On average, a well-maintained and properly-installed car battery will last between three and five years. Once your battery reaches three years of life, it’s recommended to have it assessed and tested. A battery may fail sooner than expected for any number of reasons, such as excessive discharge, climate conditions, and improper maintenance. Here, we outline these common causes of battery failure and offer simple things you can do to keep your battery operating as long as possible.
Common Reasons Batteries Fail
When batteries aren’t being used, they slowly discharge. Car batteries, or starter batteries, are designed for short power bursts like starting the car. Once your car starts, the alternator takes over to maintain the charge. If a starter battery discharges below 80%, your car may not start and you may need to recharge the battery or jump-start your car. A flat battery should be correctly recharged with a battery charger.
Extreme weather events can impact the life of your battery, especially if it struggles to operate in such conditions. Standard lead-acid batteries function through chemical reactions, which are accelerated by heat. Heat can also exacerbate internal corrosion and reduce your battery’s lifespan. Additionally, extreme cold can prevent your car from starting, and a battery that’s lost charge can freeze and become seriously damaged in such conditions.
While most modern batteries don’t require any more maintenance besides checking water levels, it’s still important you take care of your battery by keeping it clean. Keep an eye out for corrosion on your battery’s terminals; it doesn’t necessarily mean your battery is dying, but it can seriously compromise the battery’s efficiency and increase electrical resistance if it’s not resolved promptly.
How to keep your battery lasting as long as possible
There are things you can do to ensure your battery’s durability and lifespan.
Drive Your Car Regularly
Even when your car’s not being used, it will slowly discharge. If you don’t use your car regularly, it’s recommended you take your car out for a little drive occasionally to make sure the battery continues performing optimally. If this is not possible or easy for you, a battery charger or trickle charger can be connected to your battery when it’s not used to ensure it stays fully charged.
Check Your Battery Regularly
It’s recommended you check your battery every month or so, making sure it’s secure and there are no signs of damage and corrosion – or white powder – on the battery terminals. Corrosion can be easily removed by disconnecting the terminals and scrubbing it off with a solution of baking soda and water. Dry everything with a cloth before reconnecting the terminals. You can also check the battery’s properly charged with a multimeter.
Choose The Right Battery For Your Car
This is perhaps the most important thing you can do to ensure your battery’s lifespan. The model, make and engine type of your car will impact the size of battery it takes. If you live in a cold area, a battery with higher cold cranking amps (CCA) will have better performance. Most of all, you’ll need to make sure the battery meets or surpasses the requirements set by the car’s manufacturer.