The average car battery lasts 2-5 years. Of course, this depends on where you live and how well you adhere to your vehicle’s maintenance schedule.
Regardless, over the course of those years there are three reasons why you may encounter a dead battery: a parasitic drain, it simply wears out, or sadly, your own bad habits. Additionally, even though it is a rechargeable battery providing the necessary electricity to your car, it takes some work to ensure it functions properly and lasts as long as possible.
What exactly is a parasitic drain on your battery? In simple terms, parasitic drain is when another component is drawing (draining) amperage from your battery. These types of drains can be harder to identify because there is no outward signal, light, or alarm. Usually, they are only noticed when you go to start your car and you are unsuccessful at doing so.
Unfortunately, these types of drains are best found by trial and error. Your local auto repair shop is the greatest resource to find and fix this type of dead battery issue.
Battery Wear Out
Climate is the bitter mistress that wears out batteries. Unfortunately, there is very little we can do about it. If you are able to keep your vehicle in a garage, that will help extend the battery’s life. But, since our trips require us to be out in various types of weather, garaging only goes so far.
Experts say batteries that experience colder weather last 51 months, while batteries that experience extreme heat only last 30. The most helpful thing you can do to combat against battery aging due to weather is to check the fluid levels regularly and get it tested often.
An at-home multimeter will give you an indication of your battery’s condition. But, it is not as reliable or accurate as the equipment a qualified technician will use at the shop. Getting your battery tested can and should be easily incorporated into your regularly scheduled seasonal maintenance so that you never find yourself stranded.
Bad Habits Can Lead to a Dead Battery
Apart from the weather, car owners have the largest impact on battery life. Following the tips below will help extend car battery life and keep you and your car happy from trip to trip.
- Keep all accessories off when starting the engine. Things like seat warmers, navigation systems, and music players all drain your battery. This is true even while driving, so be mindful of how much ‘extra’ you need for your car.
- Drive regularly and avoid short trips. Short trips do not allow sufficient time for your car battery to recharge. Most cars take 3-4 trips daily to recharge fully, depending on duration.
- Clean your battery terminals. It is very common for a powdery substance to build up at the terminals. This can cause corrosion if not properly maintained. Baking soda and water are a great DIY option, but your auto repair shop will have specifically designed terminal cleaner.
- Keep your battery tightened. If your battery is not tightly fastened, it can vibrate. This can cause internal damage and short circuits.
While on the lookout for how you can prevent a dead battery, don’t forget to care for your whole car. Your vehicle is a complex machine with a LOT of parts. And, more often than not, cars experience a domino effect when something isn’t working properly. Regular tune-ups with one of our master shops is truly the top way to avoid a dead battery and make sure every other component is working harmoniously.