Most people don’t think about their car battery until they go to start their car and hear the click, click, click that indicates something is wrong. Then, they go shopping for a new car battery, never considering whether it’s the right battery for the car and climate, just looking at price and hoping for the best. If you’re wondering whether you should invest in an expensive car battery when you shop for auto parts on sale, here’s what you should know.
Types of Batteries
You have options when it comes to batteries:
- Lead-acid batteries are the regular batteries that come with most vehicles. They are typically less expensive than other types of batteries. These batteries are usually maintenance-free and effective, but they can also fail without warning.
- Absorbed Glass Mat batteries are becoming more standard in today’s cars because they stand up to repeated draining and recharging cycles than lead-acid. An Optima battery is popular in off-roading and motor sports, because they are resistant to vibrations. However, you will pay more for these batteries.
- Lithium-ion batteries are for luxury and performance cars. They can cost over $1,500 but do have many advantages over lead-acid batteries. They weigh less and have more capacity than other types of batteries.
How to Buy a Car Battery
Just like oil recycling is part of the industry, car batteries can also be recycled. Expect to return your battery to the store when you purchased the new one. Here are some tips for buying the right battery for your vehicle.
- Check the original battery owner’s manual for the battery group size. This will generally be a two-digit number possibly followed by a letter.
- Look for the Cold Cranking Amps required for your vehicle. This should be on the battery, but if it’s faded, you can check the manual or online to find the CCA rating for your car. It’s okay to exceed the CCA, but don’t go below the recommended rating. If you live in a colder climate with months of freezing weather, it’s recommended to get a battery with a higher CCA rating.
- Consider the type of driving you do to select the right battery. If you do a lot of off-roading or have a lot of electrical components in your car, you may want to invest in an AGM battery.
- Consider the grade of battery. If you plan on keeping your car for five or more years, select a higher grade battery that will last longer. If you may be selling your car, you may want to select a lower grade battery that will get you by.
- Look at the warranty. Select a battery with good warranty coverage, 48 months or more, if you can afford it.
Check Your Battery
Typically, car batteries last three to five years. You should get your battery load-tested by a mechanic after two years to test its ability to hold its charge. If you live in a warmer climate, your battery may have a shorter lifespan than in a colder climate. By shopping for a battery before it gives out one morning, you’ll be more prepared to replace it with a battery that really fits your needs.