Car Questions: What Is the Normal Life of a Car Battery?

You’re driving down the road when your headlights begin to flicker a little. Your radio also starts to skip and your dashboard lights are fading in and out. You could be experiencing an electrical issue, or your battery might be going out.

What is the average life of a car battery? That depends on how well you take care of it. If it’s not fastened in the vehicle all the way or you let corrosion set in, it won’t be long before you have to get it replaced.

The weather in your area and how often you drive the car are also big contributing factors. Check out this guide to learn when it’s time to trade in your battery.

What is the Average Life of a Car Battery?

To tell you what’s the life of a car battery, let’s get a little technical. When you start up your vehicle, a chemical reaction takes place in the battery. 

The plates that connect the cells move electrons around to create enough of an electrical charge to get things going. At some point, the chemical reaction won’t be able to fire off anymore. This can happen anywhere between 2 and 5 years after you have the battery installed. 

What Causes Them to Go Out? 

Age is only one factor that plays into the battery going out. If you live in an especially hot area, it can wear on your battery. The heat evaporates the essential fluids out of your car. 

This can damage the internal workings of the battery. On top of the weather, your driving habits can also cause some problems. If you take the car for short drives in stop-and-go traffic, it doesn’t give your alternator enough time to recharge. 

Signs That You Need a New One

So, you know about how long you have until you need to buy a new battery, but how can you tell when yours is on its last legs? There are a lot of things you should look out for. 

Your Engine Is Slow to Start

As time goes on, the components inside your battery start to wear out. It can’t create enough of a charge to turn the engine over. You can sit in a parking lot for several minutes trying to get the car to crank. 

This is a good indicator that your car battery life is coming to its inevitable end. If you don’t replace the battery soon, it could leave you stranded for hours. 

The Lights Are Dim

Your battery is in charge of all the electronics in the vehicle. If it’s beginning to fail, it will have a hard time powering your dashboard lights and radio. You’ll notice flickering in both. 

Note, that if this happens, the more things you plug into the vehicle, the faster your battery will drain. It might be a good idea to hold off on charging your phone until you have your battery tested. 

Check Engine Light 

You’re driving down the road when your check engine light turns on. Instead of ignoring it and turning your radio up, it’s time to head to your nearest mechanic. 

The light could be on for any number of reasons. Have the entire thing checked over, not only your battery. It might be a much more serious issue. 

You Smell Something Foul 

When car batteries begin to leak, they give off a rotten egg smell. If you catch a whiff of this, take your car to the mechanic and have them test your battery ASAP. There’s a good chance that you need a new one. 


If you’re having some issues starting your vehicle, pop the hood. If you see white ash around the battery terminal, this means that there’s some corrosion going on. 

Corrosion equals voltage issues, which leads to the starter not wanting to function. 

Damaged Battery Casing 

Extreme heat can do more than evaporate the fluids out of your car. It can also cause the casing to swell or even crack. The extreme cold can cause a similar problem. 

The Battery Is Old

Do you not remember the last time you replaced your car battery? If your vehicle is showing any of the issues mentioned above, now might be the time. 

Regular maintenance can extend the life of your battery, but you shouldn’t push it past the three-year mark.  

Can You Extend the Life of Your Battery? 

As we said above, regular maintenance can keep your battery going. That’s only one thing that you can do to keep it running like a well-oiled machine for a few years. 

Avoid Short Rides When You Can

We talked a little about this above, but now we’re going to go into a bit more detail. Quick car rides use up the battery’s power without giving your alternator the time it needs to recharge. 

The secret to using the battery to its fullest is long and frequent rides. If you don’t use your car often, it’s a good idea to have a portable charger on hand. 

Your battery isn’t getting the workout it needs, so there’s a good chance that it might go out when you do drive the vehicle. The portable charger will allow you to get things moving again without relying on the kindness of a stranger with a car. 

Keep It Fastened

Make sure that your battery is securely fastened in its spot at all times. If it’s allowed to move around, it will cause the internal components to vibrate. 

This can lead to internal damages and short-circuiting. If you drive on bumpy roads often, it’s not uncommon for your battery to come loose. Have it checked every once in a while to make sure that it’s still in place. 

Turn Off Those Headlights 

We’ve all done this once or twice. You get out of your car and leave the headlights blaring. Later, when you come back to start the car again, nothing happens because you drained the battery. 

You have to do what you can to stop yourself from forgetting to turn those lights off. Letting them use up power puts a heavy toll on your battery’s life span. 

Leave a sticky note on the dashboard or park in a way that forces you to walk around the front of the car. Whatever you have to do to stop yourself from forgetting this basic step. 

Keep Things Clean 

Corrosion is something that occurs with any battery. It only causes serious damage if you don’t keep your battery terminal clean. Keep it free from debris with a handy toothbrush. 

Create a paste out of water and baking soda and use a generous amount to scrub the area around your battery. Rinse the mixture away with a spray bottle full of cold water. Dry things off with a clean cloth before you close the hood. 

Don’t Use Electronics When the Engine Isn’t Going 

You drive your mother to the store and let her go in by herself to pick up what she needs. While she’s gone, you decide to play the radio and run the air conditioner. This will keep you comfortable, but your battery is suffering. 

Using vehicle functions while the engine isn’t running puts an unnecessary amount of wear and tear on the battery. Avoid it when you can. 

Perform Regular Maintenance

Your car is a complex machine. All it takes is one part going out to throw everything off-kilter. This could lead to an expensive problem that could also cause your battery to break down. The easiest way to avoid this is by taking the vehicle in for regular maintenance. 

Test the Battery 

Grab a multimeter from the automotive store. It’s a device that can test the voltage in the battery and let you know how much juice it has left. 

By staying on top of your voltage, you’ll be the first one to know when you need to get a new battery. You’ll also get to see how well your maintenance efforts are paying off. 

Pay Attention to Your Car’s Battery

Are the lights on your vehicle’s dashboard beginning to flicker? Are you having trouble starting the car? It might be time for you to head to the nearest auto parts store and have your battery tested. 

The average life of a car battery is about two or three years, but there are too many factors that can affect this estimate for you to be able to count on it. If you live in a hot area, or you practice poor driving habits, it can put some unnecessary strain on the car. Stay on top of maintenance to avoid getting stranded. 

Are you looking for more ways to keep your car working like a well-oiled machine? Check out our blog daily for all the latest tips and tricks.