A typical car battery should last between 3 and 5 years.
But too often people find themselves having to buy an expensive new battery in as little as 1 to 2 years.
But why the huge difference between the expected life cycle of a car battery and the life cycle people are seeing in the real world?
And, more to the point, is there anything you can do to make your battery last longer?
No matter how well you maintain your car battery, it won’t last forever.
But, considering the high cost of car batteries, I’m sure you’d like to do everything you reasonably can to extend the life of your battery.
And, the good news is, there are things you can do to keep your battery dependably chugging along for it’s full lifecycle.
Lead Acid Batteries, A Short Explainer
Lead acid batteries are the most commonly used type of auto batteries.
The battery has 3 stages to it’s life – formatting, peak and decline.
Formatting is the stage when the battery is brand new and needs to be used gently – like a break in period.
Peak is just like it sounds, the point in the life span of the battery where it reaches it’s peak performance level. This is the stage you want to extend as much as possible.
Decline is, again just what it sounds like. This is the end stage of life for your battery. It’s a slow process but this is the time you need to pay close attention to your battery and be aware that it is declining in functionality.
The 5 Tricks to Extend Battery Life
Keep your battery terminals clean of corrosion. This inspection is best done monthly. If corrosion is allowed to buildup it can destroy the connection between the battery and the car.
Many people discard their battery due to excess corrosive buildup.
To eliminate corrosion simply pour some cola on the terminals.
Once the corrosion is gone, take a damp rag and remove any remaining residue. Once it’s fully dry, rub some petroleum jelly on the terminals to prevent corrosion from re-occurring.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you carefully read your cars owners manual before disconnecting your car battery or doing any maintenance on it. Usually, unless your owners manual says differently (always follow your owners manual instructions rather than this article.) the negative cable is disconnected first. Reconnecting your cables is usually the positive cable first. Again, refer to your owners manual!
Don’t Overtax Your Battery
When you are driving your car the alternator will generate electricity and recharge your car battery as needed.
But if you’re not running the car, the alternator isn’t recharging your battery and you’re just sucking the juice out of your battery as you listen to the radio or charge your phone, etc.
Car batteries aren’t intended to be used like this. They are designed to provide immediate power for ignition. Long term power for electronics are actually what a deep cycle lead battery is used for.
If you often use your battery to power the radio or other electronics while the car isn’t running, you can significantly shorten the lifespan of the battery.
Of course, its important that your battery is properly installed so it’s stays where it’s supposed to be. If your battery is being bumped around it can be damaged. That damage will shorten the life of your battery. Also, make sure your cables are in good repair and properly connected.
Keep Your Battery Safe From Temperature Extremes
Of course, it can be difficult to keep your battery from extreme temperatures. It depends on where you live – your battery may be exposed to extreme heat, cold or for some of us, both.
You can get a battery insulation kit if your car doesn’t come with one, many newer models do.
If you buy one, just make sure it’s made for your model of vehicle so it fits properly and allows enough air circulation.
Charge Your Battery Weekly
It sounds odd but your car battery is being drained even when your car isn’t running. Todays modern cars have computers in them and they will continue to draw small amounts of energy throughout the day and night.
Using a battery charger weekly can keep your battery properly charged and lengthen it’s life. Just make sure you don’t overcharge your battery either!
Or, if you prefer, you can just take a Sunday drive and let your alternator do the work for you while getting out of the house for a while!
IMPORTANT NOTE: If recharging your battery, make sure you do it in a well ventilated area, or in the case of an installed battery, after the hood has been open to let some air circulate.