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How long do car batteries last

What is a car battery, and what does it do?

A battery is a device that can store energy. For cars, batteries can fulfill different purposes, depending on their type of power supply.

In gas-powered cars, the batteries are responsible for running the vehicle’s electrical system (lights, radio, etc.), but they are also vital for the ignition system. In electric vehicles, on the other hand, batteries are responsible for operating the entire vehicle, including the engine.

What type of battery is used for each type of car?

Different types of batteries are used depending on the type of vehicle:

  • Fuel cars: these primarily use lead-acid batteries, which utilize electrochemical processes to store energy. These batteries, known as starter batteries, have a voltage ranging from 6v to 24v. Domestic vehicles use 12v batteries, while trucks and other larger vehicles use 24v batteries. Lead-acid batteries have long been used for vehicles.
  • Electric cars: these have higher energy requirements, so they need higher-capacity batteries. These cars use devices known as high-voltage traction batteries. These are usually lithium-ion batteries, though some vehicles use other types of rechargeable batteries.
  • Hybrid cars: these cars combine a combustion engine and an electric motor. Hybrids also have two batteries: a starter and a high-voltage battery for the electric motor. 

Lead-acid batteries are bulkier and heavier than lithium-ion ones, but they are also more economical and easy to recycle. They’re preferred because they have enough capacity for certain vehicles’ energy requirements.

How do you recharge car batteries?

Conventional batteries are constantly recharged by the alternator. An alternator is a machine that transforms mechanical energy into electrical energy through electromagnetic induction. While the vehicle’s engine is switched on, its electrical system is powered by the alternator; the battery only runs when the engine is switched off or isn’t producing enough mechanical energy to power the alternator (for example, during traffic jams).

Electric cars are recharged at 16-amp outlets with power at 3.6 kW to 7.4 kW. The electric motor battery is also recharged by deceleration, going downhill, and what’s known as regenerative braking. High-voltage batteries replenish kinetic energy through these actions. 

As for hybrids, these cars may or may not plug in; as the case may be, they use either both modes of recharging for electric cars or only the regenerative mode.

How long do car batteries last?

The lead-acid battery for a gas-powered vehicle has a useful life of three to four years, though some can last up to six years.

The manufacturers of electric and hybrid cars ensure that their ignition batteries can last the entire useful life of a car, which is calculated to be around 8 years.

How to tell if a car battery is about to run out?

The clearest sign that a battery is approaching the end of its life is difficulty starting the vehicle. This can increase during seasonal changes, especially when the weather gets colder.

What things can shorten the lifetime of a car battery?

Here are some of the factors that can shorten the life of a vehicle’s battery, whether it is conventional or high voltage:

  • Not using the vehicle for too long.
  • Extreme temperatures, both high and low.

As for ignition or high-voltage batteries, the following are recommended to extend their useful life:

  • Driving efficiently.
  • Using slow charging points.
  • Not fully charging or discharging the battery in each cycle.
  • Avoiding sudden gear changes (both braking and acceleration).

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