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Battery Basics

 

Buy it. Charge it. Jumpstart it. What
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FAQs

 

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FAQs

 

 Frequently Asked Questions


How does a battery work?
A battery stores energy in chemical form that can be released on demand as electricity. This electrical power is used by the cars ignition system for cranking the engine. The car's battery also may power the lights and other accessories. Should the alternator belt fail, the battery might also need to power the vehicle's entire electrical system for a short period of time.

What should I consider when buying a battery?
SIZE: What are the dimensions of your original battery?
POWER: What are the Cold Cranking Amps required to power your vehicle?
WARRANTY: Automotive batteries are backed by a warranty package. Chose what is right for your vehicle's needs.

When I am replacing my battery or cleaning the terminals, why is it important to remove the ground wire first?
Before you start, always check the type of grounding system the vehicle has. If you remove the positive connector first in a negative ground system, you risk the chance of creating a spark. That could happen if the metal tool you're using to remove the positive terminal connector comes in contact with any piece of metal on the car. If you are working near the battery when this occurs, it might create an ignition source that could cause the battery to explode. It's extremely important to remove the ground source first.

How can I tell if a battery is fresh?
You can usually find a small decal on the side of the battery container giving you the month and year the battery was shipped out of the plant. The letter corresponds with the month, starting with "A" for January, "B" for February, and so on. The number represents the year with "9" standing for 1999, "0" for 2000, and so on. A9, would be January, 1999. C0 would be March, 2000.( The letter "I" is skipped so the letter "M" would be December.)

What does CCA mean?
Cold Cranking Amps is a rating used in the battery industry to define a battery's ability to start an engine in cold temperatures. The rating is the number of amps a new, fully charged battery can deliver at 0 Farenheit for 30 seconds, while maintaining a voltage of at least 7.2 volts, for a 12 volt battery. The higher the CCA rating, the greater the starting power of the battery.

What are MCA or CA rates?
This is a rating used to describe the discharge load in amperes which a new, fully charged battery at 32 degrees F (0C), can continuously deliver for 30 seconds and maintain a terminal voltage equal or greater than 1.2 volts per cell. It is sometimes referred to as Marine Cranking Amps or Cranking Amps.

What is reserve capacity?
Reserve Capacity, (RC) is a battery industry rating, defining a battery's ability to power a vehicle with an inoperative alternator or fan belt. The rating is the number of minutes a battery at 80 degrees F can be discharged at 25 amps and maintain a voltage of 10.5 volts for a 12 volt battery. The higher the reserve rating, the longer your vehicle can operate should your alternator or fan belt fail.

What can excessive heat do to a battery?
Hot temperatures will deteriorate a battery's life quicker by evaporating the water from the electrolyte, and corroding and weakening the positive grids.

When my car won't start, how do I know for sure if my battery really needs to be replaced?
Many other problems can keep a car from starting, so you need to do some troubleshooting. Stores that sell batteries will often do battery testing free of charge, so that is a good first step. Check out other troubleshooting tips when you click on "Your car won't Start? on our home page.

How do I safely jumpstart my battery?
Check out "How to Jump Start a Battery" under Battery Basics on this site. An exercise lets you practice what to do.


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