How often should you change your car battery? Suppose you are doing everything right with your car and, either via a professional or on you own, you learn that your battery is nearing expiration. How do you know this beforehand so you can save time, money, and risk? The last thing you need is to be caught in an emergency, you changed the oil etc. and so you feel confident, and then realize that it is the battery to blame.
- Batteries nearing expiry have shown to start up properly each time you key the ignition, even in cold climes. This is also probably the car’s original battery so if you have it for more than five years, you are pushing your luck; the battery may work but is unreliable.
- You basically need to test the battery before taking the car out. Do this if you are in doubt about how long the battery has been in use but know that it is quite old.
- Back in the day, they used a technique that still potentially could work. The carbon pile test uses a big load (akin to a giant ‘world’s largest toaster’ sort of device) and is attached where it needs to be to provide about 15 seconds of load-holding. It will therefore not drop below a certain voltage, say, 9.5 volts.
- Today, microprocessors can handle that step wonderfully well and enable the testing of inductance and capacitance in a given car battery.
- There are different kinds of batteries. In the 70s and 80s they had ones that used distilled water in cells. These days, maintenance-free batteries come with pre-designed internal settings that do not need you to add distilled water to keep them going.
- Batteries ‘sulphate’ over time and the metal plates inside are covered with chemical material until the surface area is gradually reduced. This alters battery chemistry.
- Such a battery will not really damage your car’s internal computer. Maybe a shorted cell will give out about 2.1 volts, not even close to dangerous damaging potential. Most vehicular computers do not respond to anything under 10 volts.
- The dashboard is a good indicator of potential trouble with an old battery. You will see ‘funny’ stuff happening with the dash but not always the radio display. If the radio shows jumbled or ‘hieroglyphic’ readouts, it may have nothing to do with the battery.
Heat is hard on batteries while cold climes actually help enhance battery lifespan through preventive maintenance. However, constant cold is a bad thing because a discharged battery (the electrolytic solution inside becomes more like water in consistency as it discharges) can freeze in such conditions.
The easiest and simplest option will be to keep track of the total runtime of the battery. 5-7 years is a possibility but anything over 5 years can give you trouble because this is the stage a battery is close to expiring.