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How long does a car battery last?

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Dee*Jay

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The happy hubby and I got in the car a little while ago and it turns out we had a dead battery. It seemed very odd since the lights worked and so did all of the power functions of the car, but it wouldn''t turn over. Also, we can''t figure out it COULD be dead becuase even if you did accidently leave the lights on they automatically turn themselves off after a few minutes.

Anyway, we got the car (SUV actually) in Feb. 2004, so it''s almost exactly 3 years old. Is it just time to replace the battery?

(I am so "car clueless" it''s not even funny... )
 

poptart

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Batteries are weird like that. My mom bought a new car just a few years ago as well, and she had to change the battery six months ago. Her battery was only about 3 years old, too. I''m not sure about all the power functions of the car working though, I''m definitely no car expert.

*M*
 

Lorelei

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I have had batteries last around 4- 5 years, so it might not necessarily be the battery is toast...It is possible due to the increased demands on it with headlights and winter driving that it is holding enough of a charge to operate the lights etc but not enough to start the engine. The battery might just need a charge and the cells topping up if it is that type, use distilled water if you have it. A garage should be able to check it for you, also it might not be the battery but perhaps the alternator ( if the SUV has one) which might need replacing. Check the battery cables are tight too as if these get loose or corroded, this can stop the battery operating.
 

ladykemma

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pop the little caps to see if the water is low in the battery. add some water if so.
 

Dee*Jay

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So the happyt hubby is out driving around running erands and he's been to three places so far with no trouble getting the car to start when he comes back out. Do you think it might still be a starter problem, or since it keeps starting up again with no problem do you think it really was just the battery?
 

strmrdr

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todays cars are coming out with undersized and fairly crappy batteries.
3 years is about right.
2004 was a bad year for them accross several brands.

replace it with a mid-range battery that''s the biggest that will physically fit in the car and you should be good for 5 years. (highest CCA)
 

crown1

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i know nothing about fixing cars. when i had a starter problem it wouldn''t strike a lick until i had it towed and fixed. good luck!
 

DiamondExpert

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Just how long a car battery will last depends largely on where you live. For example, here in AZ (Phoenix) 2 years is about all you can expect from even the best on the market - but it''s a DRY heat!!
 

WTNLVR

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I'm in Boson and mine last about 5 yrs. Some new cars are shipped with old batteries, so you are behind the 8 ball from the get go. Check your connections- it could just be corrosion. If so, scrub the connections ( they will look like they are covered in white powder if bad) with baking soda/water and rinse. A starter should not be bad after 3 yrs. If it is a starter problem you will hear a seriies of rapid clicks and no effort to turn over. A bad battery is just a whining trying to start to no avail noise. The battery could have been down due to leaving a door ajar, or glove compartment open. It sounds like it has recharged and is fine at this time. If in doubt take it to the dealer (if under warranty) and they can check the charge on the battery.
 

mtrb

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A battery is one thing.. but it could be the alternator which can have very similar symptoms sometimes. That is big bucks. The alternator charges the battery, if that is not working.. it costs hundreds to replace vs. a battery which should cost aroun $50-$150 depending on the brand and size. The first thing to do is jump the car. Has it sat for a while?.. this could cause this issue. Did it start? Drive it for 20 minutes and see if that charges the battery, or get a charger and hook it up to the battery in your driveway overnight and see if it charges. You want it to be a bad battery.


The reason your lights and radio worked is because they take much less juice to operate than it takes to fire your engine. What happens is the battery cannot take a charge(it charges when driving) so slowly the voltage gets less and less until the engine stops, but you probably still have enough juice to make the lights and radio work until it completely dies.

If your alternator goes.. it just doesn't charge the battery as you drive...and thus you have a similar effect.

Alternator is a lot more $$ than a battery..

Batteries usually last 3-6 years depending on quality.
 

AChiOAlumna

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Usually, manufacturer batteries are only about 3-years of shelf life, so if you have the original battery, then it''s probably time to change it. Sometimes you''ll get a 4th year out of the original battery, but it''s a hit-and-miss. You might have just enough juice to operate the interior lights, but not the engine itself. What happens when you jump-start it?

I usually buy 5-year batteries from Sears. And they last a little longer than the 5-years, which is a nice piece-of-mind.
 

Dee*Jay

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Thanks everyone for the info. The car has been starting fine since we had it jumped on Saturday. We are taking it in on Thursday for some other work (the happy hubby got a little too close to a pole turing into a parking garage in an effort to hurry up and get out the way of an ambulance) so we will have them check the connections and the water. Honestly, maybe we will just get the thing replaced anyway.
 

mtrb

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Date: 1/16/2007 1:09:52 PM
Author: Dee*Jay
Thanks everyone for the info. The car has been starting fine since we had it jumped on Saturday. We are taking it in on Thursday for some other work (the happy hubby got a little too close to a pole turing into a parking garage in an effort to hurry up and get out the way of an ambulance) so we will have them check the connections and the water. Honestly, maybe we will just get the thing replaced anyway.
Cool. Have them check the charge on the battery to make sure it is charging.
Also just as an FYI.. when a battery or alternator gets ready to go they can work intermittently. They just don't stop working. It can be fine today.. and tomorrow have issue..then be fine the next day. I would say it is a good move to replace the battery anyway with a good one..Interstate comes to mind. They are the best of the best.. and usually are the most pricey as well..probably $125-$150. It may save you some headache. I always advise people to stay away from DieHard or DieFast as I like to call them. I have Interstate batteries go a cool 6-8 years before being replaced.

Good luck
 

FireGoddess

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From the description I was thinking starter or alternator. Hopefully they discover what the problem is! It''s no fun having a car you can''t depend on to start!!!
 

IrishAngel7982

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DJ, I''m sure your battery is fine if all of the accessories are working. From what you first described it sounded like your alternator...which is what keeps the car running once it''s started. I''m glad HH is having it checked out. Maybe it was a little kink since it''s been ok since then. =) If it is the alternator...you can expect to spend around $500. I went through that last year...YAY!!!
 
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