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    Car Battery Maintenance - How to maintain and maximise battery life?

    The car battery is the backbone of your car; they provide the necessary power to get your engine running. However, car batteries do not last forever and will need to be replaced in a few years.

    How long does a car battery last?

    The lifespan of a car battery depends on how long it can hold its charge and its capacity to recharge.

    There are various car batteries, and the average lifespan depends on their chemical composition.

    1. Lead Acid Battery - Lasts 3-5 years on average.
    2. AGM and Gel Battery - Lasts up to 7 years on average.
    3. Lithium-Ion Battery - These are electric car batteries and have a reasonably long lifespan. EV batteries come with a 5-8 year warranty, but they are expected to last 10-20 years.
    4. NiMH Battery - Commonly used as a hybrid car battery, this has a lifespan of 8 years.

    However, the chemical composition of the car battery is not the only deciding factor for its long lifespan.

    Factors that affect the car battery lifespan

    1. Time - The battery degrades over time due to wear and tear as the alternator charges it up every time. As you continue to drive your car, the battery capacity decreases. Despite the battery capacity reducing, battery cells do not stop working suddenly. You run the risk of sudden battery failure only if you push it beyond five years.
    2. Temperature - Heat aids the chemical reaction needed to generate electricity, which explains why it is easier to start your car in summer than winter. However, heat can also accelerate battery degradation. In extremely hot conditions or an extremely hot engine, the battery fluid can evaporate, which damages the internal cells, reducing the battery life.
    3. Vibration - Vehicle movement creates vibrations that can affect the battery life and performance. Ensure that your car battery is securely mounted to minimise unnecessary shaking.
    4. Charging - The car battery runs with the help of an alternator, charging the battery when the engine is running. Undercharging accelerates battery damage, while overcharging can cause battery fluid leakage. Allowing the battery to drain completely can shave a chunk off its lifespan, even if you recharge it after. A few choose to charge their car batteries with external systems that offer rapid charging. However, too much power all at once can cause problems and reduce your battery’s lifespan. Problems with the alternator can also reduce the lifespan of a battery. If you find an issue with your alternator, it is a good idea to get your car checked out by a mechanic to ensure that your car battery does not deteriorate further.
    5. Usage - The car battery charges while you drive; leaving your car stationary for long periods of time will deplete its charge. The more electronics installed in the car, the faster the battery will drain to support these electronics. Driving short distances is an added strain on the car’s battery. The battery drains faster than the charging system can recharge it.

    Signs that your car battery is low

    1. Your car takes too long to start - If your car takes a few tries to turn over and start the engine, this is a sure sign that your car battery is close to its end. You may get a few more starts before you need to replace the battery.
    2. Dim interior lights and electrical problems - The car battery powers all the electrical components in your car, including the headlights, interior lighting, air conditioning and onboard computer. When the battery is weak, the first apparent sign is dim headlights and interior lights.

      Here is how you can check:

      • Start your car at night and turn on your headlights.
      • If they are dim, shift your car into park or neutral and rev the engine.
      • The headlights should brighten as you accelerate if the car battery is weak.
    3. Check engine light is on - The check engine indicator light on the dashboard does not always mean a failing battery. It can also indicate problems with the alternator. If your check engine light remains switched on after the initial checks, get your car checked with your mechanic and conduct a battery test.
    4. Unpleasant odour - A damaged or leaky car battery can release an unpleasant smell from the sulphuric acid present in the lead-acid battery. In case you smell something unpleasant from the engine, get your engine checked out. Do NOT drive around with a leaking battery pack.
    5. Corroded connectors - As the battery ages, it is common to notice corrosion on the battery terminals. This can lead to starting problems and terminal failure. To maintain the health of your battery, clean off any corrosion.
    6. Out of shape car battery - Your car battery should never look disfigured; this is a no-brainer. Exposure to extreme temperatures can cause the battery casing to crack, bloat or swell. In case your car battery looks deformed in any way, get it checked by your mechanic and replace the battery if necessary.
    7. Old battery - If your car battery is nearing or has crossed the 3-year mark, it is natural for the battery life to deteriorate. It is ideal to have your car battery checked regularly for performance.

    Your car battery may not always provide you with clues that it is failing. If you notice any of the signs mentioned above, pop open your hood to check for any problems.

    Make sure to get your battery checked by your mechanic each time you go for your maintenance checks, especially after it crosses the four-year mark.

    How to maximise your car battery life?

    Routine maintenance checks can help you keep track of your battery’s health. There are a few things you can do to maximise your car battery life.

    1. Drive your car regularly to keep your battery charged. The alternator charges the battery as the car moves down the road. If you want to prolong the car battery life, drive longer distances instead of shorter trips. However, most of us do not travel long distances regularly. Extremely short trips can damage your battery because the alternator does not get enough time to recharge the battery.
    2. Use a car battery maintainer between long engine starts. A battery maintainer keeps an on-demand low charge on your battery, eliminating the possibility of slow discharge. Remember, slow discharge and recharge affect the health of the car battery.
    3. Remove corrosion from the car battery terminals. Battery corrosion washers and dielectric grease will aid in keeping corrosion at bay.
    4. Do NOT leave the electricals in the car turned on for an extended period of time. Your car battery is mainly used for starting the car, and leaving your electricals on without starting your engine can deplete the battery.
    5. Many vehicles now come equipped with protective heat shields around the car battery. If your car battery is equipped with a heat shield, do not remove it.
    6. Service your vehicle regularly. Regular maintenance from a trusted mechanic can keep your car running smoothly for long periods of time.

    How often does a car need a new battery?

    The exact lifespan of a car battery depends on the vehicle and its condition, but most vehicles need a new battery every four to five years on average. In colder climates, the lifespan of a battery may be shorter.

    After the battery crosses the three-year mark, start paying attention to how your car functions. It is crucial for you to catch a problem early before it can cause further complications to your car.

    Batteries in new vehicles may not show signs that it is about to fail. Keep in mind that your battery will start weakening after four years, and get your mechanic to check the health of the car battery next time you’re in for a maintenance check.

    All vehicles need to replace the battery; that is a given. Whether you keep your car in storage or drive it every day, you will need to replace your car batteries at some point. Pushing your car battery beyond the 5-year mark can cause your battery to fail without notice.


    The exact cost of replacing your car battery depends on the make and model of your car. In India, replacing the battery cost may range from about Rs. 3000 to Rs. 10,000; however, the price could exceed if your vehicle has a particular battery or is a hybrid.

    Yes, you can replace your car battery by yourself. The trickiest part of replacing the battery yourself is lifting it because of its weight. Before replacing the battery yourself, ensure that the car is turned off and the emergency brake is set and is in park. Be careful and do not spill battery acid on you.

    Cars in good condition will last at least two weeks without needing you to start the car and recharge the battery.

    If your car battery is relatively new, it should last 2-3 months before it loses its power completely. After four months, there is a good chance that the battery does not contain enough power to start the car.

    The car battery powers the headlights, music system, and alarm systems. The more electricals in your car, the faster your battery will drain.

    If you do not plan to drive your car for a while, start and drive it around once a week to recharge your battery. By doing this, the alternator recharges the battery and ensures that your battery and engine are in good condition.

    No, it comes fully charged when you purchase a new car battery. Make sure to buy a sealed new battery from a trusted manufacturer, ensuring it is fully charged.