Battery Maintenance

How to Choose the Right Car Battery


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Choosing the right car battery for your needs is very important. Choose a car battery that is too small capacity wise, and you'll end up having to replace it sooner than normal. On the other hand, buy a car battery with too much of a capacity and you've ended up spending money unnecessarily.

Group Sizes

Group size is the most important method of identification used by car makers and battery manufactures pertaining to overall car battery sizes. Typical group sizes are 22F, 24, 24F, 25 and many others. The group size identifies the external dimensions of the battery, determining the space it needs under the hood. The group size will also determine whether it has side posts for the battery cables (most GM products) or top posts (most other manufacturers). Your owner's manual or service manual will list, in the section for Specifications, what group size your car requires.

Car Battery Ratings of Capacity

Cold cranking amps is a car battery rating that pertains to the amount of current the battery is capable of supplying for up to 30 seconds at an ambient temperature of 30 degrees. Again, the owner's manual or service manual will tell you the minimum cold cranking amps required. The larger the engine your car has and the higher the internal compression in the cylinders, the harder it's going to be to turn over when starting. This increased difficulty of turning the motor requires more cold cranking amps. Most battery group sizes come in at least two cold cranking amp ratings, one for stock needs and one slightly higher for cars with more electrical loads than normal.

Other Factors Affecting Needs

Then there are the extra accessories you've installed in the car. Items such as car stereos with extra large amplifiers and crossovers will require a battery with more current output than stock. Adding other accessories such as video entertainment systems, including television screens and DVD players, video games and VCRs will also increase the demand on your car's battery and electrical system.

Universal Fit

Almost every company making batteries makes one or two models that are universal fit. These batteries have both top and side posts and will fit in most battery trays. There are universal fit batteries that are specially designed to increase both output and battery life. These batteries are designed to repeatedly supply the massive amounts of current draw over short periods required by car stereos with huge amplifiers played at high volumes. However, these specialty universal fit batteries are usually 2.5 to three times as expensive as batteries from any other manufacturer.

Pick the Right Battery - The Process

  1. Determine proper group size for your car.
  2. Determine CCA needs.
  3. Decide on a price range.
  4. Pick the battery.

Choosing the right battery for your needs will make sure that you car and its installed accessories are able to give you years of trouble free service and enjoyment.

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