Car batteries are designed to last for 3-4 years. However, the lifespan of a battery is majorly dependent on how it is used and taken care of. If maintained properly, a battery could even last for up to 7 years. A weak battery could pose a lot of problems and you would not want to be a part of it. Due to the number of options available, choosing the right battery can be a bit tricky. To better aid your buying experience we have prepared a guide for how and when to buy a Car battery. Let’s begin.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Car Battery
The very first thing you should look for in a car battery is the battery size. Batteries come in different ranges in terms of both power and size. Every vehicle comes fitted with specific battery size and type to match its needs. If you are confused about the size and type of your car’s battery, you can consult the owner’s manual. Once you are aware of the battery size, you can then compare batteries to pick the best one. However, you are advised to follow the manufacturer-recommended size and type so that the battery sits secure on the tray and prevents damage due to vibrations.
To draw customers towards them, manufacturers offer different warranties. It is advised to choose a car battery that is both maintenance-free and offers a long period of free maintenance. Typically, warranties are offered in a combination of free replacement period and the prorated period. The prorated period allows for partial reimbursement of the battery according to the purchase sum of the battery for a limited period.
There are two types of batteries: Low maintenance unsealed and maintenance-free batteries. The low maintenance unsealed batteries are sealed with caps that you can remove for you to add distilled water whenever required, whereas the maintenance-free batteries happen to be sealed and the electrolyte liquid will run through the battery without having to need any replacement.
It is often seen that people tend to forget turning off the vehicle’s lights while exiting their car and more often tend to listen to music while the car is in battery mode. This is where the reserve capacity jumps in. The reserve capacity highlights the amount of time a battery can run on its power after being discharged. The longer the reserve capacity, the better will the battery be able to cope with tough situations such as an alternator failure, a noncompliant engine and more importantly, accidentally leaving the lights on.
Car Battery Buying Guide
Now that we have discussed the necessary considerations before buying a car battery, let us now move towards discussing the technicalities, which will make the process of choosing the best car battery easier for you.
Types of Car Batteries
Starting, Lighting, and Ignition (SLI)
SLI batteries happen to be the most common as they are used in most cars today. Not only are they responsible for starting the car but powering the lights, radio, and audio, etc. as well. These batteries have a shallow charge cycle, therefore, you will need to charge them frequently.
Deep cycle batteries will not only provide more power but can do so over a longer period. For this reason alone, they happen to be the ideal option for not only cars alone but electric vehicles, some marine vehicles, and even golf carts as well.
The popularity of Lithium batteries stems from them being lightweight, compact, storing a lot of energy and the ability to rapidly charge as well. However, since their compatibility with the majority of vehicles is limited, they are usually not considered as an option. Hybrid and electric vehicles happen to use them though and since the world is now moving towards environment conservation, they are increasing in number with the increase in hybrid and electric vehicles.
Valve-Regulated Lead-Acid (VRLA)
VRLA batteries are sealed batteries and will not require maintenance. However, the only downside to them is that once they start developing problems, they cannot be repaired, and you will have to replace them. Furthermore, there are two sub-types of batteries and these are Gel Cell and AGM batteries. Gel cell batteries have an electrolyte that is silica-based and are typically the best option for deep-cycle applications, while the AGM batteries deliver a higher rate of power in short bursts as compared to the other sealed batteries.
Wet Cell Batteries
Wet cell or flooded batteries happen to be both cheap car batteries and affordable as well when compared to other battery types. Multiple reasons follow. The first being that these batteries do not provide the same cycle life as VRLA batteries do and will usually require maintenance to replace the electrolytes that have been lost. Speaking of which, the reason they are called wet or flooded batteries, they contain a liquid that creates battery electrolyte.
How to tell if your battery is dying
Car batteries replacement is a common phenomenon as batteries happen to have a life span attached to them. Sooner or later, you will find yourself looking for a replacement car battery and you must be aware of when your battery is in its last stages.
Here are the five tell-tale signs that should have alarms ringing:
- The vehicle is slow or struggles to start
- The lights will appear dim
- You will have to frequently jump start it
- The check engine light or battery light is on
- Ash or corrosion material is visible on the metal parts of the battery
Jump-Starting a dead battery
Jump starting is an important skill that one should be aware of as it is simple and straight forward to learn. It can save you in situations such as being stranded in the middle of the road without any help or assistance nearby.
- Find a car that has the same voltage as yours.
- Making sure that cars do not touch, park them close to each other.
- Connect the positive clamp of the jumper cable with the positive terminal and the negative clamp with the negative terminal.
- Double-check the cables for connection and make sure that all lines are clear of belts, fan or other moving parts.
- Once you are done checking, stand at a distance, start the car with the working battery and then the stalled vehicle.
- Start the car.
- If your car does not start, try jump-starting it again, if it still doesn’t, you might need a new battery or there might be some other problem.
- Remember to take off the clamps in the reverse order.
Here are our top recommendations for car jump starters.
- NOCO Boost HD GB70
- DBPOWER 600A 18000mAh Portable Car Jump Starter
- Clore Automotive Jump-N-Carry JNC660
Looking for an emergency kit instead?
Here are few options that we suggest.
Looking for your car battery regardless of it being low maintenance or maintenance-free is one of the easiest habits that you can pick up. It will save you a lot of money and time, which otherwise you will be spending at the workshop. We hope that this car battery buying guide is going to help keep you on the road and your vehicle running smoothly.