If your car battery is dead or even weak, it can leave you stranded. It is the leading cause of starting trouble, whether it is because the lights were left on, or a charging system problem or an electrical draw.
Sometimes a battery has just outlived its usefulness. But even at best, a healthy battery in 80-degree weather has only half of its output when the thermometer dips to zero.
When shopping for a battery, remember that a battery is rated by cold cranking amps (CCA), indicating it’s power and the reserve capacity rating (RC), which indicates how long your car’s accessories can run and still have enough power to start the engine.
Checking your owner’s manual for the original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM) minimum requirements needed for your car and is the best way to select the type of battery. Buying one with an excessive CCA rating may be a waste of money.
In every situation, more RC (reserve) is better, like a little extra in the checking account. If you have a vehicle that an aftermarket stereo or electrical equipment has been added to it, we recommend possibly beefing up the charging system of the vehicle to accommodate the added amperage load. The size and number of plates in a battery determine how many amps it can deliver. By having more and/or large plates can increase the normal life of the battery. This is what distinguishes a three-year from a five-year warranty battery.
As far as which battery manufacturer is best, we recommend all new batteries and not reconditioned ones. You want to reduce any chance for explosion or leaking of the battery acid that is highly toxic. Gel batteries are recommended for a lot of the European Vehicles that have batteries mounted in the trunk or under seats, they do not emit harmful gasses. If you install a standard battery in one of these types of application it needs to have a venting system. We also recommend the maintenance free, sealed cell style batteries, they are typically less likely to leak.
We also recommend having your charging system and battery tested regularly about every 6 months. This helps to ensure that it is working at full capacity and can give you an early detection for any signs of weakness.
Steve and Karen Johnston are owners of All About Automotive, providing auto repair and auto maintenance in Historic Downtown Gresham. If you have questions or comments, call them at 503-465-2926 or email them at [email protected].