How to Make Your Car Battery Last Longer

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Battery Centre has revealed how long your car battery should last, how you will know when to replace it, and how to make it last longer.

Modern car batteries may be maintenance-free, but there are still important checks that can prevent battery damage and keep it running at its best.

Battery Centre answered the most commonly-asked battery questions, based on feedback from Battery Centre branches in South Africa.

How long will my battery last?

The average car battery lasts between five and seven years. If the car is parked unused for extended periods of time, the battery will need to be replaced sooner.

How often should I refill the water in my battery?

If your car is fitted with a reliable, maintenance-free battery, never.

For batteries which are not maintenance free, the normal fluid level is about 1cm above the tops of the plates. If it is lower than these levels, you should top-up the battery with water.

How will I know when to replace my battery?

Irregularities in your car or warning signs could be caused by something other than your battery, so always test it first before replacement.

Warning signs which are linked to your car battery include:

  • The engine doesn’t start
  • Starting the motor is difficult or sounds sluggish
  • The battery light on your dashboard is on
  • Your battery seems to lose power during cold or extended starts
  • Your headlights dim when the car is idle

How can I extend my battery life?

Ensure the terminals are clean, tightly secured, and free of corrosion. Corrosion and leaks can interfere with the battery’s performance.

Get your battery tested regularly to make sure it’s charging correctly. Also ensure the hold-down bar which secures the battery in place is fitted correctly.

What should I do when my battery goes flat?

If your battery’s flat, you can recharge it using a portable battery charger. Jump starting is only a quick fix – best practice is to charge the battery properly to keep it in good condition.

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