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How Long Does a Car Battery Last?

Find out how long different car batteries last, the factors that affect their lifespan and the costs and steps involved to change a car battery in Savvy’s guide.
  Written by 
Adrian Edlington
Adrian Edlington is PR & Communications Manager at Savvy. With a keen interest in personal finance, car loans, the mortgage industry, cost of living pressures, electric vehicles and renewable technology, Adrian's research includes conducting primary data surveys and analysis of up-to-the-minute secondary Australian data sources. His work on behalf of Savvy has been featured on ABC.net.au The Conversation, the Sydney Morning Herald, AFR, News.com.au, The Age, Herald Sun, Adelaide Now, SBS On The Money, 7News, Car Expert, Which Car, Drive.com.au and more. In his spare time, Adrian enjoys mountain biking and business podcasts.
Our authors
 
  Reviewed by 
Bill Tsouvalas

Reviewer

Bill Tsouvalas
Bill Tsouvalas is the managing director and a key company spokesperson at Savvy. As a personal finance expert, he often shares his insights on a range of topics, being featured on leading news outlets including News Corp publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, Fairfax Media publications such as the Australian Financial Review, the Seven Network and more. Bill has over 15 years of experience working in the finance industry and founded Savvy in 2010 with a vision to provide affordable and accessible finance options to all Australians. He has built Savvy from a small asset finance brokerage into a financial comparison website which now attracts close to 2 million Aussies per year and was included in the BRW’s Fast 100 in 2015 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. He’s passionate about helping Australians make financially savvy decisions and reviews content across the brand to ensure its accuracy. You can follow Bill on LinkedIn.
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Published on April 22nd, 2024

Last updated on June 3rd, 2024



Fact checked

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Car battery being installed in car

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A battery is essential to your car’s functionality, providing the necessary power to start the engine, operate lights and accessories, and even power advanced features like navigation systems and entertainment units. In this guide, we cover what you need to know about car batteries, whether you’re driving a petrol vehicle or an EV.

How long do car batteries last?

The average lifespan of a traditional car battery typically falls somewhere between three and five years. However, several factors can influence this, including:

  • Climate: extreme heat and cold can shorten battery life. In Australia, high temperatures during the summer can accelerate chemical reactions within the battery, leading to faster degradation. Meanwhile, cold weather can reduce the battery's ability to provide sufficient power during startup.
  • Driving habits: short trips with numerous engine starts can put more strain on the battery, as it doesn't get adequate time to recharge fully. On the other hand, longer drives allow the battery to recharge more effectively. 
  • Upkeep: inspecting and maintaining the battery can prevent unexpected breakdowns and vehicle malfunctions.
  • Battery quality: different car batteries have varying lifespans depending on the brand and materials.
  • Electrical demands: vehicles with lots of high-powered features will tax the battery more.

Signs your battery is failing include the engine being slower to start, dimming lights, problems with the electrical systems and the “check engine” light turning on.

How can I extend my car’s battery life?

Ensuring your car's battery remains in optimal condition is crucial for reliable vehicle performance and avoiding unexpected breakdowns. Here are some tips for extending its lifespan:

  • Maintenance and care: keep your battery terminals clean and free of corrosion, which can reduce the battery's performance.
  • Drive regularly: regular driving helps keep your battery charged and prevents it from draining excessively.
  • Limit short trips: short trips with frequent stops and starts can put a strain on your battery by not allowing it enough time to recharge fully.
  • Reduce electrical strain: minimise the use of accessories such as headlights, air conditioning and entertainment systems when the engine is off. These accessories draw power from the battery and can drain it faster.
  • Park in moderate temperatures: extreme heat and cold can damage your battery. Ideally, park in a garage or shaded area whenever possible.

Even with proper care, all batteries eventually degrade. If your battery is a few years old, consider getting it tested. It may be wise to replace it pre-emptively to avoid getting stranded with a dead battery.

How much is a car battery?

On average, a standard 12-volt car battery will likely cost you around $100 to $150. On the other hand, if you’re looking for a premium battery, you may need to pay closer to $450 on average (and upwards of $1,000 in some cases). If you are looking to save money, a second-hand battery may set you back as little as $40 – though take care if going down this route, as it may have wear and tear and may not be covered by a warranty.

Prices correct as of 2024.

