When purchasing a brand new vehicle or if you are currently maintaining one, it is important to understand how long your car battery should last. It is an important part of your vehicle as it helps with starting the engine and runs your electrical components such as your car accessories. It can also be a hefty purchase when these batteries run dry and as such we have created a quick guide to help you understand how long a car battery should last and what signs it shows when it needs replacing.
How long should a car battery last?
A typical battery straight from the dealership should last you about a year. Car manufacturers are required to tell you this information from the get-go and as soon as they release the vehicle to you. It is important to note, however, that these are just for regular car batteries and not for those designed for vehicles with start/stop systems or for hybrid models.
Regular batteries, the ones that you buy from a battery store can last anywhere from 3 to 5 years depending on certain criteria. These usually revolve around hot or cold temperatures, increased electrical use, driving time, and alternator and drive belt condition. If these are consistent and if the alternator and drive belts are always in good shape then your battery should be able to maximize its intended lifespan.
It is important to remember that no battery lasts forever, whether you’re keeping your car stored away or using it every day. You will still have to replace it at some point during your vehicle ownership experience. Pushing the battery beyond its intended lifespan may also cause negative effects as it could fail suddenly without any prior signs of impending failure. For that very reason battery manufacturers recommend replacing a car battery every 5 years.
When your battery hits the 3-year mark, we highly recommend having it tested to see if it is still up to the task. You can have this done at your local battery store so that they can give you more detailed information about your unit. Having this test done will also help give you a clearer picture of your battery’s current state and it can also give you an estimate of when you will need to replace it.
What are the warning signs that my battery is failing?
Modern batteries are designed to use all of its available charges before failing. There are a few signs that it gives off when it's low on juice. You will find that your vehicle is harder to start, or that your headlights are dimmer than normal. Certain electrical components in your vehicle may also begin to show irregularities as well. The best way to truly tell if your battery is beginning to fail is to again have it tested at a local battery shop.
How can I improve my car’s battery life?
There are a few things you can do to help extend your car’s battery life. The first of which is to consider your driving conditions. If you are constantly driving on uneven roads, your battery could suffer from a poor connection at its terminals. When the connection is not suitable, it provides inefficient ways for the battery to receive and conduct electricity. Tightening down your battery hold down and its terminal connections every once in a while goes a long way to ensuring you get to maximize your battery’s lifespan.
Another way to help extend your car battery’s life is by leaving them fully charged while not in use. It is best to avoid leaving the lights on, using the air conditioning system or using the infotainment system while the engine is off. Using these features could weaken the battery and cause your alternator to work harder to pick up the slack. This will in turn decrease the lifespan of other components associated with recharging your battery.
When should I replace my battery?
Doing regular battery tests should help give you a general idea of when you should replace your car battery. If your car comes equipped with a voltmeter it should also help you to know when it's time for a replacement. If the voltage reading falls below 11.6 volts then it's an indicator that the battery is in need of replacing. If it reads anything above that then your battery is fine and healthy and still has a lot more life in it. From there you can make your decision whether or not to purchase a premium battery with a longer warranty and a more productive lifespan or to go with a more affordable battery for better savings down the line. Whichever new battery option you choose make sure to also monitor its power and its ability to maintain a charge to save you from future expenses. This will also help reduce the odds of you being stranded and will serve as a useful indicator if your other charging components are in need of replacement as well.
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