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How Long Does a Car Battery Last?

  • Car Battery
  • Xavier Sabastian
  • 7 minutes

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What is the lifespan of your car’s battery? It’s important to know how long car batteries last. This is whether you bought a new one or are still using the one that came with the car. Find out what you can expect from your battery today. Find out when it’s time to replace it.

It seems to always happen at the worst time. When you turn the key, nothing happens. The battery is dead. You think, “We just changed the battery a few years ago, right?” Most people don’t think about their car’s battery until it stops working and they can’t get home.

car battery

How Long Do Car Batteries Last?

Not too long ago, car battery companies used 48-, 60-, 72-, or 84-months as a universal way to show how long their batteries were expected to last. They have stopped doing that because it was never a good way to predict how long a battery would last. 

There are too many things going on with the environment and its use. There are too many things that happen after you buy a car battery for you to be able to label them all the same way. You’ll still see these phrases, but the word “battery” will be replaced with “warranty.” That’s always been the case.

Can your car battery die as your drive? Read here to find out.

There are differences in how well batteries work and how long they last.¬†Still, instead of putting a number on the product that isn’t true, most companies have devised a “good, better, best” marketing strategy and set their warranties to match.

No matter what the warranty says, a traditional car battery usually works well for about three years or 36 months, even if it isn’t brand new. Even though many batteries last much longer, that’s when you can notice a change in how well they work.¬†

Unfortunately, car batteries rarely last five years, let alone six or seven. Those that last that long have less power than they used to. 

No matter what the warranty says, a traditional car battery usually works well for about three years or 36 months, even if it isn't brand new. Even though many batteries last much longer, that's when you can notice a change in how well they work. 

Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

What are the types of car batteries?

Even though there are many kinds of car batteries on the market, most of the ones used to start internal combustion engines and power the electrical system fall into one of the following two groups: 

A traditional wet cell or the flooded battery may need maintenance from time to time, or a valve-regulated lead acid (VRLA) battery, a sealed battery, needs less maintenance.

There are also many smaller differences between the two main types. 

The Enhanced Flooded Battery (EFB) and the Absorbent Glass Mat Battery (AGM) are two of the most popular. Both types are made to have strong specs and last for a long time. EVs and hybrids use battery packs that are much bigger, more complex, and not covered here.

A traditional car battery is made of lead and other metal plates soaked in a solution of two-thirds water and one-third sulfuric acid. The formula stores electricity, but the caustic mixture tends to eat itself over time, making the battery weaker.

Image by peoplecreations on Freepik

What You Should Know

A traditional car battery is made of lead and other metal plates soaked in a solution of two-thirds water and one-third sulfuric acid. The formula stores electricity, but the caustic mixture tends to eat itself over time, making the battery weaker.

A battery’s biggest enemy, besides time, is heating. If you live in a hotter-than-average place, like a desert city where triple-digit temperatures are normal for many months of the year, your car battery will die even faster than usual. Because of the heat, the solution inside your battery is drying up. Even in warmer climates, the temperatures under the hood can get very high when the car is used a lot.

A battery's biggest enemy, besides time, is heating. If you live in a hotter-than-average place, like a desert city where triple-digit temperatures are normal for many months of the year, your car battery will die even faster than usual. Because of the heat, the solution inside your battery is drying up. Even in warmer climates, the temperatures under the hood can get very high when the car is used a lot.

Image by Davgood Kirshot from Pixabay

Vibration is another thing that can hurt your battery from the inside. It speeds up the breakdown of the plates inside the battery case sitting in an acid bath.

Any problems with the charging system that don’t get fixed, like a bad alternator, worn, poorly adjusted, broken belts or regulator, or electrical problems, can also shorten the life of a car battery.

Then there are the times when you say, “Oops.” Even though many new cars have built-in safety features, it is still possible to leave the headlights or interior lights on in a parked car, which will kill the battery. A jump start usually will get the car moving again, but doing this repeatedly shortens the battery’s life.

EXTRA READING: What is the cost of a car battery?

How can I get my Battery to Last Longer?

The weather can’t be changed much, but cars with batteries that aren’t in the engine compartment have an advantage. Some common places far away are the trunk or under the back seat. This will reduce the amount of heat exposure.

A battery can last longer if it is well taken care of. Ensure the battery is firmly attached to the tray to stop it from shaking too much. Ensure the belts and alternator in the charging system are in good shape. If the battery is easy to see, check the terminals frequently to ensure they are tight and that corrosion hasn’t built up. Don’t overtighten the terminals. They should be snug, but don’t do it.

A battery can last longer if it is well taken care of. Ensure the battery is firmly attached to the tray to stop it from shaking too much. Ensure the belts and alternator in the charging system are in good shape. If the battery is easy to see, check the terminals frequently to ensure they are tight and that corrosion hasn't built up. Don't overtighten the terminals. They should be snug, but don't do it.

Image by Dennis Gries from Pixabay

If your car doesn’t automatically turn off the headlights and interior lights when you turn off the engine, make sure to do so when you park.¬†

Don’t drive your car much? A battery tender or charger can keep the battery from going dead.

If you buy a new car every two years, your battery will eventually stay strong. The trick is to keep an eye on an older battery. Replace it before it stops working and leaves you stranded. When it comes time to replace it, compare prices on warranties appropriate for your car and the length of time you intend to keep it.

How will I know if my car’s battery is dying?

Even though it seems too simple, turning on the headlights may be the best way to test the strength of your car’s battery. If the lights are less bright than usual, it’s probably time to change the battery.

WAY PLUS

Enroll with Way+ to get Roadside Assistance

Most car batteries need to be boosted every once in a while to keep working. A new, fully charged battery can usually last for two to three weeks before it needs to be charged by a generator. If you can, have someone check on your car every two weeks to ensure the battery is still working. They would only need to turn on your car and run it for 10 to 15 minutes for the battery to be charged by the alternator.

Most car batteries need to be boosted every once in a while to keep working. A new, fully charged battery can usually last for two to three weeks before it needs to be charged by a generator. If you can, have someone check on your car every two weeks to ensure the battery is still working.

Image by peoplecreations on Freepik

If that doesn’t happen, you might need help starting your car, which a roadside assistance membership can give you.

How long does it take to charge your car battery? Read here to find out!

The insurance broker app Way.com has the best car insurance deals and offers roadside assistance through Way+. Way.com gives you the best roadside assistance in the business, including towing, a locksmith service, and a hotline for mechanics. You can check the app or call one of our helpful agents to see if you qualify.

Here’s more info on¬†top-rated airport parking,¬†the best parking spots in your city, affordable¬†auto insurance, easy¬†auto refinance, and¬†high-quality car washes near you.¬†

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