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Compared to sleek body styling or a luxurious interior, the battery isn't a part of a car that usually attracts much attention. However, a fully working battery is an essential part of your car's mechanics, and if it fails you could be left stranded with little or no warning.

The lead acid batteries used in modern cars are extremely reliable, but nothing lasts forever. Taking this into account, our next question is, "How long can a car battery last?"

Average Lifespan of a Car Battery

In daily driving, a car battery goes through a constant cycle of charging and discharging, and the stress this causes means its efficiency slowly falls away. Once it reaches a certain point, the battery can no longer recharge enough to provide the power your car needs to start up.

Depending on its type, a battery is good for around 500 to 1,000 full charging cycles, or about three to five years under average conditions.

However, this is only a rough figure, and the way a battery is used and the conditions it works in have a big effect on how often you'll need a car battery replacement.

What Determines
Car Battery Life?

Perhaps the most important thing that affects a battery's life is the climate it's used in. Batteries will fail more quickly in hotter conditions than cold ones, and high humidity will also reduce its charging efficiency more quickly.

There's not much you can do about your local weather, but if you can protect your car from extreme temperatures, your battery will thank you.

A battery's lifespan is also impacted by how much work it needs to do. The more gadgets, accessories and features your car has working at once, the more power will be drained. This means the battery goes through its charging cycle allowance more quickly.

Also, if most of your driving is for short distances, then the battery will be under a lot of strain through having to start the ignition frequently, without the long stretches of highway driving which would build the charge back up.

How to Prolong the Life of Your Car Battery

Here are a few tips to keep your car battery working longer:

  •   Try and keep it fully charged as much as possible by not using lights, air conditioning or other features when the engine isn't running
  •   Turn off any features such as GPS, audio players and Bluetooth if you don't actually need them.
  •   Avoid parking your car in direct sunlight to prevent overheating.
  •   Have the battery and electrical system checked around twice a year as part of routine maintenance. The experts at Batteries Plus will check your battery, starter and alternator free of charge.
  •   If you need to recharge your battery, always use a high-quality battery charger that provides a consistent voltage.
  •   Try and mix in some longer-distance driving as well as short city trips, to help keep your battery charged.

Modern batteries are highly reliable and perform extremely well, but eventually they'll all need replacing. Before buying a new one, read our guide on choosing the best battery for your car, or call your local Batteries Plus store to get helpful and friendly advice. And if you find you do need a new battery, our experts can help there, too, from installation to proper disposal of your old battery.

FAQs

There are a number of things to look for. If it takes you multiple attempts to start your car or truck, there's a good chance your battery needs to be replaced. You can also take a look at the battery itself. If you find corrosion on the terminals or the battery itself has a misshapen appearance, it's probably time for a replacement.

It's a good idea to replace your battery once every 4-5 years. If your battery is that old and you're wondering whether it's time to replace it, bring it to your nearest Batteries Plus and have it tested for free.

Depending on its chemistry, a battery is good for around 500 to 1,000 full charging cycles, or about three to five years under average conditions.

Slow Engine Crank - A dying battery will take longer to create a charge for the starter. If your engine is taking longer to start, it may be because your battery is dying.

Clicking Sound When Turning the Key - If you hear a distinct clicking sound when you turn your key, it's probably due to either a bad battery or problems with your starter. If the battery is at fault, jump starting should fix the problem.

Dim Headlights - Your battery powers all of the electronics in your car. If your headlights are noticeably dimmer, there's a good chance that your battery is struggling to provide them with adequate power.

Problems with Electrical Components - If you're experiencing issues with your radio, heated seat or other electrical applications, it's a good chance that your battery is running out of juice.

Dashboard Warning/Check Engine Light - If your vehicle's Check Engine lights up, it could indicate a wide range of potential issues, including a bad battery.

Battery Case is Swollen - Extreme hot and cold weather can cause the battery's case to crack or swell. If your battery is misshapen in any way, it's definitely time to have it replaced.

Your Battery is Old - Car batteries typically last between 3 and 5 years. If your battery is that old, it's a good idea to have it tested.

Loose Battery Terminals - Battery terminals are responsible for connecting battery cables to the battery itself. If you have a loose terminal, you may encounter problems starting the vehicle or a loss of electrical power. These problems can be solved by having your battery's terminals tightened or replaced.

Left a Light On - We've all done this at some point. Leaving a light on overnight is a surefire way to drain your battery. Fortunately, you can jump your battery using another vehicle or a portable jump pack.

Battery Connectors are Corroded - Corrosion is a white, ash-like substance that builds up on your battery's terminals. Corrosion forces your battery to work harder and can cause difficulties starting your car.

You Smell Something Rotten - If you notice a distinct "rotten eggs" smell when you pop your vehicle's trunk, your battery might be leaking. Battery gas leaks are often caused by damage to the battery or because of an internal short.

Bad Battery: If your engine is slow to start, starts inconsistently or struggles to turn over on cold mornings, your issues are probably related to your battery. A bad battery is also indicated if there's no sound or interior lights when you turn your key. You'll also want to examine the battery itself for corrosion. A low battery that has visible corrosion on the terminals is probably damaged.

If you're able to jump-start your vehicle, then you know you've got a battery problem. But you also need to figure out whether it's simply at the end of its life or if there are underlying issues. It may be that the battery itself is failing or that there is a loose or corroded battery connection. A dead or low battery can also be caused by a failing alternator or result from excessive draw caused by auxiliary lights, fuses, sound systems, alarms and other electrical applications.

Bad Alternator: Symptoms of a bad alternator include: trouble or failure turning over your engine, dimming lights and problems with stereo system output. If your car starts but stalls when you're underway, your battery is probably not being recharged due to a faulty alternator. You may also notice a squealing sound coming from the engine that gets louder when your heater or sound system is on.

Another test you can perform is to turn the AM radio to a low number on the dial without music, then begin revving the engine. If you hear a whining sound or the sound goes fuzzy when you hit the gas, your alternator is probably failing.

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