Owners mistakes that kill car batteries early

Car batteries can last 2 to 4 years or more but there are some practices that when done by car owners can shorten their lifespan and such should be avoided.
Author
Last modified
22 Feb, 2024

A battery is an energy storage device. The energy of a car battery is stored in electrochemical cells. Car batteries are rechargeable and are recharged by power generated by the alternator.

Car battery life

Car batteries do not last the lifetime of a car. They go bad after some years of usage. A good battery can last for around 2 to 4 years or more, depending on usage.

The first mistake a car owner can make is to buy a substandard battery that cannot stand the test of time.

Now, away from buying a low quality battery, let's discuss practices that kills battery earlier than their expected life time even if the battery has a high quality.

 

Practices that reduce a car battery's lifespan

 

Parking the car for a long time

When batteries are not being charged, they self discharge gradually and when the terminals are connected, there could be parasitic drain as a result of current drain from connected loads when car is off. When a car is parked for a long time, these discharges cause the battery to be drained and an over drain can cause shorten the lifespan of the battery.

 

Too many power consuming accessories

Batteries have their capacity and a limited amount of current that they deliver. When a car is loaded with accessories that draw excessive current from the battery, the lifespan of the battery is reduced.

 

Improper battery installation

When batteries are removed and not properly installed back into their position, they become vulnerable to road shocks. Excessive road shocks are not good for batteries and it can affect battery life negatively.

 

Lack of battery maintenance

Examples of battery maintenance are topping of water for wet cells, cleaning of terminals and ensuring tight connections. Improper maintenance causes batteries to die early.

 

Not fixing charging issues

Battery charging problems that ranges from faulty alternator to connection issues can cause weak or no charging of the battery. This can damage the battery. Faulty alternators should be quickly fixed or replaced.

 

Deep battery discharge

Frequent deep discharge of car batteries especially letting them go flat can damage them because their lifespan is directly proportional to the number of discharge.

 

Charging system modification

Modifications like changing to a smaller alternator, different voltage regulator or cable change can affect the charging current that is delivered to batteries. If the charging current is too high or low, it can damage the battery.

 

Temperature sensor removal

Some battery charging systems are equipped with temperature sensors attached to the battery. It measures the battery temperature to ensure that charging current from the alternator is reduced when the temperature of the battery is high. If this sensor is removed, the battery will be damaged if high current is delivered to the battery when the temperature is high.

 

Driving short distances

Driving short distances when the battery is not well charged and needs to be recharged causes the battery not to be optimally charged and subsequently causing a shorter life for the battery.

 

Extended use of lights

Leaving inner lights, harzard lights, parking lights for so long when the engine is not running can potentially drain the battery. This is true for accessories that drain battery current too. If this happens often, it can cause the battery not to last.