One of the biggest concerns with modern cars is that every system in one now needs power from the battery. This means that there is a lot more drawing power these days, even when the car is turned off. It’s no surprise then that many people are searching the internet for an answer to the question: how long does a car battery last for.
There are so many factors that can impact this question: the quality of the battery itself, the connections made to the battery, the systems drawing power from it and even the way you drive. All of these elements can shorten the lifespan of a car battery. However, the general rule of thumb for how long a car battery will last is four years and up to six years if everything is kept in order.
What can impact battery life?
One of the biggest causes of a shortened battery life is extreme fluctuations in temperature. Unfortunately, there’s not a lot you can do about this if you live in an area that experiences these regularly. The most important thing to try is to park your car inside a garage. This will at least minimise the impact of direct weather on the vehicle as it stands still when you’re at home or at work for long hours.
The more sophisticated your vehicle, the more likely it is to suffer from a power drain on the battery. Automatic headlights or the radio staying on until you open the car door after you park are both great features, but they can put a strain on the battery. People who regularly charge their phones in their cars are also negatively impacting their car battery over time. All of these will eventually lead to a complete failure in the battery as it puts more and more strain on it each time you use the vehicle.
Car batteries are subject to wear and tear. Each time you start your car’s engine, you are using up power from the battery that won’t charge back up all the way. The difference is infinitesimal to begin with, but will slowly get more and more noticeable as the battery degrades.
Is my car battery dead?
There are a few tell-tale signs that you can look out for on a car battery to tell if it’s dying. The first one people generally notice is that their car takes a few tries to start. You can also check to see if your headlights dim whenever you stop your car at a red light or stop street.
However, when your battery is actually dead, you know about it straight away. Your car simply won’t start when you turn the key. A battery with only a tiny bit of charge left in it will give the illusion that your car is about to start, and that is enough to drain it completely and leave you standing still.
Mechanics and auto-electricians generally recommend that you replace your car battery every four years. You can wait for the signs that your battery is struggling, but then it may be too late. It’s not fun to be out one night and not be able to get home because your battery has died and your car won’t start.
It could also end up being an expensive operation to replace your battery once it has already died. In a modern car, all the systems rely on the battery. When the battery dies in a catastrophic failure, the repercussions could spread throughout your car, and you could end up needing to fix or replace more than just the battery.
How to improve car battery life
Longer trips are better for cars. They have a way of blowing out all the proverbial cobwebs from the internal systems and allow the battery to fully charge after starting the engine. If you only have a short regular commute, it’s a good idea to take your car out for a couple of hours on the weekends. You get a nice day trip, and your car can take care of its battery for you.
On shorter trips, your battery can’t go through a full charging cycle. Starting a car takes a huge portion of the battery charge, and if you don’t drive for long enough, you can’t replenish that electricity taken when you turn the ignition key. If the battery doesn’t get fully charged on a regular basis, the acid in the battery splits into to two. The heavier part of the acid sinks to the bottom and the lighter stays at the top of the battery. The top, lighter layer begins to corrode the battery plates over time, which will shorten its lifespan.
Your actual driving style can also have a big impact on the lifespan of a battery. Heavy vibrations or physical jolts to the battery can cause the acid inside to hit the plates and corrode them. It can also put a physical strain on the connections to the battery. This is why regularly driving over bad roads or taking corners too hard can be bad for your battery. Ensuring your tyres and shocks are in good condition, as well as maintaining safe driving speeds will go a long way to keeping your battery in tip-top condition.
So How Long Does My Car Battery Last For?
It depends on the above factors that we’ve discussed. If a car battery can’t retain charge and cannot be recharged, it’s considered dead. So first and foremost, grab yourself a car battery charger and make sure your battery is still functioning. We’ve done a set of reviews on some of the best chargers on the market.
If we were to consider all factors to be ideally perfect, you could expect a battery to last for up to 6 years. In North America, the weather differences across the country can affect this ideal time period so one could expect a fairly well-maintained battery to last anywhere between 2 and 5 years.
That is taking into consideration the varying weather conditions across North America and the idea that the battery hasn’t been kept in the most perfect of conditions.
Stay safe on the roads
You can keep an eye on the health of your car battery by driving safely and making sure you take at least weekly longer trips to complete a charge cycle. You can also do monthly inspections of your car battery. Check the plates and the connections to ensure no acid corrosion has occurred, and that the wires haven’t been pulled or strained in any way.
There are also tools you can use to test your car battery, like a multimeter or hydrometer. These tools will tell you how much charge is currently in the battery. If you’re concerned that your battery is losing charge while the car is sitting still, these tools are very useful. If you’re in doubt, and your battery is around the four-year mark or more, it might well be time to get a new one – just to ensure that you are safe on the roads.