What you will spend on your car battery depends on a number of factors, including:

  • Battery type: there are different kinds of car batteries, from regular lead-acid batteries to absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries used in luxury models.
  • Size of vehicle: larger cars require larger batteries to operate, so you can expect to pay more for a battery for a 4WD, for instance, compared to a smaller passenger car.
  • Type of vehicle: the type of vehicle you buy and the features it has installed or added may call for a more powerful battery.
  • Brand: different battery brands can have varying prices for similar types of batteries.
  • Retailer: prices can vary between auto parts stores, mechanics and online retailers. It's always wise to compare prices before making a purchase.
  • Warranty: the warranty on your car’s battery can also impact its cost, with longer warranties generally bringing up the cost.

How do I know what battery fits my car?

You can easily find out the type of battery recommended for your car by checking the car manual, which will typically contain information about the type, size and specifications of the battery. You can also inspect the current battery in your car, ask a retailer or mechanic or even use online services if you are unsure.

While most batteries are not vehicle specific, not all batteries will fit or suit all cars, so it is important to understand the requirements for your car:

  • Battery type: your car may require a particular battery type like lead-acid, AGM or another depending on its needs.
  • Cold cranking amps (CCA): this rating that indicates the battery's ability to start your engine in cold weather. Your manual will specify the minimum CCA requirement for your car. Typically, a small car should have a CCA rating of at least 150, with trucks and high-performance cars having significantly higher ratings.
  • Battery size: this is expressed as a code that indicates the physical dimensions of the battery to ensure proper fit in the battery tray. These are some of the more common size groups:
Battery size group Typical applications Common car brands L x W x H (cm)
Group 24
Compact cars, small SUVs, classic cars, some older American cars
Honda, Lexus, Toyota, Nissan
26 x 17.3 x 22.5
Group 35
Economy cars, Japanese cars, some older American cars
Honda, Nissan, Subaru, Toyota
23 x 17.5 x 22.5
Group 47/H5
Mid-size sedans, small SUVs, modern European and American cars
Buick, Chevrolet, Fiat, Volkswagen
24.6 x 17.5 x 19.1
Group 48/H6
European cars, some American cars
Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Volkswagen
30.5 x 17.5 x 19.1
Group 49/H8
Large European cars, high-performance cars
Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Volkswagen
38.1 x 17.5 x 19.1
Group 65
Full-size sedans, large SUVs, light trucks
Ford
30.6 x 19 x 19.2
Group 75
Large SUVs, trucks, high-performance cars
Ford
23 x 17.9 x 18.6
Group 94R/H7
European cars
Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen
31.5 x 17.5 x 19.1

How do I disconnect and change a car battery?

Knowing how to disconnect and change a car battery is a useful skill, whether you need to perform maintenance, replace the battery or ensure safety during repairs. Before you start:

  • Park your car on a flat surface and engage the parking brake.
  • Turn off the engine and remove the ignition key to avoid any electrical risks.
  • Put on safety goggles and gloves to protect your eyes and hands from any chemicals and potential sparks.

Then follow these steps:

  1. Identify the battery terminals: pop open the bonnet and locate the car battery, then identify the positive and negative terminals. The positive terminal typically has a red cap or a plus sign, while the negative terminal is usually black with a minus sign. It’s important to know which terminal is which for several reasons, such as if you ever need to jump start your car.
  2. Disconnect the negative terminal: disconnect the negative terminal first to reduce the risk of electrical shock. Loosen the nut securing the negative terminal, lift off the cable and secure it away from the battery.
  3. Disconnect the positive terminal: follow the same steps to loosen and secure the positive cable.
  4. Inspect the battery: check for any signs of corrosion or damage, such as leaks or cracks. If you notice any issues, address them promptly to prevent future complications.
  5. Connect the battery: reconnect the battery or connect the new battery. Start by connecting the positive cable to the positive terminal, followed by the negative cable to the negative terminal. Tighten the nuts securely to ensure a stable connection.
  6. Test the battery: turn on the ignition and check if all electrical components are functioning correctly and the battery is supplying power as expected.

How do I jump start a car?

If your car car engine won't start, it is useful to know how to jump start your car. Before you begin, ensure you have jumper cables and a working car with a charged battery, and that both cars are parked safely in an open area. Then:

  1. Identify the positive (red) and negative (black) terminals on both batteries.
  2. Attach the positive cable: connect one end of the red jumper cable to the positive terminal of the dead battery. Then connect the other end of the red cable to the positive terminal of the working battery.
  3. Attach the negative cable: connect one end of the black cable to the negative terminal of the working battery. Now connect the other end of the black cable to a bare metal part of the dead car’s engine block – though not the battery itself.
  4. Start and charge: start the working car and let it run a few minutes to give the dead battery a boost.
  5. Start the dead car: this might take a few attempts. If it starts, keep both engines running for a few more minutes.
  6. Disconnect carefully: once the dead car is running, remove the cables in the reverse order they were connected.
  7. Recharge and drive: let the revived car's engine run for at least 20 minutes to further charge the battery.

