When to change your battery
Even with nothing to cause them to run down, car batteries only have a finite number of years to live. Lead acid car batteries are designed to last for about five years, but unlike cell phone batteries they don’t like to be repeatedly drained and charged. So if you repeatedly run it down by leaving the lights on or have a ‘mystery drain’ somewhere in the car, it’s likely that your battery won’t be in the best of health for very long.
It’ll be obvious when your battery is dead - the engine won’t turn over. But that doesn't always mean the battery needs to be replaced. Once the car has been started (via jumper cables) take the car for at least a 20-minute run to charge the battery. Turn off the engine and try to restart it. If it starts easily, shut it down and wait at least an hour, then try again.
It can be hard to tell the difference between a battery that won't hold a charge, a battery with a bad cell, and a car that has a short or accessory that is draining the battery. Modern cars all have some parasitic loss due to computers, clocks, and infotainment memory. With a multi meter you can find out many things about the health of your car's battery and charging system, here's how.
All cars are slightly different, so if it is time to change your battery, use our before you begin checklist, and find your car for specific instructions.