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man performing a test on his car battery

How Long do Car Batteries Last

Here at Dualway and Need a Bus, we often get asked, “I think my car battery is dying. How long do car batteries last?”

Well, today, we are going to put it all out there for you folks. And we will provide some tips you should hang on to when it comes to car batteries and their shelf life, not forgetting some valuable insight on when an alternator might be the problem and not the car battery.

How Does a Car Battery Work?

A car battery is very straightforward. It provides electrical power to the engine. An engine is quite complex at times, but to make it as simple as possible, a car battery sends an electrical charge to the starter motor, which then starts the vehicle. A car battery can store power like all batteries, but when it comes to generating power, it draws it from the car’s alternator to maintain its charge.

a person performing a test on their car battery

How Long Does A Car Battery Last

It depends on your driving style and how well you maintain the vehicle. On average, a battery will last up to six to eight years, but we have seen some last longer. The climate and where you store your vehicle also plays a factor, with old batteries not up to much on cold icy mornings! If you have an older battery and can’t really afford to change right now, be sure to give the car a good run, as it will only help hold the charge longer. 

Tips on How to Check if Your Car Battery is Dying

A Slow Starting Engine

Over time, the components inside your battery will die or become less effective. When this happens, it takes the battery longer to create a charge for the starter motor, and you’ll have to wait a few extra seconds for the engine to turn over. A longer start is the first sign the battery needs changing.

Low Lights or Electrical Issues

Your battery powers all the electrical components in your vehicle. If these are lacking in power, for example, the windows are slow going up and down, or the headlights are dim/lacking power, this might also be a sign that your battery needs replacing. However, ways around such issues might be only driving on hot and bright days, I joke! 

Corroded Connectors

If the connectors on the car battery have a white substance around them, this may lead to issues around voltage or starting your vehicle. Other things to look out for might be a bad smell, often caused by leaking battery acid. Connectors can be cleaned, but if you are unsure how to do it safely, check with a mechanic. 

Make a Car Battery Last Longer

A good run in your car once or twice a week will help. Just remember that while your car may be off, it still uses power to maintain things such as radio preferences and central locking systems/alarms. So leaving your car sitting for a long time will not help the lifespan of your battery. Short runs will help, but be sure to add in longer runs too!

a car alternator

Signs of a Bad Car Battery vs a Bad Alternator

We have covered most of the things you should look out for when it comes to a bad battery. But when it comes to an alternator, it can be a little more complicated as most of the symptoms are similar. Remember, an alternator charges the battery; in fact, it prevents the battery from dying when you are driving. So, if you are going to the shops and your car suddenly loses power, it is a sign that your alternator may be at fault.
In most cases, a warning light will appear to indicate that the battery is not being charged and is losing power. While a new battery may cost anywhere from €80, a new alternator may be in the region of €200, depending on parts and labour. If a faulty alternator is an issue, you will not be able to start the car until you replace the battery or charge it again. This is a quick fix and might give you enough time to get to the garage!

If you think you might have some battery issues be sure to contact our team today.

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