How Long Does a Car Battery in a New Car Last?

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Though battery problems are often associated with cold weather, Consumer Reports magazine says heat is a bigger enemy of car batteries and will take a bigger toll on performance and reserve capacity. The magazine recommends that vehicle owners in hotter parts of the country have their car battery tested after two years of ownership and then every year after. Those who live in colder areas can wait four years to test performance and capacity, and then every year after.

"Heat kills batteries," according to John Banta, a Consumer Reports project leader and part of the team that tests batteries for the magazine. "Many times in cold climates your battery fails to start your car on a below-freezing day. The reason this happens is that the heat of the past summers has weakened your battery. When you use it in the cold, the starter requires more electrical current to turn over the cold engine with its thickened oil."

Testing a battery's performance and reserve (or amp-hour) capacity is not just a matter of seeing whether it will hold a charge (or checking the electric eye found on some batteries to see if it is green), so testing is best done by an auto technician.

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By Rick Popely | March 8, 2013 | Comments (48)

Comments 

rt

I know hot weather takes a BIG toll on a car battery. They may last two years in some areas. They get all funky in hot weather, too. Then you have these auto makers putting their batteries inside the passenger compartment or trunk.
What are they thinking? It is a deal breaker for me, where the battery is located.

Soakee

I pay no attention to CR, and in my experience OEM batteries will last about two years.

Skankzilla

Batteries tend to last longer if located inside the vehicle rather than under the hood and you will rarely ever see one corrode.

I also agree that factory installed batteries will only last 2-3 years.

Davin Peterson

My '03 Camry original battery last 5 years.

Extreme heat and cold can take a toll on your battery

Lance

I've never had an OEM battery last less than 4 years encompassing over 40 cars. I live in the Chicago area so maybe we don't get the extreme heat that other areas may get. I usually just replace the battery at about 5 years whether it seems to need it or not.

Critch

All my new car's batteries last about 5 years and never over.

Highdesertcat

OEM batteries usually last 2-3 years on average, and less if you live in a very hot climate, like the desert, or a very cold climate like Alaska.

Gel-cel or AGM after-market auto batteries do last longer but only a year or two at best. And they cost a lot more.

But most auto batteries can still be used until they will no longer hold a charge or fail to crank the engine. The dead battery syndrome (DBS).

If you rely on your car for your life and don't want to experience DBS, plan on changing out that battery every 2-3 years.

You'll know the symptoms of a dying battery: slow cranking, dimmed lights and instrument panel lights when stopped at a stop sign or traffic light, uncharacteristic whine from the alternator struggling to charge the battery, and in some cases a burned-out alternator.

A new batter is cheap compared to a new alternator.

most of the new cars have their batteries inside unlike the old cars. these cars are worth the cash you pay for.

cash for old cars toronto

Lance

Man, I don't know if some of you are in the new battery business or what but I went to a party last night and bunch of us "old guys" were talking cars and I asked about OEM batteries and what their experience had been. All of them said a battery last them about 4-5 years...never less. Now that was probably about 100 new cars or more in that group. So all you people that only get 2-3 years must live in the worst place for batteries imaginable or the shops are talking you into new batteries when you really don't need one.

My Mercedes Kompressor '99 battery lasted about 5 years, the only time I had an issue was when the terminal had an issue. My car died right outside of a coffee shop, basically everyone was watching me try to fix my car and get a jump start from a friend.

Also got a caddy I'm selling check me out if you want. If not I hope that at least made you laugh.

Highdesertcat

Lance, you can run any battery until it dies but it won't be at peak efficiency after 3 years.

Most charging systems charge the 12v battery at 13.8 volts, but what the battery can actually retain is 12 volts at peak efficiency, and that declines with age.

A battery that's 3 years old may retain only 10.8 volts (or less) and the laws of electricity have shown us that as available voltage decreases, amperage increases, if the load remains the same.

And a measured voltage at the battery terminals is no indication of the actual amperage retained in the battery.

That declines precipitously as well, like from 750 CCA to 300 CCA within three years, depending on load and environment.

Cranking a car at 10.8 volts increases the amperage and heat in a starter motor winding exponentially, as well.

