When Do I Need a New Car Battery?

Tips & Support
OPTIMA Batteries
Miami, Florida
If we've learned anything about car battery replacement in the last 18 months, it's that a whole lot of people spent money they may not have had, to replace car batteries that didn't need to be replaced. Why is that? Because their batteries weren't bad, they were just discharged. What's the difference?

If you leave your headlights on overnight and "kill" your new car battery, you really didn't kill it, did you? You just discharged it. Fully-charge that battery with a battery charger and it may last you many more years (jump-start a discharged battery without fully-charging it & you may get into a cycle of discharged batteries & jump-starts that will eventually lead to another battery replacement).

The same thing can happen to a car battery when it sits for an extended period of time. Headlights can discharge a battery in a matter of hours, but other components in a car can slowly discharge a battery over time, like car alarms, satellite-based systems and other components that draw some current, even when the car has been parked for several days. So what happened in 2020, when a bunch of people stopped commuting to a school or office on a daily basis?

A lot of cars sat unused and the batteries in those cars slowly became discharged. We noticed a significant increase in battery sales that corresponded with people whose cars were lightly-used or not used at all during lockdown. We knew many of those people didn't kill their car batteries, they just discharged them. Many folks either don't own battery chargers or don't think to use them if their battery is dead. A quality battery charger can be a fraction of the cost of a $200 car battery and more than pay for itself with the first car battery it recharges and that really is the first step- first, try to recharge your car battery (to at least 12.6V) with a battery charger (not jumper cables or jump boxes).

Once you get your car battery charged up, then get your car battery load-tested. Where can you get your car battery load-tested? Just about any major auto parts store in the country. The testing units are hand-held, the tests take less than a minute to perform, you don't need to remove the battery from your vehicle and most auto parts stores will happily load-test your battery for free. The reason we advise you to first attempt to fully-charge your battery, is because discharged batteries may fail load tests, even if they just need to be fully-recharged.

A free load test from a battery professional is the best way to help you decide if you need a new car battery. If you'd like to maximize your battery's lifespan and performance (and who wouldn't?), we'd strongly recommend charging your car battery once a month with a quality battery charger or maintainer. You might be surprised at how quickly they can become discharged!
Don't be intimidated by the idea of charging a car battery either, because it is something anyone can do safely and easily. OPTIMA Chargers & Maintainers feature spark-free technology and if you accidentally connect the clamps to the wrong terminals, nothing bad will happen. The OPTIMA charger will simply sound an alert and deliver a message that you need to switch the clamps around. Once it is connected, buttons with images of batteries on them will help you decide which option is right for your battery and your charging will automatically begin and only charge as long as it needs to, before automatically going into a maintenance mode.