Car batteries are just like any rechargeable battery. They will eventually wear out and die. If you are shopping for a new battery, here’s some auto advice to help you.
There are two measurements to consider when purchasing a new battery: cold cranking amps and reserve capacity.
The power required to start a cold engine is measured in cold cranking amps. The number you need is determined by what kind of vehicle you drive and where you live. In general, higher-cylinder engines require more cold cranking amps than lower-cylinder engines. In other words, an eight-cylinder engine needs more cold cranking amps than a six-cylinder one. Also, diesel engines require more cold cranking amps than gasoline engines.
The weather also determines the number of cold cranking amps you need. The colder the engine, the more power it takes to get it started. Also, cold weather reduces the electrical efficiency of the battery, which reduces the amount of energy available in the battery to start the engine. Thus, in freezing temperatures, you need more power to start an engine, but you have less power available to get it started.
So if you live in a cold climate, or in an area where winters can get really chilly, you will need a battery with more cold cranking amps than if you live in a more mild or warmer climate.
The battery that was installed in your vehicle at the factory may not have the appropriate number of cold cranking amps for your area. You should check the manufacturer’s recommendations or come visit Iowa City Tire and Service and get at least that number of cold cranking amps, but you may want to upgrade if you live in a colder climate.
Reserve capacity is the number of minutes your battery can maintain essential functions in your car without being recharged. There are two things that affect reserve capacity. The first is referred to as parasitic drain. Your vehicle has power systems that must be kept running while the engine is off. These may include the security system, the remote start systems, and any computer systems. The number and power requirements of these systems has greatly increased over the last few decades. As a result, the need for reserve capacity in vehicles’ batteries has also increased.
Very short trips do not allow a vehicle’s battery to recover the energy that was used to start the car. So these trips require reserve capacity as well.
Again, the reserve capacity in the battery installed at the factory may not be what you need for your lifestyle and driving habits. Again, use the manufacturer’s recommendation as a minimum, but consider upgrading if your vehicle has a lot of parasitic power drain or if you frequently make very short trips.
Your service advisor at Iowa City Tire and Service can help you choose an appropriate battery for your vehicle and your lifestyle. If you need extra power owing to cold weather or a need for more reserve capacity, you may want to choose a heavy-duty battery. Just make sure it fits into your car. An oversized battery may give you the power you need, but it’s a serious safety hazard if the terminals come into contact with other parts of the vehicle.
Car batteries aren’t cheap, so you may want to consider purchasing a warranty. Pro-rated warranties will give you credit for a portion of the battery if the battery fails during the warranty period. The amount of credit will depend on how long the battery lasted. A free replacement warranty will replace your battery if it fails during the warranty period. Before you purchase a warranty, make sure you know what you are buying.
Keep in mind that preventive maintenance and good car care can extend the life of your battery. Judicious use of electric gadgets and good driving habits can help you get the most out of your battery.