What’s the best car battery?
So the battery in your car has died and you’re wondering what’s the best car battery. Well, this is the article for you. We’ll talk the characteristics that make for the best car battery, along with some valuable information on the best way to change your own car battery.
How to buy a new car battery
There are only 3 car battery manufacturers in the U.S. They make all the brands sold by all auto parts stores, big box stores, and wholesale clubs. That’s an important statement. Think about it. If you want to buy a AutoCraft car battery from Advance Auto Parts, a SuperStart car battery from O’Reilly Auto Parts, a DieHard car battery from Sears, a Duralast car battery from AutoZone, an EverStart car battery from WalMart, a Duracell car battery from Sam’s Club, an Interstate battery from Costco, a Legend from NAPA, chances are you’re buying the same battery with a different sticker on it.
The three battery manufacturers make different quality levels for each seller and just slap a different sticker on it. For example, Duracall doesn’t make car batteries. They just license their name to one of the three major manufacturers. there’s really no way to buy a battery based on brand alone. Here’s an example: A large auto parts store like Advance Auto Parts private labels their batteries under the AutoCraft brand. They further divide their offerings into Silver and Gold. Since you don’t know which company made the battery, you can only compare the two offerings based on the rated CCA and warranty.
Find the car battery group size for your car
Start by determining the recommended “group size” for your battery. Getting the recommended group size is critical to ensuring the battery will fit in the battery tray and the battery terminals will be in the right location for the battery cables. Next, make sure the replacement battery has the same CCA rating (or as close as possible to the recommended CCA rating). Installing a battery with a greater CCA rating may sound like a good idea, but it’s not. To get more CCAs out of the same size battery, the manufacturers must use either thinner plates and more of them, or thicker plates with less electrolyte (battery acid). So the larger CCA battery may not perform as well over the long term as a battery with a lower CCA rating.
What does the term Cold cranking amps (CCA) mean?
This number represents the number of amps a battery can deliver at 0 ° F for 30
seconds without dropping below 7.2 volts. Buy a battery with the highest CCA rating.
What does the term Cranking amps (CA) mean?
The number of amps a battery can deliver 32 degrees F. This is also called marine cranking amps (MCA).
What does the term Hot cranking amps (HCA) mean?
This term isn’t used much anymore but represents the number of amps a battery can deliver at 80 ° F.
What does the term Reserve Capacity (RC) mean
The number of minutes a fully charged battery at 80 ° F will discharge 25 amps until the battery drops below 10.5 volts. This rating is usually found on deep cycle marine batteries as amp hours (AH). This represents an amp draw for 20 Hours. If you have a 100 AH rated battery and draw 5-amp and the battery provides that draw for 20 hours, it’s a 100AH battery.
Just be aware that current draw and draw time isn’t a linear relationship. For example, if you draw 100 amps from a 100AH battery, it will NOT provide power for 1 hour. As the draw increases, the actual AH rating decreases. In the case of a 100 amp draw, a 100AH battery will really only provide 64AH.
Next, review the battery CCA ratings. You want the battery with the highest CCA ratings available for your group size. That battery will cost more than another battery with a lower CCA. Don’t cheap out at this point. The lower CCA rated battery will let you down. Finally, buy the battery with the longest warranty. Yes, it will cost more. But it’s a better battery. Keep this in mind: the price difference between the lowest priced battery and the battery with the longest warranty and highest CCA rating will only be around $20. But the better battery will last longer and start your car better. How much is a no-start, late-for-work morning going to cost you? A single service call will eat up the difference in price.
Some people buy the largest battery that will fit in their battery tray. If the
battery is retained by a bottom hold-down and the flange on the larger battery corresponds to the old, that’ll work. Where people get into trouble is installing a larger battery that’s too tall (the terminals come in contact with the hood) or the old battery hold down doesn’t fit.
Remember, heat and vibration kills batteries. There’s enough vibration under the hood of a car the way it is. The last thing you need is to introduce battery movement by not securing it properly.
What car battery brand should I buy
In the U.S. all car batteries are made by just a handful of companies. They private label their batteries under many different store brands like Duralast for AutoZone, AutoCraft for Advance Auto Parts, DieHard for Sears, Duracell for Sam’s Club, EverStart for WalMart, Kirkland for Costco. Each retailer works with the battery manufacturer to develop a battery to meet a certain price point. In other words, the actual brand name is meaningless. Consumer Reports tested my brands of batteries and found that they differed in quality throughout the brand. So you’re left with the battery’s CCA and Reserve rating and its warranty. Period.
A good warranty has a certain period where you get a replacement battery for free for a certain period of time. After that period expires, you get a replacement battery for a pro-rated fee. Here’s an example; let’s say you pay more for a battery at a traditional auto parts store like NAPA, or O’Reiley. If you compare the terms of the warranty, you may find that the free replacement period on their batteries is 3-yrs before the pro-rated portion kicks in. Yet, a comparably priced battery from a big box retailer or wholesale club may only have a 1-yr free replacement period.
When a seller offers a 3-year free replacement period, it’s a pretty good sign you’re getting a better battery, and that makes it a better value overall.
So ignore the brand and read the specs. Follow this procedure before disconnecting the battery terminals. And KEEP THE RECEIPT in case the battery fails.
Want to know the average life of a car battery?
©, 2015 Rick MuscoplatPosted on by Rick Muscoplat
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