The best time to replace your battery is before you need to. But how do you know it’s time to replace the battery if it’s not dead—yet?
Sure, you might notice a few common warning signs of a weak battery, like:
- Slow engine crank
- Illuminated check engine light
- Bloated, misshaped battery case
- Battery fluid leakAnd if you don't notice any warning signs? General wisdom says you should replace your car battery about every three years, but many factors can influence its lifespan. You might need a new battery before the three-year mark depending on the climate where you live and your driving habits.
Consider Your Climate
Extreme temperatures impact battery life.
Hot and cold weather can negatively affect your battery.
When you step outside on a super-hot day, you’re at risk of becoming dehydrated. The same is true for your car’s battery.
Like our bodies, car batteries rely on liquids to keep moving. The sweltering heat of summer can lead to evaporation of water in your car’s battery acid, resulting in decreased performance, subpar starting power, and a shortened lifespan.
Furthermore, scorching temperatures can also do a number on the guts of your battery. When the heat rises and the water in your battery evaporates, the likelihood and speed of corrosion increase, and corrosion is one of the leading causes of battery drainage and malfunctions.
But wait!—there’s more, just as hot weather can harm your car battery, cold weather can, too.
When the heat index turns to wind chill, your battery needs to work harder to generate enough energy to keep your car running smoothly. Cold weather can also result in thicker engine oil, which puts an additional strain on your battery.
If you live in a particularly hot climate (we’re looking at you, Phoenix) or experience an unusually cold winter (hello, Minneapolis), you might consider replacing your battery more often than recommended. A free battery check at Firestone Complete Auto Care can help you determine whether your battery is worn out. The middle of nowhere is the wrong place to have a weak battery!
Reflect on Your Driving Habits
How you use your car can affect how long your battery lasts.
If you consistently take short trips like daily drives to the office and the grocery store, for instance, your battery doesn’t have enough time to recharge fully between trips. This can lead to decreased performance.
Also, if your car sits in the garage or driveway for extended periods of time, its battery continues to drain passively even when the engine isn’t on. The good news is that these battery-draining habits make for great excuses to take your ride on a good old road trip. For the battery’s sake, you know?
Every mile you drive on a past-its-prime battery is an inch closer to getting stranded. If you're considering a new battery, don’t wait until you’re stranded to replace it. Stop by your local Firestone Complete Auto Care for a free battery check.