You may not consider your car battery often, but when it goes, you will definitely know about it. Your car battery provides power to a host of your vehicle’s most important elements including the central computer, lights, radio, and, most importantly, ignition. It is, therefore, surprising that so many road users aren’t more aware of their battery’s condition, and whether it needs to be replaced.
As with any vehicle-related question, the lifespan of a car battery depends on a host of variables including environment (temperature, humidity), miles driven, the nature of driving (long journeys or quick commutes), quality of the product, and luck. In general, a car battery will last for 3-5 years, with its capacity to store energy diminishing as time goes on. There are, however, some things that you should be aware of as they could be a sign that you need to replace your car battery sooner rather than later.
Sporadic or sluggish car starting
One of the key roles of the car battery is to provide the engine with the initial burst of energy that it needs to keep going. If your battery is less effective than it should be, you may well notice that your car takes longer than usual to get started. Don’t ignore a sluggish start, as the next time you go to start your engine you may be met by nothing but a click. This means that there is not enough power to get your engine started and you will need a jump start straight away (and a new battery ASAP).
Not all vehicles have a battery warning symbol on the dashboard, but some do. Whilst warning symbols may seem like an annoyance, it definitely pays to take notice of them! If your battery light comes on and stays on when you start your engine, it could be a sign of a damaged or failing battery or wiring, or a loose connection.
Sporadic electrical connections
It can be hard to spot weak or underperforming electrical activity. However, there are some easy ways to spot a problem. If you are concerned about your battery’s functionality, try starting your engine at night time. Before the battery has a chance to top up from the engine, you may notice that your lights are a bit dimmer than usual; this is a definite sign that your battery is on its way out.
Irregular vehicle use
If you don’t use your car often, it is a good idea to take it for a short drive every week or two to keep the battery topped up.
If you have any concerns about your battery life it is, as always, wise to be cautious. Head to your local garage; a quick diagnostics test will tell you if your battery needs replacing, or if you just left something running (e.g. a light or a radio).