How Often Should You Replace Your Car Battery?

Published on

March 22, 2024

a mechanic replacing a car's battery

There's nothing like car trouble to ruin your day, especially with a pesky battery that wont do it’s job.

If your engine won't turn over when you put the key in the ignition or push the "start" button, and you weren't otherwise having any trouble with your vehicle, the culprit is likely a dead battery.

While the car battery helps regulate voltage and performs other functions in the vehicle, its main purpose is to provide the power to start the engine. And while there may be many underlying issues that prevent the engine from starting, the first place you should look at is the battery. This is especially true if you're able to jump-start the vehicle.

In this post, we'll discuss common signs your battery is dying, how often to replace car batteries, and more.

Signs Your Car Battery is Dead or Dying

A dead battery is never something that drivers welcome. It's also not something that should always come as a complete surprise. Yes, there are several signs that drivers should take note of that are indicative of a failing battery. These signs include:

  • If it takes longer for your vehicle's engine to turn over when you go to start it.
  • If you find yourself having to rev the engine often after the vehicle starts.
  • Dimming or fading headlights while you're driving.
  • Unusual fluctuations in power.

If you notice any of these signs, it's likely time to have your battery replaced. Contact your local GreatWater 360 Auto Care affiliated location to schedule an appointment for battery service.

When To Replace Your Car Battery

Do you know how often to replace a car battery? Generally speaking, car batteries should be replaced once every four to five years. However, it's not uncommon for drivers to have to replace their batteries every three years depending on the quality of battery.

Various factors can influence battery life. For instance, if you're regularly driving in extreme cold and/or extreme heat, it's likely going to result in more regular battery replacement.

Extreme heat can cause the water in the car battery to evaporate, which is likely to result in decreased performance and also accelerate wear and corrosion. Conversely, extremely cold temperatures require the battery to work harder to build up enough energy to start the vehicle. This can put added wear and tear on your battery, which may cause it to fail faster than normal.

If you often drive in extreme temperatures, we suggest regularly testing your car battery to better gauge when you should seek replacement service. You can do this by bringing your vehicle to one of our local GreatWater network of shops or testing your car battery yourself. We'll get into the latter in the next section.

Vibration can also play a role in premature battery failure, leading to a breakdown of battery parts. This is much easier to resolve - you'll just need to ensure the battery is properly secured under the hood.

How to Test Your Car Battery

Whether you want to get an idea of your battery's overall health or verify any suspicions that it might be time for a new car battery, there are a few ways to test it. If you're not comfortable testing your car battery yourself, the easiest way to assess it is to simply reach out to a shop in the GreatWater network to get professional help. While this can be done as a standalone service, we can also test the battery as part of our regular diagnostics tied to another service.

If you'd rather test it yourself, there are two main DIY methods for testing the battery: the headlight test and using a digital multimeter. Here's a look at each:

Headlight Test

This simple test assesses the battery based on changes in headlight brightness after you start your vehicle. Here's how to do it:

  1. Start your car and keep it in park.
  2. Make sure the headlights are on.
  3. With the vehicle in park, rev the engine and look to see if the brightness of the headlights changes.

If the headlights get brighter as you rev the engine, it's likely a sign that your battery needs to be replaced. It's indicative that the battery current isn't strong enough to keep the lights at the brightness that they should be while the car is just idling. Give us a call and we will get your battery replaced in a snap. 


The multimeter test is a little more complicated, mainly because it requires a digital multimeter to get an accurate reading - and not every driver may have one on hand. Here's how the test works:

  1. Set the multimeter to 20 DC volts.
  2. Pop the hood and attach the negative battery terminal with the negative probe on the multimeter. Both should be black.
  3. Next, attach the positive terminal with the positive probe on the multimeter. Both should be red.
  4. Have another person flip on the vehicle headlights.
  5. As the headlights are flipped on, check the reading on the multimeter. A reading of 12.5 volts indicates a fully charged battery. However, any reading of 11.8 volts or lower indicates only about a 25 percent charge.

You can also charge your battery and see if it's able to hold the charge. Learn more about that here.

Cost of Replacing a Car Battery

The cost of replacing a battery varies based on vehicle make and model, the type of battery that's being installed, and various other factors. It's common to spend a few hundred dollars on a new battery. For more specific information, reference batteries on the make and model of your vehicle. You can also contact one of our local shops for a pricing estimate.

For more information about how often to replace your car battery, locate your nearest local GreatWater 360 Auto Care affiliated service center to schedule an appointment. We're known for more than just our industry-leading automotive service, but our customer commitment as well. As a part of the GreatWater network, each locally operated auto repair shop is held to the highest customer service standards. Contact us today for more information!