And as your battery CCA
declines with age, great loads will begin to look more and more like dead shorts to the weakened battery, causing plates to buckle, sometimes causing severe overheating.

If you have a hi-power stereo system in your car with big-bass drivers requiring 1000-watt RMS or more each, you'll know your battery is dying because your bass sound will get muddy and clip, and your lo-freq filter capacitors will blow out for no apparent reason.

Please reconsider the advice you got from the other old guys about batteries lasting 5 years or more.

You can run any battery until it dies but in cars with lots of electronics that's not always a good idea.

Thus ended the lesson in automotive battery applications.

Use your own best judgement.

Parrots

Well, my car batteries from the factory managed to start my cars for 5-7 years before giving out, and I live in Texas.

And I don't think my parents ever replaced their car batteries after just 2-3 years, so really, I do not know what you guys are talking about.

The only two times batteries have died on me was when I left the headlights on (duh) and when my mother was at her art class.

Lance

@highdesert
I have no doubt you know what you are talking about. However, I'll go on 45 years of personal experience with car batteries and those of others. I am not advising anyone when to change batteries but just giving my persoanl history and that others I know to be without any agenda whatsoever. The only one that I've noticed giving advice is you. People may take or reject your information but from what I've seen on here, my circle of friends and persoanl experience has shown that OEM batteries have a lot longer life than you are giving them credit for. I have to assume you're right and that the batteries may not be like brand new in their latter years. I have a 2007 that has been serviced at the dealer since new. I had them check the battery thoroughly at the 4 year mark and they said it was perfect. At five years I had them check and it was still fine but I told them to go ahead and replace it as I felt I wasn't starting to live on borrowed time. I've had one battery failure in the last 45 years on a 1995 S-10 that worked great(no slow turn, dim lights etc)and then it quit. That was a 6 year old battery. That was when I started automatically replacing batteries at the 5 year mark whether they tested OK or not.

If I had changed batteries at the 2-3 years mark all these years I would have bought about twice as many batteries which seems fiscally stupid and environmentally unsound.

Highdesertcat

Lance, then do as you please. I'm not selling batteries. I have no dog in this fight.

The question was,"How long does a car battery....". The short answer is, "for as long as it lasts."

From what you wrote it appears that your application for car batteries is light duty in a temperate climate

However, I recently changed out an AGM battery on a 2011 Grand Cherokee that is used by our volunteer fire department and because of all the drain of radio and light equipment, that battery lasted just a little over two years.

Our EMS units change out their batteries every three years in the meat wagons whether they need it or not, just to be on the safe side.

Batteries are 100% recyclable and in my 67 years on this planet I've seen new batteries in brand new cars give up the ghost for a variety of reasons, usually at the most inopportune time, and without warning.

If you have many cars, no problem. But if you only have one car, like many people do, then it could be a big problem, especially if you live in the high desert of south central New Mexico, 26 miles from the nearest Wal-Mart Supercenter.

Lance

highdesert, I totally can see where you are coming from. Obviously, you have a lot of experience with vehicles that are far from the norm in their everyday usage and in an environment that is particularly rough on batteries.

I live in the Chicago area where we have a lot of 100 degree days in the summer and many 0 degree days in the winter. I drive my car as a normal commuter. I never really looked at my situation as "light usage" but as pretty normal. I would view your situation or scenarios that you describe as "hard" or "heavy" use. In that case I certainly would consider changing out batteries much more often. But you kind of made a blanket statement about all OEM batteries only being good for 2-3 years and I just did not find that to be anywhere near correct from experience and from what I hear from others.

If you had simply mentioned that if you live in an environment that is known to be particularly rough or operate the vehicle in the manner such as you described as rough duty, I would have agreed with you. But you made a blanket statement= that's all.

I also fully realize that any battery can go at any time as some are just bad from the get go almost. That's the luck of the draw I guess. I know batteries are recyclable as I recycle all batteries. But even that remanufacture process using energy and has environmental impact to some degree. The old batteries don't suddenly become born again by magic.

Believe me, IMO living in the high desert of New Mexicao(which is absolutely gorgeous) would be worth a few extra batteries over a period of time. Cheers.

