If you have to ask yourself this question, then the answer is probably yes. Car batteries have a shelf life that is impacted by three factors: heat, time, and vibration. Your battery will continue to deteriorate over time until it can no longer provide enough power to start the engine. Typically, this occurs between three to five years. Of course, this depends on how you use your vehicle. Short trips do not allow your battery to fully charge, while a battery unused for extended periods will continue to passively drain even when the engine is not on. Heat plays a big factor in a battery’s lifespan. Living in South Carolina, that effect is more noticeable. In southern cities, batteries usually last around three years. Heat facilitates the chemical reaction car batteries use to generate electricity. The problem is, is that a car battery resides under the hood, which can exceed more than 200 degrees Fahrenheit in hot weather. The vibration will cause the internal parts within a battery to eventually break down. To help minimize vibration, you need to secure the battery with special hold down hardware.
Weak Battery Warning Signs
- If your motor cranks the engine more slowly than normal than you might have a problem.
- Battery/Charging warning lamp illuminates on the dashboard.
- Headlights begin to dim (especially on older models).
- A bad smell.
- Corroded connectors.
- A misshapen battery case.
- An old battery.
How to Test a Car Battery?
Using a Digital Multimeter:
- Set your voltmeter to 20 DC volts.
- Lift the hood and connect the negative (black) terminal to the negative (black) meter probe. Do the same for the positive (red) terminal and meter probe.
- Turn the key so that the headlights come on, but don’t start the car. Check the reading on the voltmeter.
- Measurements can vary slightly by temperature, but in general, a measurement of 12.5 volts or higher is indicative of a full charge. At 12.3 volts, you’re at roughly 75 percent battery. With 11.8 volts or lower, your charge is no higher than 25 percent.
Using the Headlight Test:
- Start your engine and turn on the headlights. Make sure the car is in park.
- Rev the engine and check to see if the brightness of your headlights changes.
- If revving the engine makes your lights brighter, your battery is close to dying.
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How Much Does a Car Battery Cost?
The price of a car battery varies based upon your vehicle’s year, model, or where you are buying the battery from. Typically, a battery will set you back by about $100 to $150. However, this does not include the cost of installation. A reputable service center will probably charge an average of $70 for installation.
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