How long should a car battery last in the UK?

How long should a car battery last in the UK?

Checking your oil and keeping your air filter clean are well-known ways to keep your car maintained and on the road. But what you might not know is that keeping an eye on your car’s battery is a super effective way to keep your car running with minimal problems

In this blog, we’ll break down how long your car battery should last, and what you can do to keep it going as long as possible.

If you’re looking for more information on car key batteries, you can check out our blog ‘Can you replace car key batteries?

How long should a car battery last?

The short answer is that most car batteries are going to last you about 3 years. Some car batteries can last for 5 years or more if looked after properly, but most will wear down in around 3 years of everyday use. As with any battery, your car’s battery becomes less efficient over time, so after a while, it’ll be ready for a change no matter how well you take care of it.

How long do electric car batteries last?

Electric car batteries tend to be lithium-ion, like most smartphone batteries. This means they can last a long time, but they still degrade. Most electric car batteries will need to be replaced every 10 years or so. Some reports suggest that newer electric car batteries could last for up to 20 years, but no one’s owned one for long enough yet to test that, so we’ll stick with 10 for now.

What can affect the life of a car battery?

Whether it’s a normal car battery or an electric car, there’s a number of things that can affect how long the battery lasts and how reliable it is over the years. We’ve listed a few of the main factors that can impact your car’s battery life.

  • On board computers - Lots of new cars have powerful computers that are always using charge, even if the car is switched off. Even though the power draw is very small, it can drain the battery if left unused for a long time.
  • Temperature - Car batteries are happiest at temperatures between 18-30°C. When temperatures are significantly higher or lower than this, the battery capacity can be reduced.
  • Battery type - Different battery types will have different expected lifespans. For example, gel batteries typically last much longer than traditional lead batteries. Which one you have will depend on your car, so it’s worth checking.
  • Corrosion - If there’s moisture around your engine, the connection points to your battery can become corroded over time, reducing your battery’s lifespan.
  • Journey length - Every time you start your car, you use up a large amount of charge. Short journeys don’t give your car enough time to recharge, so lots of short journeys can reduce overall battery life.
  • Age - Unfortunately no car battery lasts forever, and there will come a point when you will have to change your battery either way.

Extra features like heated windscreens can also drain your car’s battery. You can check if your car has a heated windscreen on our blog ‘What cars have heated windscreens?

What can I do to extend the life of a car battery?

There are plenty of things you can do to make sure your car battery lasts for as long as possible, whether you’re driving a petrol engine or electric car. We’ve outlined a few of the key steps below:

  • Drive your car regularly - If you’re not using your car regularly, you should try to drive it every couple of weeks for around 30 minutes to keep the battery charged
  • Service your car frequently - A regular service will keep your car running smoothly and avoid any unnecessary strain on the battery
  • Turn everything off - Don’t leave your lights or air conditioning on whilst your car is switched off to avoid draining the battery
  • Keep it clean - Keep the connections and casings as clean from grit and dust to avoid corrosion

There’s also a few things you can do for electric cars to make sure their batteries last as long as possible:

  • Don’t charge your car every night - Ironically, too much charging can have a negative effect on your battery. Try to only charge your car when you get down to around 40% battery left.
  • Stay between 20% and 80% charge - Both waiting until your battery is fully drained or constantly keeping it at full charge can reduce your car’s full charge capacity.

How do I know I need to replace a car battery?

When you’re trying to work out if it’s time to change your car battery, it’s pretty easy to test it out. Here’re a few easy things you can do to check if your battery is low.

  • Turn on your engine - The easiest way to check if your battery is flat is to turn on your car. If it doesn’t start, it’s safe to say you might have no battery.
  • Check your headlights - Using something on your car that requires extra battery power will show you how your battery is doing. If you turn on your lights and they’re really dim, and revving the engine makes them brighter, chances are your battery is low.
  • Get your battery checked in a garage - Battery performance can change fast, so you might want to get it checked next time you’re in the garage, just to be on the safe side.

If you’re wondering how long it’ll take to get your car serviced, you can check out our blog ‘How long does a full car service take?

How to dispose of car batteries

Eventually you will need to get your car battery replaced, however long you can get it to last. The easiest way is to have a garage replace the car battery and they will dispose of it safely.

Car batteries can’t be sent to landfill sites in the UK without going through a long clean-up process. So if you replace your own battery, pop down to a local repair centre, and they will likely be able to dispose of and recycle your battery for you.

A few final tips…

Keeping an eye on your car battery is actually a pretty easy process, and most normal everyday usage is not going to destroy your battery life. Just remember:

  • Your car battery should last around 3 years (or 10 years if it’s an electric car)
  • Taking care of your car should involve taking care of your battery as well
  • If you need to dispose of a car battery, it’s best to let the professionals do it

Urban Jungle is not a financial advisor and information in this article should not be taken as advice or recommendation.