We all like to buy things that last. There’s nothing more frustrating than making a purchase on an item that’s supposed to last a certain amount of time, only to have it die or degrade more quickly than what was promised by the manufacturer. Car batteries fall into this category, with many unhappy customers purchasing cheap, sub-quality batteries, only to have them fail when they need them most.
There are many things that will impact the lifespan of a car battery and it’s more than just the quality. The way you use it, the environment it’s in and the way you drive will all impact on how long a battery will last. We cover all the different conditions and circumstances that will impact the lifespan of your car battery.
Lifespan of an average car battery
The average car battery will typically last somewhere between four to six years depending on how you use your car. As we mentioned previously, there are several factors that can impact on battery life and these are listed below.
Frequent, short car trips and car battery lifespan
When you start your car, you’re actually using power from the battery. Once the car has started and is moving, the alternator kicks in and will power most of your car's electrical needs but that first start will use charge from the battery.
Think of the battery like a bucket with a certain amount of electrical charge in it. Each time you start your car, a little bit of charge is taken out of the bucket and eventually once the bucket is empty, the battery is dead. The more you stop and start your car, the quicker you empty the bucket. Simple!
Cold weather and car battery lifespan
Not that we have to worry about it too much here in Queensland, but cold weather will impact the lifespan of your battery. Cold weather will make it more difficult for a weakened battery to hold its charge, therefore draining it quicker than usual. If you know you’re going to be experiencing particularly cold weather, and if possible, store your car in a garage or undercover.
Prolonged storage of your vehicle will impact on car battery lifespan
If you plan on storing your vehicle for extended periods of time (a few months for example) your car battery will still be using a small amount of charge to run things like the clock and other electrical elements.
If you’re storing your car, the battery will slowly be drained by these items so it’s best to remove the negative terminal when your car goes into storage for any extended length, thus, removing any chance of the battery being drained.
Note: it’s worth making sure your car stereo doesn’t have a lockout code for when the battery is disconnected. If you’ve purchased the car second hand, the previous owner may have set up the lockout code and if you do not have this code, you will need to take it to a dealer to have it unlocked at a charge.
Vibration can kill your battery
Believe it or not, too much vibration on your car battery is not a good thing. If your car engine sounds like a skeleton doing the macarena in a biscuit tin, that’s not great for your battery either. Cracks in cell connectors and separators will help to kill your battery quicker than normal, so if you’ve got a rattly engine, bolt everything down so it doesn’t move or take it to a mechanic and get them to look at it.
Installing the wrong type of battery will kill it faster
If your car has the wrong type of battery installed, it will likely die faster than normal. Different cars have different draw requirements from batteries. Newer cars have more electrical components that require draw from the battery to start the vehicle whereas older cars don’t. Installing the wrong type of battery might see you draining the battery faster than usual.
These are the main factors that will impact the life of your battery. If you keep your vehicle well maintained and don’t take lots of short trips or leave it for long periods of time in cold weather, your battery should last you a good four to five years, even longer in some cases.