What kind of car battery do I need?


Before you do anything, make sure you dispose of your old battery safely and responsibly, as they contain sulfuric acid, which poses a threat to the environment and can also pollute water or burn skin and eyes. Also, batteries contain heavy metals like lead, mercury, nickel and cadmium, which can contaminate the environment.

There are a few major factors you must keep in mind while picking out a car battery for yourself. First of these are of course, the size. This refers to the length, height and width of the battery. Usually, they come in group sizes to fit battery trays of most cars. However, it’s very important the battery fit tightly and securely. Make sure you refer to your car manual to know your car’s battery group size. Purchasing an inappropriately-sized battery will be not only be a waste of your money but it might also cause damage to your car.

Like for any product, brand is an important consideration. It’s the trademark given to a product (for example, Interstate Batteries). Usually, it’s best to go for the battery brand specified in the owner’s manual of your car. But in case that is too expensive, go through the specification requirement in the owner’s manual. Make sure you’re not tempted into buying the cheapest brand as it could cost you more in the long run than what you gain in the short run as they can be full of flaws or just perform poorly.

Reserve Capacity (RC) Rating is another important attribute. It refers to the amount of time the battery can supply continuous minimum voltage required to run the car should the alternator or a fan belt fail. RC Rating is measured in minutes. However, it’s usually not printed on the battery label, so check the documentation or ask the storekeeper to find out the true RC rating of the battery. The longer the RC of the battery, the better it is. It’s an attribute that could save you the inconvenience of getting stranded on a lonely country road somewhere, so consider it as part of your car’s emergency kit. Make sure you choose a battery with the exact RC rating that your vehicle can handle.

Make sure you look for the manufacturing date of the battery as the age of a battery gives you a good idea about how long it should be able to perform. If a battery is less than six months old, it’s considered ‘fresh’. Most manufacturing date codes are stamped on the battery case or label.

Finally, there’s Cold-Cranking Amps (CCA), which gauge the battery’s ability to start the car even during extremely cold weather. As the car’s oil thickens, chemical reactions slow down which make it harder for the car to ignite. CCA refers to the number of amps the battery will be able to support for upto 30 seconds at 0 degree temperature. So, if it gets really cold where you live, it’s wise to chose a battery with a high CCA number. Obviously, if you live in a warm or tropical climate, CCA isn’t that important of a feature for you to consider. Check the car’s owner’s manual and follow the CCA rating specified. Make sure you don’t choose batteries that have CCA ratings that are much lower or higher than that recommending by the car’s manufacturer.


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