How Long Do Car Batteries Last [Signs For Replacement Included]

One of essential parts of a car is the car battery. This component is the one that supplies the necessary electric current to power up essential parts of the vehicle. When the battery is dead or not working correctly, some functions of the car will be limited. Consider the worst-case; your car won’t start at all.

That’s why it is essential to know a few basic things about your car battery, such as how long do car batteries last, and also watch out for signs to replace the dying batteries.

Average Lifespan of Car Battery

According to Reader’s Digest, the average lifespan of a car battery is three to five years. The owner might have to replace the component a couple of times (or more) within a decade. Can a car battery last 14 years? Yes, it can, if the owner doesn’t drive the car regularly, maintains appropriately, and checks periodically. 

One of the quickest ways to kill a car battery is by using the vehicle recklessly. Another battery-killing behavior is the lack of proper maintenance and handling of this component. Every driver wants to maximize the lifespan of their batteries because replacements can get $50 to $200. The average car battery price is $100.

Factors That Affect the Lifespan

Just like any car components, there are a lot of factors that affect the life of a car battery. Car owners need to take note of these factors to extend the lifespan of their batteries.

1. Temperature

There is a common belief among casual drivers: when the cold season starts, expect car batteries to stop working. However, this is not the case.

According to Popular Mechanics, car batteries will likely stop working in extreme temperatures. Majority of car batteries uses a liquid electrolyte solution to store the charge. If the weather is too cold, the liquid will freeze. On the other hand, if the weather is hot, the liquid will evaporate. 

Location plays a significant role in temperature. For example, the car battery life in Florida will be different compared to a colder location. Conducting a car battery life test for every season is recommended.

2. Battery Capacity

The battery life is also dependent on its capacity or size. Smaller batteries will likely have reserve capacity, which means a shorter life.

Excessive capacity will not work best in every car, too. It is best to choose the battery which will work correctly with your car’s engine.

3. Corrosion / Dirt

how long do car batteries last

A lot of new drivers ask: “Why does my car battery only last a year?” Most drivers don’t take a closer look at their car batteries until their car stopped working for some reason. Dirt and corrosion can decrease the flow of current in the battery, making the component faulty.

4. Alternator Diode

The alternator diode makes the current flow in one direction only, which gives an optimized performance. However, if the alternator diode is faulty, the flow of the current will be in the opposite direction. When this happens, the battery will still drain even if the car engine is already shut.

5. Personal Habits

Poorly maintained car batteries don’t last as long as a well-maintained one. If you frequently go on short trips or uses a lot of car accessories (radios, stereo, etc.), your car battery will need to work harder.

Essential Habits to Extend Your Car Battery’s Life

  • Avoid short trips: Every time you turn on and off your car’s engine, you’re putting your car battery to work. The consumption and recharge of the battery will reduce the battery voltage until it is no longer able to start the car properly. Avoid short trips to keep batteries last longer.
  • Turn off all accessories: Car batteries will last longer if it’s always close to 100% charge. Keep the electric components off when you’re not using the car or if the engine is off. Make sure to turn off all the components before locking your car door.
  • Clean regularly: It’s better to get your hands dirty from cleaning your car batteries than to let it accumulate dirt and corroded materials. Get an old toothbrush and clean the battery terminals. Dry it with a clean cloth afterward.

6 Tell-Tale Signs You Need a New Car Battery

After years of usage, your car battery will ultimately require replacement at some point. How often does a car need a new battery? 

You don’t have to worry about replacing your car very often. However, you have to be very vigilant in checking for signs your car battery is dying. Here are the most common signs that you need to buy a replacement.

1. Bloating or swelling of the battery case

Extreme temperatures usually cause this. Exposure to extreme heat or cold can crack the case, which means that your battery will be dead soon (if it isn’t already). 

2. The poor performance of electronic components

If your headlights are starting to get dimmer, or your radio is not as loud as it used to be, you need to check the car battery. It will have a harder time to power electrical components if its voltage is already too low. 

3. Problems starting the car

When your car started getting a slow start or ignition problems, the battery is likely in its last ropes. Prepare for a replacement if you start having this problem. 

4. The smell of rotten eggs

If the battery is damaged or had an internal short, it can cause the gas inside to start leaking. A tell-tale sign for this is a smell of rotten eggs when you open the hood. 

5. Fluid level

You can check your fluid level via the transparent part in the battery’s case. If the fluid level is below the lead plates, you need to test the battery, as well as the charging system. 

6. Consider the age

Inspecting the battery every year after your battery’s third year is recommended. As the battery ages, it starts to get dirty or manifest a decline in performance.

Check Out Other Types of Car Batteries

Final Thought

So, how long do car batteries last? Its longevity mainly depends on a lot of factors, including proper maintenance and the temperature. To maximize the lifespan of your battery, you need to avoid short trips, frequent usage of electric components, and keep the battery clean. Do a thorough inspection regularly, especially if the battery is already on its third year or more.

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