Car Battery: Questions
Your car's battery is the heart and soul of your vehicle. The last thing you want is to be stuck with a dead battery. Knowledge is power, so the more you know about your car battery and its electrical system, the less likely you'll end up stranded. AtBatt's automotive guide will help you understand your car battery and what issues may arise.
Typically, battery life is 3-5 years. There are several factors that can shorten the life of your car battery. Read our Frequently Asked Questions below, and browse our automotive section to help you learn about your battery, and to help you find the best battery for your vehicle.
What Are The Warning Signs of a Dying Battery?
Have you ever driven to a place, turned off your car and all its accessories, gone about your business, and returned to your car to only find out it won't start? And your battery is dead? There are warning signs and symptoms that your battery may need replacement:
- Slow engine turn over, slow engine crank. If you try and start your vehicle, the cranking of the engine is sluggish and takes longer than normal to start.
- Is that pesky, "check engine light" on? The check engine light indicates a multitude of problems with your car. But if your check engine light is on and along with a sluggish start up, it could mean your battery is nearing its end of life.
- Strange system lights, such as low coolant lights, could also mean there is a problem with your battery. It would be best to get the car checked out by a professional.
- Low battery fluid levels. Typically, car batteries have part of the casing that is translucent, so you can check the check the fluid levels. If the red and black battery caps are not sealed, you can look into the battery to check the levels. If the fluid is low and below the lead plates, it's time to have the battery and charging system tested.
- Welling or a bloated battery case.
- If your battery sticks; smells of rotten eggs or sulfur, is an indication that your battery is leaking.
- If you battery is older than 3 years, you should at least have your battery inspected on a yearly basis. Typical life is 3-5 years, but driving habits can shorten the lifespan. Climate and frequent stops can drastically shorten the actual life of your car's battery.
How Can I Tell My Batteries Age?
The age of a car battery is always stamped on a label which is normally located on the side of the battery. This label indicates when the battery was shipped from the manufacturer. Important battery information starts with 2 characters:
Letter - indicates which month the car battery was manufactured in (Example: A is January, B is February, C is March, etc)
Digit - indicates the year in which the battery was manufactured (Example: 9 for 1999, 0 for 2000, 1 for 2001, etc)
For example an automotive battery date code that starts with "B1" would be February, 2001.
What Can Excessive Heat Do To a Car Battery?
Excessive heat produces resistance. Too much of this resistance can weaken the chances of a car battery releasing charge to the automobile starting components. The heat can also cause the water to evaporate from the electrolytes in your car battery, thus damaging and reducing the strength of the positive grids. All of this can rapidly depreciate the battery’s lifetime.
Remove The Ground Wire First
Always be sure to check the ground wire first as most ground systems are connected to the negative terminal. Removing the positive connector first in a negative ground system runs the risk of short circuiting the car battery. If your metal tool is on a positive terminal and accidentally comes in contact with anything metal in the car, the battery will spark and create an ignition source which could lead to a battery explosion. Disconnecting the negative cable first and reconnecting last, means that the car will not be electrically connected to the negative battery terminal. Remember to always remove the ground system first.
What Should I consider When Buying a Battery?
POWER: What are the Cold Cranking Amps required to run your vehicle? CCA is the measure of the battery’s power to start your vehicle in cold weather conditions.
SIZE: Be sure to match the dimensions of the original car battery.
WARRANTY: All automotive batteries are matched with a warranty. Always be sure to choose the warranty that best suits your vehicle needs.
RESERVE CAPACITY: Reserve capacity is the number of minutes your vehicle can run solely on battery power if your alternator should fail. Always buy a car battery with the longest reserve capacity as possible to run your vehicle in case of emergency.
What Are Cold Cranking Amps (CCA)?
The car battery’s Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) is an important measure for good cranking ability in cars, trucks and boats. CCA is the amount of current or amps a battery can provide at 0 °F (−18 °C) for 30 second duration until the battery voltage drops to unusable levels. The rating is defined as the current or amps a car battery at can deliver for 30 seconds and maintain at least 1.2 volts per cell (7.2 volts for a 12-volt battery) at 0 °F.
For example, a 12 volt battery with 650 CCA ratings means the battery will provide 650 amps for 30 seconds at 0°F before the voltage falls to 7.20 volts for 12v battery. So in extremely cold temperatures, the higher CCA level is required to crank your engine. In addition, as more cranking power is used, the amount of battery power available decreases.
How Can I Get the Most Out of My Battery?
1. Keep the battery terminals clean and inspect regularly (i.e. monthly) for corrosion.
2. Start the car before operating car accessories and operate (drive) the car to allow the battery to get topped off by the car alternator which produces electricity and as a by-product charges the car battery after voltage drops in the battery.
3. Keep the car's battery secure and free from vibration. Batteries that shake can become damaged and short circuited or worse cause damage to your car.
4. Insulate the battery from extreme temperature changes with a car battery insulation kit. These usually come with new cars already, however you can find replacements specifically made to fit your car’s battery compartment. The sleeves are usually plastic or an acid resistant/thermal resistant material that insulates your battery but still allows it to vent.
5. Invest in a car battery charger that will maintain an optimum charge level when your car is not in use or when you go on vacation.
What is Your Core Charge for Batteries?
In general are core charges are simple. Unless otherwise stated on the product, here is an overview of our core charge.
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