Car batteries last for two to five years on average, depending on the climate where a vehicle is operated and other conditions. Longer battery life helps to lower overall car battery cost. While it may not be possible to make a battery last much longer than five years, here are several ways to make the most of a battery.
1. Don’t Leave the Lights On
Leaving on the headlights, door lights or other powered accessories is one of the fastest ways to drain the charge from a battery. Make sure that the electrical or accessory power turns off when you turn off the engine. Avoid using accessory power when idling, as this drains the battery while it cannot recharge which may shorten the operational life of the battery over time.
2. Regularly Take Longer Rides
The battery in your car or truck recharges while you drive long distances. When you only take short trips or do not drive a vehicle for a long period of time, the alternator does not have a chance to recharge the battery. While you do not need to drive miles out of your way every day, it is a good idea to regularly take vehicles on longer trips.
Thirty minutes or more of highway driving or over an hour of continuous city driving once a week or at least a several times a month should be sufficient to maintain battery charge levels. You should invest in a car battery jump starter if you do not plan to drive a car or truck for weeks or months. Otherwise, it will be necessary to use another vehicle to jump the battery when you are ready to operate the vehicle again.
3. Clean Off Corrosion
Naturally-occurring salts and minerals in water cause corrosion or rust to form on metals following prolonged exposure to moisture. If you see signs of corrosion on battery terminals, dip an old toothbrush or another small brush with moderately stiff bristles in a mixture of baking soda and water and use it to scrub off buildup. Rinse the terminals with a spray bottle filled with cold water before drying with a cloth.
Maintaining the condition of battery terminals is as important as using an STP filter finder when it’s time to change the oil. You can also use battery protector covers or boots to limit the exposure of terminals to moisture. Clean terminals promote long battery life.
4. Properly Mount Batteries
An improperly installed battery may not perform reliably. Make sure that this component is secured by a mounting bracket. Excessive vibration may result in internal damage or short-circuiting that causes battery malfunction. If a consistent connection is not maintained, electrical systems may behave unpredictably or fail.
These best practices may prolong the amount of time between battery changes. Even if you follow these tips to the letter, the battery in your car or truck is likely to require replacement within the next five years. Be sure to recycle lead-acid batteries, as 99% of battery components are recyclable or reusable in the manufacturing process.