How long do car batteries last? (& best replacement brands)

When it comes to owning a car, you need to have a few basic lessons at your fingertips. From regular visits to the mechanic to keeping a spare tire in the back, you probably know much more than you think. But when it comes to the car’s battery, most of us know too little. The same goes for owning a travel trailer.

car battery ford fiesta

It is an essential component of the car. With a dead one, your vehicle is as useless as a junk piece of metal. So before you find yourself running late for an important meeting because your car won’t start, here’s all you need to know about them.     

How long do car batteries last?

Since it converts chemical energy into electrical energy, it’s only useful as long as it can continue to recharge. So the life is determined by how long it can hold the charge. 

A typical battery lasts anywhere between 3 to 5 years. 

However, several factors may improve or deteriorate its life. Such as:

Type

Depending on the battery that works well with your car, you’ll have a different lifespan than other types. The average life is 3 to 5 years for a typical lead-acid battery. In comparison, gel and AGM ones can give you up to fully functional 7 years. 

If you have an electric car, you probably use a Lithium-ion one. If they’re are well maintained, they can last for an average of 15 years. As for hybrid cars like the Toyota Camry Hybrid, the battery can last for about 8 years.

Temperature

You may have heard that batteries tend to last longer in colder climates. And while that sounds like a poorly researched statement, it’s actually true. 

In regions with hotter climates, they are likely to last only 3 years. In contrast, they tend to function for up to 5 years in colder areas. This is because the battery fluid evaporates when the engine gets too hot. As a result, the internal cells are damaged,   

Usage

car

Whether you’re making a short trip to the local grocery store or driving to the beaches in Florida, your battery will be consumed. But how much is depleted depends on several things. Such as how many electronics are used and how long the car is left stationary. 

So make sure to switch off any interior lights or chargers to save its life.  

Vibration

If you’ve ever driven on a bumpy road, you’re probably aware of the toll it takes on your car. From the tires to the engine, every component is overworked. Similarly, increased vibrations affect their internal workings. As a result, the lifespan is largely impacted. 

Time

Your car charges each time you’re on the go. The alternator converts mechanical energy into electrical energy, which is used to start your car and provide power wherever needed. 

However, each charge-discharge cycle comes at a price. Since batteries have a limited amount of cycles they can offer, each charging cycle reduces the capacity to hold a charge. 

A lead-acid one offers 100% capacity until 1200 charging cycles are completed. After that threshold is met, the capacity reduces to 80%. With further use, the capacity reduces even more until it ultimately gives out. 

Best car battery brands

car battery

When it comes to buying a new one, five years is too long a period for a lousy investment. And to truly get your money’s worth, you need to look for an efficient and long-lasting option. Here are some of the best picks:  

Odyssey 34-PC1500T – Automotive and LTV

If you’re looking for a battery that goes above and beyond to give you an overall smooth experience, then the Odyssey Extreme is good for you. It’s a 12V model that contains pure virgin lead plates.   

Compared to conventional ones, the 34-PC1500 provides thrice the life span and twice the overall power. It also ensures a 70% longer cycle life. If all that wasn’t enough to convince you, there’s more. 

At 100% efficiency, it can fully charge within 5 hours. So you no longer have to worry about leaving your battery on low power. For folks in colder climates, the 34-PC1500 is a work of miracle. It guarantees to get your engine roaring, no matter how cold outside. 

The Odyssey is a renowned brand in the market that provides more value than its competitors. If it is adequately taken care of, it can at least exceed the average life by a couple of years!    

Interstate MTZ-34 – Automotive

When it comes to reliability, no one provides more assurance than Interstate. The brand has existed for decades and enjoys a well-reputed status in the market. 

The MTZ-34 is a 12V, heavy-duty design that promises three times the lifespan of a conventional battery. In addition, a combination of lead-acid and AGM cells offers 40% more cranking power. This makes it ideal for models like Toyota Camry.

Not only is it trust-worthy but a battery that’s good for your car. Especially if you’ve had trouble getting your car started instantly, you’ll be pleased with this Interstate model. 

For what it’s is worth, it performs to justify every last penny spent. It goes as far as ensuring over 10,000 starts at a 5% depth of discharge. As a cherry on top, the brand provides a 48-month warranty that starts from the day of purchase.    

Optima OPT8014-045 D34/78 – Dual Purpose, YellowTop

As a leading brand in the market, you can only expect the very best from Optima. They provide a well-suited design even for the most extreme situations with this battery. 

Whether you’re driving on Florida’s rough terrain or Alaska’s sub-zero temperature, the battery guarantees a smooth ride. So if you’ve been looking for a new one that can withstand harsh conditions without losing its efficiency, this is the model that’s good for you! 

The OPT8014-045 YellowTop provides up to 3 times the lifespan of a conventional ome. Moreover, its design is maintenance-free and can be mounted into place quite conveniently. In addition to a 15-time improvement for vibration resistance, the battery offers over 300 charge-discharge cycles.   

How to extend the average life expectancy

car battery

Good quality car batteries will probably cost you a pretty penny. So you must do everything possible to extract the last bit of charge. With proper care, you can ensure maximum life expectancy and charge capacity. To help you get your money’s worth, here are a few practices you can adopt to do what’s good for your battery:

Don’t drain it completely

When it comes to driving in the heat, we all look forward to blasting the AC to a maximum. But the chilling air comes at a hefty price. Similarly, the cost of running multiple electronics at a time will be too high to bear. 

