Most car batteries should be replaced once every 4-5 years, but if you really want to know how often to replace the car battery in your own vehicle, there’s more that you should keep in mind. Although this metric accounts for the number of charge cycles that your battery can go through, it doesn’t necessarily account for weather, driver behavior, and excess wear caused by your vehicle’s other systems.
We’ve covered it all in detail below, so you can schedule service or visit our parts center with confidence.
How to Know If Your Car Battery Needs to Be Replaced
Keeping up with the schedule laid out in your owner’s manual is always a good idea, but if you want to catch abnormalities and outliers, you’ll need to know the telltale signs of a dying battery. Here’s how to know if your car battery needs to be replaced:
- Dim or dying headlights
- Shifts in headlight intensity when you accelerate
- Slower start-up with key or push-button
- Unusual power fluctuations with your interior lights, entertainment systems, or connected devices
How to Test a Car Battery
Guesswork can only get you so far–and since electrical issues may also be due to a failing alternator, you want to be sure of the source before you schedule service. Here’s how to test a car battery and reach certainty:
The Headlight Test:
- With your engine on and your car in park, turn on the headlights.
- Rev the engine and check the brightness of your lights.
- An increase in brightness is an indication of a dying battery.
- No change in brightness usually means that your battery is fine. However, if your lights still look dim, it can be an indication of alternator issues.
Using a Digital Multimeter:
- Pick up a voltmeter at our parts department, and set it to 20 DC volts.
- Put on safety glasses and gloves, then pop the hood.
- Touch the negative (black) terminal to the negative (black) meter probe.
- Touch the positive (red) terminal to the positive (red) meter probe.
- At 80℉, a reading of 12.5 volts or higher is a sign that you’re good to go. Lower ratings indicate a less-than-100% charge. At 11.8 volts, your battery has roughly 25% of its initial charge remaining. (Results may vary based on outdoor temperature.)
What Causes Car Battery Deterioration?
As we noted above, a variety of factors can negatively impact your battery life. Here’s what to watch out for as you drive around New Canaan and Greenwich:
- Heat: The liquids inside of your car battery can evaporate in hot weather. Parking in the shade can help, but in general, those who live in hotter climates may need to replace their batteries more frequently.
- Cold: It works the other way, too. While the cold won’t cause your battery’s fluids to evaporate, it can reduce a battery’s charge or push a nearly-dead battery over the edge.
- Frequent Jumps: Allowing your battery to drain all the way to zero isn’t just inconvenient; it also shortens battery life moving forward. If you’ve needed to jump start your vehicle more than once in recent memory, it’s probably smart to schedule replacement.
- Frequent Short Trips: Starting the engine places a significant strain on your battery. That’s why the alternator is there: to rebuild your power supply while you drive! Of course, if you start the engine and don’t drive far enough to regain the charge, your battery will be weaker upon the next start.
Eventually, even the best cared-for battery will need to be replaced. When that time comes, make sure you choose a battery that’s safe for your vehicle, as laid out in your owner’s manual. If we don’t have it in stock, you can place your order and get notified when it arrives.
How Much is a Replacement Car Battery?
Unless you’re dealing with a plug-in hybrid or an electric vehicle, car battery replacement costs will usually come in between $75 and $200 before installation. How much is a replacement car battery for hybrids or EVs? Anywhere between $1,000 and $6,000, depending on the model.
We’re Here to Help with Car Battery Replacement!
Although you can always pick up an OEM-approved battery at our parts department and install it at home, many feel that these high-powered components are best left in professional hands. We offer plenty of auto service coupons so you never have to choose between quality service and savings. We’re easy to reach from anywhere near Darien or Stamford.