The battery is the heart and soul of any vehicle. That little box powers everything, from providing the initial jolt to get the engine started to keeping the radio playing your favorite tunes.
Without it your car just wouldn’t work. Car batteries are rechargeable lead-acid batteries and while the life of a car battery has improved slightly over time, the chemical process involved hasn’t changed for over 150 years.
On average, the life expectancy of a car battery falls somewhere between 4-6 years, although various factors play a deciding role in just how long it lasts before needing to be replaced.
Some of the most important include
Extreme temperatures directly affect the chemical process inside the battery that produces and stores electricity and in turn how well the battery performs.
While most people will be well aware of how cold temperatures can cause problems (who hasn’t struggled to start their car on a cold winters morning?), heat can be just as detrimental to your battery’s lifespan, if not more so.
Most car batteries come with climate specifications and so it’s important to choose the correct battery type for your climate.
If you’re overusing your battery then naturally battery life will decrease. Running the AC constantly, using your fog lights when not necessary or having the internal electronics running when the car is idle will drain your battery quicker than you can say lead-acid.
In contrast, regularly driving for short periods of 20 minutes or less means that the alternator may not have the chance to recharge the battery and so there is a fine line between overusing the battery and not running it for long enough to keep itself recharged.
Incorrect charging affects battery performance and longevity, and contributes directly to early battery failure. One of the most common issues lead-acid batteries face is ‘sulfation’, where an excess build-up of sulfate damages the battery’s lead plates leading to a whole host of problems.
If a battery is overcharged, undercharged or left discharged, as is common with cheap trickle chargers, it will rapidly develop sulfate and so it is important to use a ‘smart’ charger, or battery tender, which keeps your battery charged at optimum levels.
Following simple instructions will ensure that the battery is safe and in good shape for long.
The life ultimately depends on maintenance
While the inner workings of a battery may be complicated, battery maintenance isn’t rocket science.
Checking your battery as often as you check your oil levels and tire pressure means you are more likely to notice any tell-tale signs of wear and tear such as bloated or damaged casing, loose connections or corrosion.
While understanding the factors that contribute to a battery’s life expectancy means you can prolong the life of your battery and avoid the most common causes of early battery failure.
Of course, nothing lasts forever, but if you keep your battery well maintained then chances are the life of car battery will be optimum.