Depending on how often you drive, the distances of your trips, and the weather conditions, your car`s battery can last from 3 to 5 years. There are certain things you can do to prolong this lifespan—such as minimizing heat exposure and regularly cleaning the terminals—but ultimately, no car battery can last forever. You`re going to have to buy a new one once yours gets completely drained. Fortunately, it`s easy to buy car batteries nowadays. You can even order them online and simply wait for the merchant to deliver your order to your preferred address. Before you make a purchase, however, you need to make sure you`re getting the best one for your driving needs and lifestyle. Here are some important points to consider:
The Correct Size
One of the best things to do when buying a new car battery, especially if it`s your first time doing so, is to check the owner`s manual. It contains everything you need to know about your vehicle, including the right size of the battery and the correct placement of the terminals.
Getting the wrong battery size will result in either of two things: you won`t be able to fit it on the battery tray at all or you`ll have extra space around the battery that can lead to excessive vibrations. Thus, you need to get the correct size to get your car to run and avoid wasting money.
If you can`t find your owner`s manual, you can get in touch with the manufacturer for verification. You may also visit online fit guides, where you can input your car`s make, model, year, and engine and the site will recommend matching batteries based on the given information.
The Reserve Capacity
Your battery`s reserve capacity is the amount of time that the battery can run on its own without the engine before it gets discharged. Essentially, the higher the reserve capacity, the better. This can help you in tough situations such as when you have alternator failure or a non-compliant engine.
The ideal reserve capacity of car batteries is 25 amps of current, without dropping below 10.5 volts. When you see ratings like “25A = 140 minutes,” it means that the battery can deliver 25 amps at 25 degrees Celsius for 140 minutes before the voltage drops. Anything lower than 25 amps is not ideal.
Any battery loses its charge over time, even when it`s only in storage. Thus, if you want your car battery to last as long as possible, you should buy fresh ones. Ideally, look for one that is no older than 6 months from the date of manufacturing.
Different battery makers have different ways to indicate this date information. Some use letters and numbers, with the letters A to L representing the months and the numbers representing the year. If you see D5 or D/5, then it means the battery was manufactured in April 2015. Some companies use more conventional formats such as 04/15 or something similar. The bottom line is: buy newer batteries so they will last longer.
The Maintenance Requirements
Modern car batteries usually come in two types: low-maintenance and maintenance-free. Low-maintenance batteries are unsealed and require you to add distilled water occasionally to keep them running in peak condition. Meanwhile, maintenance-free batteries are sealed and don`t require liquid electrolyte replacement at all.
Obviously, the more stress-free option is to go for the maintenance-free battery. On the other hand, low-maintenance batteries are more affordable. They may also be more suited for car owners who don`t drive as often.
The CA and CCA
CA and CCA stand for cranking amps and cold cranking amps, respectively. CA is the energy required to start the car when the temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius). CCA, on the other hand, is the amount of power needed to start the car at 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-17.7778 degrees Celsius). Those who live in cold climates will need a car battery with a high CCA.
Much like appliances and electronic gadgets, it`s best to look for a car battery with a long warranty period. This way, if something goes wrong, you can get a free replacement. There`s also called the prorated period, in which the seller or manufacturer gives you a discount or partial reimbursement of the cost of the new battery.
Last but certainly not least, consider both your previous experiences and other customer feedback. If you`re happy with the performance and longevity of your old battery, then you might as well purchase the same one. However, if you`re planning on trying out a new brand, it`s better to check reviews first. If you can, look for comments from drivers who have the same car as you for a relatively accurate picture of what you can expect.
If you`re still unsure about what car battery to buy, consult your mechanic so they can make recommendations for you.