How Long Should a Car Battery Life Last? (Guide for 2019 Updated)
Have you ever wonder how long does car battery last? Honestly speaking, even the most experienced mechanic can’t give you a precise answer.
Typically car battery life can last anywhere from 3 – 5 years depending on your usage, condition it’s used in and a number of other factors.
Also, the different type of batteries will have varied shelf life too. Some heavy-duty vehicle battery can last up to 10 years!
Either way, you will need to test your battery regularly to keep your car driving at its very best.
After all, a dead battery isn’t of any use to you and your car, so it’s important to know how to extend your battery’s life or learn how to replace your old one.
So, the topics we’ll explore in this article are:
- How Long Do Car Batteries Last?
- Factors That Can Impact Battery Life
- Signs That Your Battery Might Fail
and other car battery maintenance guide and F.A.Q to extend the car battery lifespan:
- How to Check if the Battery Still Work Optionally?
- How to Tell if Your Car Battery is Dead?
- How Long Does It Take to Charge a Car Battery?
- How to Charge a Car Battery at Home?
- How Often to Replace Your Car Battery?
and many more below.
How Long Should A Vehicle Battery Last?
The most straightforward answer to this question is, it depends.
There are a number of factors that can extend or shorten your battery’s life.
And, car battery life is the amount of time that your battery can perform and start your car engine.
The life of your car battery depends on how long it can hold its charge and is capable of being recharged. Once it can’t be recharged, it’s dead. – Valerie Johnston, Your Mechanic
But how long should a car battery last under normal usage?
It’s vital to know that battery will age whether you use it or not.
If you don’t consider any outside factors such as humidity and temperature, intense use of electrical and electronic devices while driving; battery life can last up to six years.
However, from the feedback of many drivers, realistically, it can only average about two to five years.
Some expert will even recommend replacing a new car battery after four years regardless of the battery condition.
Assuming in the four years, you are driving your car daily, so it’s safe to assume the car battery is fully utilized.
Factors that Can Impact Battery Life
Like what was said above, many different factors that can affect your battery’s ability to perform its job better for longer.
Knowing what these things can help you understand what your battery needs and ultimately help you make the most out of it as well.
Here are a few factors you should be aware of:
- Depth of Discharge
The engine isn’t the only thing that your car battery is powering up.
Many other car parts get energy from your battery as well, including your AC, the windshield wipers, your stereo, and so on.
These accessories will deplete your battery charges. The more you use them, the more energy is taken from the battery, and the more is reduced from its life cycle.
Temperature is one of the most important (and hard to control) factors when it comes to auto batteries.
When it comes to temperatures, car batteries have an ideal working environment of about 65 to 90° Fahrenheit.
However, we cannot control the weather and climate we live in.
Sometimes our car battery will be exposed to extreme cold and extreme heat.
Both extremes can cause a significant reduction in your battery’s use cycle.
- Cyclic Life
You know that there are different kinds of vehicle batteries according to the material they’re made with like AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) and lead-acid.
All batteries also have different cyclic lives, depending on make, model, or brand.
Cyclic life is the number of use cycles a car battery can offer.
The fewer the number of use cycles your battery has, the shorter the span of its life.
- Recharge Rate & Voltage
The rate of charging differs from battery to battery.
Some will take a whopping 12 hours to reach 100% while others need only half the time to get fully recharged.
Regardless, it is crucial that you do not overcharge your batteries as that can lead to its ultimate failure or leak.
As such, if your voltmeter reads between 14.4 and 14.6 volts if you have an AGM battery, then it’s fully charged.
However, if it’s reading between 11.8 and 12.0 volts, then your battery is completely discharged.
- Driving Habits
Most of the factors above are all technical stuff about batteries, but one other factor that significantly impacts your battery life is the way you drive.
You might think that driving shorter trips can save battery life, but the opposite is true.
Daily short trips can drain your battery more because your car’s engine requires more energy to start than the actual driving trip itself.
Plus, shorter trips pave the way to undercharging and not getting fully charged can also shorten your battery’s life further.
Signs that Your Battery Might Fail Soon
Before your battery even dies, it might be a good idea to be observant and mindful.
What for the signs that can tell you if it might fail sooner rather than later.
Don’t get surprised! Here are a few telltale signs that your battery might fail you:
Corrosion is an easy sign to tell that your car battery is in bad condition.
Even though batteries require acid in order to function properly, they don’t corrode around the cables unless there’s a sign of a leak. – Mighty Auto Shop
The acid leak can mess up the metal that makes up your actual battery.
Now, think about what it can do if it comes into contact with the other parts of your car.
If you live it on its own, corrosion and acid leak will not only affect your battery but also create lots of problems for your whole car.
- “Check Engine” Light is ON
Another easy sign is when you see the ‘Check Engine’ light is on in your dashboard.
It means that your system has found a problem somewhere.
