Considering that people keep their cars for an average of 8.4 years, there's no avoiding that you'll probably need to replace your vehicle's battery at least once while you have it.
On average, the lifespan of a car battery is about three to five years, but there are a variety of factors that can affect that range, including the place you live, the temperature outside, and the way you drive your vehicle.
Here's what you should know about your car battery and how long it will last.
1. Pick the Right Battery for Your Car
Different types of cars work best with different types of batteries, and choosing the right one for your vehicle can help you get the most out of it.
With bigger cars, for example, you'll need a more powerful battery and therefore should choose the size accordingly. Your owner's manual can be a good resource for you when choosing a new battery.
It's also important to buy from a high-volume seller because you will know the battery you're buying is in good condition and hasn't been sitting on the shelf for an extended period of time.
You can also purchase batteries with different warranty lengths depending on your needs and budget.
2. How Long Do Car Batteries Last? It Depends on Where You Live
Weather can have a major impact on how long a car battery can last, and both extreme heat and extreme cold can have negative effects on their lifespan.
In very warm weather, heat can cause a car battery to degrade at a faster rate. High temperatures also increase the water evaporation rate from the battery's cells.
Likewise, extreme cold can also take its toll on batteries. When temperatures drop, your battery has to work much harder, causing it to die sooner.
In general, though, heat is worse for battery life than cold is. So, if you live in a place with very warm temperatures, you should prepare to replace your battery sooner, more like the three-to-five-year range.
3. Regularly Test Your Battery
Keeping up with car maintenance is a crucial part of extending your car's lifespan, and it can also help your battery last longer. For example, don't forget to clean the top of your battery, make sure it doesn't have any grime on it, and keep it dry.
There are also ways to keep an eye on your battery and how well it's working, including routine testing.
In general, you should test your battery after you've had it for two to three years. If you live somewhere with warmer temperatures, it can be a good idea to start testing your battery sooner.
Tests can be free at auto shops, or you can buy your own battery tester and check your battery's health on your own. By load-testing your battery, you or a mechanic can measure its ability to hold voltage.
Once you have that information, you'll have a better idea of how much longer your car battery will last before it needs to be replaced. This helps eliminate surprises and keeps you from having to deal with a completely dead battery.
4. Things to Do to Improve the Average Life of a Car Battery
How long do car batteries last? Your driving habits can take a toll on a car battery's lifespan. Just like there are steps you can take to make your car last longer overall, there are also things you can do to get the most out of your car battery.
Do your best to avoid leaving your lights or radio on when the ignition is off. Both of those things can drain your battery rather quickly. The same idea applies to double-checking that your lights have been turned off when you're getting out of your car.
You should also avoid using the air conditioning while your car is idling.
As we mentioned above, extreme temperatures can be damaging to your battery life, so if it's at all possible, try to avoid driving in very cold temperatures.
Another way to extend the battery life is to minimize the number of quick drives you make. Those short trips can keep your battery from fully charging, and by limiting them, you can maximize the average life of a car battery.
5. Watch for Warning Signs
There's nothing worse than turning your key in the ignition, only to realize your car won't start and your battery is completely dead. If you're paying attention to your car, you can better recognize the signs of a low battery before it dies all the way.
One warning sign to look out for is if your car is struggling to start. A slow engine crank or a clicking sound when you turn your key can both be indicators that your battery is on its last leg. Dim headlights can also be a sign that they aren't getting enough power.
Other things to watch out for include any issues with the electrical components of your car, such as problems with your radio, windows, or windshield wipers.
Some cars also have warning lights that will turn on when a battery is running low. If you notice something light up on your dash, be sure to pay close attention and take care of the issue quickly.
Even if you're watching your battery's health closely, you can still run into an inevitable dead battery. One good practice is to keep jumper cables in your car at all times. This way you're able to jump-start your vehicle — or even someone else's if they run into problems — and get to an auto shop for a more permanent solution.
Be a Car Battery Expert
Now that you can answer the question "How long do car batteries last?" you can do your part to extend the lifespan of your battery. By doing regular testing and buying the right battery for your car, you can ensure your battery lasts up to five years.
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