Question: I've had my car for about 6 years, and I've never given the battery a second thought. A friend mentioned to me recently that I should have the battery checked. I drive 35 miles to work each day from Green Bay to Appleton, and I don't want to be stranded. Should I be concerned?
Answer: A car battery isn't very different from a regular battery. If the battery in your cell phone dies, you're not going to be making any calls. When your car battery is dead, your car isn't going to start.
Car batteries last an average of three to five years, but there are a few factors that can affect that length. The first is driving habits. If you regularly drive for 20 minutes or less, your battery does not fully charge, which will cause it to fail sooner. Your Green Bay to Appleton commute is actually better for your battery, although given that the car is 6 years old, I'm afraid we might see you on a tow truck soon coming into Auto Select.
The second factor is climate. Many people associate dead batteries with the winter months, but summer's heat actually has a greater effect on battery life. According to the Car Care Council, heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, which damages the internal structure of the battery. That’s slow death for a battery.
In hotter temperatures, your car battery requires a higher charge rate, which can lead to an accelerated loss of active material from the positive lead plates, increased grid corrosion and water loss. All of this adds up to a battery that's on borrowed time.
While it's not unusual for a battery to fail suddenly, you may get lucky and be privy to occasional warning signs that your battery is on its last legs:
- Your engine doesn’t start immediately or it cranks slowly.
- Some electrical components aren’t functioning when you try to start the vehicle.
- You need a jump start to get your car running.
- Your dashboard warning lights are on.
- The battery case is swelling.
- There's a sulfur or rotten egg smell around the battery, which is caused by battery leaks.
If your battery is 3 to 5 years or older, it’s smart money to have it tested or replaced. Call on Auto Select to test your battery or to fit your car with a new battery, ensuring you get started each and every time! Schedule online or visit any one of our nine Auto Select car and truck repair locations in Appleton, Green Bay, Stevens Point and Weston (Wausau).