Car Advice from Tommy…

Hi.  We get asked this a lot: How long do car batteries last? Well it is kind of an interesting question. In rare cases car batteries have worked up to 10 years in some cars. That is the rare case though. The majority of car batteries will last between 5 to 7 years with normal operation and care. Some outside sources like temperature, road conditions, extended idling, and short trip driving contribute to shortening battery life. 

So what can you do too make your battery last longer?

1. Turn The Lights Out

Turn off the lights when the car isn’t running. Most modern cars have automatic headlights with a timer on them to keep the lights on after you shut the car off. Setting the car to keep the lights on for the shortest amount of time will keep the battery from draining down while the car is off.

2. Protect Your Vehicle

In extreme weather conditions, such as when temperatures top 100 degrees Fahrenheit or drop below zero, lead sulfate crystals quickly build up and will start to drain the battery. When this happens the capacity of the battery starts to decrease and it does not hold electricity as well as a new one. You can’t control the temperature but some things you can do is park in a place which shields your car from extreme temperatures such as a garage. 

3. Avoid Constant Short Trips

Nothing sucks the life out of a car battery more than short drives. Your cars starter motor uses a lot of the electricity that is stored in the battery when starting. If you take a lot of short trips the alternator will not have enough time to charge the battery back up. To remedy this, take the occasional longer trip and the battery will fully recharge. 

4. Inspect and Maintain the Battery

Nearly every car battery today is maintenance-free. This means it comes sealed with the liquid sealed safely inside and is not serviceable like the batteries of years past. But “maintenance free” only for the internals of the battery itself. All batteries do have vents on them because as they charge they tend to produce gasses. These gasses sometimes carry a little bit of the liquid from the inside of the battery as the vent to the outside air. This will sometimes cause corrosion at the electrical wires connected to the battery. The connections should be checked regularly. If they have become loose or corroded, then tighten or clean them. The problem isn’t always the battery, but sometimes with the connection points.

5. Turn Off the Accessories

Today’s vehicles use the battery more than ever before. Some of the big users of electricity in today’s cars are the power steering and the electric cooling fans for the engine. Using electricity to power these items has led to an increase in fuel economy at the expense of the charging system and battery. A way to help prolong batter life would be to turn off  navigation systems, driver-assist technology, fog lights, security alarms, zoned climate control systems, and a host of other accessories when not in use. All these items put a lot of stress on the battery and alternator and turning the off when not needed will prolong the life of your alternator and battery. 

6. Avoid Traveling On Rough Roads

When a battery is installed in a car there is a piece called a hold down that keeps the battery from moving around. There are many reasons that the hold down is there and one is to lessen the vibrations on a the battery.  A battery is constructed with a whole bunch of thin vertical plates. If these plates vibrate to much and touch the battery will short out internally. Rough roads and potholes can cause the plates to vibrate and touch leading to premature battery failure.

7. Used a Battery Maintainer

Newer cars are full of computers and they use a small amount power even when the car is off. If your car sits for more than 2 weeks without going anywhere you may want to invest in a battery maintainer. It is a device that provides a slow charge to the battery while the car is not in use. There are a few different types of maintainers. The two most popular types are solar and plug in types. If you park your car outside and the sun shines on it a solar maintainer is the way to go. The sun will keep the battery at full charge every day. The other maintainer operates much like a regular battery charger which you plug into the wall. Both work very well and prolong the life of your battery.

As you can see there are many different factors that can effect the life of your car battery. With proper care you may have the battery that lasts 10 years. If you need your battery tested stop by the shop. We carry Napa batteries with varying warranties and all backed up by Napa’s Nationwide Battery Warranty if you need one.