Is it possible to predict the life of a car’s battery?

There are several ways to test the health of a vehicle battery.

For example, by measuring voltage levels and performing an impedance test, where a current flows through the battery to measure internal resistance and identify corrosion. Battery monitors can also record depth of discharge and remaining capacity, or stored charge.

In a live Technical Briefs presentation at the end of last year titled Beyond Battery Cycling: Testing Batteries in the Automotive IndustryA reader posed the following question to an industry expert from London-based test inspection provider Element Materials Technology:

Consumers are demanding longer lifespans for their batteries. Which tests are best to ensure longer life?

Read the response from Mike Pendleton, Managing Director at Element Materials Technology, below.

Mike Pendleton, Elemental Materials Technology: Determining the longevity and capacity of batteries over time is usually done through life cycle or drive cycle testing. The idea is to take a battery and simulate its use case.

That means charging it to 100% and discharging it to 20% and repeating that a million times, then intermittently, every 10,000 or 100,000 cycles, doing a capacity check, to see where the capacity.

Typically, that’s how testing is handled: you go through and determine, over time, the degradation of the battery versus capacity, and it helps you determine how long your cell will last, simply by simulation of use.

An interesting note: automotive studies are beginning to show that some of the 100% to 20% [capacity checks] may not be as accurate. There could be an increased life capacity found. There’s a bit more study to do there.

But that’s usually how you test [the battery]: Run it through its typical drive cycle and determine the capacity life

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