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Batteries 101: How Often Do Car Batteries Need to be Replaced?

Power - by Bryan Veldboom - updated on 7/28/2020

Happy family taking beach equipment out of a car trunk

Car batteries are one of those things most of us don’t think about all that often. As long as they turn over our engine every morning, it’s easy to put them out of mind. Your battery’s life cycle is limited though and if you ignore the warning signs for too long you can find yourself stranded. Does your battery seem like it might need to be replaced? No problem. Follow our car battery basics guide below for answers to all of your questions.

How Long is a Car Battery Supposed to Last?

In general, a typical car battery lasts between three and five years, although its life can be longer or shorter depending on a number of factors like how you drive. Short “stop and go” trips have a negative effect on batteries and can shorten your battery’s life if taken frequently enough. Climate plays a role in battery life too, with both high heat and extreme cold having a negative impact on vehicle batteries.

When Should Car Batteries be Replaced?

You might be asking yourself, “How do I know when my car needs a new battery?” 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.

How do you test a car battery?

One way to test your car battery’s performance is with the use of a multimeter. A multimeter is a handheld device used to measure electrical voltage, resistance and continuity. To test your battery, set the device to read voltage and then turn on your car’s headlights to activate the battery. Touch the multimeter’s probes to the correct corresponding terminals on the battery (negative to negative, positive to positive) to receive a reading. A fully charged battery should be between 12.5 and 12.6 volts.

Of course, if you don’t have a multimeter you can always stop into your nearest Batteries Plus Bulbs store. Our staff will be happy to check your vehicle’s battery for free and let you know if it’s time for a replacement. If you’re worried about your battery’s performance, be sure to have it checked as soon as possible, especially before taking any long trips, or if there’s extreme weather on the horizon.

How much does a car battery cost to replace?

A typical flooded starting battery costs on average of $120 to replace. AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries are slightly more expensive and retail for around $200. Though they cost more, AGM batteries have several advantages over standard flooded SLA batteries. They’re more durable and spill-proof, making them safer to handle. They also recharge faster and provide more engine starts during their lifespan.

If you’re looking for a new battery for your car or truck, Batteries Plus carries hundreds of batteries for any make, model or year, including trusted brands like Duracell, Odyssey and Optima. Our car batteries come with a warranty good at any of our locations nationwide. Best of all, we offer free car battery replacement service on most vehicles—you don’t even have to make an appointment! Plus, we can help you get rid of your old battery responsibly with our battery recycling program.