How Long Should a Car Battery Last and What Can You Do About It?
How long should a car battery last? Even the most distinguished experts and the best mechanics have a hard time answering this question with any degree of certainty. Since regular, maintenance-free lead-acid car batteries don’t always show any signs that they might fail soon, they end up failing at some of the most inconvenient times. Fortunately, there are accurate estimates about car battery life and when you should consider replacing your battery with a new one.
How Long Should You Expect Your Battery to Hold?
At one time, you’d have plenty of notice that a battery was fading, with slow cranking and little reserve power. Often with new battery designs, they may not tell you when they are about to fail. But how long should a car battery last under normal circumstances? Before answering this question it’s important to know that your battery will age no matter what. Even keeping your car in the garage will do it for the most part. Also, factors such as driving in cold weather and the intense use of electrical and electronic devices while driving can impact your battery’s life span to a certain degree. That being said, most experts will agree that battery life depends on the quality of the battery, but it normally ranges between 3 and 5 years. Some will even recommend that car owners change their batteries after 4 years of use no matter what their current condition is.
Signs That Your Battery Might Fail
In times gone by, car batteries used to give drivers many indications that they might fail sometime soon. Regarding car battery life, a good mechanic could tell you that signs such as dimming headlights, the more frequent need for revving and jump starting, strain in cold weather and unusual power fluctuations would be indicative of a faulty or quickly draining battery. However, while these signs may appear in older battery designs, most new batteries simply fail, often unexpectedly.
Car Battery Warranty Details
Your car battery has a warranty and also has a stamp that indicates precisely when it was manufactured. How long should a car battery last considering these details? Your car owner manual should also have additional details about the battery’s more specific details, and if your battery is the replacement of a similar unit, you can estimate how long it’s going to last based on how long it took your last battery to fail. Moreover, some experts will tell you that the battery’s life will depend on the warranty. Most batteries have 1, 2 or 3-year warranties depending on their quality and price. You can expect batteries with a 1-year warranty to fail much sooner than the more expensive units that have 2 or 3-year warranties (and maybe not even last through their entire warranty phase).
How to Increase Battery Life
Like the battery in a cell phone or a laptop, an automotive battery is rechargeable and can only withstand so many charge/discharge cycles before it starts to weaken. There are many factors you can adjust in the long run to improve your battery’s life and prevent it from failing sooner. Vibrations from rough travel, for example, can severely impair the normal functioning capacity of a poorly secured battery. So you might want to avoid driving on a lot of bad roads and make sure your battery’s hold-down clamps are good and tight. It’s good practice to always keep your battery fully charged by not leaving your headlights on when you’re not driving. Routine maintenance can also help, especially if you have your battery checked every time you change the oil.
How Often Should You Replace Your Car Battery?
This is a long-standing debate, and there are many opinions regarding the necessity to buy more expensive batteries that are expected to last longer, versus sticking to cheaper models that might need more maintenance and frequent replacements. If you have a battery from a distinguished brand that’s known to be more expensive and built for resilience, good care can make it last for up to 6 years. In most cases, however, the typical car battery life will be 4-5 years even under the best of circumstances.