Highdesertcat

There's one thing I forgot to mention. And that is that you can get your battery load-tested (for free) at many places like Sears, Pep Boys, Autozone, O'Reilly's, Carquest, NAPA dealers.

Generally, any place that sells auto batteries will have a load tester.

We use a Schumacher 1000-amp analog battery load tester in the Emergency vehicle maintenance shop where I volunteer my time and skills to see how the batteries are degrading over time.

The battery load tester is older than dirt but there isn't much to wear out in it since it basically is a huge heating element, coupled in-line with an analog ammeter, and an analog voltage meter. Two giant gauges show voltage and amperage, under load.

Ideally, you would want to test a battery when it is brand new and fully charged. Then take readings year after year to see how much it has degraded with time and use, as part of your vehicle maintenance.

As long as the meters stay in the green, you're OK.

When they start to slip into the yellow portion of the dial, that means that you've lost some storage capacity and cranking amperage, or both.

It may still work fine for your use, but it may no longer store the full 12v, OR it may not have enough amperage left in it except for short bursts, under load.

Even when the meters read in the red, a battery can still be able to start your car, but it's capacity is no longer deemed to be within design specs.

The Pain

Don't Forget to Have your Engine Oil SOAP tested once in a While.

Dan

'01 BMW Z3 Coupe in the hatch area under the deck...9 years. I was amazed.

Johan

Here in Europ a battery lasts 5 years and more.
A normal battery voltage should be 6 * 2.1 V = 12.6V (charging can go to 14.5V).
If it is less then your battery is not fully charged. Not Temperature kills a battery but a 'to low charge' will create sulfates in the battery which will decrease the Ah value and cause a non start in time. If you don't have a service free battery the acid level is also important.

The vigorous discussion here. Let me ask you what kind of battery will be better acid or gel for Europe?

Dozer

I replaced my original factory battery in my Lexus RX330 today. It lasted about eight years.

My 2006 Dodge 1500 HEMI, still has the original factory battery and continues to work well.

Albuquerque, NM

I've had a corolla for 9 years when I bought it brand new. I live in L.A. and today for the first time, my car would not start right away..it was like cr..cr...cr almost dead, almost nothing. I kept on pumping gas and then it started. Not sure why a battery would suddenly give up rather than progressively on a daily basis, slowly slowly.

rbt

In hot weather states, like out west... Batteries dies fast and sooner than two years..getting three years out of a battery is pushing it. I have had the bad experience of being stranded on a battery that was not 2 yrs, more than once.
I do maintain my batteries, too.
Best one ever had was a panasonic brand.
Warranties are a waste on batteries, I've found.

Mr. Skinner

Bought a new Dodge Grand Caravan a few years ago, at the beginning of July. Battery went out and left my wife and kids stranded at the grocery store while I was out at a Christmas gig. A new car battery should have lasted more then 6 months, particularly in a "mid south" state.

Frank Helm

I have never had a battery last less than 5 years but do start getting it tested periodically at 4 1\2 YRS.

I currently have a 2007 Camry with OEM battery. Still going strong at 6 years. I think part of reason is last 2 years my car has been garage parked 90 percent of the time. DC and Virginia Beach area can be very hot.

Jack

My 05 Honda Pilot came with a special notice that the battery was warranted for 3/36 like the rest of the vehicle - so Honda knew the battery was low quality. And it died at 3 years. I live outside Philadelphia, so heat was not the issue. Local Honda dealer parts dept said replacement battery was same as original but with approx 6 yr warranty - huh?

So I bought an aftermarket brand instead and it's still going strong at 5 yrs. All my other new car batteries have lasted at least 5 years. So my conclusion - not all batteries are made the same, but good ones last 5 years or more.

Jessica

Just had my factory-installed battery replaced after 2 years and 9 months. To be fair, I live in Florida.

A. Non E. Mouse

3-4 years on factory batteries, which I then replace with a high-quality higher capacity model. I get 5+ out of the replacements. Worst I ever got was 2 years on a factory battery on my ancient AMC, and the cheap replacements I used would last barely a year. It would get hot hot hot under that hood.