How long do electric car batteries last?

Electric vehicle (EV) batteries are different to traditional car batteries in several ways. They are lithium-ion rather than lead acid batteries and are designed to provide sustained power to an electric motor rather than bursts of high power to start the engine.

They also designed for longevity, with predicted lifespans of at least eight to 10 years. Determining the exact lifespan of EV batteries is challenging due to limited long-term data. Electric cars have not been on the roads for an extended period, so actual degradation rates remain uncertain. However, while degradation is inevitable, research by EV battery data startup Recurrent has found that most EVs to date have not required battery replacements even after warranty periods end, indicating longer lifespans than initially expected.

When looking at buying an EV, it is also important to consider its range – how far the car can travel before it needs to be recharged. Some of the longest-range models currently on the market in Australia include:

  • Mercedes-Benz EQS – 587 to 664 km
  • Polestar 2 – up to 665 km
  • Tesla Model 3 – up to 629 km
  • BMW i7 – 560 to 625 km
  • Hyundai IONIQ 6 – up to 614 km

Information correct as of April 2024.

Other considerations with electric cars include how much it costs to charge them, charging speed and charging infrastructure where you live or travel to.

How long does a hybrid battery last?

Hybrid cars feature a combination of an internal combustion engine and an electric motor, along with a battery pack to store and deliver electric energy. Hybrid car batteries are designed to last at least eight years or up to 160,000 kilometres. During this period, drivers may experience a gradual decline in the battery's ability to hold a charge. As the battery ages, the vehicle may rely more on its internal combustion engine (ICE), leading to reduced fuel efficiency and increased emissions.

To maximise a hybrid’s battery life, it’s recommended to:

  • Avoid frequent short trips. Take longer drives to allow the battery to fully recharge.
  • Park in moderate temperatures.
  • Reduce electrical strain. Avoid unnecessary use of electronics when the engine is off.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule.

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  Written by 
Adrian Edlington
Adrian Edlington is PR & Communications Manager at Savvy. With a keen interest in personal finance, car loans, the mortgage industry, cost of living pressures, electric vehicles and renewable technology, Adrian's research includes conducting primary data surveys and analysis of up-to-the-minute secondary Australian data sources. His work on behalf of Savvy has been featured on ABC.net.au The Conversation, the Sydney Morning Herald, AFR, News.com.au, The Age, Herald Sun, Adelaide Now, SBS On The Money, 7News, Car Expert, Which Car, Drive.com.au and more. In his spare time, Adrian enjoys mountain biking and business podcasts.
Our authors
 
  Reviewed by 
Bill Tsouvalas

Reviewer

Bill Tsouvalas
Bill Tsouvalas is the managing director and a key company spokesperson at Savvy. As a personal finance expert, he often shares his insights on a range of topics, being featured on leading news outlets including News Corp publications such as the Daily Telegraph and Herald Sun, Fairfax Media publications such as the Australian Financial Review, the Seven Network and more. Bill has over 15 years of experience working in the finance industry and founded Savvy in 2010 with a vision to provide affordable and accessible finance options to all Australians. He has built Savvy from a small asset finance brokerage into a financial comparison website which now attracts close to 2 million Aussies per year and was included in the BRW’s Fast 100 in 2015 as one of the fastest-growing companies in the country. He’s passionate about helping Australians make financially savvy decisions and reviews content across the brand to ensure its accuracy. You can follow Bill on LinkedIn.
Our authors

Published on April 22nd, 2024

Last updated on June 3rd, 2024



Fact checked

At Savvy, we are committed to providing accurate information. Our content undergoes a rigorous process of fact-checking before it is published. Learn more about our editorial policy.

This guide provides general information and does not consider your individual needs, finances or objectives. We do not make any recommendation or suggestion about which product is best for you based on your specific situation and we do not compare all companies in the market, or all products offered by all companies. It’s always important to consider whether professional financial, legal or taxation advice is appropriate for you before choosing or purchasing a financial product.

The content on our website is produced by experts in the field of finance and reviewed as part of our editorial guidelines. We endeavour to keep all information across our site updated with accurate information.

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