Determining how long a battery can last is an incredibly difficult task as it involves all kinds of variables such as where you live, how you treat the battery, the age of the battery, the quality of the battery, your driving habits, and how well the battery was installed.
As such, most mechanics will tell you that a battery should last 2 years at the very minimum, but there are many instances where car batteries easily survive more than 5 years. If something is wrong with the alternator or the rest of the electrical system your battery is bound to deplete itself way sooner.
Sometimes you may think that the battery is dead because you are not able to start the car, but it can often be depleted due to many different reasons. This means that you should take a pair of jumper cables and try to jump-start the battery in a safe and calculated manner.
The alternator is an intricate piece of machinery used to charge up the battery while driving, so if the alternator is not performing adequately, your battery will not be charging which will, in turn, shorten the battery’s lifespan prematurely.
The place you live affects battery health
Batteries are not fond of both cold and warm outside temperatures which means that they will affect your battery health over time. Warm weather increases the temperature of the battery which boosts degradation thus shortening the lifespan.
On the other hand, cold weather is also not kind towards batteries because they can even freeze completely at temperatures below 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
The way the battery is being treated also affects its lifespan
As previously mentioned, the alternator is used to charge up the battery while driving, but for this to take place you need to drive your car on mid to long journeys. More specifically, your journeys need to last longer than 10 minutes or so. If you are using your car rarely for shorter trips, you are affecting your car’s battery charge significantly.
The only instance in which the battery does all the work is while starting the car which means that it usually works as a storage unit while being charged by the alternator. This also affects the battery’s lifespan a lot because, so be sure to drive your car for longer than just a few minutes at a time.
The age of the battery affects how well it can hold a charge
The age of the battery specifically refers to how long the battery was sitting in the shop before you picked it up. Even while sitting unused, the battery is losing charge which means that it greatly affects how well the battery will perform the moment you install it in your vehicle.
As such, be sure to buy your battery from a volume seller or someone who enjoys constant traffic in their shops. If you buy the battery from small shops which rarely sell any batteries, you are more likely to purchase a battery that was sitting for too long.
The initial quality of the battery affects how well it can hold a charge
Not all batteries are made the same which means that the saying “you get what you pay for” makes all the sense in this instance. As such, be sure to always follow your manufacturer’s recommendations as far as the type of battery is concerned which also means that you should never go for a 2nd hand battery.
A lot of batteries out there are made with inferior components which makes them more prone to issues thus they fare way worse when it comes to how well they can hold a charge.
Battery installation also affects how well it can hold a charge
Most people out there don’t realize that excessive vibration can prematurely destroy a battery because batteries are designed to be as static as possible. As such, most cars these days have specifically designed battery holders which are intended to hold the battery in place while driving.
Be that as it may, many people either forget to reinstall these holders when it comes time to replace the battery or they simply deem it as unnecessary. However, be sure to always install the battery correctly if you want it to hold a decent charge, otherwise, your battery will die way sooner.
How do I know my car battery is about to die?
It’s almost impossible to correctly determine when your battery will die without proper equipment. This means that you should visit a mechanic from time to time and he can load test the battery in order to determine how well it performs. This test usually includes putting a lot of load on the battery to simulate how well it performs in similar conditions.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that the battery itself is not always the culprit. The symptoms associated with a dying battery are similar to those associated with a faulty alternator. All of this means that you need professional attendance in order to correctly pinpoint the issue.
How can I maximize car battery life?
If you live in colder climates, be sure to invest in a dedicated battery blanket that keeps the battery from freezing overnight. By parking the car in a garage you are getting the same effect, especially if the garage is shielded from extreme outdoor temperatures.
If you don’t drive your car constantly, you should invest in a dedicated battery trickle charger and keep your plugged in overnight. If you spot any corrosion on the battery’s terminals, be sure to clean it up immediately.
How much does a new car battery cost?
A new car battery costs anywhere between $50 and $120 for a standard run-of-the-mill battery. However, more premium batteries can easily cost twice as that. Specific features such as start-stop battery technology make batteries a lot more expensive, so be sure to pay 20-25% more if you opt for such a battery.
All in all, always use the battery type that comes with your vehicle. In order to do so, check out the owner’s manual which usually holds such information.