Car Batteries

Car Battery Average Life and How To Extend It?

Mike Cross
Updated Feb 28, 2021

There are a few different kinds of car batteries on the market today, but they all work in the same way. All car batteries are 12-volt, and they are arranged in cells that are around 2-volts each. The six cells are made up of plates and acid.

This is how they store and transfer power. Due to the way they are made they won’t last forever because natural breakdown occurs in them. Read on to find out the average life of a car battery and also learn ways to extend the life of the battery.

Car Battery Life Expectancy

Car Battery Average Life and How To Extend It?

On average a car battery will last two to five years, but most last around four years. Sometimes a battery might be near the end of its useful life but still give you a little longer.

Also, if you take care of your battery and try to limit things that put a strain on the battery it will help it live longer. One other way to get more life out of the battery is to buy a better one to start with. Cheaper batteries are cheaper for a reason, and the plates that are used inside aren’t as good as on more expensive batteries.

Why does battery break down?

So now that you know the average life of a car battery we can look into why a battery stops working over time. Well, from the first time you start your car with a new battery build up begins to occur on the plates.

This sulfuric acid buildup causes the electrons in the battery to stick to the plate and not move thru the battery. The build-up on the plate also deteriorates them.

This break down of the plates causes them not to transfer energy as well. Over time this buildup becomes too much, and the damage to the plates becomes too much, and the battery stops working.

Reversing buildup

When charging the battery, you are reversing this buildup of the sulfuric acid on the plates. This is because the charger puts a small vibration into the battery and it breaks the crust off the plates.

By breaking this crust off it not only restores the electrons back into the acid and water solution that is inside the battery, but it also slows down the breakdown of the plates.

That is why it is so important to keep a battery charged. If you keep a battery charged it would help the plates last longer and in turn will allow the battery to last longer.

Other factors that affect battery life.

Outside of keeping the battery charged there are a few other things that can reduce the life of a battery. One of those is similar to the charging aspect, and that is letting a battery sit for long periods without being used.

Long periods of sitting allows the sulfuric acid to build upon the plates and this causes it to break down. Also, when the electrons aren’t moving, they kind of settlement to the bottom or get stuck in the buildup and stop wanting to move.

When you drive a car, the alternator charges it helping keep the electrons active, but if the battery sits the buildup on the plates get too much, and the electrons become sluggish.

Other factors that affect battery life
Other factors that affect battery life

Driving the car on short trips though may do more harm to the battery then good though when it comes to the life of the battery. This is because it takes a lot of energy to get the car started and if you don’t drive long enough to recharge the battery, then the battery will get weaker and weaker with every start.

Also, short trips will lead to more sulfuric acid crust on the plates, and if you don’t drive the vehicle long, then that crust will not have a chance to get broken off. Also, the solution will break into two parts.

A light part and a heavy part. The heavy part will have to do all the work to keep the car going because the light part won’t have any electrons. This puts a strain on your battery.

Temperature is another major factor in how long a battery will last. Warm temperatures will cause the buildup on the plates to occur faster. This is because heat accelerates the chemical reaction.

The opposite happens if you live in a cold place. Since it is colder, the chemical reaction of crust forming on the plates will be slower, but if cold areas the solution is more likely to separate like was mentioned in the previous part.

That is why for longest battery life it is best to live in an area with moderate and consistent temperatures. Extreme temperature changes can be hard for the battery to deal with.

However, the temperature is partially out of your control, but it is just something you have to deal with and remember when choosing a place to live.

The last thing that can shorten battery life is by not having a battery that is properly secured or driving on bumpy roads. If the battery is not secured tightly, then shifting can cause the plates to get damaged.

This is especially possible if you drive on a lot of bumpy roads. Bumps can cause the battery to jar, and this can damage the plates inside. Also, vibration over time of the battery can lead to damage inside. Especially as the plates corrode, they will become brittle, and the vibration can break them ending the life of the battery.

Prolong Life

So now that you know some of the cases of shortening a car batteries life we can look at ways to increase the life of the battery. The first is pretty simple, and that is use accessories less.

Having chargers plugged in, and other things will drain the battery faster. If the battery gets drain more than it is being charged while driving, then the life will be affected.

Also, limit the use of the radio and things when dealing because the battery isn’t being charged then, and the extra draw puts a strain on the battery.

Lastly, related to this tip is make sure all the lights are off when you leave the vehicle. If they are not, then the battery will die completely and need jumped and recharged. This will shorten the life of a battery, especially if it occurs regularly.

Talking about charging the next thing to do to keep a battery lasting is charge it regularly and make sure it stays fully charged. This has already been mentioned, but the part that hasn’t been mentioned is having the battery tested consistently.

battery tester or an automotive multimeter
You can use a battery tester or an automotive multimeter to test the battery

Regulating the battery temperature is another way to help it last longer. You can get a sleeve to put around the battery. This sleeve helps keep the battery warm in colder times and then helps keep it cool in the warmer times.

It does this by providing insulation, but also a shield from heat. The cover goes around the battery, kind of like a sock, and it helps it last longer.

The last thing you can do to keep a battery running longer is to clean the battery regularly. If you see corrosion forming on the nodes, then clean it off.

Also, some batteries need water added to them, so it is important to do that regularly to keep the battery running right. The last thing to do when cleaning the battery and checking it is to make sure that it is tightened down all the way to prevent shifting and damage that comes from that while driving.


So, after reading this, you now know that an average life expectancy of a car battery is two to five years with most lasting around four. You also know things that reduce the life of the battery so you can minimize those things and you know the things you can do to help keep your battery working longer. Using the tips here you should be able to get the most life possible out of your car battery.

Mike Cross
Life is too short to drive with stock audio

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