The general rule is that a battery can last from 3 to 5 years. Many factors can effect this including how hot your battery is and how well you maintain it. A battery that isn't well taken care of can have an even shorter lifespan of less than 3 years.
What's the average lifespan of a car battery?
The average lifespan of a battery is between 3 to 5 years. However, not all batteries last this long. The lifespan of a battery is determined by how it's treated. A well maintained battery can last longer than the average lifespan, but a mistreated battery can need replacing well under the minimum 3 years.
Factors that shorten the life of a battery:
- Time- Time spent sitting or not being allowed to fully recharge can damage a battery's lifespan.
- Heat- A hotter battery doesn't last as long as a battery that's in a cooler environment.
- Vibration- Too much vibration can cause parts to breakdown and disconnect.
What are the signs my car battery needs to be replaced?
If your battery can't hold a charge or can't be jumped, it's time for a new battery. To avoid getting to this point, it can help to know what causes these problems. Overloading a battery or improper use can cause these issues on top of other things.
- If you have a smell or odor coming out of your engine check your battery. A short circuit or damage to the case of the battery can cause a leak. Battery acid leaking in your car is never a good thing.
- If you notice corrosion on the battery connectors it may be time to change your battery. Corrosion is a white ashy substance that prevents your battery from putting out its full power. Sometimes cleaning the corrosion can help, but sometimes that damage is irreversible.
- If your battery isn't holding a charge then you may have overloaded it. Plugging too many electronics into your car can drain your battery faster than your alternator can charge it. If this happens it causes damage to your battery's reserve permanently.
How do I pick the right battery?
Picking the right battery can be daunting. There are many different types of batteries and different specifications. You'll see multiple numbers on your battery; some with up to 5 numbers. Here's what they mean:
- MCA- This is how may amperes the battery holds for 30 seconds at 32 degrees Fahrenheit until it falls below an amp threshold.
- CCA- Cold Cranking Amps, the higher this number the easier the battery starts the vehicle. This number only really matters at 0-32 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Reserve Capacity- This number effects how much your car can do when your alternator isn't charging the battery.
- Amp Hours- The amount of amps a battery can put out in a time frame. If it's rated 60-amp-hours it can put out 60 amps for an hour, or an amp for 60 hours.
- Month/Year codes- These show when the battery's warranty expires. if it dies before this date the manufacturer should replace it for free.
How much should a new battery cost?
Batteries can range in cost based on their life expectancy and reserve capacity. Brand name batteries are going to cost more, like Interstate or Optima. Another option is a rebuilt battery. This replaces the battery acid with a magnesium sulfate solution.
- A rebuilt battery can be done yourself or you can buy one for less than $100. The price is definitely a big pro however the battery has to be messed with and that can be unsafe.
- Your mid-range battery is between $100 and $200. These batteries are pretty standard and can run most cars and trucks. However, they may not have a high enough reserve capacity for some people.
- Some batteries can cost as much as $300, even more for a hybrid battery. While the price is a drawback, these batteries have a longer warranty and higher standards.
What do I do with the old battery?
You have 3 options when it comes to battery disposal. You can take it to a hazardous waste recycling plant, your local auto parts store will accept it, or you can exchange it for a new battery at an auto parts store. As long as you safely dispose of your battery you have made the right call. Unsafe disposal causes toxins to be released into the environment.
How to tell when it's my battery or another car issue?
Sometimes an issue may seem like a battery issue, but it's an issue with another part of your car. The most common culprits are your alternator, a blown fuse, or a short in the electrical wiring. Differentiating these from a battery issue is important to save you time and money.
- If you charge your battery and it doesn't hold that charge, get your alternator tested. The alternator is responsible for charging the battery as you drive.
- A short circuit can drain your batteries power. If your battery is struggling to hold a charge get it tested as well as your electrical circuits.
- If your headlights or interior lights are flickering or aren't working and you have changed the bulb, check the fuses. They are easy to replace and cheap to buy.
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