If you look after your car battery, you may get four or even five years of service out of it before it dies. Once a battery begins to show signs of aging, it is a good idea to either have a professional check it or to buy a new one.
Signs That Your Car’s Battery Needs Replacing
A battery will give you some hints that it is reaching the end of its life. Such indications are:
-You have trouble starting the engine on cool days.
-The headlights do not seem to be working as well at night.
-The door lights and other instruments on the dash may flicker.
-You may see a warning light come on.
-The car needs a jumpstart every morning.
Why Do Car Batteries Deteriorate?
Anything from the way you drive, to the environment you live in, to the brand of the battery can affect its life span. Many things will shorten the lifespan of a battery, down from the five years you would hope for.
Detrimental factors include:
–Weather — within, drying out the acid. Extreme cold weather can crack the battery housing.
–Power Drain — Headlight and interior lighting left on is a common way to flatten a battery. You want to avoid making this mistake too often.
–Shaking — Your car battery should have a clamp holding it in place. A loose battery can bounce off metal, cracking the casing. The vibrations may also damage the internal electrode wafers.
Testing a Car Battery
You should try to test your battery a couple of times a year to make sure you are not going to have any issues on the road. You can take your car to a service center for a price, or you can test the battery yourself.
Simple Headlight Test:
-Turn on the engine and set the headlights to full beam.
-Keep the gearbox in neutral with the handbrake on and press down on the accelerator.
-If the light grows brighter as the engine speeds up, there is a problem with the battery or the alternator.
Without an exact way to test the voltage, you should take the car to a mechanic.
-Digital multimeters are better than analog and easier to read. Set the meter to 20 volts.
-Attach the black multimeter wire to the black (negative) contact on the battery terminal.
-Then attach the red (positive) wire to the red terminal on the battery. Make sure that neither wires from the multimeter cross.
-Keep the car in neutral, with the handbrakes on, and turn the ignition key to start the electrics.
-You will see the voltage drop on the battery — make a note of the difference.
You can now start the engine and turn on the headlights. Again, you should see the voltage increase.
The best voltage for a battery at rest is 12.6 volts, with 13 to 14 volts going through it when the engine is running. If you have over 14.6 volts or below 12.6 volts, your battery or the alternator has a problem, and you need to fix them fast.
How Much Is a Replacement Car Battery?
Like everything in life, you can go cheap, and you get what you pay for. A reasonable car battery will cost between $70 to $130. With high-end batteries going over $180. Batteries for hybrid cars and full-electric cars go into the $1,000s.