While this symbol can also suggest that there is a problem with the engine, it can also signify an underlying problem.
Therefore, bring your auto to the mechanic at once. He might need to check your electrical system or another part of your car.
- Slow Engine Crank
Sometimes visible signs aren’t as easy to see, so it pays to be observant in the way your car performs.
If you’re having a hard time starting your car on a typical day or your lights aren’t as bright as they should be, then the problem might be with your battery.
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. – Advanceautoparts
It might already be weak or dying. Make sure to check or have your battery tested by a professional as soon as possible.
Delaying the check-up might leave you with a dead battery and a car that won’t start up.
- Low Battery Fluid Levels
Battery fluid is essential to your battery’s performance. If you are using a wet-cell battery, you have to constantly remind to top up the battery water.
If you can’t see the fluid in your battery’s translucent case, then that means your battery will most likely stop working soon.
Usually, refueling the battery water will make it work back again. But, if the battery is out of water for too long which will likely cause the plates inside to spoiled.
If that is the case, make plans to replace your vehicle battery soon.
How to Check Car Battery?
Diagnostic tests are a great way to check if your car battery is still working optimally.
Want to learn how to check car battery life? There are many ways to do so.
The internet is full of articles and websites that can show you different ideas on how to do this.
Here, check out this article to learn two easy ways – How to Check A Car Battery. But, if you want more interactive lesson, watch this video instead:
Also, if you want to learn more about car battery accessories and gadget to use to test batteries, check out this article – Car Battery Tester.
How to Tell If Your Car Battery is Dead?
The easiest way to tell that you have a dead battery is that your car won’t start. That’s obvious, isn’t it?
But then again, that might mean different things as well. Many thing can cause a car won’t start, although the dead battery is usually the main culprit.
So, how can you tell the difference between a dead and drained battery and a battery that needs to be recharged?
Here are a few signs that your battery is dead:
- No chime when the key is inserted
- No headlights
- No radio
- The engine won’t start, but the starter motor can be heard
The most obvious sign is hearing the starter motor trying to kick start the engine but the car won’t start. If you hear this, it pretty confirms that the battery is the issue.
How Long Does It Take to Charge A Car Battery?
The type of battery charger you use is essential to ensure that you recharge your battery safely.
So, make sure to choose the right one for your specific needs.
Now, a method you should employ when charging is the slow charging method or trickle charging.
It helps to decrease the chance of overcharging and lower the risk of permanent damage.
How long your battery needs to be charged can depend on the power your battery can provide as well as how drained your battery is.
Some batteries need up to 12 hours to recharge while other chargers can fully charge them at 4 to 6 hours.
How to Charge a Car Battery at Home?
To be sure, it is still recommended to have a professional look at and recharge your battery for you. They know what they’re doing, and there is a lower risk of error.
However, going to an auto professional is costlier than and not as convenient as charging at home. To learn more about recharging your vehicle battery at home, read this article – How to Charge a Car Battery.
And, to see which is the best battery chargers to buy by reading this article – Best Car Battery Charger.
How Often to Replace your Car Battery?
Remember that car battery replacement is inevitable during your vehicle’s life. Car batteries just can’t last long enough for a single car, and that’s fine. Regular replacement can ensure that your auto’s performance is always first-rate.
So, when to replace a car battery?
The average time that you should replace your car battery is every 2 to 3 years. But if you think that your battery is already showing signs of aging, then it’s never too early to get it checked out.
Car Battery Maintenance Guide & F.A.Q
- Car Battery Maintenance
- How to Increase Battery Life?
- How Much Do Car Batteries Cost?
- Car Battery Warranty Details
- Battery Replacement & Recycling
- Replacing Car Batteries
Car Battery Maintenance
Proper car battery maintenance can be the difference between a great battery and a bad one.
Keeping your battery well-maintained has all the pros, so there’s no reason why you shouldn’t do it.
Most automotive batteries require regular maintenance in the form of checking the electrolyte level and specific gravity.
- Electrolyte level
So, if you are using a wet-cell battery, you have to replenish the electrolyte water whenever it goes below the markings.
The Electrolyte is a solution of sulfuric acid and water, should always cover the lead plates in each cell.
- Specific gravity
The specific gravity in a battery will indicate the battery condition whether it’s still good or already gone bad.
If the specific gravity is low across all the cells, the battery is typically in need of a charge. If the specific gravity remains low after charging the battery, that’s usually a good indicator that the battery should be replaced. If the specific gravity is only low in one cell, that indicates an internal fault, in which case charging the battery may actually be dangerous. – Lifewire
Even though the vehicle alternator can recharge the car battery under normal circumstances, but inevitably batteries can go dead for many reasons.
Here are a few things you can do to prolong a car battery life:
- Clean the corrosion from your battery
- Check electrolyte levels, add water if necessary
- Check battery condition, test electrolyte with a hydrometer
How to Increase Battery Life?
