How long does a car battery last?

8 minute read Published on Oct 24, 2023 by BrokerLink Communications

A man removes a battery from under the hood of a car

Many people want to know how long cars last in Canada. The truth is that many factors determine how long a car lasts, and one of these factors is the car battery. Your car requires a battery to run. Without it, your vehicle wouldn’t function. So today, we’re exploring the topic of car batteries. Below, you will learn what factors impact car battery life, as well as how long you can expect your car battery to last.

How long will my car battery last?

The life expectancy of a car battery is generally about three years. However, depending on the model, it may last between two and six years. To find out how long your specific model of battery is expected to last, we recommend reviewing its warranty. A battery’s warranty will give you a strong indication as to how long the manufacturer expects it to live. Please note that the warranty can usually be found on the battery case or label.

It is also important to note that this three-year average for batteries is not for electric car batteries but for traditional gas-powered vehicles. Electric car batteries tend to last longer than combustion engine batteries, with an average lifespan of eight years. Life expectancy for electric car batteries is also sometimes measured in miles, with the average being 100,000 miles.

As with gas-powered cars, experts recommend checking the battery’s warranty to find out how long it will last. Most EV battery warranties are eight or ten years and span anywhere from 100,000 miles to 150,000 miles.

Factors impacting car battery life

Now that you know how long you can expect a car battery to last, let’s dive into the many factors that can impact car battery life. From where you live to how the battery is installed, several details will influence how effectively the battery operates, and therefore how long it will last. Read on to discover a few key factors that have the ability to impact car battery life:

Battery quality

Car battery quality differs, which is why you should avoid buying the cheapest battery on the market. Odds are, the cheapest battery at the store is lower quality. Whether it features inferior components or was made using a manufacturing process that causes problems in a short time frame, it’s best to do your research and choose a battery that is known for the quality of its build.

The age of the battery

The age of the car battery is another factor that will impact its lifespan. However, we’re not talking about how long the battery has been in your car. Rather, we’re talking about how long it has been sitting on the shelf before being sold. Even if a car battery isn’t being used in a car, it can still lose its capacity. Thus, we recommend buying a car battery from a major store with lots of traffic as opposed to a small shop where a battery may have sat for years without being sold. If you want to know exactly how old the car battery is, look for the build date. Customers can usually find an alphanumeric code on top of the battery case. The first letter denotes the month, and the first number is the build year.

Months are in chronological order, with A being January, B being February, etc. Meanwhile, the numbers translate to the year it was manufactured, but they are written according to the decade, so a 0 would mean the first year of the decade you are in, e.g. 2020, and a 1 would mean the second year of the decade you are in, e.g. 2021, etc. If you can’t find the build date or you aren’t sure how to read it, you can always ask an associate for help, or you can also evaluate the battery for signs of age, such as a faded label, dust, etc.

The climate where you live

Where you live and drive your car may impact how long your battery lives, particularly if you live in a climate with extreme temperatures. Extreme heat and cold will degrade a battery quicker than mild temperatures. Given how hot Canada’s summers can be and how cold the winters can be, your battery may not last as long if you drive frequently during the summer and winter or live somewhere far north of the border. To extend your car battery’s life, there are a few preventative auto maintenance steps you can take. Contact BrokerLink to learn more about summer and winter car maintenance.

Where the battery is located in your car

Where you put the battery in your car may also impact its effectiveness. Most commonly, car batteries are found in the wheel well or the trunk. Repositioning the battery from one spot to another can have a major impact on its effectiveness. For example, moving it from the engine bay to a cooler location in the car could increase its lifespan. That is why many manufacturers now put the battery in the trunk, as it is farther away from the heat of the engine and yet still accessible.

