How Long Do Car Batteries Last? A Popular EV Question Answered

As a site involved in the electric vehicle space, we’re often asked a variety of questions from our readers – the most common of the bunch being “how long do car batteries last?”

That, and whether or not it’s illegal to ride around on a personal electric scooter, the likes of which you can buy online or at brick and mortar stores such as Pure Electric and Halfords.

We won’t be answering that second question today as we’re focussing on the longevity of electric car batteries.

If you are interested in finding out more, then I’d highly recommend the last full-length blog we put out on the site (Rental E Scooters Vs Private E Scooters: Everything You Need To Know).

Anyway, back to electric car battery life.

You don’t need to be an EV expert – or own an electric car of your own to understand that a large battery, typically a lithium-ion battery, powers the vehicle.

Unlike traditional ICE vehicles, these batteries are a hell of a lot more powerful, they’re a lot bigger/heavier in comparison, and they’re incredibly expensive to replace should you need to switch them out.

Which begs the question:

How long do electric car batteries last?

We’ll be answering that question for you today, alongside other popular questions on the lifespan of car batteries.

Let’s get moving, shall we?

How Long Do Car Batteries Last Exactly?

For the sake of being as clinical as possible with this topic, we’ve decided to look at the lifespan of the batteries found in traditional vehicles.

We’ll start here and then touch on EVs later.

By all means, if you’re only here for information on how long electric car batteries last, skip this section entirely, although it is pretty interesting as it goes to show the main differences between the two vehicle types.

Most car batteries typically run for around 3 to 5 years before they either start to show decline, or need replacing outright. The size of the car, the maker of the car, and a bunch of other attributing factors will typically determine the lifespan of a battery.

Which brings us to our next popular car battery question:

What factors affect the lifespan of a car battery?

Cars Parked In Garage Car batteries are affected by all sorts of things

What Can Affect the Lifespan of A Car Battery?

Like any standard battery – EV-related or otherwise – decline in function is to be expected. If batteries lasted forever, then there wouldn’t be entire landfills full of these things (which is why we’d recommend using rechargeable batteries if you can).

Green tips from E4TP aside, know that there are several factors that can negatively affect the lifespan of car batteries; some you can avoid by making changes, others are inevitable, unfortunately.

Let’s run through them:

  • Extreme Temperatures: Cold conditions have been known to play a role in the degrading of car batteries.
  • Periods of Inactivity: Not using your vehicle for too long can negatively affect how long your car battery lasts, too.
  • Vibrations from Journeys: You might not think it, but knocks on the road can also affect your car battery’s lifespan.
  • Electric Devices: Hooking up your phone or any other electronic devices might be handy, but it can also have a lasting effect on your EVs battery.

How Long Can a Car Battery Last Without the Engine On?

This is another popular car battery question, and with good reason. How long a car battery can last without the engine on isn’t explained enough, in our opinion.

Again, the answer to this question will vary depending on a variety of variables (i.e. battery type, vehicle type, battery age, etc). It’s also influenced by the level of power that continues to be drained from your battery when your engine has been turned off.

This action actually has a name:

‘Parasitic drain.’

Most cars you come across experience a drain of between 20-50mA when they are parked and not in use. Easily the best way to understand how this works is to use an example.

Let’s say that you have a fully-charged 70Ah starter battery installed in your vehicle and your parasitic drain is about 50mA. Under those circumstances, the owner of the vehicle would have, roughly, 60 days of discharge before the battery is completely dead.

electric car parking spot Electric car battery life is a little different compared to ICE types

How Long Does an Electric Car Battery Last Exactly?

It goes without saying that electric car batteries are a little different from those you’ll find in ICE vehicles.

The batteries in these vehicles are a lot heavier in comparison, which was always to be expected when you consider the fact that these revolutionary vehicles drive only on electricity and no fuel at all.

Unless you drive around in a hybrid vehicle, that is. Those are a completely different kettle of fish. Be sure to check out our guide on hybrid vehicles right here, if you’re interested in finding out more.

The batteries you find in electric vehicles are lithium-ion batteries most of the time, which are the same type of batteries found in smartphones and computers. In other words, they will still degrade over time in the same way the batteries found in those devices do too.

Only, how long you have with an electric car battery is a lot longer.

Most experts suggest that you will get around 200,000 miles out of every electric car battery before it needs to be replaced.

Manufacturers, drivers, and experts all say that, on average, electric vehicle batteries typically last for around 10 years. Do keep in mind that the technology behind these batteries is getting better, and, eventually, we’ll have batteries that double, or even, triple that lifespan.

But yes, if you’ve ever wondered how long an electric car battery lasts, then 10 years (roughly) is the answer.

What Happens When an EV Battery Degrades?

