The battery in your car is probably something you don’t think about too often. Until you turn the key and nothing happens that is. It’s a good idea to think about your car battery more often if you don’t want to find yourself stranded.
In this post, we’ll answer the question “How long do car batteries last?” We’ll also answer the questions regarding a standard, hybrid, and fully electric car, as they all have batteries but require a different answer.
How Long Do Car Batteries Usually Last?
If you ask ten people this question, you’ll likely get 10 different answers. Generally, however, you can expect a car battery to last between three and five years.
The reason it’s difficult to give a precise answer is that many elements can shorten a car battery’s life.
There are also many different types of car batteries. Here are a few of the most common:
- A flooded lead acid battery has a lifespan of between three and five years or 30,000 engine starts.
- A sealed lead acid battery also lasts between three and five years. Sealed deep-cycle batteries may last a little longer, around six years.
- An absorbent glass mat battery lasts around seven years.
- Lithium batteries are used in electric cars and golf carts. They have a long lifespan of between eight and twenty years.
Things That Shorten a Car Battery’s Life
We’ve given you a kind of average answer but it also pays to know what might make a difference to the life of your car’s battery.
There are two significant factors: how you drive and where you live.
If you don’t drive your car very often, or only use it for short trips, it weakens your car’s battery. Try to change your routine slightly so that rather than a brief 15-minute commute, take a more scenic route to work or schedule some longer road trips now and then.
Leaving the power on once the ignition is switched off is another thing to be careful of. Leaving the key in the ignition or leaving on an interior light is going to drain the battery quickly.
So how does the climate affect the life of a car battery? If you live and drive somewhere that’s hot all year, it will wear your battery down faster than in colder climates.
Signs That Tell It’s Time For a New Car Battery
If you don’t want to be caught unawares, there are some warning signs to look out for. If any of the following happen, you might need to think about replacing the car battery.
- Your car is taking longer to start: If the engine cranks for longer than usual or the ignition is not turning over the same, it might mean the charge in the battery is weaker.
- The car’s interior lights aren’t as bright as usual: As well as dimmer interior lights, there might be a warning light on the dashboard telling you the battery charge is low or it has low battery fluid.
- The battery is cracked or starting to corrode: This is something you’ll be able to spot when you examine your car’s battery. You might also notice it’s giving off a sulfur smell.
How to Check a Car Battery
If you take your car to a garage, they’ll be able to check your battery for you. However, you can save money and time by doing it yourself. You can check it using a multimeter or by doing a manual test.
Checking With a Multimeter
- Make sure the car is turned off
- Find the battery
- Clean any corrosion from the terminals as this will disrupt the multimeter readings
- Set the multimeter to between 15 and 20 volts
- Connect the multimeter leads to the corresponding battery terminals. The red lead connects to the positive terminal and the black lead to the negative.
- Check the display of the multimeter. It should read 12.2 to 12.6 volts. Any lower reading suggests the battery needs replacing.
Checking Your Car Battery Manually
- Turn the key in the ignition and turn on the headlights. Don’t turn on the engine.
- Leave the headlights on for around 15 minutes.
- Turn the car on, making sure you can keep an eye on the headlights.
- If the headlights dim, it might indicate that the battery is dying.
Car Battery Maintenance
If you want to get the biggest bang for your buck when it comes to the lifespan of your car’s battery, you must lavish it with some regular TLC. Here are some top tips:
- Store the battery properly: If you’re not planning to drive your car for long periods, you should remove it from the vehicle and store it correctly. That means keeping it charged, clean, and in a climate-controlled setting away from light, heat, or moisture.
- Water the battery: If your vehicle has a flooded lead-acid battery, the liquid electrolyte needs to be refilled from time to time. It must be refilled with deionized or distilled water. How often you must refill it depends on the outside temperature and how often you use your vehicle.
- Clean off any corrosion: Batteries should be checked at least twice a year. During the check, look for corrosion and clean it off if you find any.
- Enjoy a joy ride now and again: You can’t avoid many of the short trips you take in your car, but make sure you find the time for long drives as this helps to recharge the battery. At least once a week, take a 20 to 30-minute drive as this will help to extend the life of the battery.
How Long Do Electric Car Batteries Last?
Most EVs use the lithium-ion type battery and these are capable of lasting at least ten years before you need to replace them.
All EVs sold today come with a battery warranty of at least eight years and 100,000 miles. Tesla, for example, offers an eight-year battery warranty and coverage of between 100,000 and 150,000 miles, depending on the model.
A battery warranty usually covers the complete failure of the battery pack. It also acts as a guarantee against serious degradation.
With every charge cycle, a lithium-ion battery pack loses a fraction of its total capacity. Over time, these small hits add up and take a toll on the pack’s maximum capacity and overall driving range of the RV.
How Long Do Hybrid Car Batteries Last?
Most hybrid car batteries are designed to take a driver around 100,000 miles. However, excellent maintenance of the battery can push that figure to over 200,000.
Hybrid batteries can last between five and over 10 years. While the aging of materials affects battery life, the biggest factor is the frequency of discharge.
The more a hybrid car is driven and the battery discharged, the sooner it’s likely to die. Frequent drivers might find themselves replacing the battery after five years. While less frequent drivers could push the battery life past 10 years.
If you ever need to transport your car, one thing you should check is that the battery is fully charged. Carriers need to drive vehicles being transported on and off the transportation trailers, and for that the car needs power. Inoperable vehicles can be transported but the cost is generally higher because specialist equipment is needed.
How long do Tesla car batteries last?
According to Tesla’s 2021 impact report, the batteries in Tesla vehicles are designed to last the life of the vehicle. In the US, this is estimated to be 200,000 miles.
How long do electric car batteries last on one charge?
If an electric car has a typical 40 kWh battery pack, it should be enough to power it for 150 miles or more. Tesla’s biggest battery is good for 375 miles.
How long do the batteries last in an electric car?
Generally, EV car manufacturers have a five to eight-year warranty on their batteries. However, the current predictions are that EV batteries should last between 10 and 20 years before needing to be replaced.