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How Long Should a Car Battery Last?

Jan 06, 2022

Image of a car battery underneath the hood

Most of us use our cars every day. We go to work, pick up the kids from school, run errands. . . . We basically rely on our cars for everything that needs doing. But what happens when your car lets you down because of a dead battery? In general, the average car battery life is about five years, but this number can vary based on a variety of factors including how you use your car, how well you take care of the battery, and even where you live.

What Causes Car Batteries to Wear Down?

There are a few things that can cause a car battery to wear down prematurely. One of the most common causes is leaving your headlights on when the car isn't running. This will drain the battery, and it can shorten the battery’s life by up to 50%. Not using your car regularly can also cause a battery to wear down. If you don't drive your car very often, the battery will slowly lose its charge. Finally, if the battery isn't maintained properly, it will wear down more quickly.

3 Warning Signs Your Battery Is Dying

It's always a good idea to know the warning signs of a battery that's about to die. That way, you can avoid being stranded on the side of the road. Here are three warning signs to watch out for:

Car Doesn't Start with Ease

When your car doesn't start with ease, it might be a sign that your battery is dying. This is because a weak battery won't be able to provide enough power to the starter motor, which is what starts the car. If your car has been having trouble starting lately, you should have the battery checked out to see if it needs to be replaced.

Lights Have Dimmed

Another warning sign is that the lights in your car have become dimmer. This happens because when a battery starts to wear down, it cannot maintain a charge for as long, forcing the battery to draw power away from electrical elements such as headlights.

Corrosion on Battery Terminals

If you see corrosion on the battery terminals, this is a sign that the battery isn't holding a charge as well as it should be. The terminals are typically covered by a red and black cover with one being positive and one being negative. If these terminals are corroded, it can cause problems with starting the car and other electrical components. This will either be a sign that you need to clean off your battery terminals (with caution) or that you need a new battery. If you're not comfortable cleaning off the terminals yourself,  you can take it to a mechanic and they can do it for you.

What to Do If Your Battery Isn't Working

If you're having trouble with your car battery, the best thing to do is take it to a mechanic. They’ll be able to test the battery and tell you if it needs to be replaced. It's important to get a new battery as soon as possible because if the battery dies completely, you won't be able to start your car at all and you could potentially be stranded.

5 Steps to Keep Your Battery Healthy and Strong

Here are five maintenance steps you can take to make your battery last longer as you travel the road.

1. Keep It Clean

You should always carefully wipe off any dirt or grime from the terminals before connecting the cable. If you notice corrosion on the terminals, it's time to get a new battery or perform a deep cleaning on your battery. You’ll want to be careful during this process to make sure you don't cause even more corrosion.

2. Keep Your Car in Good Shape

Check all the engine fluid levels, including oil, brake, power steering and coolant levels, on a regular basis to make sure they're topped off correctly. Make sure that your brakes are working well, and keep your tires inflated to the right pressure for optimum performance.

3. Use Your Car

If you don't drive your car for a few days in a row, it's best to start the engine and run it for about 10 minutes every day. This will help maintain the charge on the battery and prevent it from dying.

4. Limit Use of Electrical Components

To get peak performance from your battery, always turn off all electrical components, such as headlights, heater, and radio, when you're not using them.

5. Get Your Battery Tested

Get your battery tested regularly by a professional so you know how much life it has left. If the battery is old or beginning to show signs of wearing down, you should replace it as soon as possible before it dies completely and leaves you stranded.

How Can Acima Help?

If you're having issues with your car that you think are battery-related, we recommend finding an Acima host auto retailer who can help you out. Not only can they test your battery to tell you what kind of shape it's in, but they can also help you get certain upgrades your car needs without having to pay upfront and without using credit.* From tires to lift kits to leveling kits, Acima can help you extend your shopping power so your car can run like new for years to come.

Common Questions About Car Batteries

How much do car batteries cost?

The exact price of a car battery will vary depending on the type of battery you’re looking for. In general, you can expect to pay at least $50 for a basic battery and several hundred dollars if you’re shopping for a premium battery.

How can I test my car battery?

If you’re having trouble with your car battery, the best thing to do is take it to a mechanic. They’ll be able to test the battery and tell you if it needs to be replaced. Many mechanics will offer this service for free or for a very small fee.

How can I tell if my battery is dead?

If your car is having trouble running various electrical components and seems like it may be on its last leg, we recommend taking it to your local dealer or mechanic to get it tested. Getting it tested will tell you what shape your battery is in and if it needs to be replaced or simply needs to be recharged. If you're wondering why your car battery keeps dying, check out this article to learn more.

What size battery do I need for my car?

The size battery you need for your car will vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle. It’s best to consult with a professional to get the exact battery type and size you need.

How many volts does a car battery have?

The voltage of a car battery can vary, but most batteries run at around 12 volts. Your auto retailer can help you determine which size battery is best for your car.