How Long Does A Car Battery Last?

A car battery supplies electrical current to your vehicle. The main purpose of the battery is to feed the starter which in turn starts the engine. And powers the electrical systems via the alternator.

A healthy car battery should read more than 12.6 volts on a multimeter. This reading should be taken in the morning to get an accurate figure – if the vehicle has recently been driven the reading could be misleadingly high.

The battery is an essential car part. Managing an entire range of tasks. So, how long does a car battery last? Read on…


Battery Life

How long does a car battery last UK figures show that batteries can wear in as little as three years – with proper care this can be extended to five years or more. If you look after your battery, you’ll be able to increase its lifespan. Extend the lifespan of your battery by:

  • Driving your car frequently
  • Switching off lights and air conditioning as well as your engine
  • Having your car serviced regularly

Every time you start your engine the battery deteriorates slightly. And becomes less efficient with every charge. Older car batteries can present with a range of reliability and safety issues. And you need to know when the battery is reaching the end.


Signs of a Dead Car Battery

How to tell if your car battery is dead – use these guidelines:

  • One day the car starts perfectly, the next day it won’t start at all – when starting is an intermittent issue this could be due to loose battery terminals, frayed cables, or parasitic draw issues.
  • The engine turns but it won’t start – this may be a problem with the starter but is more likely to be the battery. And you may need to jump start.
  • Jumping is becoming more frequent – if you have to jump your vehicle more than three times in a week you really need to replace the battery.
  • The engine just won’t start – when you have no power, no lights, and no sign of life this could be a battery issue combined with an alternator fault.


Important Maintenance

How to check a car battery is a vital part of regular car maintenance. Follow these simple steps:


  • Locate the battery
  • Clear any debris and dirt from around the battery terminals and form the top of the battery itself
  • Use an ammonia-based spray to wipe away the dirt remembering to spray onto the cloth and not directly onto the battery
  • Dry with paper towels
  • If the battery is located in an awkward position you can remove it to carry out the cleaning process, but this will reset the majority of the electronics
  • Remove the semi-rectangular plastic covers over the battery cell ports
  • Take note of any batteries labelled as maintenance-free as these are designed to be replaced rather than cleaned
  • Use a damp cloth to clean further areas of dirt – the cleaner the exterior the better the integrity of the connections


Checking Fluid Levels

By examining each port, you can compare the fluid levels in each cell. If the fluid in your battery is low it’s possible that the battery may have a small leak, or even a cracked case. If there’s no obvious sign of leakage fill the battery with distilled water. And ensure the fluid reaches the maximum safe level.

The normal fluid levels for electrolytes is about 1cm above the tops of the plates. Or 3mm below the bottoms of the filler tubes that run down the port openings. The maximum safe level is just touching the bottom of the filler tubes.


Man checking the fluid levels of the car

Adjusting Fluid Levels

It’s advisable to wear protective clothing when handling the battery as sulphuric acid can burn and blind. Protect your eyes with safety goggles, your hands with disposable gloves, and wear clothing with long sleeves to protect your skin.

Only use distilled water to fill each cell to just cover the plates. To ensure control of the flow simply pour the distilled water into a clean funnel. Using other types of water will reduce the battery life.

Wipe up any spills before closing the ports. Inspect the battery on a weekly basis to make sure there’s no overflow and clean as necessary.


Get Professional Help

When you’ve got problems with your battery and you’re mid-journey – don’t panic – simply call for trusted roadside assistance. Get a free quote with no-obligation. And confirm your location. An experienced engineer will soon be with you. Ensuring you can complete your journey without further delay.