Under ideal conditions, your car battery could last several years. But who lives under ideal conditions, right? A number of factors can affect your car battery, including humidity, temperature variations, and other environmental factors. On average, a car battery should last between two and five years. Here's how it works:

The simple car battery is the strong-but-silent member of the automotive team, working reliably every time you start your car… until it doesn’t. In earlier-model vehicles, battery failure could be discerned from dimming headlights or trouble starting in cold weather. Batteries in late-model vehicles, however, often fail unexpectedly without warning signs. Muddying the issue even more, if the battery warning light on your dashboard illuminates while you’re driving, that generally means the charging system isn't working. Unfortunately, however, the fault could lie in something other than the battery, such as the alternator.

The good news is that proper care can improve the lifespan of your car battery. The best way to make sure your car battery lasts a long time is to always keep it fully charged, which means turning out the lights and unplugging accessories when the car is turned off. In addition, you can easily check your battery tie-down to ensure it's tight during routine vehicle maintenance. Don't worry about a shock, just try to jiggle the battery itself. If anything moves, it may be too loose.

If you have any trouble starting your car, that could be a tell-tale sign of a battery issue. If your vehicle is lethargic in the morning, especially if it’s not a particularly cold day, check it out. A low battery fluid level (take a look at the fluid window on top of the battery, in most cases) or an illuminated Check Engine Light are also warning signs that you might need a new car battery. In any of these cases, you should get your battery checked right away, because the last thing you want to do is to wait too long and find yourself stranded with a vehicle that won’t start.

Temperature is also a major factor in battery performance, whether it's hot or cold and whether you're driving the vehicle or if it's parked. Cold weather, of course, slows everything down, including the ions and electrons inside the battery. Hot weather can affect your vehicle in several detrimental ways too, including everything under the hood. Leaving your car parked or stored for long periods of time regardless of the weather can also lead to a dead battery that will need to be recharged, so be sure you’re starting up your garaged vehicle regularly.

Conclusion

For most drivers, a car battery should last at least three years, but that will vary widely depending on the factors we discussed above. In any case, pay attention to what your cars and batteries are telling you, and you'll be more tuned in before problems arise. Testing a battery’s performance is more than just seeing whether it will hold a charge; it's part of the entire ecosystem that makes your car work properly. The factory-trained service technicians at Rivertown Buick GMC can also determine if any other issues are present, such as problems with the battery's cranking amps or terminals.

Our Service Department is standing by to help you care for and keep your battery fresh. Conveniently schedule your service online or give us a call, and we'll answer all your automotive questions!