The Federal Highway Administration estimates that the average American drives about 13,500 miles every year. This can vary based on age, gender, and location, but most people drive about 250 miles a week. A car battery can last about 30,000 to 50,000 miles. Most people get about five to six years out of a car battery, but there are some variables.
An older battery without a lot of miles may die quicker than a newer battery with a lot of miles.
How Do I Know When My Car Needs A New Battery?
Car batteries usually have a date of manufacturing on it to let you know the age of the battery. But many batteries show signs of going bad before they expire. Obviously, if you have to use a battery charger to get your car going, it’s likely your battery is going bad. Here are some other signs that it’s time to replace your battery:
- Slow engine crank – your car takes longer to start than normal.
- Check engine light is on – when battery power is weak, it might cause the check engine light to turn on.
- The battery casing is swelling or bloating – heat can cause the battery to swell, which diminishes its life.
- Smelling rotten eggs – the smell of sulfur indicates you have a battery leak.
- Old age – once your battery is more than three years old, you’ll want to start inspecting it.
- Battery leak or corrosive posts – if the place where the battery connects to the cable is corroded, it will make it more difficult for the battery to start the car. Cleaning the post may help temporarily, but it’s likely time to replace the battery.
How Often Should I Replace My Car Battery?
Car batteries may last for up to five to six years, but there are other factors involved in how long your battery will last. Your driving habits may shorten your battery’s life. Making short trips all the time shortens the battery life expectancy. Your battery needs at least 20 minutes of driving to fully recharge.
Battery life is shorter in hotter conditions. Extreme cold temperatures also shorten battery life. Your battery’s life may be shortened if you have faulty wiring or electrical components in your car. You should start testing your battery after three years of use to determine when it should be replaced.
To make your car battery last longer, turn off all electrical components when out of your car. Keep your battery tightly fastened in the brackets. Vibrations can short circuit the internal parts of the battery. If you do a lot of driving on bumpy roads, check it when you get your oil changed. Don’t idle for long periods of time.
Turn off the AC, radio, and other electronics when you’re idling for a long time. This puts excessive wear on the battery. Watch for corrosion on the posts and clean them to prevent buildup. Take care of your car with regular maintenance to prevent excess battery wear.
If you need to, you can always use AutoZone’s VIN lookup to get the specs for your car to buy the right parts and battery.
Interesting Related Article: “How to Test Your Car Battery with a Multimeter“