How Long Does a Car Battery Last

A car battery will generally last between three and four years. As with everything, though, there are several variables to consider regarding this timeframe, such as driving style, climate, and maintenance history.

Here, we offer advice around the ideal time to replace your car battery – determining if indeed a new car battery is needed, how long car batteries last in Australia, how you can extend the life of your car battery, and the safety considerations for responsibly managing your car battery.

How often does a car battery need to be replaced?

Car battery diagnosis and testing using a handheld scanning device by Empower Battery Co

In general, a car battery should be replaced every 3-4 years, or until its capacity drops to a critical level. However, there are multiple factors to consider when determining how often a battery needs to be replaced.

A complex electrical system – such as one that operates power windows, heated seats, and connectivity such as Wi-Fi – can have up to 50 computers and 150 electrified systems, which places additional huge demands on the battery.

Different climates will also put many pressures on a battery, and may therefore impact the speed at which that battery flattens, or completely dies.

There are also human factors to consider such as driving habits – especially inactivity, which can reduce a battery’s lifespan – and car maintenance schedules.

You should take note of how you can extend your battery life, to ensure you get the most from your battery.

If you’re unsure whether your car battery needs replacing, you can test your car battery first, or reach out to us, and one of our highly knowledgeable battery technicians will be able to assist you.

How do I know when my car needs a new battery?

There are many signs that your car may need a new battery. The Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia has outlined some of the key tell-tale signs your battery is dying. These include:

  • The engine sounds different. When you hear the starter turning the engine more slowly than usual, this is a sign the battery may be struggling.
  • Lights are flashing. The battery light on the dashboard may light up.
  • It looks a bit gunky.
  • It’s been a while.
  • It’s had its third birthday.

Other signs can include fluid levels around the plates, heat-related physical damage such as swelling, and leaking terminals.

Before you replace a battery, however, it is important to know whether it is actually the battery that is the issue, or if something else is preventing your car from starting – such as a faulty alternator.

You can test your car battery in several ways before considering replacement.

And, our car battery replacement process considers all possible scenarios.

At Empower Battery Co, we don’t just replace.

We listen, we review, and then we educate, unearthing the most concrete solution that best meets the needs of you, and your vehicle.

How long does a car battery last in Australia?

Car battery life in Australia depends on the same factors as anywhere else – climate, driving style and frequency, professional battery installation, maintenance regime, and so on. If you’re a careful driver in a standard climate, who frequently maintains their car, then your car battery should last 3-4 years.

Traffic on the Bruce Highway at Griffin in Brisbane - how long does a battery last on Australian roads
How long does a battery last on Australian roads?

Saying that, in the hotter climates in Australia, such as north-west Western Australia (WA), a car battery may not last quite as long as one in the cooler climate of Tasmania, for example.

That being said, the driving style in Tasmania may differ to that in north-west WA owing to the terrain, personal habits and so on.

There are always several variables to consider.

If you think your car battery needs replacing, you can start off by testing your car battery, or reach out to us, and one of our highly knowledgeable battery technicians will be able to assist you.

How can I extend my car battery life?

The Royal Automobile Club (RAC) in the UK have developed five simple ways to help extend the life of your car battery:

  • Regularly check the battery’s voltage once a month.
  • Don’t leave the car unused for long periods of time.
  • Clean the battery regularly.
  • When your car’s engine isn’t running, don’t use electronic accessories.
  • Get your car serviced on a regular basis.

Driving habits can also help extend car battery life, including the avoidance of short trips, minimising the power used while the engine is off, and minimising heat exposure.

And of course, there is the standard preventive maintenance you can undertake, especially around the time of notable cold or warm weather. Maintenance can include activities such as keeping the battery tightly fastened, and checking battery water/electrolyte levels – taking care to fill the battery, if required, using a Hydrometer and distilled or demineralised water.

Most batteries these days come maintenance free, but it’s still worth keeping an eye on them and getting them regularly serviced.

In trying to work out how to extend your car battery’s life, you should also consider, ‘what causes my car battery to go flat? Or, indeed, what poses that risk.

You can also test your battery regularly, like a regular health check, to help maintain its life.

What are the key safety tips for managing a car battery?

There are several safety measures that should be respected when managing car batteries. Interestingly, CBS News in the US released a news article on The Do’s And Don’ts Of Car-battery Maintenance. The do’s closely linked up with ways by which you can extend your car battery life.

The don’ts are listed here:

  • If your battery is frozen, do not charge it because it may explode.
  • If you need to charge the battery yourself, switch the charger to a low-charge setting.
  • Don’t charge a dead battery with a car’s alternator.
  • Never lean over a battery when charging, testing, or jump-starting the engine.
  • Don’t let the battery get totally discharged.

You should also consider personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves and goggles, owing to risks such as battery acid spillage.

Think of managing a car battery like taking care of a human: a battery needs everything to be in order.

It needs water, it needs to be energised, and its surroundings need to be kept clean.

And if damage does become noticeable, then it, and the surrounding areas, should be immediately checked by an expert, to ensure the source of that damage is identified and properly addressed.

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