How to Check Car Battery Life [3 Simple Ways]

Have you noticed that your car battery isn’t working as it should? Some of the thoughts that may be running through your mind are that it has reached its expiry date or that it is faulty. If you’re still racking your brains for an answer, don’t fret. We’ve carried out detailed research to provide you with practical and brief solutions that’ll end your frustration. 

Checking car battery life isn’t rocket science. Here are simple ways to confirm the state of your car battery: 

  1. Carry out a load test.
  2. Inspect it for corrosion.
  3. Listen carefully for clicks. 

Do you still have questions? That’s perfectly normal. We took it upon ourselves to provide you with answers to all your car-battery related questions in this post. From how to check your car battery without a multimeter to tell that your car needs a new battery, you’ll find answers to these and so many more questions in the post below. Sit back, relax, and enjoy! 

A collage of a man holding a car battery and a mechanic checking the car battery, How to Check Car Battery Life [3 Simple Ways]

How to Check Car Battery Life

Carry Out a Load Test 

First of all, turn on the headlights without starting the engine. Then, leave them on for roughly 10 minutes. When the time is up, try starting your car and see how bright the headlights are. If they are dim as the engine turns over, this means your battery has flunked the test. This could be your cue to replace it.

Inspect it for Corrosion 

Corrosion usually points to a power issue and might tamper with the battery terminal’s ability to shift power. The more the battery works to compensate, the shorter its lifespan gets. If the corrosion is mild, you can clean it with an old toothbrush and baking soda.

Listen Carefully for Clicks 

Typically, a good battery produces a lively roar that gently changes to a purr when you put the key in the ignition and turn it. A single click could mean a bad starter, while a click-click-click sound could be an indicator that your battery is dead. 

What’s The Life Expectancy of a Car Battery? 

On average, the life expectancy of a car battery is ordinarily between four to six years. There are, however, a couple of factors that can shorten or lengthen this life expectancy period. A bad changing system, for instance, can drain the battery when the car runs. When the alternator doesn’t give enough voltage, it causes the battery to drain faster than usual. 

Also, habits such as using in-vehicle entertainment systems like stereos and radios will cause the battery to work overtime. 

Temperature plays a crucial role in the health of a car battery. Car batteries in colder climates have a longer life than those in hot tropical climates since car batteries work harder when they are hot. 

How Many Volts Does a Car Battery Need to Start? 

A car battery needs about 12.6 volts to start. This is the minimum voltage it should have when fully charged. When you turn on the engine, the voltage of a charged battery lies anywhere from 13.7 to 14.7. 

Unless you’re a trained professional, you should never guess the voltage of your car battery. Please use a multimeter or perform the load test to be extra sure. 

How Do You Know If You Need to Check Car Battery Life? 

Car mechanic checking car battery

There are several ways you can know if you need to check your car battery’s life. If the check engine light is on, that’s one of them. In many vehicle models, the check engine light conveys plenty of messages, and when it’s on, it could be a sign that your battery is dying. 

Also, if your engine starts slowly, it may be a red flag that your car battery life is almost over. If you’ve used your vehicle for a long time, the parts inside your battery may have worn out and become less effective. This causes the battery to take longer to form a charge for the starter.

How’s the climate of the area where you live? If it’s extremely hot or cold, it can do a number on your battery case. Exposing the case to extreme cold and heat can cause it to swell and crack. If your battery case has any other shape apart from rectangular, please check its life. 

How to Check a Car Battery Without a Multimeter 

Apart from the standard load test, you can also use a Power Probe. Also referred to as volt-ohm meter, a multimeter is a handheld tester that’s used to measure electrical voltage. It comes in both digital and analog versions and is useful mostly in measuring battery voltage- however, if you don’t have one, you can still check if your car battery is still alive. 

Just remove the battery’s positive terminal cover, then connect the positive lead of the probe to the positive terminal of the battery. Afterward, attach the negative lead to the negative terminal. The tip of the probe appears; connect it to the positive terminal of the battery. If the battery reads between 12.2 and 12.9, it’s in tip-top condition. 

If your ride has a battery health indicator, you can also use it to check the state of your car battery. 

How Much Does it Cost to Get Your Car Battery Checked? 

It costs from $20 to $400 to get your car battery checked. Different mechanics have different charges. That’s why it’s always a great idea to do some research before settling for a particular mechanic. 

Find as many auto shops as you can and ask their prices, then compare them. As much as you want to save money, settling for an unusually low price may cost you in the long run. 

On the other hand, an over-expensive figure should raise a red flag. The best amount to settle for is the one that three or more mechanics agree on. It would also help to ask the mechanics for their licenses and certifications that prove their legitimacy. 

How Do You Know If Your Car Needs a New Battery? 

Auto mechanic replacing a car battery

Knowing if your car needs a new battery isn’t always a walk in the park. It may still be functional, even when the battery is dying. An easy way to get quality service from your car battery is by regular quality maintenance. If you’ve used it for more than a year without checking on it, its chances of being problematic are high. 

There are some open signs that you can use to determine whether your battery needs replacement. A typical indicator is when there is gunk where the + and – cable connections are found. The corrosion can permanently cripple your car until you change the battery. 

Another sign is the age of the battery. A car battery can last for at least three years without showing any signs of aging. Anything beyond that is compromising the proper functionality of your car. 

Car batteries usually have a translucent part on their casing from where you can monitor your battery’s fluid level. If the fluid level reaches beneath the plates, it’s time to have the charging system tested and the battery replaced. 

If there’s a smell of rotten eggs coming from the hood of your car whenever you open it, it could be due to an internal short or damage to the battery. Please replace the battery if necessary or get it checked out by a licensed professional. 

Conclusion 

You’ve got all the information you need; now, the power is in your hands. A good car battery extends your car’s life and save you some serious bucks, as well as give you peace of mind!

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