Car batteries are the heart that powers a car and like most other components, batteries need to be replaced from time to time. A car battery lifespan in Malaysia can range from two to five years depending on how it’s used and its overall performance. It provides the initial jolt to start a car and also powers all the electrical components in your car. The last thing you want is to be left stranded with a dead battery because, without the jolt of electricity, your car probably won’t start. If you want to know how long a car battery lasts or what is a maintenance-free battery and a lead-acid battery, here is everything you need to know.
How Exactly Does a Car Battery Work?
We know that the function of a battery is to provide electricity to power up a car, but here’s how this powerful little box works – when you start your engine, a chemical reaction in the battery is converted into electrical energy to power up your engine, lights, and accessories.
When your car is running, the battery is kept charged by the alternator. This allows the car battery to provide a steady electrical current during your drive which keeps other electrical components running. The battery is also kept charged by the alternator so it has enough juice to start the car up the next time you drive.
Types of Car Batteries
1. Wet or Dry Cell Battery
Contrary to popular belief, all car batteries actually have wet cells (the electrolytes are in liquid form) in them. The differentiating point is whether the battery requires maintenance or is maintenance-free. They are called lead-acid batteries since they have positive and negative lead electrodes immersed in an electrolytic solution of sulfuric and water.
Although maintenance-free car batteries do not require the occasional top-up of electrolytes (which conventional maintainable batteries do), owners will still need to regularly check the terminals for corrosive build-up. This corrosive build-up, which can reduce the lifespan of a car battery can be in the form of a white powder that is caused by overcharging, overfilling the battery, electrolyte leakage, and chemical reaction in the copper clams. The only downside to it a maintenance-free car battery is its lifespan – It doesn’t last as long as conventional maintenance batteries.
2. Gel cell & AGM Battery
While the standard car battery lasts about two years, there are two other types of car batteries that can last up to five years. These are known as Gel Cell and Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) batteries. A gel cell battery has silica (sand) to turn the acid electrolyte in the battery into gel form which makes it spill-proof. In an AGM battery, glass mats are placed between the thin lead plates (electrodes) to cushion them. In turn, manufacturers can squeeze in more glass mats and lead plates into a single battery. This leads to more power
Both these batteries hold their charge better, don’t degrade as easily, and even hold up better in storage. Although these car batteries last longer, they often cost twice as much or more than common wet and dry cell batteries. That said, Gel Cell batteries typically cost more than AGM ones.
How to Maintain Your Car Battery in Malaysia
Just like any other vehicle component, how long a car battery lasts depends on how you maintain it. It needs to be inspected and serviced periodically to maintain its quality and performance. Here are seven tips you can follow.
Check the battery electrolyte level
Check the water or electrolyte level in your car battery (wet cell) every three months or every 5000 kilometers. If you drive long-distance frequently, ensure you check the water level in the battery before you leave. You should add enough electrolytes so that the level is about three-quarters of the whole battery cell.
Clean the battery terminal
The battery terminal connects the car’s electronic system to your car’s battery. If the battery terminals are loose, tighten them immediately as loose terminals might cause green salts to form around it that would affect the connectivity of the battery.
Check the battery insulation
Some car models are equipped with an insulating sheath that serves to protect the battery from the engine’s heat. Batteries that are exposed to hot temperatures will directly affect their lifespan.
Use quality batteries
Quality batteries have a better lifespan – in some cases, batteries can last up to five years if cared for and used properly. Quality car batteries also usually come with a warranty and guarantee. If you have the budget for a longer-lasting battery, you can consider AGM car batteries.
Avoid using any oil on the battery terminals
Improper use of oils such as grease on the battery terminals can cause rust to form. In fact, if used excessively, the power of the battery will be depleted, hence affecting its performance.
Turn off any electronic components if the engine is off
Back when most cars still had carburetors and electrical systems that weren’t as efficient as today, electrical components such as the air conditioner compressor would place a heavy load on the engine and battery. That’s why it was important to ensure all electrical components were turned off before starting the engine.
Since modern cars have much more efficient engines and electrical systems, this is less of a problem. However, it’s still a good idea to turn off components such as the air conditioner, radio, and lights to reduce the load on your engine and battery. Of course, don’t leave your headlights on as your batteries will be dead by the time you get back to your car.
Check the battery’s power occasionally
The normal reading of a ‘“healthy” car battery is between 12 to 13 Volts when the engine is not running, and between 13.5 to14.5 Volts if the engine is running. If the battery power is below 13.5 Volts or above 14.5 Volts, chances are there is a problem with your car’s alternator.