To extend the lifespan of your battery, you should definitely employ proper maintenance routines.
Some of the routines are like cleaning your battery contacts and getting regular check-ups with your local auto shop.
You can also keep in mind key factors that will most likely affect your battery, like ensuring that your car is well-protected from extreme temperatures and etcetera.
Never leave your lights or air conditioning on while your vehicle is switched off, as they’ll drain the battery – Warrantywise
You should also keep your accessories turned off to when the car is not in use to avoid battery drainage.
Another thing to remember is your driving habits.
It’s okay to drive regularly to keep your battery performing well. However, try to avoid driving short trips by planning beforehand.
Remember that each time you start your car will require a significant amount of power from your battery. If you’re not giving it enough time to recharge back during driving, it’s shorter the car battery lifespan.
Want to learn more about battery reconditioning? Check out this article – How to Recondition Batteries
How Much Do Car Batteries Cost?
The cost of car batteries highly depends on the brand, the model, the type, and the power it can provide.
One of the lowest prices you can get for a good auto battery model is about $99.
But of course, prices can go up to about $200 or more.
According to CostHelper, a typical car battery costs between $50 and $120, while premium batteries cost $90 to $200. One of the most common is the lead-acid battery, which costs in the neighborhood of $125 to $135 but can run as low as $60. – Angielist
Probably, the average price of an automotive battery will be somewhere in the $125 range more or less.
If you are buying truck batteries, then it can cost higher as a truck battery is made to be tough and usually comes with higher crack power.
The average price for a truck battery is about $160 – $180 for a starter.
Car Battery Warranty Details
Each car battery has a warranty that goes with it. Make sure to study your car battery warranty details like that manufactured date and make the most of it.
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 – Advanceautoparts
Knowing the warranty before buying the battery is a smart move since you can avail of any of their services if anything goes wrong.
Plus, you can decide which model or brand to get depending on the warranty details they have. It’s safe to say that battery that cost more usually come with a longer warranty period which you can buy with a peace of mind.
However, sometimes a seemingly good product doesn’t always have the best warranty. While it’s rare but that can be a deal breaker for some people.
Battery Replacement & Recycling
When your battery needs to be replaced, you can do it yourself or have a professional do it for you. If you want to play safe, choose the expert way.
But, have you ever wonder what happens with your old battery then?
Well, it’s illegal for you to dispose of your old battery along with your household waste. That’s because auto batteries contain toxic waste.
In the US, federal law requires, with certain exceptions, used Nickel Cadmium (Ni-Cd) and Lead (Pb) batteries to be managed as Universal Waste (40 CFR Part 273). The Universal Waste Rule prohibits handlers (e.g., contractors) from disposing of waste Ni-Cd and Pb batteries and further indicates that these batteries must be sent for recycling. – Call 2 Recycle
However, local auto shops can take your battery from you for a small fee. They will be able to dispose of it for you properly.
Other batteries, if they are well-maintained enough, can be reconditioned. Some parts can be taken, and others melted down for futures use.
Replacing Car Batteries
It’s easy to replace the car battery by yourself and buying a new battery by yourself if not hard either.
While there are many brands of batteries on the market, only three famous companies produce most of the maintenance-free batteries used in the United States today. They are Delphi, Exide and Johnson Controls Industries.
Therefore, it’s not important which brand you choose ultimately knowing that majority of the batteries are made by those three companies.
What really matters when come to selecting a car battery is the age, cold cranking amps, reserve capacity, and group size.
All batteries have a manufacture date tag on them, and usually, they should be sold within 3 to 6months of that date. Check for the date sticker that usually located on the top of the battery cover. The sticker will have information like the month and year that the car battery is manufactured.
- Group Size
Group size measure determines the outside dimensions and where the battery terminals are. Each type of car required a different group size. For example, a sedan car will have a different group size than an SUV.
Make sure the group size of the battery you’re buying matches that of the one you’re replacing, otherwise, the battery will either not fit under the hood or connect to the wire.
Fortunately, most battery sellers group them by the car make, model and year they can be used for.
- Cold Cranking Amps
Also known as CCA, this measure the car battery’s capacity to start a car at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17 degrees Celsius). The higher the Cold Cranking Amps, the better it will start in the cold.
You can find the CCA info on the sticker usually located on the top of the battery cover or as the side.
Also, it’s good to note that a car battery that has high CCA will cost more as the technology needed to build the battery is more sophisticated and usually the battery is higher of quality.
- Reserve Capacity
Reserve capacity measure how long the battery will continue to work without the car alternator and it’s usually measured in hours.
In short, it indicates how long your car can run off battery power alone if the alternator suddenly dies.
Now, the manufacturer usually does not indicate the reserve capacity hour on the battery. But some occasionally do.
In case you can’t find the reserve capacity hour, check the internet and you will find the information on the company website.