You are driving on the highway, it is five in the evening and the height of traffic. You stop for the red light, and bob your head to the latest jams on the radio or your iPod. Suddenly the light turns green, you start the car but nothing happens. You put the key back in and turn on the ignition, still nothing happens. All the while everyone stuck behind you is hooting incessantly.
This kind of thing, while horribly embarrassing, happens all the time. The engine is the heart of the car’s electrical functions, pushing it from the mall to your place of work and back home in the evening. Like the heart, when it stops so does your car. However, unlike the heart, batteries do not keep going for over eighty years, they have a time limit of approximately 4 to 6 years. Anything beyond this and your car will die spontaneously at the least convenient times and places.
It is for this reason that drivers are encouraged to take their cars for regular servicing and checkups. Auto repair shops do a full physical examination to ensure everything is running optimally, also to check if there is anything that will soon need replacing. This could be oil or the battery.
If on the other hand you are the kind of person who loves to get into the nitty gritty of things, you can always pop the hood and check the battery yourself. Keep track of unusual car behavior, like difficulty starting the car. Finally, always check the owner’s manual to see specifications for when you should change your battery.
In the event that the end is near for your car battery, you can always take it to your local auto service shop. Auto service shops can replace your battery for you, sparing you the hassle of picking the battery for yourself. A lot of them even install it for free once you buy the battery.
However, if you want to pick the battery yourself either because you need a spare, or intend to replace it yourself, then there are a few things you should have in mind. The following list is a guide to ensure that you pick the best quality battery for your car.
- First of all check your owner’s manual. This is a commonly overlooked item, yet it carries a plethora of valuable information. From what kind of oil to buy for your engine, to when you should check tire pressure, and even what kind of battery you should buy. This is essential, because purchasing the wrong battery for your car could cause damage to your automobile.
The manual should include details like the size and reserve capacity. Consulting your manual will save you money, and prevent complications in the future.
- Purchase the battery from a renowned brand and at a reputable auto dealership or store. While this may sound like a given, it has to be repeated. Sometimes the cost of getting a new engine can be so daunting that one is tempted to turn to shady stores. While you may save costs in the short term, in the long term the damage caused by a faulty car battery can be very expensive.
- Check the battery group size. Once you do the actual buying, check whether the battery you intend to purchase is the same size as your old one, this will ensure that it sits properly in your car. Group size has to do with the length, width and height of the car battery. If you are unsure of the group size to buy, consult your owner’s manual.
- Check the reserve capacity. This is how long the battery can keep your car running in the event of an alternator failure. Despite the temptation, do not buy the battery with the highest reserve capacity. Consult your owner’s manual and see what is appropriate for your particular vehicle.
- Look at the cold cramping amps (CCA). Cold cranking amps are a measure of the car battery’s ability to start amidst very cold weather. This is particularly important for people who live in areas prone to extreme dips in the temperature. It is thus advisable to select a battery with a high CCA, to ensure it does not stall in a snow storm.
- Compare it to your old battery. As much as possible try and carry your old battery for comparison, especially if it came with the car. The same specifications of the old battery should be present in the new one.
- Finally, get a battery with a good warranty. This will ensure replacements in the event that it is faulty.
So take control of your car, and be more involved. If you want professional advice regarding your car, check out Midas auto services.