AutosThe truth about car battery lifespan: Expert care tips for durability

The truth about car battery lifespan: Expert care tips for durability

Checking the battery mechanic workshop
Checking the battery mechanic workshop
Images source: © Unsplash+ | Getty Images
11:39 AM EST, November 28, 2023

There's common talk of low quality and short lifespan batteries, often ranging from 3 to 5 years. A number of people claim that frequent replacements are now the norm. However, contrary to such belief, experts argue that the problem isn't about the product quality, but rather a lack of proper care.

As suggested by experts from the "mrBattery" channel on YouTube, with appropriate commitment, any battery should be able to function challenge-free for up to10 years. Proper care, just before winter and summer, is essential. The experts are always eager to share a few tips for the same with their viewers.

Foremost, charging your battery twice a year is crucial. Experts guarantee that doing so can realistically extend the battery's lifespan twofold, provided a good charger is used. You may wonder why charging is recommended before summer when winter is usually associated with more challenges for the battery.

The fact is, summer heat exposes the battery to the risk of more damage. Overheating can take a toll on its lifespan. Charging the battery prior to the summer season allows the electrolyte to mix properly, minimising corrosion processes and preparing the battery for the challenging weather. Neglected or "tired" batteries may experience self-discharging.

We generally pair battery issues with winter as it's when the repercussion of inappropriate use throughout the year becomes visible. Nevertheless, a vehicle's mode of application also plays a vital role. If a vehicle is mostly or solely used for short distances, the battery might require more frequent charging—possibly every three months. That's due to the journeys being too short, restricting the battery from receiving a full charge from the alternator after the engine starts.

Ensuring your battery gets basic service is a must. This includes replenishing the electrolyte level and cleaning. If feasible, checking the electrolyte density with inexpensive devices can be beneficial. Note that this should be done only before charging, i.e. twice a year. Using sandpaper or a cheap device, one can easily clean the terminals and poles. Regular cleaning of the battery casing is also suggested in order to prevent crawling currents.

Another important task is checking the battery voltages, which can be done using a simple electrical meter (multimeter). However, make sure the meter's battery is not discharged as it could inaccurate the reading, which is critical for a battery. So, what exact parameters should be measured?

The battery's resting voltage should range from 12.55 to 12.8 V when the car is switched off and locked (only leaving the hood open). The starting voltage should not exceed 10 V, with the absolute minimum being 8.5 V - measured while starting the car. The charging voltage should be between 14.0 and 14.5 V, measured during engine operation. Voltage drops must be under 200 mV and should be measured between the alternator and battery.

To check the power circuit, place the gauge electrode on the alternator's current wire and the other on the battery's positive pole. For checking the ground circuit, position one electrode on the alternator housing and the other on the battery's negative side. Measurement of losses should only be done if the car is old and there are problems with charging the battery.

Related content