A car battery in prime condition is imperative when it comes to the vehicle functioning properly. It is vital that you purchase a battery of the highest quality in order to ensure that the engine starts properly, the electronics run smoothly, and the accessories operate without any trouble. However, car batteries slowly die out with time even with the best of care, so get it tested at an Auto Centre, and if it is recommended that you get a new one, do so right away. These are the parameters you have to consider:
Reserve capacity rating (RC) is also known as standing power, which is the number of minutes that car batteries can supply a minimum voltage needed for the operation of the vehicle without interruption, in case the fan belt or alternator fails. If the RC rating is high, the vehicle can run smoothly on the battery without help from the alternator. The rating is denoted in minutes but is generally not mentioned on the label. Look for the RC rating in the product literature or ask the store assistant to find out.
When the operating time of the battery's reserve capacity is more, it indicates a better quality product. The RC rating is often referred to as the vehicle's emergency kit since it can keep you from being stranded. However, it is necessary to keep in mind that every car has a different RC rating, depending upon the model, so before buying look at the owner's manual to know the exact rating that your vehicle can handle.
The age of car batteries is an indication of how long it is able to function. Any unit less than 6 months old is termed as "fresh". Always notice the manufacturing date – they are stamped on the case or label. It begins with two characters – a letter (A is January; B is February; C is March) and a digit (5 = 2005, 6 = 2006, 7 = 2007).
The cold weather has an adverse effect on the battery. It is difficult to start the car since the engine oil becomes thick, which slows down the internal chemical reactions. Cold-cranking amps (CCA) are a measurement of the capacity of a car battery to start even if the temperature is very cold. The cold-cranking amps in a battery is also used to indicate the number of amps a battery can supply at a 0 degree temperature for 30 seconds, till the battery voltage goes below minimum level. When CCA is more, your car will operate well even under extreme cold. If you live in a place where you experience freezing temperatures and snowy mornings, it is best to go for a battery with a high number of CCA.
This is one area where thorough research is necessary so that you get a good quality battery at a decent cost. Vehicle owners often remove and install car batteries on their own to save the amount that is needed to hire a professional to do so. Ideally you should purchase the battery brand mentioned in your owner's manual. But if it is an expensive option, you can follow the specification requirement also found in the owner's manual. However, the price shouldn't be the sole factor when it comes to deciding the battery as it could cost you more in the long run if the quality isn't good because such a battery might be cheap but can be full of defects. To repair such small problems associated with batteries or replacing the unit frequently will incur recurring costs that add up to a big amount in the future.
Any product without a warranty is a clear sign that it is of inferior quality, which means you should steer clear. The warranty also depends on the amount of power consumed by your car, based on which you can decide the battery that is required. For example, there is an Economy version with an 18 month warranty, an Endurance level which has a 24 month warranty, and the Extreme that comes with a 30 month warranty. Don't forget to ask for the warranty certificate at the time of purchase.
As you can see there are several factors to be taken into account while purchasing car batteries. If you are buying online, make sure the dealer is credible and has a good reputation so that you get true value for money.
Mark Williamson is a guest writer for Autospark.