Most of the manufacturers promise 2-3 years of a battery’s service life. On average, the service life of modern batteries amounts to 3-4 years. However, if a car is maintained properly, the service life of its battery can successfully be extended for up to 7-8 years and even more. What does it depend on? How to check car battery life? What should be done to make a car battery last longer? In order to answer these questions it is necessary to figure out the way a car battery works and what exactly should be controlled when it is running.
A car battery performs several functions: it provides power for starter when you start the engine, it provides power for air-conditioner, you start the engine, it provides power for air-conditioner, signalling system and other devices when the engine is turned off, finally, a car battery provides power for these devices in addition to car alternator when the engine is running.
Passenger vehicles have lead-acid batteries. They function the following way: electrical energy is turned into chemical energy while charging and, vice versa, chemical energy is turned into electrical energy while discharging. Lead-acid battery is being discharged when devices that use electrical energy are turned on. These can be headlamps, air conditioner and car audio system. In case of discharging process, the active mass of positive (lead dioxide) and negative (spongy lead) electrodes interacts with the electrolyte. As a result of this process, lead sulfate is formed. Consequently, the level of water as well as the density of the electrolyte are decreasing. When engine is running, car battery is charged from alternator. A car battery can also be charged with the help of a special charging device. When lead-acid battery is being charged, lead sulfate and water are turned into lead, lead dioxide and sulfuric acid. Consequently, the density of the electrolyte is increasing.
The functioning of a car battery depends on the air temperature around the battery. If the temperature is increasing, the power output is increasing as well. However, self-discharge rate and corrosion of electrodes are simultaneously increasing. The temperature decrease is accompanied by the decrease of discharge capacity, chemical processes being slowed down and the electrolyte’s density being lower. In case there is no load, the processes inside the battery don’t stop and there occurs a case of the battery’s self-discharge. As for how much the battery will be self-discharged, it depends on the air temperature around the battery and its construction (electrodes).
On average, the service life of a car battery amounts to 3-4 years. A battery’s operational mode is crucial here. Manufacturers are constantly working on increasing the efficiency and service life of car battery.
Why Is The Service Life Of Car Battery Decreased?
Very often, the reason for a car battery being out of order is improper or inattentive usage. For example, a car owner may forget to turn off the headlamps or air conditioner. Consequently, there may be a case of either complete or partial discharge of the battery that can significantly decrease its service life.
Short circuit results in a car battery being immediately out of order. In case you have a new car battery, manufacturing defect may be the reason for short circuit. If a battery works not the way it should and is used for a long time, short circuit may occur due to the fact that the coating of the battery’s plates is peeling off. The best scenario is the work efficiency of the car battery being decreased. The worst scenario is the circuit of the lead plates that have different polarity.
A car battery being severely discharged and left in this condition for some time. In case a car battery is severely discharged, the density of the electrolyte inside it is decreasing. If a battery is close to being totally discharged, the electrolyte inside it may freeze if it’s winter. The ice will deform the lead plates. As a result, the car battery shell will be destroyed. It will be impossible to use such like car battery.
Weather conditions. According to the statistics, car batteries in south states appear to be out of order more often than car batteries in north states where there may be severely cold weather. The reason for it is that water inside a car battery evaporates and it is not replenished when necessary.
How Do I Know When To Replace My Car Battery?
There are several signs that may tell you that it’s high time to change your car battery.
- The light of the headlamps is dim. Switch to neutral speed position (manual gearbox) or parking position (automatic gearbox) and step on accelerator. If the headlamps’ light is changed, it means that the car battery will soon need to be changed.
- Turn the ignition key to the certain position and pay attention to the indicators on the dashboard. If the car battery fails to provide necessary power, the light of the lamps will be dim or the lamps will flicker from time to time.
- If there is a case of a battery being severely discharged, there will be “snapping” sounds coming from under the hood. You will hear them while starting your car. These are the sounds produced by relay and alternator.
- Some cars, most often these are modern cars, have car battery voltage indicator. You can see the voltage rate with the help of the indicator. If the arrow is in the red zone, it means that car battery is discharged.
How Often Should I Change My Car Battery?
You can be absolutely sure of the fact that your car battery will work the way it should up until the service life promised by manufacturers is out. The majority of manufacturers promise the service life of 1-2 years. If you don’t want to buy new car battery every 2-3 years, you need to regularly check the condition of your car battery and follow simple rules:
How To Prolong Car Battery Life? Easy Tips.
- Check the level of the electrolyte. Do not let it be lower than the required rate (0,4-0,45 inches above the plates). You can measure the level with the help of a simple glass tube. If necessary, pour distilled water there.
- The density of the electrolyte. The density should correspond to the climatic zone where car battery is used. Remember that in order for the electrolyte to have required density it’s not enough to charge car battery from the alternator while you’re driving your car. Once in three months, charge your car battery with the help of a special stationary charging device. If electrolyte has the required density, it is less likely that the sulfation of the plates will take place. Besides, such like car battery will have a longer service life.
- If your car is on parking lot for a long time, take the terminals off the battery. Then, your car battery will save the charging for a longer period of time.
Following these simple rules you can extend the service life of car battery for 7 and, sometimes, even for 10 years.