We can’t imagine being without our cars, but we all know how expensive they can be to run. Sometimes when things go wrong it’s tempting to cut a few corners in order to save on cost, such as buying a cheap part and installing it yourself. But is it really worth doing this with the battery? Here we take a look at what you should be looking for in a car battery, and what you can expect from both new and second hand batteries.
What Does the Battery Do?
The battery is one of the most important parts of your car. It contains acid from which it produces electrical current. This is what allows your engine to start, and also powers your car’s electrical components such as the air conditioning, windows and radio. If the battery fails, your car will not be able to start, which can leave you stranded if your battery has failed while you are away from home.
How Long Does a Car Battery Last?
The average car battery will last between three and five years. However, battery life depends on a variety of factors, including how well-made the battery is, the weather and how you drive your car. Your battery is likely to last longer if you tend to make longer trips rather than shorter ones, as a journey of less than 20 minutes is not long enough to recharge your battery.
A new battery is likely to last longer than a second hand one, as over time batteries are not able to accept the same amount of charge as they once did, and the internal components suffer wear and tear. In addition, the refurbishment process can actually shorten the battery life.
Are More Expensive Makes Actually Any Better?
Cheap car batteries are often a tempting option as they are so widely available and many garages will fit them for free. However, you’re likely to be compromising on quality. We all know someone who has managed to purchase an amazing product for a knock-down price, but it’s certainly not the norm. The price of a car battery usually reflects the quality of manufacture. A well-made battery will last for longer and withstand a greater variety of conditions, as the acid is less likely to leak and cause the terminals to corrode.
A badly-made battery will often not charge properly, whereas better quality batteries will charge more efficiently and quickly, meaning you are much more likely to be able to use your car, even if only for a short distance, when the charge has become extremely low. This lessens the likelihood of you getting stranded somewhere, which is at best uncomfortable and inconvenient, and in the worst cases can be extremely dangerous, especially if the weather conditions change or you’re in a remote area where you’re less likely to get help quickly.
Does the Warranty Matter?
It’s easy to ignore the availability of a warranty when it comes to choosing a car battery, but it is actually a pretty important factor. If a manufacturer is prepared to offer a warranty, it means they are confident that the battery will outlast it. Buying longer-lasting products makes more financial sense in the long term as you have to purchase batteries less often.
A warranty also guarantees you a replacement free of charge should anything go wrong with the battery before the warranty runs out, meaning you won’t be left without your car if the battery fails. Batteries with longer warranties tend to be higher quality and a more reliable product too.
Should You Install a New Battery Yourself?
It is possible to install a new battery yourself, but it’s important to know exactly what you are doing and make sure you have the right tools. Safety goggles and gloves are also absolutely essential for this job, as batteries contain acid, which can be highly dangerous if it spills.
For absolute peace of mind, it’s a far better option to have your battery professionally fitted. This way you can be sure you have the right product installed safely and correctly by someone with experience. This protects you, your passengers and your vehicle, ensuring you can keep enjoying your road trips for a long time to come!
This article is written by Jayde Ferguson, who writes for Autospark – Perth’s leading auto electrician. You can catch Jayde on Google+ to discuss this piece.