The car battery, whether it’s 15 °C or -15 °C, it plays a critical role in getting your car, truck, or SUV started. Though it’s not something you think about every day, your driving habits and maintenance practices play a big role in how much power will be available the next time you start your car, and every time after that.
How Long do Car Batteries Last?
Car battery life depends on several factors. Climate plays a major role in battery life, but you have little control over that. The ideal battery temperature is 27 °C. That’s when the chemical reaction that powers the battery is most efficient. That may seem high, but this temperature is easy to achieve under the hood of a running car. While batteries tend to have shorter lives in warmer climates, our cooler temperatures help the average car battery last three to five years.
Every time you use the battery to start the engine or run some device, like a radio or headlights, it discharges the battery a little – or a lot. Even sitting unused, car batteries tend to discharge about five percent per month. Once the engine is running, the generator recharges the battery. Eventually, the battery will fail, but it’s easy to replace a car battery. In the meantime, there are several things you can do to help it last as long as possible.
How to Keep Your Car Battery in Good Shape
The single best thing you can do is drive regularly. In vehicles driven at least 15,000 km per year, most car batteries tend to keep delivering well past five years. You can also avoid many battery problems by following these other battery maintenance tips.
Keep Clean – Under the hood is often a dirty place, which can cause battery and charging system problems. Dirt and grime accelerate corrosion, affecting charging and power delivery, and shortening battery life. Grime can even cause a slight short circuit condition, draining the battery slowly over time.
Dielectric Grease – Battery terminal corrosion can impede charging and power delivery. After cleaning with an acid neutralizer – baking soda and water work great – and reconnecting the battery terminals, coat all exposed metal with dielectric grease to prevent further oxidation.
Float Charger – If you don’t drive that much or you leave your vehicle parked for more than a few days at a time, consider installing a battery float charger. A float charger, like this NAPA Battery Maintainer, maintains battery charge and battery life.
Plug Drains – Most cars have limited parasitic draw, a very low current to run anti-theft systems or remember radio pre-sets, for example. In general, this should be no more than 50 mA, less than 35 mA for older vehicles. Malfunctions and some additional accessories can cause larger drains and increase the chance of internal damage or freezing in winter.
Tie Down – Excessive vibrations and shocks can damage battery internals. Broken battery hold-downs or an undersized battery can lead to shorter battery life. Always use the right size replacement battery and install the hold-down to keep it stable.
Warm Up – Temperature extremes can negatively affect battery life. Many vehicles come with insulating blankets to keep batteries from overheating in Summer. In Winter, consider a battery heater to improve efficiency and prevent excessive cold-start cranking, which can discharge the battery.
However, if you need to change your battery,check out all our batteries available on napacanada.com or trust one of our 600 NAPA AUTOPRO shops for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on car battery maintenance, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA Auto Parts store.
By Benjamin Jerew