QUESTION: Hi Calvin, I asked you questions before and you were very helpful. This is pretty general but I don't know much about cars. My Nissan came with a 60 month battery and it's coming up on 3 years. It's fine now, but when it starts to go bad, will it just not start one day? Or will it give signs that it needs replacing? I was going to get it tested, but don't know if that's necessary if it's not showing any problems. Thanks
ANSWER: Hi Lee -
It is difficult to predict a battery life. You are correct, at times it will just give up. all depends on the load it is under, driving conditions (extreme heat or cold), and if the alternator is doing its job charging it.
However a tell take sign is when you start the car and the starter turns slower than normal. At time this is hard to determine because it is hard to detect the difference as the deterioration is gradual and hard to determine if you are not keen to it. A load test is helpful, however sometimes by the time you pay for the test, should have spent it on a new battery. LOL
As a general rule, batteries last between 2 - 5 years. Sometimes it is better to just replace it after that interval.
I hope this helps - sorry I cannot give you definitive answers, but batteries sometimes have a mind of their own.
---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------
QUESTION: Thanks Calvin. A few times in the past with other cars, I would take my car to a battery shop and they tested each battery cell. Not sure exactly what they did, but they never charged me for it and not sure if it was a 'load test' or not. I'm guessing it wasn't, but is it common to have it checked after 3 years, even when it seems fine, or should I just wait for it to go dead? As you can tell, I tend to worry about minor stuff, haha.
Hi Lee -
Yes, the test you are speaking of is the electrolyte or acid levels in the battery water. The battery cannot maintain the charge if the acid level is too low.
The load test is different where they attach a machine to the battery and intentionally place load on it to see if the battery can handle the stress. Usually there is a charge for it and sometimes decreases the life of the battery.
I understand your concern as no one wants to get stuck at an inopportune time.
If it was me - I would just change it out already. It will be a nominal cost for satisfaction and confidence your car will be OK for another several years.