Is It Bad to Use an Old Car Battery?

Tips & Support
OPTIMA Batteries
Gulfport, MS

We went to Cruisin' the Coast in 2022 on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and came across quite a few hot rods and muscle cars using OPTIMA Batteries and some of them might be considered old. In fact, the battery pictured above was manufactured in 2015, making it seven years old when this photo was taken. Are older batteries like this one still safe to use? Absolutely!

OPTIMA Batteries can last up to three times as long as a traditional flooded lead-acid battery, so it's really not unusual for us to come across batteries like this one and many even older, that are still in use. Additionally, the sealed design of OPTIMA Batteries minimizes the chance of battery acid leaking and damaging your vehicle. That means you don't need to use the corrosion donuts around the battery terminals.

We will acknowledge that all lead-acid batteries, including AGM batteries, like OPTIMA Batteries, are consumable items with finite lifespans. That means they are moving closer to their eventual end of useful life, as soon as they are created. For that reason, if you would like to use an older battery in an application, we would recommend you first visually inspect that battery for any evidence of damage, especially around the corners and the terminals.

Once you've determined the older battery is not damaged, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have the battery load-tested by a battery professional. Most major auto parts stores offer this service and many will perform a battery load test at no charge. However, you should first make sure you've attempted to fully-charge your older battery to at least 12.6 volts, before having it tested, to ensure the most-accurate possible results.

If your older battery is undamaged and passes a load test, it should be safe to use. However, it may not be the worst idea to load-test it on an annual basis or more often, to make sure it is still capable of performing as you would expect and not leave you stranded. If your application has a critical use function, you may want to consider a regular cadence of replacement, even if the battery passes a load test, to minimize the chance of unexpected downtime. This is standard practice for many of our municipal and military customers (and potentially, a good source of older batteries that could still be used somewhere else).

Regardless of what battery you have or how old it is, we can tell you that proper voltage maintenance is a key to maximizing battery performance and lifespan. Fully-charged, OPTIMA REDTOPs (and the 34M BLUETOP) will measure about 12.6-12.8 volts and YELLOWTOPs and BLUETOPs (except the 34M BLUETOP) will measure about 13.0-13.2 volts. Whenever any battery is discharged below 12.4 volts and is left sitting in that state, sulfation will begin forming in the battery, which will diminish both capacity and lifespan.

We're so confident proper voltage maintenance will extend battery lifespan, we'll add an additional year of free replacement warranty coverage to your OPTIMA battery purchase, if you purchase an OPTIMA Digital 1200 Battery Charger & Maintainer from us at the same time.