Many car owners assume car batteries are all the same. We can tell you from first-hand experience, choosing the appropriate battery for your vehicle matters! It prevents premature failure – and a call to roadside service. Here’s what you need to know.
Choosing a battery
Consult the owner’s manual for your vehicle, your mechanic or a professional parts person at your auto parts store for the battery specifications necessary to power your car.
You will need to know the battery size and where the terminals are located. A battery that is physically too small can move around and cause damage. The terminals can be on the top or side.
You’ll need a battery strong enough to power your vehicle and accessories and one that will perform well in your driving conditions. Pay attention to the type, cold cranking amps (CCA), and reserve capacity (RC). Most car batteries are lead acid batteries but some cars come with high performance batteries that are absorbed glass mat or AGM for short.
Cold cranking amps (CCA) is the amount of power the battery will produce to start your car in freezing temperatures. Reserve capacity (RC) is the amount of time a battery can deliver maximum power before completely discharging. Both these numbers are important for very warm or very cold weather. Extreme temperatures can drain batteries sooner and require extra power to start and run your car. Since manufacturer’s tests and real life conditions often vary, it is advisable to exceed the minimum recommendations for both CCA and RC. Making sure your battery has the power you need when you need it can prevent a call to roadside service.
Care and maintenance
Modern car batteries are almost maintenance free, but you still need to keep the battery and terminals free of corrosion. Visually inspect the battery cables for frayed wires or other signs of wear.
The best battery advice is to be proactive. If your battery is old, or you’ve been having trouble starting your car in colder weather, get the battery checked and replace it if necessary. Before you have to call for roadside servic