More Bang for Your Buck: How to Choose a Car Battery

Are you trying to figure out how to choose a car battery and get the best one? Read this article to learn how to choose a car battery.

Picture this: you walk out to your car in the morning to leave for work. As you are turning over the key, your car starts making that funny sound. Ugh, a dead battery!

If this sounds familiar, you’re probably in the market for a new car battery. But do you know how to choose a car battery and which one is the best for your car? Read this guide to learn everything you need to know about car batteries.

Car Batteries

So, what is a car battery? A car battery works just like a regular battery. It stores electrical unites that convert chemical energy to electrical energy for your car. Car batteries haven’t changed much in the past 70 years.

Lead-acid car batteries use acid or an electrolyte to react with the lead plates inside the battery. This produces electricity that helps your car to start. Now, this might not be surprising, but it takes more energy to start a big engine than a smaller one.

The size of the battery you will need all depends on what kind of car you have.

Cars today have computers and accessories that put more demand on the battery than in the past. Your battery needs to have enough power to supply all of those gadgets and keep them running too.

If your battery is too small, it will fail prematurely.

Typically you only need to replace a car battery once or twice in the lifetime of your vehicle. Taking care of your battery will help you get the most life out of it and avoid leaving you stranded. Batteries get old by exposure to heat and repeatedly charging and discharging.

Before we learn how to choose a good car battery, let’s first take a look at some of the vocabulary you should know when shopping for a car battery.

Car Battery Vocabulary

The cranking amps (CA) is how much starting power the battery has. Check your car’s owner’s manual to find out your vehicle’s requirements. If you don’t have your car ‘s manual, you can try to find it online.

Battery reserve capacity is another useful term. The battery reserve capacity refers to the amount of time your car battery can be discharged from the car and still maintain the voltage. This can help determine how long your battery will last.

Cold cranking amps (CCA) is the measurement of your car batteries cranking amps at 32 degrees Fahrenheit or 0 degrees Celcius. This is important if you live in a colder climate. When the temperature drops below freezing your battery may only produce about 50-60% of the cranking amps.

Because of the cold weather, the chemical process that makes the energy is slowed. When choosing a battery for your car, take the weather where you live and drive into consideration.

Maintenance-free auto batteries monitor the level of electrolyte and the periodic addition of water. These are the preferred batteries of most vehicles on the road today.

Battery terminals are the posts located on the top of the battery. The battery terminals need to be kept clean for the battery to function properly. Use a cleaning brush or battery terminal spray to make sure your battery’s terminals are corrosion-free.

The car battery electrolyte is made up of water and sulfuric acid. When a car battery discharges, positive and negative lead plates inside the battery become lead sulfate. This causes the electrolyte to lose a significant amount of its sulfuric acid because it becomes water.

On the other hand, when your car battery charges, the negative plate consists of lead, and the positive plate consists of lead dioxide. The electrolyte retains its acidity.

Always use caution when handling car batteries. The acid that builds up on the terminal posts is corrosive. Wear gloves and eye protection if you are working on the car battery.

How to Choose a Car Battery

When you are purchasing a new car battery, it isn’t always the best idea to go with the cheapest model. With car batteries, you really do get what you pay for. Here are a few tips for choosing a car battery.

  • Ask your mechanic – asking your mechanic what battery he or she recommends for your car is an easy way to find out the best way to choose a car battery. They have a history of taking care of your vehicle and are familiar with the types of conditions that you drive in. A mechanic can make suggestions and help you get the best battery.
  •  Consult your vehicle’s owner’s manual – if you want to do it yourself, just break out your vehicle’s owner’s manual. This will give you the exact recommended battery from your car’s manufacturer.
  • Ask an auto parts store employee – auto part store employees are familiar with the different types of batteries. They can help guide you to the right battery for your car. Make auto part stores will even recycle your old battery and help you install the new one.

Things to Consider When Purchasing a Car Battery

Instead of waiting until your battery gives out be proactive and have your battery checked regularly, especially if your vehicle is an older model. According to AAA, car batteries last anywhere between 3 to 5 years. If you live in a colder climate, your battery could have a shorter lifespan.

You can have your battery tested free of charge at most auto parts stores or ask your mechanic to test it next time you take your car in for a repair. Have your battery tested at least once of year to know where you stand.

If you find out your battery is low on charge, you can begin researching which battery you want to purchase and prepare for that purchase in advance. This is the best way to not have an unexpected car maintenance bill.

When you are choosing a battery for your car, make sure it fits your needs. Consult your mechanic for advice on which battery is right for you.

A Dead Battery can Leave You Stranded

Don’t take a chance on being left on the side of the road or unable to make it to work. This helpful guide tells you everything you need to know on how to choose a car battery.

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