How Long Does a Car Battery Last?
There are many responsibilities involved when it comes driving and owning a vehicle. Aside from learning about its proper maintenance, it is also important to be familiar with its different car parts, their purposes, and capacity. One of the parts that vehicle owners often take for granted until it stops functioning properly is none other than the battery. Not all people are aware that the battery of their vehicle can actually die out. The question now is, how long does a car battery last?
People have a common misconception when it comes to car batteries because they are mostly rechargeable, with newer models almost maintenance-free. But, the truth is, car batteries soon lose their charge, thus losing their ability to power up a car, specifically the ignition. This means that when the car battery loses its charge, your car won’t start.
To ensure that you don’t find yourself in the unfortunate situation where the battery of your car dies just when you are in the middle of nowhere, and to replace it way before its life comes to an end, it is important to learn some of the basics about car batteries and their lifespan.
Average Charge and Lifetime of Car Batteries
The latest car batteries have been designed to function at full charge up to the time that they finally fail. Even though this is an advantage if you are trying to make it to an auto shop or back to your garage before the battery fails, this also means that there will be some warning signs that the battery will soon expire.
It is not that easy to tell the exact date when a battery will die out. There are various factors that could decrease or increase your battery’s lifespan. Below are several factors that can affect the life of your battery:
- Extreme cold or hot temperatures
- Driving time
- Increased electrical use
- Condition of the drive belt and alternator
You have to keep in mind that no car battery can last forever. It doesn’t matter if you are driving your car every single day or it only stays in your garage the whole year, you still have to replace the battery at one point. A car battery typically lasts between 3 to 5 years.
Trying to push the battery for longer than 5 years even with the best driving conditions can easily make the battery fail without you noticing it. This is the reason why most manufacturers suggest a 5-year schedule for replacement.
Once your battery reaches 3 years or more, you might consider testing it. A battery test is usually offered for free at the local auto shop where you can get more comprehensive information regarding your car battery and its current condition. A battery test also gives you a clearer understanding of the current state of your battery so you can have a better estimate when a replacement schedule is necessary.
Warning Signs of a Failing Car Battery
Since modern batteries have been designed to use up all of its available charge before it fails, there are several signs that will alert you that your battery is running low. Older batteries have reduced output, cause the dimming of headlights, sudden fluctuations of power, and make it harder to start the vehicle.
The best way to know if a modern car battery requires a charge is to keep tabs of its age and conduct a battery test. If now, you might end up dealing with a dead battery or worse, you will no longer be able to start your car at all.
What Happens If a Car Battery Dies?
The good news is that fixing a dead car battery is a rather economical and straightforward process compared to the rest of the common car issues. There are several solutions, with some even free, that can help you get your car battery up and running all over again.
For cars with manual transmission, all you need to do is push it to start the vehicle, put it in second gear then release the clutch when you have accumulated enough speed. Take note that you will probably need some help to pull it off. On the other hand, a second car and a quality set of jumper cables will channel sufficient electricity to your battery so that it will turn the starter motor. You can also use jumper packs that can achieve a similar result with no need for a second car.
It is also easier to change a car battery than it sounds. With only some essential tools in hand and a little knowledge, the project will just take several minutes to complete.
Best Ways to Improve the Life of Your Car Battery
If you think that you are replacing your car battery too often, there are several things you can do to help in extending its lifespan. Since most of the factors are dependent on your own style of driving, several changes will help you make the most out of your next investment on a car battery.
First, you have to consider your specific driving conditions. If you always drive on bumpy dirt trails and backroads, your battery might be suffering from poor connection. A poor connection is an inefficient way of conducting electricity. In this case, you can improve the life of your car battery by just tightening the battery hold-down clamp and battery cable connections.
Automotive batteries are similar to other types of rechargeable batteries. It is best that you leave them with a full charge even when in rest. Don’t play the stereo or leave the lights on for a long period of time if the engine is not running. It can make your battery weak with the alternator working harder that can decrease the lifespan of the two components.
One easy way of making sure that your battery is tested is to check it whenever you change oil. If you prefer to take your car to your trusted mechanic, you can ask them to include battery test in your usual oil change routine.