Without a power source your car could never start. No matter how much gas, how nice the vehicle is, or what the driving conditions are, you simply need an efficient, quality battery to get where you need to go. Choosing a car battery can be relatively simple if you know what to look for. A good battery will help to save money and heartache so your chances of being stranded are drastically reduced.
#1 Size does matter!
Every vehicle has a specific car battery place somewhere in the automobile. Most car batteries can be found under the hood but a couple can also be found in the trunk or behind the back seat. When looking at size, one must determine the proper height, width, and length. Check the manufacturer's manual for proper battery group sizes that may fit your vehicle. Not only will buying the wrong battery cost you money, it might also cause damage. If you can't find a manual, check with automotive stores like Advance and Pep Boys, they will probably have all of the proper information in their computer system.
When selecting the proper brand, be careful to check for quality and your manuals recommendations. Following the manufacturer's manual is the best way to ensure proper quality and working condition, but if too expensive, cost cutting doesn't mean losing quality. The main battery manufacturers are Delphi, Exide, and Johnson Controls Industries. They make a wide variety of batteries that can be purchased almost anywhere. If purchasing a battery from an automotive store they will often install it for you; places like Kmart, Target, and Wal-Mart may also sell but likely not install.
#3 Reserve Capacity
Reserve capacity refers to the batteries "standing power." A reserve capacity rating (RC) stands for the amount of time that a battery can continuously supply the minimum amount of power to allow the car to function; this supply of energy goes to the fan belt and alternator. The capacity is measured in minutes and should almost be thought of as your cars emergency kit. If the alternator is not running, the RC is the only thing that stands between you being stranded and at home. Consult a manual or ask your sales mechanic if they can check the true RC rating as it often is not printed on the battery. Beware, do not buy based on this aspect only, the battery must meet your vehicles specifications.
Ideally, find a battery considered "fresh," which means it is less than six months old. Majority of batteries will have a letter and a number indicating when they were created.
B = February
C = March . . . and so on
The letter will also be followed by a number which indicated the year.
9 = 1999
0 = 2000
1 = 2001
#5 Cold-Cranking Amps
Cold-Cranking Amps refers to "the number of amps a battery will be able to support for 30 seconds at 0 degree temperature." This is an especially important factor if living in a cold climate; as temperatures drop, oil thickens and reactions slow. The more CCA's your vehicle has, the easier it is to fire up the vehicle and get all of the systems running. If living in temperate or tropical climates don't focus on CCA's as they are meant for freezing temperatures.
CCA (cold-cranking amps) - amount of needed electrical power sent to car's starter engine at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.
CA (cranking amps) - geared more for temperate climates, this is the same measure except at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. CA ratings are typically higher then CCA ratings.
When choosing a car battery, first look at the owner's manual of your vehicle. If the batteries are expensive, check with local automotive stores and have them check their computers for alternative sources of energy. Be sure to buy a quality battery to prevent hassle because your vehicle won't start. Purchasing the wrong battery can cost you extra money or cause more damage to your vehicle.
Josh McCarthy is from Orlando, Florida. He is a finance major at the University of Central Florida and enjoys trading stock options. He enjoys all athletics and is trying to make money for an engagement ring. He is currently writer for LeraBlog and LinearAutomotive.com.