If you own a car or plan to own a car, it’s a good idea to know how long car batteries last. Sooner or later, your car battery will need to be replaced. Being prepared can help you avoid breaking down on the side of the road.
There are many things to consider when figuring out how long a car battery will last. Let’s look at some of the factors as we address this car battery FAQ.
How Long Do Car Batteries Last?
The question doesn’t have a simple answer. There are a few main factors that can make a pretty big difference in the lifespan of your car battery. Simply put, however, a car battery will not last forever.
Most commonly, car batteries will last between three and five years. If you try to push your car battery longer than five years, even under the most perfect conditions, it could fail without any notice. Most car battery manufacturers recommend you replace the battery after five years, even if it’s still working.
After you reach the three-year mark, it’s a good idea to have your battery tested. You should also have your car’s charging system tested to make sure everything is working properly.
Three Factors Impacting the Lifespan of a Car Battery
1. Your Location
If you live in a hotter climate, you might not get as much life out of a car battery. In a colder climate, it’s possible to get even more than five years out of your battery.
Since the battery of your car is found under the hood, it can actually see temperatures much hotter than the outside weather. Batteries are often in isolated areas to help combat the heat, but can still get very hot in southern areas of the country.
2. Type of Driving You Do
If you take mostly short trips, the battery may not recharge fully. It’s also common for a car battery to naturally self-discharge if it has been parked for a long period. A maintenance charger can help to keep the battery fully charged and extend the life of your car battery.
If the battery vibrates during driving, it will cause the parts inside to break down faster. Special hold-down hardware can help to secure your car battery and keep vibration to a minimum.
What Causes Car Batteries to Die?
There are many things that can cause your car battery to die. The battery is designed to provide a powerful, quick, high-amperage current to your car’s starter when you start the car. Once the car is started, the battery will provide 12.4 volts of power, which is maintained by the alternator to keep the car running.
Sometimes, things happen that cause the car battery to die. A few of the most common reasons your battery might stop working include:
- Structure Failure – If the structure of the battery fails, it may not work anymore. A car battery includes a series of lead grids in electrolytes. When a failure in this internal structure happens, it causes the battery not to work. This is known as a dead cell and is often caused due to a loss of electrolytes.
- Slow recharging or discharging – Usually, this happens when a vehicle hasn’t been started for a long time. When the battery isn’t used, it will slowly discharge from 12.4 volts. This can also happen if the car has a parasitic drain stealing voltage when the car sits. Usually, this just means the battery needs to be re-charged, which often leads to getting a jump start and letting the alternator charge up the battery. If this happens too much, the battery will die and won’t be able to hold a charge.
- Rapid discharging or overcharging – This is similar to slow recharging or discharging. When a rapid discharge or overcharge happens, it is likely due to the alternator failing. The alternator maintains the charge and when it fails, it can over-charge the battery. This causes the electrolytes to boil over and leak. The battery will eventually fail if this happens.
It’s not easy to deal with a dead car battery, especially if it strands you on the side of the road. Most vehicles will give you a warning with the light coming on, but it might be too late.
Common Signs Your Car Battery is Failing
While it’s important to know how long a car battery will last, it’s also important to see the signs of a battery that needs to be replaced. There are several clues that will tell you the battery is starting to fail before it completely dies. Some of the most common things to look for include:
- A bad smell – One of the most common things you will notice is the smell of Sulfuric acid. This is a rotten-egg type of smell and often means your battery is being overcharged or has an internal issue.
- Slow starting – If you have to turn the key a few times to get the vehicle to start, it’s likely your battery starting to fail. Eventually, the car won’t start and you will be stranded. If you notice this issue, get your battery tested.
- Signs of corrosion or leaking – The top of the battery might have corrosion on it or you might notice signs of leaking. If this is the case, it’s time to replace your car battery.
A Few Ways to Make Your Car Battery Last Longer
There are many things that can cause a car battery to die, but what about some of the ways to extend the lifespan? If you want to get the most out of your battery, consider the following:
- Use a battery maintainer if you will need to go a long time in between starts
- Avoid powering accessories for a long period of time, such as a radio at a campsite.
- Test your battery often to make sure it’s still working well.
- Don’t remove the protective blankets that came with the vehicle around the battery.
While you won’t be able to make a car battery last forever, you can keep it from failing sooner. With these tips, you can get three to five years out of your battery without as much worry.
A Few More Car Battery FAQs to Consider
What will be the Replacement Cost if My Car Battery Dies?
For a regular car battery, you can expect to pay between $250 and $400 to have it replaced. This will include the labor and will vary, depending on your vehicle and where you are located.
For electric vehicles and hybrids, expect to pay much more to replace the batteries. They are far more important to the vehicle and will likely cost between $2,000 and $2,600 to replace each battery.
What about Electric Car Batteries? How Long do they Last?
Maybe you drive an electric car and you have EV batteries. These batteries will typically last for 100,000 miles or longer. At some point, the range will become diminished, however. The change might happen after five years and might go from 149 miles to about 132 miles or about a 2.3% reduction each year.
How Long do Hybrid Car Batteries Last?
There are also vehicles that use both gasoline and electricity for power. These vehicles use hybrid car batteries. Just like EV batteries, you can easily get 100,000 miles out of these batteries. Most come with a 10-year warranty or even a 150,000-mile warranty. In some cases, you might get more out of these car batteries than an EV battery since it’s a hybrid vehicle.