An essential part of any engine, the car's battery provides the power needed to work the starter motor, which in turn starts the petrol/diesel engine that powers the car. Like any other car part, after a while your car battery will need to be replaced.
We've put together this helpful guide that covers everything you need to know about the battery replacement process. From information regarding when replacement is necessary through to tips for a successful DIY battery replacement project, we've got all the information you need to ensure your car battery is in a suitable condition for reliable driving.
How Long Do Car Batteries Last?
On average, a car battery will last somewhere between three and five years. Unfortunately, batteries degrade faster in warmer climates, so if your vehicle is left out in the heat, or you drive extensively during the warmer months, the battery lifespan may be nearer the three-year mark. The type of vehicle and driving style may also affect battery life. Batteries do degrade naturally over time, but in the majority of cases, you should expect at least four years of battery life from new. A reconditioned battery, or one that's a generic brand, may have a less-than-average lifespan.
When to Replace a Car Battery
There are a number of warning signs that you may need a new car battery, these signs include difficulty starting the engine; dim lights; corroded connectors; an engine light that won't go off; and/or a bad smell with no obvious cause.
Can I Replace a Car Battery Myself?
In most cases, yes, with a few tools it's usually possible to replace a car battery. Note that it's important to replace like-for-like when it comes to a new car battery. Some modern cars may require the use of a battery registration tool to ensure the electrical system is correctly reset.
How To Replace a Car Battery Yourself
In most vehicles, car battery installation is a fast, straightforward process. Follow these steps to complete a successful DIY battery change.
1. Check that you have the correct new battery to install. Make sure the engine is switched off and cool, and the handbrake (parking brake) is engaged.
2. Collect together protective gloves (battery acid is highly corrosive) and safety glasses, a socket set (or an adjustable wrench), clean rags, something to clean the battery tray with (a brush or similar).
3. Double-check your car manual to ensure it's the negative terminal that's the ground (it almost always is.
4. Undo the negative, ground terminal connection first (the - or NVE connection), followed by the positive terminal.
5. Undo the nuts and bolts that hold the battery in place. Don't lose these!
6. Carefully lift the battery out.
7. Clean the tray where the battery rests, plus the terminals. If they look corroded, use a little bicarb and warm water to clean. Dry thoroughly with the rags.
8. Site the new battery on the tray and connect, reversing the order above (so the -ve connection is the LAST to be fastened).
9. Dispose of the old battery correctly.
Car Battery Replacement Cost
Many people want to know how much is a new car battery? The honest answer is that it depends. Reconditioned and off-brand batteries are cheaper than branded options. An average battery is likely to cost somewhere between $100-$150. A superior battery will be somewhere between about $175 and $500.
Car Battery Replacement Services
If you don't fancy the idea of a DIY battery replacement, or have a newer car that will require the electrics to be reset as part of the replacement process (which needs a battery registration tool), it may be worth using a replacement service. A garage can easily replace your battery; there are also mobile battery replacement businesses, as well as businesses that sell batteries and replace the old battery as part of the service. Remember to check that your car battery replacement service will also dispose of your old battery responsibly for you.
How To Make a Car Battery Last Longer
1. The battery is used every time the car is started: less short trips reduce wear on the battery.
2. Check terminals regularly for any signs of corrosion, and deal promptly with any that appears.
3. Don't use electrical installations unnecessarily. Although modern batteries can cope with a considerable amount of use, if the battery is drained below 75% of its capacity (which can happen if lights are used whilst the vehicle is switched off, for example), the battery is less likely to recharge fully.
4. Make sure you use the right battery for your vehicle.
5. Ensure the battery is tightly fastened in position - a loose battery will place extra strain on the terminals, potentially increasing the chances of a broken connection.
For most vehicles, the battery is a relatively low-maintenance part which, if installed correctly, will provide years of trouble-free service. When a replacement is needed, follow the steps above to correctly install a replacement, or use as suitable battery replacement service to get the job done. Always make sure old batteries are disposed of safely and responsibly.