Cars are a massive feat of modern engineering, but they still require a few parts to be replaced every once in a while.
The mechanical parts are more convenient to purchase, thanks to the exact physical specifications. But, in the case of the battery, several hidden factors, both electrical and chemical, make choosing the most suitable one challenging.
Throughout this guide, we’ll walk you through how to choose a car battery that best suits your needs. You’ll also learn about the types of batteries and the best manufacturers in the industry available today.
Things To Consider When Choosing A Car Battery
Several aspects require consideration when choosing the correct battery for your automobile. Some of the essential ones include the following.
Different types of vehicles are suitable for varying sizes of batteries. You can’t fit one designed for a regular saloon into a pickup. Moreover, the vehicle’s battery bay can restrict certain variants from remaining viable. Before buying a suitable battery, it helps to measure the dimensions to ensure it’ll fit. Most sports and luxury vehicles try to limit space to save weight.
Cranking amps denote the measure to start your car in moderate climates (32°F and above). If you live in the cold, you must pay close attention to the cold cranking amps number. It measures a battery’s starting power in cold temperatures (0°F). It holds higher importance as it can help you escape unfavorable situations should you find yourself stranded.
A higher number typically results in improved battery performance for both the cranking amps and cold cranking amps.
How well you care for your car battery can directly affect your choice. If you want to avoid checking or topping it off regularly, you might want a more robust and expensive variant. On the other hand, adequately maintaining your battery adds several years to its rated lifespan.
Caring for your battery includes cleaning the terminals and checking the voltage capacity monthly. Experts also advise checking for leaks and signs of rusting at the connectors. Such cases often call for an immediate replacement.
A battery’s reserve capacity is the amount of time the battery delivers the maximum amperage before a total discharge. The higher the minute rating, the more likely the battery can power through a situation like leaving lights and air conditioning on.
Types of Batteries
Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries can keep up with the increased power demand. An AGM battery has sealed and isolated cases for the electrodes. That massively increases the usage cycle and allows for much higher durability. Yet, all of that comes at a price. An AGM battery can cost you up to 40% more than a flooded lead-acid battery of similar capacity.
Flooded Lead-Acid Batteries
As their name suggests, flooded lead-acid batteries have the same acidic solution flooded for all electrodes. They are the most popular choice due to their low cost and simple design. Still, such products don’t hold a charge for as long and are unlikely to recover if accidentally drained. You must also top them off if the ion concentration gets too low.
Lithium-ion batteries are the cutting edge of battery power available today. You can use them in gas-powered, hybrid, and electric vehicles. You may have to pay the most for them, but you get excellent thermal stability and maintenance-free use in return.
Best Car Battery Manufacturers in 2022
While several battery manufacturers supply to automotive distributors worldwide, a few stand out for their exceptional quality and high customer satisfaction. A few notable ones include the following.
If you’re looking for the best quality batteries with no expense to spare, then Optima is a perfect choice. The company supplies AGM batteries of various shapes, sizes, and capacities that can fit most automobiles. The only downside is that Optima batteries are only available in some retailers.
If you want a cost-effective battery that easily lasts for more than five years, then Exide is worth considering. Exide Extreme is the most desirable of the lot. It has a 48-month warranty, and you can trade in old batteries for a decent discount. However, the batteries do require consistent care to achieve all advertised claims. So, keep your multimeter, jumper cables, and cleaning spray stocked.
A renowned manufacturer that has existed since 1886, Bosch can cater to all your automotive needs, including batteries. You can easily find the one that matches your vehicle’s specifications in any retail store. In addition to batteries, you can avail of various tools and gadgets that assist with smoother maintenance.
Tips for Choosing the Best Batteries
Now that you know the manufacturers you can count on, here are a few valuable tips for making the best of your purchase.
Don’t Go for the Cheapest Option
The cost of manufacturing a battery comes from the design decisions and the care that went into manufacturing it. So, the more affordable variants aren’t the most reliable. Always have some buffer in your budget and go for the more reliable one.
Check Before You Buy
While most retailers receive batteries from the factory floor, some recycle old cases. As such, there can be issues with the terminals or the electrolytes. Thus, when purchasing a battery, ask the seller to unbox it in front of you. Have a multimeter and hydrometer handy to check the voltage and acid levels.
Pay Attention to Warranty and After-Sales Service
Several sellers often leave the customers out to dry once they make a sale. Once you purchase a battery, getting it serviced or repaired can be challenging if you encounter any issues. Therefore, you must pay close attention to the terms and services of the warranty. Outlets like Walmart and Bosch also provide a valuable after-sales service.
What happens if I put a higher amp battery in my car?
A higher amp battery translates to increased heat generated across the circuit. That could overheat and damage the components, including the lights and distributor. It may even result in an electrical fire.
What are the signs of a weak battery?
You can check the exact voltage of a car battery using a multimeter. However, a few telltale signs include:
- Longer cranking for the engine.
- The lights of the cargo dim.
- Battery terminals heat up even when not in use.
How long do car batteries last?
A typical lead-acid car battery can last you for about five years. But, if you choose an AGM battery and maintain it appropriately, it can last you for more than ten years.
What do the colors mean on a car battery?
Car battery terminals are usually marked and color-coded to remain easily identifiable in the event of an accident. The red or plus sign is for the positive terminal, whereas the black or negative sign is for the negative terminal.
A car battery is a vital part of your automobile. Thus, it pays to remain aware and ensure you get the quality you pay for. We hope this guide on how to choose a car battery helps you nail the one that remains useful for years to come.