How Long Do Car Batteries Last?

Find out how long car batteries last, the factors which affect their lifespan and some ways to extend it right here in Savvy’s guide.

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, updated on August 14th, 2023       

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Car Loans Banner - Frustrated woman looking under the bonnet of her car before jump starting the battery

As a car owner, you know how essential a reliable battery is for your vehicle's performance. On average, a car battery’s lifespan should last from three to five years in length. However, it’s important to be aware of the many variables which can impact how long your vehicle’s battery may last.

In Savvy’s comprehensive guide, you can explore the factors which impact how long your car battery might last.  You can also learn practical tips to extend the life of your battery and ensure your vehicle runs smoothly throughout its lifespan.

What factors influence the lifespan of car batteries?

The lifespan of a car battery is influenced by several factors, including the following:

Climate and weather conditions in Australia

Australia's diverse climate plays a significant role in the life expectancy of car batteries. High temperatures, especially during scorching summers, can accelerate chemical reactions within the battery, leading to faster degradation. Conversely, extremely cold weather can reduce the battery's ability to provide sufficient power during startup. Therefore, it’s important to be aware of how the weather can impact the overall lifespan of your car battery.

Driving habits and road conditions

Your driving habits can also affect the longevity of your car battery. Frequent, 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. Additionally, rough and bumpy roads can cause vibrations which might loosen internal components within the battery, leading to premature failure.

Maintenance and care

Regular maintenance and care can extend the life of your car battery. Ensuring the battery terminals are clean and free from corrosion allows for better electrical conductivity. Regularly inspecting the battery and replacing it before it reaches the end of its life cycle can prevent unexpected breakdowns and vehicle malfunctions.

Excessive discharge

When your car isn’t in use, its battery will begin to discharge slowly. Because they’re starter batteries, meaning they’re designed for short bursts (for instance, starting your car), they aren’t meant to lose charge to below 80%. In this instance, your car may not start, and you might need a jump start or recharge. While batteries which have been discharged can be recharged, it’s worth avoiding your battery going flat wherever possible.

Battery age and usage

Car batteries, like most products, have a finite lifespan. As mentioned, a car battery should last between three to five years on average. However, frequent long-distance driving or extreme temperatures can cause the battery to wear out sooner. It's crucial to keep track of your battery's age and usage to avoid unexpected failures.

What are the signs of a failing car battery?

As a responsible car owner, it's essential to recognise the warning signs of a failing battery. Here are some common indicators that your battery may need disconnection and replacement:

  • Slow cranking: if your engine takes longer than usual to start, it could be a sign of a weakening battery.
  • Dimming lights: dimming headlights and interior lights while starting the engine indicate a battery struggling to provide sufficient power.
  • Electrical issues: problems with your vehicle's electrical systems, such as malfunctioning power windows or radio, can be a symptom of a weak battery.
  • “Check engine” light: though it can signify various issues, a “check engine” light could also be related to battery problems.
  • Swollen battery case: a swollen or bloated battery case indicates internal damage and should be addressed immediately.

Top tips for extending the life of your car’s battery

Conduct regular inspections

Routinely inspect your battery for signs of wear and tear and clean the terminals to prevent corrosion. Having a build-up of dirt around your battery can affect its performance and is easily removed.

Keep it charged

If you don't drive often, consider taking your car for a spin to recharge the battery. Alternatively, if it’s difficult for you to drive often, using a trickle charger or battery maintainer can help keep it charged.

Make sure you have the right battery

Consider the type of car you’ve bought and the weather conditions where you live when selecting the battery to be installed. Ensure the battery you choose meets the manufacturer’s requirements.

Check for vibrations

Secure the battery properly to prevent internal components from loosening due to vibrations. In doing so, you can help minimise the damage to your vehicle while going over bumpy roads.

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