Once again, this is another common query tied to questions like how long does an electric car battery last, and with good reason. After all, you’re paying all that money for a new EV, it’s normal to want to know why the batteries within don’t last as long as you might think.

When a battery degrades, it becomes unable to supply enough capacity for its intended application and/or the cranking current to turn over an engine. And if the engine can’t get power, well, all you have at that point is a big metal paperweight on wheels.

Albeit, a comfortable big metal paperweight on wheels.

As far as EV battery degradation goes, know that there are three main reasons as to why this happens:

  1. Active Material Loss
  2. Battery Corrosion
  3. Sulphation

Please Note: All of these processes will occur naturally as part of the chemistry within lead-acid batteries.

However, as we’ve touched on with fuel car batteries, the degradation of batteries can be amplified simply by driving around. One of the most common reasons why an EV battery dies so sudden is through overcharging.

Overcharging is a self-explanatory term, that you can liken to charging your smartphone. This is why car brands have taken to implementing similar safeguards in car batteries as smartphones, capping off maximum charge power at around 80% to help slow down the aging process.

Poor storage practices are another common cause for this, which are becoming more and more of a problem.

Seriously, people, sort this out.

What are the Warning Signs to Watch Out For?

There are multiple ways to test the strength of your electric car battery. The first is an obvious one, which is to simply check the battery warning light on your dashboard. If it’s lit up, then there’s something wrong with your car’s juicebox.

Another sign isn’t as simple, it involves measuring how your vehicle handles starting up and performing out on the roads – particularly if it’s not a cold day, where the weather might be impacting the battery in some way or another.

The last thing we’d recommend you do is check the electronic systems within your vehicle as this could also be linked to battery weakness.

Try turning on the headlights of your vehicle and get a good look at how strong the beam is. If it’s dimmed, then this could indicate an issue with the battery too, in which case you would then need to take it to be evaluated by a dedicated technician.

Someone removing an electric car battery from a car Unless you’re a trained professional, don’t ever try to remove your electric car battery

How Do You Change a Car Battery?

There’s a simple answer to this electric car battery question:

You don’t, a dedicated professional will, but only if the battery needs to be replaced.

Like wisdom teeth, technicians will treat the removal of your battery as the last possible option if something can be done to help its health without extraction.

If you do need a new car battery, know that there are various electric car battery specialists out there for you to pick and choose from. It’s not like years ago where only a handful of people were driving around in electric cars.

Here’s a quick list of companies that can help you replace your electric car battery and get you back on the road in no time (UK only):

  • AA
  • Kwik-Fit
  • National Tyres
  • Halfords (yes, that Halfords)
  • The services these places offer tend to cover more than just the fitting of electric car batteries. For example, Halfords offer a free battery health check, and even have a mobile fitting service where technicians come to you to perform diagnostics and sort replacements.

    Another great thing Halfords offer are warranties for any and all electric car batteries they fit. There are three warranties to choose from (3-year, 4-year, and 5-year), for reference.

    We should point out that we haven’t been paid by Halfords to plug its services. We simply feel like they offer one of the best services all-round, and there always seems to be a Halfords within a 10 mile radius, regardless of where you live in the UK.

    How Long Do Car Batteries Last? A Popular EV Question Answered

    We’re hoping the information provided has helped you and your ‘how long do electric car batteries last?’ questions. Helping current and aspiring electric drivers is what we do best here at E4TP.

    Another thing we’re hoping is that you found those initial sections on ICE vehicle batteries insightful? Electric vehicles will soon become the norm, but we find it’s always interesting to read-up on the current status quo.

    To recap, we’ve provided answers to all of the following questions:

    • How long do regular car batteries last?
    • How long can a car battery last without the engine on?
    • How long does an electric car battery last?
    • What happens when a car battery degrades?
    • What are the telltale signs that my car battery is degrading?
    • And, how do you change an electric car battery?

    Still have an electric car battery question that we haven’t answered here? Reach out to us via social media and let us know. We want this post to be as comprehensive as possible to help as many people as possible.

    Oh, and if you’re yet to follow, don’t forget to do so. We’ve got some insightful content from the ever-expanding world of electric transport coming up that you will want to see!

    Electric Car Battery FAQs

    How often do you need to replace an electric car battery?

    As mentioned above, a standard electric car battery typically lasts for around 10 years on average – 20 years in the case of certain vehicles (Tesla vehicles, for example, have a pretty good track record).

    What happens when an electric car battery dies?

    If your electric vehicle runs out of juice on the road then it will come to a complete stop – in the same way it would if it has no petrol left in the tank. At that point, you will need to get in touch with roadside assistance to come and help you.

    Can you jumpstart an electric car?

    No, you can’t, and please don’t ever try this; jump-starting only applies to ICE vehicles. The batteries found in electric vehicles are a lot bigger/powerful and therefore require a direct current to receive power.

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