Car batteries are the silent powerhouse of your vehicle. It’s easy to forget how important they are to the proper functioning of a car, and, as such, batteries are often left unattended for years, resulting in their diminished lifespan.

It’s worth establishing whether or not your battery is in a good state prior to hitting the road, particularly if you have a longer journey planned. Flat batteries are a common reason for roadside assistance being called out, because it’s often not obvious that they’re beginning to fail until it’s too late. No one wants to find themselves stranded on the hard shoulder of a motorway, so always check your battery before you leave!

So, how often should you replace a car battery? This article aims to address the question of how often to replace car batteries in cars powered by petrol or diesel – that is, non-electric and non-hybrid vehicles. The rules for either electric or hybrid batteries will vary.

How often should you replace a car battery?

Provided that you take proper care of your battery and send your car in for a regular service, it should last for anywhere up to five years, with four as an average. After four years, it’s wise to keep an eye out for signs that your battery may need replacing.

Batteries can start to fail in as little as three years. It really depends on how you’re caring for them and for the car more broadly, as well as how much use the car is being subjected to overall.

Factors like temperature changes, the length and frequency of car journeys, vibrations caused by rough travel over complex terrain, and use of accessories like smartphones and sophisticated on-board computers can all impact the life of a car battery. You should also avoid mistakes like leaving the car’s lights or air conditioner on while the vehicle is switched off.

How to tell if your car battery needs replacing

You can typically tell that your car battery may need replacing by the following signs:

  • Dimmed or dimming headlights
  • Dashboard warning signals
  • Frequent loss of power to electrics (windows, heaters, etc.)
  • Difficulty starting the car, with more revving required

The best time to gauge whether or not your battery is fit to work is just after turning the vehicle on. Otherwise, your engine will provide enough charge for your battery to function – even if it’s defective and worn out.

You can purchase electronic battery testers at auto parts stores like Halfords. These will provide you with a reading of your car’s battery life, and you should aim to perform this prior to taking any long journey, so that you can be sure your battery is in working order before setting off. Alternatively, request that your garage check your battery’s state when you send your car in for a service.

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