When was the last time you thought about your car battery? If you’re like most drivers, you probably don’t think about it much, unless there’s a problem. Car batteries manage a variety of tasks, from starting the engine to powering the headlights and electrical components like the onboard computer. Just like with other systems in your vehicle, regular battery maintenance is essential to keeping your vehicle running smoothly and reliably; dead or damaged batteries are one of the top reasons drivers place roadside assistance calls.
How Long Do Car Batteries Last?
When properly cared for, car batteries can last for five years or more, but most batteries tend to last around three years with daily use. Like other types of batteries, car batteries become less efficient every time they’re charged. If your battery is between four and five years old, it’s important to have it checked on occasion to ensure it’s still able to hold a charge.
In general, the more sophisticated your car’s electrical systems, including the onboard computer and sensors, the more strain there is on the battery. In some newer vehicles, the computer operates almost constantly, even when the engine is turned off. This can deplete your battery over time, especially if it sits for long periods. To avoid this, take it for a short drive every week or two to recharge the battery.
Warning Signs of a Dead or Dying Battery
Fortunately, it’s not difficult to tell when your battery is dead or starting to get depleted. Here are some signs to watch for:
- The engine is slow to start
- Dim headlights or other electrical issues
- The check engine light is on
- The smell of rotten eggs under the hood
- Visible corrosion on the battery connectors
- A bulging or misshapen battery case
To get the most out of your battery, here are a few maintenance tips:
- If you have a secure garage, consider turning the security system off when your vehicle is parked in it. Leaving it on can drain the battery more quickly. If turning off your security system isn’t an option, make sure to drive your car for at least 30 minutes once a week to keep your battery charged.
- It’s also a good idea to take one 30-minute drive per week if you regularly only take short drives.
- Batteries don’t operate as well during very hot or cold weather. If your battery is getting up there in age, consider having it checked twice a year—once before winter and once before summer—in addition to your regularly scheduled maintenance.
- Don’t leave the lights or air conditioning on when your engine is off, as this will drain the battery.
- Check that the battery and its connections are secure after driving on bumpy roads or off-road.
- Keep the battery’s terminals and casing clean and free of dirt and corrosion.
Whether you need a battery replacement or maintenance, the skilled team at RPM Automotive Services is here to help. We offer complete services to keep your car, truck, or SUV performing its best. Give us a call at (707) 800-4586 or request an appointment online.