The Average Car Battery Lifespan

Written by john brennan
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The Average Car Battery Lifespan
The lifespan of your car battery may vary depending on driving conditions. (dead battery image by Katrina Miller from Fotolia.com)

The average car battery has a lifespan of three to five years, but this figure is only an average and car battery life can vary widely depending on maintenance and driving conditions. The best way to maximise the lifespan of your car battery is to maintain it properly, although you must always exercise care in doing so. Whenever you're working on your car battery, you should always observe safety procedures.

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Temperature

Extreme temperatures can shorten the lifespan of your battery and necessitate more frequent maintenance. Some batteries come with an insulator to help keep the battery a more constant temperature. If your battery came with an insulator you may want to make sure it's in good condition. If you live in a hot climate, high temperatures can accelerate evaporation and escape of the water in the battery, so you should check the battery levels more often.

Driving Conditions

Taking numerous short trips will typically decrease your car battery's lifespan. Frequently restarting your car isn't good for your battery either. Avoid these driving habits unless your schedule or job duties leave you with no alternative.

Terminal Maintenance

Corrosion can build up around the battery terminals over time. Keeping the terminals clean can help extend the life of your battery and ensure your car starts properly. Cleaning the terminals with a wire brush will remove corroded material; to neutralise acid on the battery top, use a mixture of baking soda and water with a toothbrush. You can also apply terminal protector spray, a common product you can find in most car parts stores.

Checking Electrolytes

Checking the water levels in your battery and refilling if necessary is important to ensure your battery exceeds the average lifespan. Some newer car batteries are "low-maintenance" batteries and may not even have filler caps you can remove; on most batteries, however, it's fairly easy to check water levels. A hydrometer is a device that checks the concentration of sulphuric acid in the battery electrolyte. If there's not enough water, you can add more water through the filler caps. Always use distilled water; tap water contains minerals that aren't good for your battery.

Safety

When you're working on your car battery, you should always observe some basic safety precautions. Don't lean over the battery while recharging it or jump-starting your car. Never expose the car battery to flame or short-circuit the battery and never allow water from the battery to come in contact with your skin or eyes since the solution inside the battery is highly acidic.

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