battery last. To maintain your battery health, follow these tips:
- Allow your battery to keep recharging by driving your car regularly (at least once every two weeks for 15 minutes).
- If there’s corrosion from your car battery terminals, remove them.
- Avoid leaving your car accessories on for long periods and save battery power.
- Keep the battery heat shield on to prevent further battery deterioration.
- Check your battery for a loose cable connection after a long off-road trip.
- Have your car serviced at least every 12,000 miles to maintain the efficiency of battery usage
Frequently Asked Questions
How much does it cost to replace a car batter?
A typical car battery will cost you around $50 to $120, but some specialty batteries could cost more.
Does a new car battery need charging?
No. New batteries will come fully charged.
How often do you need to replace a car batter?
Generally, replacing a battery after 4-5 years is a good idea. But since car battery life can be shortened by certain things, replacing them after 3 years would be a safer estimate.
Are all car batteries the same?
No. Batteries vary depending on the type of vehicle you are driving.
What is a car batter group number?
This is typically based on the vehicle’s make, model, and engine type that would indicate where a certain battery size would fit best.
What do cold-cranking amps mean?
It is a rating used to describe a battery’s ability to start an engine in cold temperatures.
While it’s true that even the best batteries don’t last forever, you can prolong their lifespan.
Avoid leaving your car unused for a long time and drive regularly to keep it recharged. Replacing your batteries after 4-5 years is already a good value for money.
But if you encounter any battery issues and you’re looking for the fastest mobile battery replacement, you can always rely on Neighborhood Roadside Assistance to assist you within 15-30 minutes.