How long do car batteries last?

Without a working car battery, you’d get nowhere – quite literally. It is responsible for starting up the ignition system and powering your vehicle. 

But how long does a battery last before it needs replacing?

Typically, a battery will last anywhere between 4 and 6 years before you need to purchase a new one.

Despite this, there are many factors that alter the lifespan of a battery, such as if your car hasn’t been used for a while and the battery goes flat, or if the temperature is exceptionally cold or hot outside, or if there’s an acid leak in the battery itself.

Additionally, there may also be problems inside the car that can shorten its battery life, if left untreated. So, make sure to keep an eye on the electrical system – the alternator, all the wires, and voltage regulators. 

Finally, the longevity of your battery will also depend on the battery your car uses. 

Different types of car batteries affect lifespan 

To find out the average lifespan of your vehicle’s battery, check which kind of battery you have. 

There are various battery types that are suited to different vehicles. 
For example:

A lead acid battery is usually for a conventional fossil fuel car that takes petrol or diesel. The battery is used to start the car and run the lights and electrics. This type of battery lasts on average 3 to 5 years.

AGM batteries are ideal for powerful vehicles with stop/start systems. They typically have a longer lifespan than EFB batteries. 

The EFB battery is for simpler stop/start electric systems with smaller engines. This battery can live from 3 to 6 years. 


Maintaining your battery’s charge

Care for your car’s battery and it will care for you. Essentially, a battery doesn’t always have time to charge itself fully after multiple short journeys. Every time your car is turned on, the battery uses electricity to start it up. Make sure your battery gets the full charge it needs by taking your car on longer trips regularly, for 20 minutes or more. 

If you’ve left your car in the drive without using it for a long period of time, the battery will most likely go flat. Take it for a run around (not Fred Flinstone-style, though), to prevent this from happening. 


How many volts does my battery have?

The voltage in your battery means how much electricity it holds. 

Fully charged automotive batteries should have around 12.6 volts or higher. When the vehicle’s engine is running, the voltage will probably go up to 13.7 to 14.7 volts. 

You can use a multimeter, which is a device that deals with your vehicle’s electrical problems, to check the voltage.
If you don’t have one of these, you can test the voltage yourself.

First, start up the engine and flick on the headlights. If they appear dim or turn off, then it’s probably an indication there’s something wrong with your battery.  

Alternatively, take it to your local ATS centre and we’ll have a look at your car batteries for you.

 

What if my battery dies?

Don’t panic – it’s simple to start your car up again when the battery is flat. 

 

How do you know when it’s time for a new battery?

There are many ways your car will tell you if the battery is dying. The engine may be slower than usual and the car takes longer to start. The engine light will appear on the dashboard when the battery is weak. You may’ve had the battery for a number of years and so it’s old and needs replacing. Or the battery can leak if it’s damaged or overcharged – if you notice corrosion on the battery, this is usually a sign of leakage. 

 

How much do car batteries cost?

If your battery is on the way out, or if it’s flat and won’t start, it’s probably time to buy a new one. It will cost you anywhere between £60 and £185, excluding the cost of getting it professionally installed. 

So, how long do car batteries last? There are many factors that come into play when answering this question, including on how old your battery is, what condition it’s in and what type of battery your car has.