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How long does an electric car battery last?

It’s a common myth that electric car batteries don’t last long and need replacing often. Learn more about replacing EV batteries in our guide

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How long does a car battery last in an electric vehicle?

In an electric vehicle (EV), lithium-ion batteries are paired with electric motors to get your car moving.

Just like the batteries in our smartphones, EV batteries can degrade over time and may not hold as much charge as they did when brand-new.

Luckily, EV batteries can last between 10 and 20 years before you could have to consider replacing it, or upwards of 100,000 miles.

This means that even if you purchase a used EV, you won’t have to worry about purchasing a new battery for many years to come.

Electric car battery health and degradation

The reason you might need to replace an EV battery after 10-20 years comes down to the health of your battery and degradation.

When an EV is driving, it goes through a process of ‘discharging’ while in use and ‘charging’ when the car is plugged in.

Over time, this process can decrease the amount of charge that your battery can hold and can mean you won’t be able to reach the mile range you could when the car was brand-new.

Luckily, this cycle of degradation takes years to make a noticeable difference. You likely won’t notice any significant changes to your charging time and mile range for a few years, but that depends on how you take care of your vehicle.

How to take care of your car's battery

There are a few ways you can help keep your EV’s battery in good condition and minimise damage to its health.

One of the best things you can do is to keep your charge between 20% and 80%, as letting your battery run flat or constantly keeping it at full charge can negatively affect its health.

Don’t worry – home and public chargers as well as your EV make it easy to set the charge to 80%.

If you’re going on holiday or know you won't be using your EV for a while, it’s usually better for battery health to keep it at around 50% charge rather than 100% while resting.

It’s also best practice not to keep your car plugged in all the time when not in use, so only charge as and when you really need to.

DC rapid chargers are ideal if you need a quick boost while on the go but shouldn’t be used too often.

Using DC chargers often can negatively affect your battery health at a faster rate than AC charging, so it’s a good idea to only use a rapid charger when you really need to.

If you live in a hot country or know there’s an upcoming heatwave, keeping your EV in a shaded area is best for battery health. Extreme temperatures can have a negative impact and can cause your battery to drain quickly.

It's also a good idea to take your EV for regular short trips - think of this as a gym session for your car.

You don't always need to be heading out on a long hike to keep fit, and similarly, a short drive in your EV will help keep battery cells cycled and healthy.

Sam Sheehan, motoring editor at cinch, said: “A simple trick to ensure your battery is in perfect shape for years to come is to try and keep your battery levels between 20% and 80% where possible.

"This is similar to best practice with petrol and diesel cars, where letting your car's tank run close to empty risks feeding the engine with the sludge and dirt that builds up at the bottom of the tank.

And brimming them with fuel can be wasteful, as your car has to carry around a heavy load of fuel, making it less efficient.

“Fighting the urge to have a 100% replenished battery means that you’ll be gentler to your car’s hardware. In turn, it will last longer and be more efficient in the future.

“To keep the battery inside the 20% to 80% sweet spot, consider tweaking the settings on your car or charger. This way, it’ll be easier to stay within the recommended percentages.”

How long are warranties for electric car batteries?

Electric car batteries usually come with a warranty of around eight years or 100,000 miles, so you know manufacturers have faith these batteries are built to last.

In fact, the warranty for an electric car battery is usually much longer than warranties that come with internal combustion engine cars, or other elements of vehicles.

For example, Audi offers an eight-year/100,000-mile warranty on its EV batteries, but a standard two-year warranty on brand-new fuel-powered cars.

BMW offers a three-year warranty on fuel models, but eight years from when you first register the battery of your electric car.

Even if you purchase a used BMW or a used Audi, you'll find that these warranties are usually transferable.

This should help give you peace of mind over just how long you can expect an electric car battery to last before you might want to consider replacing it.

Learn more about electric car maintenance: