How Long Does A Car Battery Last?

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If you don't want to be left stranded, it is important to know when your car needs a new battery.

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While many of its components are essential to the operation of a motor vehicle, nothing works at all without a functioning battery. Knowing this, it's only natural to wonder how long a car battery lasts. These marvelous compact power sources don't last forever. Over time, their ability to hold an electric charge wanes, and they eventually 'die'. Sure your warranty might last long enough to cover any early malfunctioning, but after it expires, you should know how to spot when your car needs a new battery.

How Long Can a Car Battery Last?

When buying a new battery, it will be helpful to your planned maintenance schedule to know how long a car battery should last. After all, it's not a cheap purchase, and you don't want to have to buy a replacement too often. However, there is always the possibility that something may go wrong and you may need to replace it before it reaches the end of its lifecycle. Batteries are not something that one can repair. That said, the average life of a car battery is usually in the area of three to five years. Naturally, it is possible to extend this by taking good care of your car. This timeline is only relevant for regular batteries for internal combustion engine cars.

With EVs like the Tesla Model S becoming more popular, lithium-ion battery technology is advancing quickly and these units can last a lot longer than their ICE counterparts. Apart from being built differently, they also rely on a different type of charging system. How long does an electric car battery last exactly? Well, most manufacturers will provide a five- to eight-year warranty, but the best electric car battery should last for around 10 to 20 years. These batteries aren't the same as the traditional batteries found on regular gas-fed cars, though.

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How Do I Know When My Car Needs a New Battery?

No matter how long the life of a car battery should be, there is no guarantee that it will meet expectations. There are several warning signs that your battery might be failing before its time, and if your warranty, you should be even more vigilant. These include:

  • The car battery is always dying: The most obvious sign would be that the battery doesn't do its job of starting your car at all. If you need to jump-start your car a few times a week, you should already be planning your finances around buying a new battery.
  • The car struggles to start: If your car battery doesn't die overnight outright, then it may simply struggle to start in the morning. This could sometimes be attributed to cold weather, but it could just as easily be a sign of a failing battery. This is because an aging battery doesn't create enough charge for the starter on the first few tries.
  • The dashboard warning lights are on: There are warning lights on the dash for a reason, and a malfunctioning battery could trigger either the check engine or car battery light. Whenever these lights come on, it is a good idea to consult a mechanic. Read more about what warning lights and symbols on your dashboard mean here.
  • There is corrosion: If you see a white substance around the metal parts of your battery, then you probably have a corrosion issue. This can affect the car battery voltage and may make it harder to start your vehicle.
  • The battery case is misshapen: The elements are always working against you, and the constant exposure to and changes between heat and cold can cause a battery case to swell and/or crack. This can cause the chemicals inside to leak or not react properly, which can cause malfunctions.
  • There are electrical problems: Your car battery is responsible for running all the electronics in your car, so if it isn't functioning properly, there will be knock-on effects. These could include dimming or flickering lights in the cabin, or even problems with your electric door locks and windows.
  • The voltage is lower: Most of the abovementioned situations are the result of low voltage. If you want to be sure if your battery is up to the task, all your need to do is test it. You can use a voltage tester and connect the cables to your battery's positive and negative connections. If the scanner shows that there is less than 11.8V, then chances are you will struggle to get your car started.
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How To Keep Your Car Battery From Dying

While it isn't a permanent solution, there are ways to prolong the life of a battery. These are stop-gaps, and once they stop helping, you will have no choice but to replace the battery. Nevertheless, here are some tips to buy you time:

  • Recharge it - a trickle charger can keep your battery from draining over periods of non-use.
  • Don't stop and start constantly - repeated ignition sequences without enough time to charge in-between can hurt the battery.
  • Take long trips - just as many short trips can hurt a battery's lifespan, a long trip will help charge it to full capacity.
  • Unplug non-essentials - additional accessories like dashcams can be a huge drain on your battery if you aren't getting the chance to charge it properly. Likewise, leaving your car with the radio playing for hours on end without starting or driving it will drain the battery.
  • Use the right battery for your car - it may seem like a no-brainer but using a battery that doesn't meet your vehicle's specs is going to cause problems.
Car Battery Life Average Pexels.com

Conclusion

Nothing lasts forever and, eventually, your battery will need to be replaced. You can use the provided tips to try to extend its lifespan, and hopefully the guide to the warning signs will ensure you know when to get a new one. Luckily, car batteries aren't exorbitantly expensive, with the average 12V unit costing between $50 and $200. They are also quite easy to install, so you won't need to pay service fees.

FAQs

Can a car battery last 10 years?

Theoretically, it is possible. Driving a vehicle frequently, over long enough trips to keep the battery healthy and charged helps. And taking steps to trickle charge or safely store the battery when not in use, too. However, the average lifespan of a car battery is between three to seven years, and an aging battery can be a hazard. We don't recommend using batteries past their official shelf life.

How long can a car battery last without driving?

If your battery is in good condition, it should be able to retain enough charge to start your car for around two weeks of inactivity. High-end cars like a Mercedes S-Class with plenty of onboard electronics and gadgets, often suffer from greater loss of charge over time. If you plan on going any longer, it would be wise to connect your battery up to a charger.

How often do you need to start your car to keep the battery from dying?

Ideally, you don't want to start and drive your car just to charge the battery. A battery charger is the smarter choice if that's your goal. However, if you don't have one, you should start your car around once a week and take it for a drive. Simply starting it to check if the battery is still working will only deteriorate the charge if you don't take it for a spin, too.

How to disconnect car battery?

Disconnecting or removing a car battery is not complicated. Simply ensure that vehicle is turned off then loosen the nut on the negative connection and remove the connector. Do the same for the positive afterward. If you plan on leaving the battery disconnected for some time, be sure to store it in a place where extreme heat or cold will not be a problem, and possible attach it to a charger to make sure it will still work properly when you reattach it.

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