When To Replace Your Car's Battery (2020)

Updated October, 2020
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Most car batteries last a maximum of 5 years. At that point, you may start noticing issues with your battery. These include a slow starting engine, dim lights, and a bad odor coming from underneath the hood. Any of these signs are a good enough reason to replace the battery right away.

What are the signs my car battery needs to be replaced?

As car batteries get older, they become less efficient at holding a charge. Additional factors can exacerbate a battery's degradation.

Being exposed to temperatures in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit can wear out a battery. A defective alternator or corroded battery cables also make a battery die sooner than expected. You may not see corroded cables, but you should be able to tell your battery is dying based on the following signs.

  • Slow starting engine - Over the years, your battery wears out, and it needs more time to make a charge for the starter. Older batteries tend to need a few additional seconds to kickstart the engine.
  • Dim lights - Your battery controls all electrical components in your vehicle. When it supplies insufficient power, the headlights and dashboard lights may begin to flicker or dim entirely.
  • Sour odor - Damage inside the battery can result in an internal short. This causes the battery to leak gas. Smelling rotten eggs when you open the hood is a sign the battery is too far degraded to salvage.

How do I pick the right battery?

When it comes to picking the right battery, compatibility is the most important factor. You need to know the year, make, and model of your vehicle to know whether a given battery works for your car and fits inside.

You may also notice some numbers on the battery. These digits correlate to what kind of battery you're looking at and which vehicles it works best for. As an example, "24F" is generally a good battery for any Nissan, Acura, Honda, or Toyota cars.

Some other important factors to consider include:

  • Voltage
  • Temperature range
  • Shelf life
  • Size
  • Price
  • Disposal regulations

How much will a new battery cost?

You can expect to spend between $50 and $100 for labor at an auto shop. However, you also need to consider the price of the battery itself.

Numerous options exist. You may find cheap batteries that work for your car as well as more expensive options. All varieties come with their pros and cons, so you need to consider what works for your car and budget.

Cheap battery

Pros:

  • Lower price
  • More durable than you think

Cons:

  • Higher likelihood of corrosion
  • Susceptible to acid spilling

Mid-range battery

Pros:

  • Well-stocked at most shops
  • Lasts a long time

Cons:

  • Greater cost than cheap batteries
  • More maintenance

Expensive battery

Pros:

  • Lasts the longest
  • Superb quality

Cons:

  • Higher installation cost
  • Highest price of them all

What do I do with the old battery?

Car batteries contain acid. As such, you can't just toss it in the landfill. You need to dispose of it the right way to protect your local environment.

Many places accept old batteries, including recycling centers, auto parts retailers, dealerships, and auto shops. You should call any of these nearest you to see if they accept car batteries before driving over.

Once you've found a place, you need to take the battery over. Make sure to secure the item in your car's hatch or trunk. You don't want it sliding around as you drive.

Once you arrive at your destination, simply tell someone you have a car battery to recycle. The person takes it, and you're all done!

How to tell when it's my battery or another car issue?

Many car problems give off similar symptoms. You want to make sure the issue actually is the battery and not something else. Some signs that likely point to a problem with the car battery include:

  • Misshapen battery case
  • Corroded connectors
  • Illuminated check engine light
  • Clicking sound when you turn the key
  • Loose battery terminals

When the time arises, is my insurance going to be enough?

When it comes to car insurance, there are several factors to consider beyond monthly cost. A policy that covers you when you need it, has a low deductible, and offers several discounts can be hard to find - which is why we've done the work for you.

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Call an insurance expert
Our team will help you find the lowest insurance prices.
866-996-3156