Since a battery is composed of limited charging cycles, you must proceed cautiously. But if you use the charge reasonably and don’t completely drain it, it will maintain the charging capacity and lifespan for much longer. 

The next time you want to switch on the car heater when it’s too cold, we suggest drinking something warm instead. And if you have to stop for a while, ensure the engine isn’t running. Each charging cycle counts, so ensure it isn’t entirely out of juice before a recharge.   

Take the longer route

auto mechanic

Walking to nearby locations will keep your body healthy and ensure your car battery is in top condition. Using the car to make a run to the local store may seem like a convenient idea to get things done. However, it’s not what’s good for the battery.

Its job is to provide a surge of power when you start your car. But to ensure it performs efficiently every time, it must recharge when the vehicle starts moving. So if you’re taking a short trip, your battery will not have enough time to recharge completely. Likewise, an incomplete charging cycle cuts the life short. 

So choose the eco-friendly and healthy way of walking to closeby spots. As with each successful recharge, you add months to its life. Therefore, allowing it to completely charge up is the sensible thing to do.     

Avoid temperature extremes

Similar to our bodies, our cars break down when it gets too cold or hot to function. Unlike you, your car’s battery may not malfunction when it crosses 100°F. But you’re risking long-term damage and a reduced lifespan with higher temperatures. This is because as the internal cells take in the heat, the structure weakens. 

In the same way, the health is also impacted when the temperature drops below zero. It requires additional power to start the car when it gets too cold. And just as the cold slows most reactions, the battery fights hard to keep the car running.

Therefore, it’s a good to park the vehicle inside the garage when the temperature is unbearable. And if you feel your car is beginning to overheat, allow it to cool before continuing.   

Consider a terminal protection kit

You can avoid permanently damaging your battery for a few bucks. Using a terminal protection kit, you protect it from corrosion. The greasy pads surround the terminals and prevent any moisture from entering. 

Therefore, spending a few dollars to protect a much bigger investment is wise.  

Keep the car running

Leaving your car unused for over a week doesn’t mean you’ll return to a house haunted by spirits and cobwebs. However, it does mean that your battery will take a hit.  

As the alternator charges it when the car moves, you must take it out frequently. But if you’re planning to stick it in the garage for a couple of months, you can use a trickle charger.

The charger is designed to juice up your battery to the right level. So you don’t have to worry about overcharging or wasting a charging cycle.     

Do I need to replace the battery after jump-starting it?

auto mechanic

Some days you need an extra ounce of motivation to get out of bed. Similarly, yours may also need a boost every once in a while. So a jump start is provided by using another vehicle to start your engine.   

Providing a boost is quite similar to fuelling up on caffeine to get through the day. However, it’s not always good news. Most of the time, it works fine after the jump start. But if yours is nearing its end, this might indicate getting it serviced or replaced as early as possible. 

To help you make an informed decision, here are a few things you need to keep an eye out for:

Age

With an average lifespan of 3 to 5 years, the batteries tend to deplete quickly. So if yours has crossed the 3-year mark, it’s ideal to schedule a checkup at the mechanic.  

Idle car

Since your car performs well when used regularly, leaving it idle for days will have serious consequences. The next time you start your car, it may not start at all. If that’s the case, you must use it more often. 

Warning signal

man adjust battery

The lights on the dashboard provide great insight into your car’s well-being. If the battery-shaped light is blinking, that’s an indication to go for a replacement or service. Maybe an EPC light is showing up.

Corrosion

If you notice the terminals are beginning to rust, it might be time to get a thermal protection kit. Corrosion can cause permanent damage, so a quick solution is recommended. 

How many miles does a car battery last?

The measure of its performance is its lifespan and mileage. For one that has a life of 5 to 6 years, it’s expected to remain functional for an average of 40,000 miles. After about 50,000 miles, you will have to replace it,  

However, you can improve the figure by taking additional care of it.    

car battery being tested

FAQs

What are signs you need a new car battery?

It rarely comes to a sudden stop, marking the end of its life. Instead, it will give out a few warning signals. So you’ll have ample time for a replacement before it breathes its last breath. The most common signs of a dying one include corroded connectors and a blinking’ check engine’ light on the dashboard. 

Additionally, getting a car to start or support multiple electronics at once may become increasingly difficult. And if you find yourself jump-starting the battery frequently, there’s a chance that a new one is needed.  

How often do you need to replace a car battery?

You must only replace it once it no longer functions efficiently. Over time, it may age, lose significant charging capacity or die completely. Either way, this is an excellent time to have it replaced.
However, experts suggest a replacement every 4 to 5 years as its life is concluded. 

How much do car batteries cost?

Multiple factors go into deciding their cost. Typically, the power, quality and size determine its price. However, most conventional automotive batteries cost anywhere from $45 to $250.

Why did my car battery only last 2 years?

The average life of a lead-acid battery is about 3 to 5 years. However, the estimate is based on a general assumption that it is well taken care of. But if extreme conditions are introduced, yours may give out much earlier. 

For instance, living in extreme climatic regions or driving on Florida’s rough roads puts extra strain on the battery. Additionally, taking shorter trips doesn’t allow it to fully recharge. Therefore, it damages its health. Ultimately, not taking proper care of it will result in a much shorter lifespan.

Is it easy to replace a car battery?

Replacing one is no rocket science. All you need to do is carefully remove it from its place while the car is turned off. Afterward, place the new one and connect the terminals.