How Long Should a Car Battery Last?

How long does a Car Battery last?

Car batteries have been around in cars of all shapes and sizes for almost as long as what car has been around. For the most part, they have retained the same format for most of that time, even though today’s cars are very much different from those a hundred years ago.

Car batteries are mostly Ni-Cd multicell units that are mostly maintenance free, which is why they often get the least attention in the engine bay. As with most components, they do have an optimal lifespan and it’s important to know when it’s time to either replace or at the least service your car battery.

Average Car Battery Lifespan

Most car batteries will last anywhere between 3 to 4 years in “normal” conditions, of course, normal is a relative term when it comes to our cars and how we use them. Your car battery’s main function is to provide the electrical power to start your car, with minimal use during the journey at which time it gets recharged for the next travel cycle. If your usage falls within the normal cycle then you should enjoy at least 4 years of service from your car battery.

However, there are certain factors that could shorten the lifespan of your car battery. These factors are:

  • A high number of short journeys daily
  • Extended periods of non-usage
  • Low levels of electrolytes in serviceable batteries
  • Mechanical issues relating to your alternator and electrical system

Anyone of these could severely shorten your battery’s lifespan and compounding these factors will most certainly damage the battery much faster.

How do you know when your battery is failing?

With the hustle and bustle of our lives, we tend to pay less attention and disregard the small telltale signs of potential battery damage. Many drivers, especially “new” drivers might not even know what to look out for in this regard. So here are the major signs of a failing battery.

  • Struggling Cold Starts – if your vehicle is struggling to start in the morning on a regular basis
  • Reduced Electrical System – if your electrical system such as electrical windows operate slower when the car is not running
  • Physical Damage or Leaking – if you see any damage on your battery or notice that the terminals are corroded or battery fluids (acid) is leaking out.
  • Lifespan – if your battery is older than 4 years then you should seriously consider replacement.

For some, these warning signs might seem obvious yet a very large portion of roadside assistance callouts are due to battery failure. Car batteries are the silent but vital component in your engine bay and as a result get very little attention un till it’s too late.

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How do you make your car battery last?

Even though you can only safely rely on an average 4 years from your battery, there are many reports from users in various regions and weather conditions that have had the same car battery for as long as 6 years and more. Considering the warning signs above its relatively simple to get the most out of your battery:

  • Physical Inspections – a quick 10-second check on your battery’s physical state weekly when you fill up with fuel.
  • Deep Cycle Charge – this only happens when you drive for longer than 1 hour on average, longer if possible. Your battery charges slower than you think even though it has a huge capacity for discharge, so a longer drive allows the alternator to charge the battery effectively.
  • Electrical System Usage – try no to use your electrical system excessively when the car is not running, this drains the battery charge substantially and will require proper deep cycle charge to recharge the battery. Excessive use will most certainly damage your battery.

Final Thoughts

Your car battery should last at least 3 years and on average 4 years even in most harsh conditions. So, the best thing to do is to make a note to check it at least 2 to 4 times a year and to prepare to replace it when you get to 4 years of duty. If you follow just some of the suggestions in this article you should get above average lifespan from your battery and might never suffer the frustration of getting stuck on the side of the road with a dead battery.