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How long does a car battery last? - Everything about durability and service life

According to the current breakdown statistics of the ADAC, the car battery is the most common cause of breakdowns with 41.8 percent. Find out what the durability of car batteries is all about and how you can significantly extend their life.


Shelf life of car batteries without charging

The shelf life of a car battery or how long it needs to be discharged cannot be easily determined, as the extent of the electronics installed in the car and, above all, the state of charge of the car battery are decisive. Basically, the purpose of a car battery is just to start the car (therefore also called starter battery). The alternator then takes over the operation of the electronics and the charging of the battery while driving. If the engine stops or the vehicle does not move, the car battery has to provide the missing energy for the devices.

With a fully charged and well-maintained car battery, you can easily listen to a few films in the drive-in theater over the music system or accidentally leave the lights on overnight.

However, it is not always easy to assess the state of charge of car batteries without measuring it directly. Especially if you only drive short distances, it can happen that the alternator cannot keep up with the charging of the car battery. Then it can happen that energy guzzlers while standing still discharge the car battery to such an extent that the voltage is no longer sufficient to start the car. In this case, the car needs jump start. In order to charge the battery sufficiently, the car should then be driven for about 30 to 60 minutes or 50 to 100 kilometers.

In most cases the battery will work again afterwards. However, if the electricity consumers also weaken, it is possible that the car battery is deeply discharged. A deep discharge often means that the car battery can no longer be charged at all.

Car battery life

The life of car batteries depends on many factors. The ADAC gives an average Car batteries have a shelf life of 4 to 5 years at. With appropriate care, however, car batteries can last much longer. The following things extend the life of car batteries:

# 01 - Charge regularly

If the car battery is not fully charged over a long period of time, aging processes are accelerated. The lead sulphate produced during discharges then forms crystals more quickly, which settle on the electrodes or deposit on the ground as sludge. Over time, the battery's performance will gradually decrease. You can prevent this reaction by regularly charging your car battery. The easiest way to do this is to drive longer (around 60 minutes or 100 kilometers) every few months. If you only drive short distances and never long distances continuously, you should charge your car battery with a charger every 3 months.

# 02- Check voltage

The voltage should be between 12.4 and 12.8 volts. Especially with older car batteries and very low temperatures it can happen that the voltage is lower. If the voltage is too low, aging processes also accelerate and the charging capacity decreases.

# 03 - Save electricity in winter

Those who only drive short distances, especially in winter, should save electricity. With heating, windshield wipers, lights and fans, the car consumes significantly more energy. This can lead to the alternator not always being able to recharge. Then the capacity of the car battery decreases with every short distance. In winter, start the car first and then the electricity consumers. For example, turn off heated windows as soon as the view is clear.

# 04 - Save electricity on short journeys

The fewer devices you turn on on short journeys, the faster the car battery charges. The fuller the car battery is over long periods of time, the longer the lifespan.

# 05 - Avoid Current Leakage

Leakage currents are caused by damp contamination at the poles of the car batteries and lead to a faster discharge. In order to avoid discharging the car battery, especially during long periods of non-use, the poles should be cleaned and greased.

Also read: How long can you override the TÜV?

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