On average, car batteries need replacement every three years. But if your car is equipped with a good battery, and you take good care of your battery and the whole car, the battery can last for about 5 years.
Just like the battery of a smartphone or a laptop, your car battery becomes less efficient with repeated discharage-then-charge cycles.
How often should you change your car battery? Here are a few signs to watch out for to know if it’s time to change your car battery.
Your car’s electrical system.
A defective battery may still have sufficient power to start your car, but if you suspect that the battery is nearing the end of its lifespan, check the other components of the car that requires electricity–headlights and its stereo system. At night, try to start your car with the headlights on. If they are not bright enough, or if they get brighter only if you press the gas, then chances are your battery is starting to fail. It might not be long until you’re not able to start your car.
Of course, it goes without saying, if your car doesn’t start, the biggest potential culprit is the battery. You either need to have it checked (there are places where you can have a free battery check) or get a replacement battery. As a temporary solution, you can grab a jump starter so you can get to your destination or to a shop nearby.
Cars with Special Batteries
If you have a Tesla electric car, then you may need an entirely different kind of battery. And that is beyond the scope of this article. Newer cars with Stop-Start technology that automatically turns off the engine when idle may require special kinds of batteries. When you get a replacement, make sure to get one that is compatible with your newer car. Your owner’s manual or your car dealership should be able to provide you with information about that.
Frequent battery mistakes
If you do these frequent battery mistakes, then you might need a replacement sooner than most cars. These mistakes are done by new drivers all the time, and remind yourself not to do them, please.
- Leaving air conditioning and lights on when the vehicle is turned off. Thankfully, most newer vehicles also turn off the headlights and the air conditioning of the car.
- Storing the car for long periods without starting the engine. This is definitely a no-no. If you will be away for several weeks, ask family or friends to start and drive your car at least once a week to keep the battery charged and prevent it from draining completely. Better yet, entrust it to someone who will take care of it while you’re gone. Just make sure that they won’t use it as a get-away care for a bank robbery.
- Keeping the battery casing and terminal dirty. Clean this area periodically to prevent corrosion and rust.
Like any other parts of the car, the battery needs to be replaced periodically. But you can extend its life by doing the proper maintenance and taking care of your car.