Read Also: Things to Check When You Service Your Car
Size & Price of Car Batteries in Malaysia
The price of car batteries in Malaysia highly depends on the brand (Century, Bosch, Yokohama, GP Yamasaki, Aokly, Yuasa, Hitachi, etc.), type, and the car battery size. The following is a list of the estimated price of car batteries sold in Malaysia differentiated by size. To ensure an optimal lifespan for your car battery, be sure to select the right one for your car.
|NS40ZL||RM120 to RM170|
|NS60||RM140 to RM210|
|NS70||RM190 to RM350|
|DIN55||RM190 to RM290|
|55D23L||RM190 to RM295|
How to Find Out How Long Your Car Battery Can Last or If It’s Dead
It’s hard to truly gauge a battery’s health from the outside but that doesn’t mean you should leave it as it is. You can gauge a wet or dry car battery’s lifespan by looking out for the telltale signs like below.
- The starter feels a little draggy when you power up the car or the car takes longer than usual to start.
- Your car needs jump-start assistance especially under cooler temperatures (morning or during rain). If you find yourself jump-starting your car more often than usual (three times per week or so), your car battery needs to be replaced or you need to add some water into it (wet cell).
- A car battery at the end of its lifespan may look bloated or swollen. This is because the battery has reached its maximum level and can no longer receive charge from the alternator.
- A rancid or acidic smell from the car battery. Usually, this smell can be inhaled when the bonnet of the car is opened.
- Alarms sounding erratic also indicate that your car battery is dead and not in a good condition. Even so, you are advised to check the remote or car alarm system first for confirmation.
- The fuel level meter becomes erratic, non-uniform, and unusual. In a normal situation, the meter will show a distance of 115km ± with 3 bars of petrol, but if the battery is dead, the meter will only show a distance of 50km ± only (this is especially common for Perodua cars).
- The clock and radio settings need to be tuned each time the car is turned on. This indicates your battery is weak and needs to be replaced.
Main Causes of Car Batteries Losing Power or Dying
There are many factors that cause car batteries to lose their power. Here are some of the causes that can shorten the lifespan of your car battery:
- Short circuit or dead cell in the battery.
- The car’s engine hasn’t been turned on for a long period of time.
- Damage to alternator parts.
- Improper wiring systems by third-party accessory components.
- Excessive installation of car accessories.
- Electrical components are not switched off when the engine is turned off.
- Maintenance factors – dirty, rusty, or loose battery terminals.
How to Prolong the Lifespan of Your Car’s Battery in Malaysia
Proper maintenance can prevent damage and extend the lifespan of your car’s battery. Here are some ways you can do so:
1. Park Indoors More Frequently
As Malaysia’s climate is warmer, car batteries both wet and dry last half as long compared to batteries in cooler temperatures. Why? Heat reduces the lifespan of a car battery by accelerating the chemical reactions within a battery, increasing internal discharge. So, to improve the lifespan of your car battery, park indoors more often.
2. Unplug Your Battery If You Are Not Using Your Car for a Long Period of Time
Have you once gone on a trip only to return to a car that won’t start? We’ve been there too. Next time before you go on holiday or don’t drive your car for a long period of time, just unplug the negative terminal (black cable cover) on the car battery. If you’re worried about your car alarm and security that will be disabled after you unplug the battery, you could get your neighbor, friend, or family to start it for you every alternate day.
3. You can’t recharge flat car batteries!
Many drivers think that car batteries that have gone flat can be recharged by driving around. This isn’t true. In fact, continuous undercharging will lower the capacity of the battery over time and also shorten its lifespan. The only way to restore a flat battery’s charge properly is to use an appropriate multi-stage charger. If you’re not using your car frequently, at least start it every alternate day, or drive around the block once a week.
Keeping your Car’s Battery at Optimum Health
Keeping an optimum battery charge and your car in tip-top condition will not only ensure that you have a smooth drive but also help your car battery last longer so you don’t get stranded on the side of the road.
Since your car’s battery plays a vital role in its overall performance, taking the proper course of action when a problem arises with your battery will also help you get a better price later on when you decide to sell your car. When it’s time for that, you can sell your used car to Carsome, where we’ll give you the best value. You can also check our website if you’re looking to buy a used car. We put all our cars through a 175-point inspection for your peace of mind.