It is easy to take your car battery for granted, but like most other auto parts, it will not last forever. Once the battery can no longer hold a charge, it is dead. When this occurs, or preferably before, you need a car battery replacement.
Lifespan of Car Batteries
So how long do car batteries last? The general estimate is that a car battery will be good for 36 to 60 months, or three to five years. However, the lifespan of an individual battery depends on a number of different factors:
- Condition of your drive belt and alternator
- Use of electricity
- Exposure to temperature extremes
- Time spent driving
Once it comes time to replace the battery, it is important to find the right one. A mechanic or auto parts store may offer a VIN lookup for that purpose.
Ways To Extend a Car Battery’s Life
You cannot prevent your car battery from eventually dying, but you can take steps to prolong its useful life.
- Minimize Cold Exposure
If you live in a northern climate, the cold can do a number on your car battery. By cutting down on trips in cold temperatures and/or keeping your car in a heated garage, you may be able to prolong your battery life.
- Avoid Using the Battery When the Engine Isn’t Running
Turn off the lights and avoid listening to the radio when the car is off. When at rest, it is best to leave your battery fully charged.
- Check the Connections
Efficient conduction of electricity helps to prolong your car battery’s life. When the connections are poor, as may occur when you frequently drive over bumpy roads and dirt trails, conduction becomes less efficient, which may be a drain on your battery.
Another way to maintain a strong connection is by preventing corrosion at the terminals. You can protect them from moisture and other corrosive agents with an inexpensive battery terminal protection kit.
Signs Your Car Battery May Be Failing
You may see power fluctuations, have difficulty starting the car, or notice dimming of your headlights. However, these signs do not show up as often as they used to because modern batteries are no longer designed to reduce their output when the charge is low. Rather, they typically use whatever charge is available and then die completely once that has been used up. As a result, you may not have many warning signs before battery failure occurs.
It is best to take a proactive stance. Instead of waiting and hoping, you should have a periodic battery check. This service is available for free from many mechanics and at many auto parts stores. An easy way to remember this is to have a battery check every time you get an oil change.
If your battery is five years old or more, you may wish to forgo the testing altogether and just have the battery replaced. Otherwise, battery checks become a higher priority once your battery is over three years of age.
Because there are so many factors that can affect the life of your car battery, it is never a bad idea to ask for an expert opinion. Auto parts retailers have knowledgeable staff available to answer your questions.