Car batteries are easy to take for granted—until something goes wrong. Nothing is more aggravating than being stranded in the cold with a car that won’t start. Knowing a little about car batteries will help you know when to replace it before it’s too late. Here are some battery basics.

How A Car Battery Works

Inside most batteries are lead plates suspended in a mix of water and sulfuric acid. This “electrolytic solution” allows electrons to flow between the plates, which generates and stores electricity.

A Battery’s Life

Car batteries have an average lifespan of four years. Vibrations from rough travel can shake loose or damage the internal plates. Extreme heat can shorten battery life, while cooler temperatures can sometimes prolong it.

Signs Of Battery Problems

The most obvious sign of a battery problem is a dead battery. Other signs include slow cranking time for your engine as you try to start it and dim interior lights when the engine is switched off. If the battery is older than three or four years, look out for these signs and get to a certified Toyota Technician to have the battery and charging system tested. Don’t wait until you see signs of trouble.

Replacing A Car Battery

You can have your battery tested at most automotive stores or repair facilities. But it’s best to do it where you bought your vehicle. Toyota dealers know your Toyota best and will give it the care it needs. If it’s time to replace your battery, you should have a certified Toyota Technician do it so you know you’ve got the right battery, installed correctly.

Batteries are so reliable and simple that drivers tend to forget about them until it's too late. Pay attention to your battery and be sure to have it checked, replaced and recycled.