How your battery is installed

The way that you install your battery may also affect how long it lives. Cars vibrate as they move, but to extend the life of your car battery, it’s crucial that you minimize this vibration using a hold-down system. When you purchase a new car, the battery will come with a hold-down system to minimize vibration. However, when it comes time to replace the car battery, some drivers forget to reinstall this system. Without the hold-down system, the battery will vibrate uncontrollably, which is a fast way to kill your car battery.

Your driving habits

The way that you drive your car is one final factor that could impact how long your car battery lasts. Believe it or not, taking your car on lots of short, quick trips can actually be worse for the battery than taking it on mid or long-range trips. This is due to the fact that the frequent starts are putting more stress on your battery, and yet you aren’t driving for a long enough time for the alternator to recharge it. Therefore, taking short trips repeatedly can diminish the battery’s life. If you take frequent long-range trips, such as road trips, you will also need to make sure that you properly maintain your car, and this many long-distance trips can affect your battery life as well. Contact BrokerLink to learn more about car maintenance for road trips. One of our licensed experts can explain how often you should change your oil, and more.

What should I do if my car battery dies?

If your car battery dies, which happens to most drivers at one point or another, you have a few options. You might assume that you need to buy a brand-new one as soon as possible, but this may not be the case. Before heading to the store to buy a new car battery, you can try jump starting it using another nearby car or a battery-powered jump pack. If you’re lucky, you may be able to successfully bring your car battery back to life. That said, if the jumpstart is unsuccessful or you notice that you’re regularly having trouble starting your engine, it’s likely a sign that the battery needs to be replaced. This is also the case if your engine initially turns on after receiving a jumpstart but then turns off as soon as you disconnect the jumper cables.

How do I know if my car battery needs to be replaced?

There are a few ways that a driver can tell if their car battery needs to be replaced. Keep reading for a breakdown of telltale signs to look for:

Your car battery light is on after being jump started

If you’re unsure whether your battery is nearing the end of its life, look at the battery light. If the battery warning light is on - it looks like a red light in the shape of a battery in most vehicles - or the check charging system warning pops up following a jumpstart, the odds are high that your car battery is extremely weak. If you notice either of these lights, we recommend taking your car to a mechanic as soon as possible. It could mean that your battery needs to be replaced. However, it could also be indicative of a larger issue, like the need for an alternator replacement.

Your car stalls or turns off after removing the jumper cables

If your car battery dies, chances are that you will try to revive it by jump-starting it. One way to do this is by affixing jumper cables to it. Although this can sometimes be successful, if the battery is bad, then as soon as you remove the jumper cables, the car’s engine will likely stall and die. This is a sign that your car battery needs to be replaced.

Your car runs but isn’t functioning as it should after a jumpstart

There is another scenario where your car won’t turn on, you get a jumpstart, and the car continues to run after removing the jumper cables but you notice that it’s not functioning as it should be. This is another sign of a bad battery. Your battery might have just enough power to flow to allow the car to run. However, the driving experience will be poor. For example, you may notice rough gear shifts, weak air conditioning, and the check engine light may come on.

Your headlights lights are dim

One final sign that your car battery needs to be replaced is if the headlights are dimmer than usual. It’s normal for the headlights to flicker when you turn on an accessory that uses a lot of power, such as the heating or air conditioning. However, if your headlights remain dim for more than a few seconds after turning on one of these accessories, it is likely a sign that your car battery is dying.

Contact BrokerLink to learn more about how long car batteries last in Canada

BrokerLink has a team of experienced and licensed auto insurance professionals eager to answer your questions. If you want to know more about how long car batteries last in Canada or if car insurance covers battery replacement, give us a call today.

As a full-service insurance brokerage and the go-to brokerage in Canada, we can also help you with other car insurance-related tasks. For example, we explain the different types of auto insurance available to you, as well as what documents you need for car insurance. We can also shop around on your behalf to find you the best possible price for your car insurance policy. If you want to know how much auto insurance will cost in your province or city, use our online quote tool. It is completely free of charge and can provide you with an accurate and reliable auto insurance quote in less than five minutes.

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