Car Battery Maintenance - How to maintain and maximise battery life?
The car battery is the backbone of your car; they provide the necessary power to get
your engine running.
However, car batteries do not last forever and will need to be replaced in a few years.
How long does a car battery last?
The lifespan of a car battery depends on how long it can hold its charge and its
capacity to recharge.
There are various car batteries, and the average lifespan depends on their chemical
Lead Acid Battery -
Lasts 3-5 years on
AGM and Gel Battery
- Lasts up to 7
- These are
electric car batteries and
have a reasonably long lifespan. EV batteries
come with a 5-8 year warranty, but they are expected to last 10-20 years.
NiMH Battery -
Commonly used as a
hybrid car battery, this
has a lifespan of 8 years.
However, the chemical composition of the car battery is not the only deciding factor for
its long lifespan.
Factors that affect the car battery lifespan
Time - The battery
degrades over time
due to wear and tear as
the alternator charges it up every time.
As you continue to drive your car, the battery capacity decreases.
Despite the battery capacity reducing, battery cells do not stop working suddenly.
You run the risk of sudden battery failure only if you push it beyond five years.
Temperature - Heat aids
reaction needed to
generate electricity, which explains why it is
easier to start your car in summer than winter. However, heat can also accelerate
In extremely hot conditions or an extremely hot engine, the battery fluid can evaporate,
the internal cells, reducing the battery life.
Vibration - Vehicle
vibrations that can
affect the battery life and performance. Ensure
that your car battery is securely mounted to minimise unnecessary shaking.
Charging - The car
battery runs with
the help of an
alternator, charging the battery when the engine is
Undercharging accelerates battery damage, while overcharging can cause battery fluid
the battery to drain completely can shave a chunk off its lifespan, even if you recharge
A few choose to charge their car batteries with external systems that offer rapid
much power all at once can cause problems and reduce your battery’s lifespan.
Problems with the alternator can also reduce the lifespan of a battery. If you find an
alternator, it is a good idea to get your car checked out by a mechanic to ensure that
does not deteriorate further.
Usage - The car battery
you drive; leaving your
car stationary for long periods of time
will deplete its charge.
The more electronics installed in the car, the faster the battery will drain to support
Driving short distances is an added strain on the car’s battery. The battery drains
charging system can recharge it.
Signs that your car battery is low
Your car takes too long to start - If your car takes a few
tries to turn over and start the engine, this
is a sure sign that your car battery is close to its end. You may get a few more starts
to replace the battery.
Dim interior lights and electrical problems - The car battery
powers all the electrical components in
your car, including the headlights, interior lighting, air conditioning and onboard
When the battery is weak, the first apparent sign is dim headlights and interior
Here is how you can check:
- Start your car at night and turn on your headlights.
- If they are dim, shift your car into park or neutral and rev the engine.
- The headlights should brighten as you accelerate if the car battery is
Check engine light is on
check engine indicator light
on the dashboard does not always mean a
failing battery. It can also indicate problems with the alternator. If your check engine
switched on after the initial checks, get your car checked with your mechanic and
Unpleasant odour - A
leaky car battery can release
an unpleasant smell from the sulphuric
acid present in the lead-acid battery. In case you smell something unpleasant from the
engine checked out. Do NOT drive around with a leaking battery pack.
Corroded connectors - As
battery ages, it is common to
notice corrosion on the battery terminals.
This can lead to starting problems and terminal failure. To maintain the health of your
off any corrosion.
Out of shape car battery
- Your car
battery should never look
disfigured; this is a no-brainer. Exposure
to extreme temperatures can cause the battery casing to crack, bloat or swell. In case
looks deformed in any way, get it checked by your mechanic and replace the battery if
Old battery - If your
car battery is
nearing or has crossed
the 3-year mark, it is natural for the
battery life to deteriorate. It is ideal to have your car battery checked regularly for
Your car battery may not always provide you with clues that it is failing. If you notice
any of the signs
mentioned above, pop open your hood to check for any problems.
Make sure to get your battery checked by your mechanic each time you go for your
especially after it crosses the four-year mark.
How to maximise your car battery life?
Routine maintenance checks can help you keep track of your battery’s health. There are a
few things you can
do to maximise your car battery life.
- Drive your car regularly to keep your battery charged. The
alternator charges the battery as the car
moves down the road. If you want to prolong the car battery life, drive longer distances instead
However, most of us do not travel long distances regularly. Extremely short trips can damage
battery because the alternator does not get enough time to recharge the battery.
- Use a car battery maintainer between long engine starts. A
battery maintainer keeps an on-demand low
charge on your battery, eliminating the possibility of slow discharge. Remember, slow discharge
recharge affect the health of the car battery.
- Remove corrosion from the car battery terminals. Battery
corrosion washers and dielectric grease will
aid in keeping corrosion at bay.
- Do NOT leave the electricals in the car turned on for an
extended period of time. Your car battery is
mainly used for starting the car, and leaving your electricals on without starting your engine
deplete the battery.
- Many vehicles now come equipped with protective heat shields
around the car battery. If your car battery
is equipped with a heat shield, do not remove it.
- Service your vehicle regularly. Regular maintenance from a trusted
mechanic can keep your car running
smoothly for long periods of time.
How often does a car need a new battery?
The exact lifespan of a car battery depends on the vehicle and its condition, but most
vehicles need a new
battery every four to five years on average. In colder climates, the lifespan of a battery may be
After the battery crosses the three-year mark, start paying attention to how your car
functions. It is
crucial for you to catch a problem early before it can cause further complications to your car.
Batteries in new vehicles may not show signs that it is about to fail. Keep in mind that
your battery will
start weakening after four years, and get your mechanic to check the health of the car battery next
you’re in for a maintenance check.
All vehicles need to replace the battery; that is a given. Whether you keep your car in
storage or drive it
every day, you will need to replace your car batteries at some point.
Pushing your car battery beyond the 5-year mark can cause your battery to fail without notice.
The exact cost of replacing your car battery depends on the make and model of
In India, replacing the battery cost may range from about Rs. 3000 to Rs.
however, the price could exceed if your vehicle has a particular battery or is a
Yes, you can replace your car battery by yourself. The trickiest part of
battery yourself is lifting it because of its weight.
Before replacing the battery yourself, ensure that the car is turned off and the
emergency brake is set and is in park. Be careful and do not spill battery acid
Cars in good condition will last at least two weeks without needing you to start
and recharge the battery.
If your car battery is relatively new, it should last 2-3 months before it loses
power completely. After four months, there is a good chance that the battery
contain enough power to start the car.
The car battery powers the headlights, music system, and alarm systems. The more
electricals in your car, the faster your battery will drain.
If you do not plan to drive your car for a while, start and drive it around once
to recharge your battery. By doing this, the alternator recharges the battery
ensures that your battery and engine are in good condition.
No, it comes fully charged when you purchase a new car battery. Make sure to buy
sealed new battery from a trusted manufacturer, ensuring it is fully charged.