What Affects Car Battery Life

Does your car battery keep dying and you can’t figure out why? For that matter, how long are car batteries supposed to last, anyway? We have the answers.

The truth is, there are many factors that affect the lifespan of your car battery. We’ve listed all of these below with detailed explanations of how they affect your car battery life and why.

By reading this guide, you’ll learn what you can do to preserve your car battery, and many battery-killing habits you can avoid. Read on and apply these tips to maximize the lifespan of your car battery.

How Long Do Car Batteries Last On Average?

As we said, and will soon explain, your car battery life depends on how it’s used/how well you treat it. But, to give an average range, a new car battery should last you from 2-5 years. That’s about how long it takes before the rechargeable battery is no longer able to hold a charge. 

Why Do Rechargeable Batteries Die?

Like all things, rechargeable batteries wear down with time and use. Even under the best conditions, there is a finite number of times a battery can be recharged.

So, each time it charges, it gets closer to the end of its life. As it does, it gradually holds less and less of a charge until it holds no charge at all.

How Is a Car Battery Used/Recharged?

Understanding how the use and recharging of your car battery works will help you preserve it better. Most of the time, you only use your battery to start the car.

That is, a jolt of electricity from the battery ignites the fuel that powers the engine. Once the engine is started, it’s the engine that powers your car and all its features. Not only that, but the power from the engine also recharges the battery.

However, when your engine is off, any electronic features you use in the car are powered by the battery. This includes the interior lights, the headlights, the radio, even the clock.

That’s why it’s very important not to overuse these features when your car’s engine is off. If you use up too much of the battery, it won’t be able to start the car in order to recharge. Then, you’ll need a jumpstart and, possibly, a new battery.

Factors That Affect Car Battery Life

Now, let’s check out what factors will shorten your car battery’s lifespan. Some of these are avoidable. But others are a natural consequence of where you live/your typical commute.

1. Totally Draining the Battery (Discharge)

The fastest way to kill any battery, even a new one, is to drain the battery completely. Unfortunately, this is quite common and very easy to do. 

All it takes is for you to accidentally leave your interior lights or your headlights on overnight. In older vehicles, even leaving the door slightly ajar will prevent the interior lights from shutting off. If these mistakes go unnoticed, they’ll drain your battery until there’s no charge left.

And then, getting a jumpstart is the least of your worries. This type of total discharge is extremely detrimental to your battery. Plus, the damage of this trauma is irreparable.

Even if you’re able to get it started again, it won’t last much longer. You’ll need to replace it right away.

2. Extreme Temperatures

Batteries survive better when they remain at room temperature. Thus, subjecting your battery to extreme temperatures can also shorten its lifespan. 

Unfortunately, this may not be something you can avoid. If you live in an area where your car is often stored in sub-freezing temperatures, you’ll have to get used to replacing your battery more often. The same goes for those who regularly park their vehicles in temperatures above 100 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. City Driving

As we mentioned earlier, your battery recharges while you drive. A very short trip might not allow enough time for your battery to fully recharge. So, if your regular commute is a very short one, your car might be draining more than it recharges each time you drive. 

This can be avoided, though. Just make sure you plan a longer trip for your vehicle every once in a while.

4. Corrosion

Sometimes, corrosion can build up on the terminals of your battery. When this happens, it weakens the connection between the car and the battery. This both lowers the performance of your battery and slows the rate at which it recharges.

Fortunately, this corrosion is easy to clear away yourself with an old toothbrush, hot water, and baking soda. Simply detach the battery from your car, scrub the terminals and the connecting cables with the baking soda solution, and then wipe it dry.

Be careful to let the battery and the cables dry completely before reattaching them. And don’t drip the solution in other areas of your engine.

5. Time

Again, no battery lasts forever. Time itself will eventually end your battery’s life. If it’s over 3 years old and is experiencing problems, consider replacing it.

Remember, though, if you avoid the other situations on this list, you could get 5 years of use out of your battery. And if your battery is already 5 years old, take it in for a checkup. That is, have it tested by a reputable battery supplier to see if it needs replacing.

Remember This Guide to Keep Your Car Battery Alive

Now that you know what factors affect car battery life, be nice to your battery. Use this helpful information to lengthen the lifespan of your battery so you waste less money on replacements.

Next, are you wondering if your car battery needs replacing? To find out, check out these 5 Signs Your Vehicle Has Battery Problems.

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