A car needs a battery to work. Not only does this device power up the vehicle, it also provides a vehicle with electricity used for things like your headlights, windshield wipers, not to mention parking sensors and even the radio.
This article explains how long car batteries last for and what you can do to keep them working for as long as possible. After all, they are the heart of a car.
How long do they last?
The lifespan of a car battery varies depending on the state of the car it is installed in, the weather conditions and how you operate your car.
Car batteries do not last forever and over time, the power supply from a battery will gradually weaken from general use which ultimately leads to the need for a replacement. On average, a car battery should last between five and seven years.
Let’s take a look at what factors can impact a car battery.
Factors That Can Impact a Car Battery
A car battery operates best at temperatures between 65 to 90 degrees fahrenheit. Therefore, when temperatures are abnormally hot, this can lead to an increase in the rate of degradation. Similarly, extremely low temperatures create the same problem.
In these situations, a heat shield can be installed to combat the problem. The car battery can also be relocated to a cooler area outside the engine compartment, such as on the trunk floor or under the back seat.
How A Car is Driven
Your driving habits can affect the lifespan of a battery. This doesn’t depend on the way you drive, it relies more on how long you drive the vehicle for.
Using a car for short, frequent trips can negatively impact a car battery as it is not getting enough time to sufficiently charge. Starting up a vehicle requires a huge amount of power and driving for short distances does not leave a lot of time for it to charge. This can decrease the life time of a battery from five years to three.
Charging Rate and Voltage
Excessively overcharging a car battery can ultimately lead to its failure. It is recommended to only charge a battery up to around 90% to ensure it is not overcharged.
A good voltage reading, when the engine is turned on, should read between 13.6 to 14.6 volts.
Common Signs of a Weak Battery
The most common warning sign of a weak battery is an illuminated icon on the dashboard. This warning light indicates there is an issue with the battery and should therefore be seen to as soon as possible.
Another telltale sign is when the engine fails to start or ‘crank’. This is mostly prevalent in the colder months and is usually an indication of a weakening battery.
Dimmed or faded headlights can also be a symptom of battery weakness. If other electrical features in your car seem abnormal, it is most likely an issue with the battery.
Maintaining Your Car Battery
As discussed earlier in this article, a car battery may need to be replaced several times during the lifetime of your car. However, there are ways to make sure you are getting the most out of your car battery.
Avoid short, frequent trips if you can. Taking your car for a longer drive will give your car battery time to charge.
It is a good idea to inspect your battery every now and again for signs of corrosion and other problems such as battery leaks or swelling around the casing.
Do not turn on your electrics
If the engine is not running, do not turn on the electrics and instead, have a professional take a look and diagnose the problem for you.
Keep the battery in charge when not driving
If the engine of a vehicle is not turned on for long periods of time, this will spoil the battery rendering it useless. This may happen if you are away from home for a significant time and the car is not in use. Getting someone to take the car for a drive will charge the battery.
Make sure the headlights, interior lights and other electricals such as the radio are not in use when the engine is turned off as this can quickly drain the battery.
How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Car Battery?
A typical battery replacement for a conventional car can cost anywhere between $50 and $150.
A replacement battery for an electric car costs considerably more, around the region of $1000 upwards. However, these do not often need replacing.
Let’s take a look at the different types of car battery and the cost to replace them.
Types of Battery
Lead acid battery – This is the most common type of battery and costs between $120-$140 to replace.
AGM (absorbent glass mat) battery – Commonly used to power luxury vehicles, an AGM battery roughly starts at $200 to replace.
There are many more types of battery on the market and different cars require different batteries. The cost of labor on top of the replacement can be anywhere between $10-$100 unless you are able to install one yourself.
Many car batteries are also sold with a 3 or 4 year guarantee. So if any defects arise during that warranty period, then you will be covered.
The Final Verdict
Looking back at what we have discussed, the average car battery can last between 5 to 7 years. The lifespan of a car battery heavily depends on what kind of driver you are, the weather conditions in your area and if you maintain the battery at all with regular inspections.
A good tip is to make sure your electrics are turned off when the engine is not in use. It is easy to sit listening to your car radio or have your headlights turned on if you are sat waiting for someone. However, this can negatively impact your car battery.
Always consult a professional mechanic if you suspect your battery may need replacing.