Having a good battery under the hood of your car is vitally important; the battery is what powers the fan that keeps your engine cool, the pumps that deliver fluid to the transmission, the power steering and many of your car's safety features. Batteries also deliver power to your car's starter so the engine actually starts! If you're in the market for a new car battery, note a few quick tips for choosing the best one for your vehicle.
The size or size group of a battery doesn't determine its overall power, but refers to its actual width, height, and length. Your car will have a battery tray or compartment that is just big enough to hold the right size battery snugly in place. Buying a battery that is too large for your car won't mean more electrical power; it will mean a battery that physically does not fit under the hood! Check your old battery or your owner's manual for the size of battery needed before you start shopping.
The term "reserve capacity" refers to how many minutes a battery can operate the basic electrical systems of your car, if and when the battery is not being recharged by the alternator. Remember that once a battery dies, your car stops working even if the engine is in good repair. That makes this reserve capacity very important, especially in older cars. If your old alternator fails or the belt to the alternator snaps while you're on the road, a larger reserve capacity can mean being able to get home or to a repair shop safely without your car shutting down.
Cold cranking amps
The cranking amps refers to how much power the battery can deliver to your car's starter. Cold cranking amps are measured at the freezing point, meaning 32 degrees Fahrenheit and 0 degrees Celsius. For persons who live in the tropics or warm areas, cold cranking amps may not be important. However, for anyone who needs to start their car during harsh winter weather, the cold cranking amps may be the most important feature to consider in a battery.
Your car's owner's manual will tell you the suggested cold cranking amps for the battery, and you don't typically need a higher rating than what's recommended. This will just result in overpaying for a battery that delivers more cold cranking amps than your engine actually requires to get started in subzero temperature.
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