How Long is a Car Battery Supposed to Last?
Every vehicle needs a car battery to start the engine. Your car battery also filters, produces, and sustains power for the ignition and electrical systems. Basically, your battery is your vehicle’s lifeline. If your battery isn’t in working order, your car won’t be either. So how long is a car battery supposed to last?
How Long Do Car Batteries Last?
The average car battery lasts between three and five years. However, there are a variety of factors that can affect your battery’s lifespan. These factors include:
Short trips—less than 20 minutes—can shorten the lifespan of your vehicle’s battery. Why? Because each time you start your car, it uses your battery’s power. Short car rides don’t give your car enough time to recharge the battery. Make sure you make longer trips occasionally to give your battery a chance to recharge.
Batteries in vehicles parked for extended periods naturally self-discharge. If you are not going to use the car for a while, disconnect the battery from the car and remove it from the car altogether. Or, use a trickle charger designed to keep a battery at a constant level of charge over a long period of time.
Also, allowing your car battery to completely run down multiple times might reduce the battery’s life span. Make sure your car’s headlights and interior lights are always off when you leave the vehicle, and avoid using the vehicle’s electronics (air conditioner, radio, etc.) when the car is off.
Extreme temperatures are one of the biggest factors in determining the average car battery life. In extremely cold temperatures, consider using a thermal blanket or electric battery blanket to keep your battery warm and make it easier to start the vehicle. In extremely hot temperatures, keep your car in a garage or in the shade as much as possible to reduce battery deterioration.
Do you ever clean your car battery? Corroded batteries weaken the battery’s charge and decrease its lifespan. Keep corrosion under control by using a baking soda and water mixture to clean the battery. Scrub the mixture on the battery with a toothbrush, then wipe off excess moisture and any grease or dirt on the battery.
The Car Care Council recommends testing your car’s battery periodically. Batteries typically do not go bad overnight, so regularly checking the battery will indicate if it isn’t putting out the amount of amperage it should. Don’t own a battery tester? We can test it for you! In fact, at Virginia Tire & Auto, we test your battery every time you come in for an Extra-Mile Oil Change as part of our courtesy 25-point inspection.
If your battery is the type that needs to be topped off, check it regularly and add distilled water when necessary.
Missing or loose hardware can shorten battery life because of vibration, which causes internal battery parts to break down. Check the battery mount regularly to make sure the battery is tightly fastened and properly positioned, and make sure any cables are tightly fastened as well.
Signs You Need a New Car Battery
No matter how much maintenance and cleaning you do, a car battery will conk out at some point. Look for the following signs that it’s time to replace your battery:
- Corrosion, or white build-up around the positive, “+,” and negative, “-,” connections.
- Slow engine crank
- Check engine and/or battery light
- Swollen or bloated battery case
- Battery leak
- Low battery fluid level
- Age (older than five years)
Not sure how old your battery is? Your car battery comes with a “born on” date. Normally, it’s the first letter and the first number of the inscribed code. The letter corresponds to a month—A is January, B is February, C is March, D is April, and so on. The number corresponds to the final digit of the year—6 would be 2016, 7 would be 2017, 8 would be 2018, 9 would be 2019, etc.
If it’s more than 4 years old, consider replacing your car battery soon! Don’t wait until you’re stranded in a parking lot to get a new battery.
Keep Your Battery in Check with Virginia Tire & Auto
If you’re having car battery trouble, let our expert technicians diagnose the issue. After we test the car battery, we’ll either provide the necessary repairs or replace it with a quality, long-lasting Interstate battery.
Plus, our tried-and-true car battery replacement process guarantees that your navigation, radio, and other electronic presets stay locked in.
Bring your vehicle into Virginia Tire & Auto for all your car battery needs. Schedule an appointment at one of our convenient locations today!