Carma

Original equipment batteries typically last about seven years. At full charge the battery should register 12.5 to 12.8 volts.
Replacing a battery after two or three years is a waste of money.

Milt

No issues with my Honda. 08 Civic with a factory battery. It lasted 6 years. This is in Kansas City where it gets really hot and really cold. 6 years seems pretty decent.

Dean

I just recently had to replace the factory battery in 02 silverado and the battery in my 74 is from 2002 also

hon der

I've had 3 new cars which all had the batteries die in roughly 3 years. I would say it all depends on the quality of the battery installed at the factory. with the profit margin tight on everything these days, I can't imagine the majority of manufacturers putting top quality batteries in vehicles.

hon der

also meant to say that usage should play a part too. I for one, sit in my car for about 30 minutes a day, listening to the radio without it being started. this has to have some effect

James Wieldt

The battery in my wife's 2004 Thunderbird is original, terminals and shell are clean as a whistle and it is still strong. It is in the trunk, the car has always been garaged, it is only out for a few hours at a time. Guess that all adds up to longer battery life.

amit

My car's battery is nearly 7 and a half years old and still works perfectly. I have a 2007 corolla which was bought as new in September 2006. Very impressed. It is Panasonic brand.

gwrace

I live in south Texas so we get a lot of heat. All of my factory OEM batteries have lasted at least 5 years. This includes cars, minivans and SUV's.

andy

my car is a 2007 cobalt still has factory battery car has 106,000 miles

EJG

Just to add my 2 cents to the discussion:
I have found that replacement batteries tend to last 2-3 years, regardless what the warranty states (always save your warranty papers). But on newer cars, I have been very surprised by battery longevity. My 2003 SVT Cobra's original battery lasted 10 years. (And that was in Florida with a lot heat under the hood) My 2005 Dodge Magnum has 9 years on its original battery, and I'm just now starting to see symptoms that it may be past its prime.

Battery Victim

Reading all the comments it looks like if one is lucky enough with all the stated conditions, batteries can lasts anywhere between 3-6 years. But I am hoping that its the battery issue because my car is not cranking at all. In addition to that I drove few miles (Over 5 miles) before my dash lights slowly turned dim with all other lights flashing like handbrake for a while. But one thing surprises me is that battery light didn't glow at all and the dome light worked with all the chime sounds (Doesn't crank though). Is that the indication of a bad battery? Or the battery is left with very little juice which is passing the amp to the dome light? Please advice

ande

My car is a 2007 bought in aug. of 2006 still with factory battery no problems yet

bigshotwill

I have a 2012 Nissan versa I bought it in 10/2011 today is 07/28/2014 and my battery went out today I live in the Antelope valley and it get pretty hot here. so I would tend to agree extreme heat does damage batteries. I had to purchase a new one lets see how long this one last...

Jesse

I have a 2007 Chevy Cobalt with 104,000 and I am still on the factory installed battery. I bought the car new. the battery is in the trunk and i really believe that helps it last longer since it is not exposed to the heat from under the hood.

John

Over the last 30 years we have had oem batteries that have lasted around ten years. Toyota, Peugeot, Vauxhall, Hyundai and Citroen, all failed around ten years. When they fail I install Bosch 5 year guarantee batteries.

tr6

John, exactly. I have to laugh at some of the posts here by people (hdc) who make genius statements like a fully charged battery is 12 volts (wrong), and you should replace your battery after a couple years. Just stupid misinformation, plain and simple.

brent

The last car battery I got caravan lasted for 11 years it is a good battery

bob b

Since we moved to Florida, we've never gone more then 3 years before our car battery died!
We almost never use the radio, no charging cell phones, etc.!
Today our almost 3 year old car battery needed a jump, so its time to change it!
Whatever, maybe its Florida, but car batteries down here don't last! Up north we'd go 5-7 years before replacing one!

Paul

I have a 2006 Toyota Matrix with 340,000 km. and I still have the original Battery.

I used Exide car battery in my car and its two year old, i bought car battery online at Batterybhai.com. Thanks to batterybhai for such good services and for genuine batteries.

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