How to Check a Car Battery
By Michael Dillelo – Service Manager
Vehicles today have more tech in them than ever before which requires a constant flow of consistent power while in use. Here are a few tips on how to check a car battery as well as how to change a car battery if yours has reached its expected useful life.
On average, a vehicle battery lasts around 36 – 48 months. While batteries can last many more years past that timeframe they will more than likely encounter many variables that are much less than optimal conditions throughout their lifespan (especially in Arizona), which ultimately leads to faster depletion. How long do car batteries last in Arizona you ask? Well, since no simple black and white answer exists, we must take into consideration three main factors, which, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA), are:
- How long has the battery been in use for? (Time)
- What temperatures has the battery encountered? (Heat)
- Which types of environments has the battery been exposed to? (Vibration)
For many folks, all daily driving takes place on maintained city/state roads that are decently smooth, which can oftentimes be the most optimal condition for battery longevity. The outdoor enthusiast however, someone who likes to “take the scenic route” or a back-road shortcut, will definitely experience a much bumpier ride than normal and therefore lessen the overall life of the battery due to the increased exposure to vibration. For the sports car enthusiast who likes to take driving to the next level on the track, things are likely to heat up more than usual out there and in turn reduce the life of the battery due to increased heat exposure. As far as that second or third car that may not get driven on a daily or even weekly basis, one should consider using a battery tender to avoid power drainage and keep that battery fresh in between drives. Depending on what your hobbies might be and what type of driver you are will all be determining factors for an average car battery life.
If you are unsure of what sort of condition your vehicle’s battery is in, knowing how to check a car battery is a great skill to have. If you’re not the “mechanical type,” have no fear because checking it is much easier than you may think. Most cars have a voltmeter built right into the driver’s instrument cluster like the one shown here. As long as your battery voltage hovers right around 12.5 volts when on accessory mode and anywhere between 13.5 – 14.5 volts while the engine is running, your battery should still be relatively healthy. If your vehicle does not have a gauge and/or you see any sort of green or white powdery build up (corrosion) around the battery terminals, you can always have it checked out by any ASE Certified Mechanic, just like our exceptional technicians that service all of the vehicles that come into Auto House!
As far as how to change a car battery, if it is that time, look no further than reading the battery changing instructions included in the manual that came with your car or simply watching a YouTube Video. Also keep in mind that depending on if you drive a car, truck or SUV, you may have more than one battery to maintain just like many diesel vehicles require.
We’re with you at every turn here at Auto House, so if you appreciate the tips but still want to let the professionals handle it, give us a call to book a visit.