The last thing anyone wants when they go to start their car is a dead battery. We’ve all been there and it’s always time consuming and frustrating. Car batteries are a critical component of your vehicle and handle everything from starting your engine to charging your phone. But they tend to be so reliable most of the time that we are typically caught off guard if they are dead, and the car won’t start.
Car Battery Lifespan
Just like the battery in your cell phone or laptop, lead acid car batteries have a limited life span and will eventually lose their ability to hold sufficient charge to start your car. On average, car batteries last between two and five years, but this timeframe will vary depending on a number of factors.
The first of these is the weather. Hot temperatures make batteries more chemically active and causes them to work harder when they are hot. Also, when under extreme heat, the liquid inside the battery can evaporate and the lower fluid levels create conditions in which damage to the internal structure of the battery can occur.
A second factor that affects battery life is a bad charging system. If the alternator fails to give out ample voltage, it will cause the battery to drain quicker than normal. If the lights or radio are on, the situation can be worsened. When the car battery runs out of power, the radio or lights will fail to operate, and the car stalls. Another factor that can influence battery life is dirt and grease buildup on the battery. This can drain the power of battery, while the corrosion will reduce the flow of current and will lead to a faulty battery.
Tips to Extend the Life of Your Car Battery
Avoid taking short trips too often – Your battery is given a workout every time you start your car, but is then recharged by the engine during the journey. But if you are just taking a short trip, then the battery is not able to regain the amount of power lost. If you do this on a daily basis then the battery voltage will reduce steadily until it can no longer start the car. If you take a lot of short trips in your car, then it might be a good idea to invest in a portable battery charger to jump your battery if you are stranded.
Keep your battery tightly fastened – The last thing you want is for your battery to vibrate as you’re driving, as this can damage your battery’s internal components, create short circuits, and reduce the battery’s life.
Avoid using too many accessories while idling – The battery is designed to supply power to start the vehicle. Turning on electronics, such as your radio, lights, and other electronics while idling adds pressure to the battery, especially if you have maximized the number of electronics, exceeding the output of the alternator at idle.
Turn off all lights when exiting your vehicle – Accidentally keeping on your headlights and car door lights can easily drain the power right out of your battery. To avoid being stranded and hindering your battery’s ability to recharge, always remember to turn off all lights when turning your car off.
Don’t leave your car sitting without starting it for too long – Standard lead acid batteries will naturally lose their charge over time. This is referred to as self-discharge. If your car sits unused in the driveway or garage for weeks at a time, connect a smart charger in order to decrease the risk of self-discharge.
Test your battery often – Understanding the condition of your car battery matters when you want to maximize its lifespan. Test your battery’s output voltage level with a car battery tester often in order to keep track of how well you’re maintaining it and whether you’re due for a new one.
Control battery corrosion – Battery terminals corrode over time, which can decrease the battery’s lifespan. To help ensure your battery has a long life, keep the terminals clean by scrubbing them with a toothbrush dipped in a baking soda and water mixture. Then, using a spray bottle with cold water, rinse the mixture off and follow up with a thorough drying using a clean cloth.
Your car’s battery will eventually die at some point, but by following these tips, you can ensure it has the longest life possible.
If you need help with your car’s battery, contact one of HEART Certified Auto Care’s three Chicago area locations today.