The average life of a car battery is 5 years. At 20% it depends on the brand, cost, quality and type. 80% - from operating conditions. In practice, there are many examples when inexpensive batteries "live" for 7-10 years. Although there are more of those who "die" in just 2-3 years. From this material on the ABS website, you will learn: what factors and how affect the life of a car battery; how to determine the unsuitability of the battery for further operation; how to extend battery life.
Factors affecting battery life
Only 20% of the life of a car starter battery depends on three factors:
Brand name batteries last longer. This is proven by real practice. Despite the fact that many European brands make their batteries in China, the quality of the final product is high. The reason is obvious. Large companies invest a lot in technology development, value their name, and tightly control the quality of production. Wherever it is. One-day brands that do not linger on the market for a long time have different tasks. They are trying to earn more, saving as much as possible on all components of quality - raw materials, technologies, qualified employees.
In theory, the price should clearly depend on the quality of the battery. However, in practice this is not the case.
On the one hand, about 30% of the cost of products of well-known brands is the name of the company. This is partly why Bosch, Varta and the like batteries are so expensive. Nevertheless, they are made in compliance with the technology and without fanatical savings on raw materials.
On the other hand, cheap batteries do not meet the declared characteristics. Today, literally everyone knows how to check it. Even without special equipment. You only need scales and statistics. A simple weighing of a budget battery often shows that 1-3 kg of lead is “missing”. And this directly affects the capacity, inrush current and resource.
It should also be understood that in the world of car batteries, "twice as expensive" does not mean that the service life is doubled.
Among experienced drivers, there is a repeatedly confirmed opinion that unattended batteries last less on average than serviced ones. Why this happens, you can talk and argue for a long time. But the fact remains. However, it applies only to classic batteries with a liquid "bulk" electrolyte. The same AGM and GEL belong to maintenance-free batteries, but with proper operation they can serve for a very long time.
80% of the life of a car battery depends on factors such as:
- Car charging system.
- Operating mode.
- Battery maintenance.
- Ambient temperature.
- Location of the battery.
- leakage current.
- Deep discharges.
Vehicle charging system
It consists of a generator and a voltage regulator relay. There are a lot of errors here. From critical to minor. The latter include an underestimated voltage of the on-board network, at which the battery is charged, but longer and incompletely. Critical breakdowns include a complete failure of the charging system, due to which the car starts and drives for some time due to the energy of the battery, and then stops. Batteries last the longest on vehicles with an on-board voltage of 14.3-14.6 V.
It is important for any battery to "live" as charged as possible. If the car is rarely used, drives a little, then the battery is systematically undercharged. As a result, it is often in a semi-discharged state, which causes sulfation. Lead plates become overgrown with insoluble sulfate, their area decreases, and with this, the capacity and starting current decrease. Batteries last longer in cars that drive at least 1-2 hours every day.
Even maintenance-free batteries need regular maintenance. What it consists of is described below. If you installed a new battery, and no longer pay attention to it, the likelihood increases that its "death" will come in 2-3 winters. Regular maintenance is key. It affects the life of the battery more than others.
Often, this factor is not even thought about. But in vain. Almost all batteries in the world do not like frost or hellish heat. In summer, they overheat, deform, lose water from the electrolyte, dry out (gel), burst, crack. Winter is a separate topic with its own problems. If the battery is normally charged, then it is “not afraid” of negative temperatures. Although it works worse. For example, in a good frost, the battery almost does not charge from the generator for the first 20 minutes. He is also reluctant to turn the starter, which is exacerbated by the cold thick oils in the engine and transmission.
Another significant factor that few people think about. Batteries last longer in cars where they are not shaken while driving, do not get water on them, and they do not suffer from engine heat. If the car has its own compartment for the battery, and it is securely attached, this is a potential long-liver.
About the leakage current on this site there is a separate material. In short, this factor affects the battery resource as follows. When the car is stationary, some of its systems continue to consume energy from the battery. This is called leakage current. If it is within 120 mA, then even a cheap battery, other things being equal, will last a long time. When the leakage current is large (and other factors are also not excluded), the service life automatically decreases. This happens because the battery often "lives" in a semi-discharged state.
Deep discharge is a natural consequence of poor maintenance and incorrect operation of the charging system. For almost any modern battery, deep discharges are harmful. To a lesser extent, if the battery has been discharged for several hours. More if the deep discharge lasted several days.
If the battery has been dropped, flipped over, hit, overloaded, tampered with, attempted to be repaired in inadequate ways, life can be reduced to zero instantly. This is obvious and needs no further explanation.
Signs of an unusable battery
A starter battery is considered unsuitable for use in a car if its capacity is below 40% of the nominal value. When choosing a battery, the nominal capacity is a key criterion. It is indicated on the label in large numbers. For example, 60 Ah. If such a battery out of 60 Ah has only 24 Ah (or less) left, it is not suitable for further operation on a car.
To measure the actual battery capacity, there are many inexpensive devices. Additionally, the suitability of the battery can be assessed by the charging time. If a 60 Ah battery charges in just a couple of hours, then it is “dead”.
How to extend battery life?
Even if you have an inexpensive battery, you can easily increase its life up to 5 years. To do this, try to follow as many rules as possible from this list:
- Immediately after purchase, check the actual capacity of the battery, so as not to harbor unnecessary illusions.
- Do a test with a load fork - you can’t buy a frank marriage.
- Attach the battery securely.
- Check the on-board voltage - if it is 0.4 V (or more) lower or higher than 14.4 V, find and eliminate the cause.
- If the engine does not start on the first attempt, do not repeat it immediately - let the battery "rest" for a few seconds.
- If the battery has an indicator of the level of charge and electrolyte, look at it more often.
- If there is no on-board voltmeter, periodically (once a month) before starting a cold engine, measure the voltage at the battery terminals with a multimeter. Below 12.40 V? Recharge the battery with a stationary charger.
- Do not use cheap Chinese chargers.
- When deeply discharged, charge the battery as quickly as possible.
- Take care of the battery in winter - if the starter does not turn well, then there is a problem that it is desirable to find to fix. There is a separate article about this on the ABS website.
- Check the leakage current regularly.
- Remember to check and correct the electrolyte level, if available.
- Keep your battery clean.
- In winter, try to “make life easier” for the battery - when starting the engine, depress the clutch, turn off the lights, dimensions, fan, and music.
- If the car drives a little, rarely and for short distances, often control the battery charge level by the voltage at the terminals. Recharge as needed.
- Timely remove oxides, salts, sulfates and other dirt on the battery terminals and terminals.
- Avoid asking to "light up" the car with your battery.
- When installing voracious consumers (refrigerator, inverter, subwoofer, etc.) in the car, make sure that the power of the standard generator will be enough to power them.
- For the winter, place the battery in a heated thermal case. This will allow the battery to take charge from the alternator sooner rather than 30 minutes later.
- If you want to constantly use powerful consumers of energy with the engine off, do not use the main starter battery for this. To power the refrigerator, music, inverter - install a second (traction) battery.
In extremely adverse conditions, the cheapest battery will last at least 2 years. If you follow the rules listed in the article, you can safely count on 5 years. Is the battery quality and from a reputable manufacturer? This is plus 3-5 years. In total, the battery life may well reach 7-10 years.