There may be little or no warning. However, if any of the following happen, your battery should be tested immediately:
- Motor has difficulty cranking over
- Battery indicator light on the instrument panel stays lit for extended periods after starting. This could also be a mechanical issue (possible alternator) and should be checked by a professional mechanic.
- Headlights dim when the engine is idling
- Clock starts to lose time after the vehicle sits unused for several days
Note: To maximize the vehicle’s battery/charging system service life and performance, it is recommended a vehicle’s battery and charging system be tested at least semiannually or every time the oil is changed.
It is important that your car battery fits snugly and securely in its battery tray. A car’s battery tray will vary in size depending on the manufacturer, but most are designed to accommodate batteries of a specific group size.
Group size refers to the battery size that will best fit the physical dimensions, terminal locations and type required for your vehicle. The Battery Council International (BCI) assigns numbers and letters for each battery group size.
The battery’s Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) is an important measure for good cranking ability in cars, trucks and boats. CCA is the amount of current or amps a battery can provide at -18° C (0° F) for a 30-second duration until the battery voltage drops to unusable levels. The rating is defined as the current or amps a car battery can deliver for 30 seconds and maintain at least 1.2 V per cell (7.2 V for a 12-V battery) at -18 °C (0° F). Refer to your application guide for the vehicle, and follow the recommended CCA rating for that vehicle’s engine and features (ampere-hour rating, optional equipment, etc.).
For example, a 12-volt battery with a 650 CCA rating means the battery will provide 650 amps for 30 seconds at -18° C (0 °F) before the voltage falls to 7.20 V for a 12 V battery. So in extremely cold temperatures, the higher CCA level is required to crank your engine. In addition, as more cranking power is used, the amount of battery power available decreases.
CCA is a rating used in the battery industry to define a battery’s ability to start an engine in cold temperatures. The rating refers to the number of amps a 12-volt battery can deliver at 0°F for 30 seconds while maintaining a voltage of at least 7.2 volts.
A battery should be big enough to allow reliable cold starting. The standard recommendation is a battery with at least one Cold Cranking Amp (CCA) for every cubic inch of engine displacement (two for diesels).
Most batteries are manufactured from only a handful of sources world-wide and are sold with legitimate power ratings to the dealers with no labels. What this means, all brands you see either with small dealers or the big box stores have private label stickers with information the dealers choose to place on the battery label.
An experienced dealer may identify an incorrectly labeled rating based on the battery case (color or style based on specific battery manufacturer), but the battery has to be tested with proper equipment to confirm the advertised label data.
Unfortunately consumers are left completely trusting what is labelled on the battery based on what the dealer advertises. Battery testing equipment is usually too expensive for the average consumer or company and is in the hands of the battery dealers.
Cranking amps tells you the ability of the battery to do work right now. And the higher the cold cranking amp rating of the battery, the better it is for your car. But, don’t get that confused with cranking amps (CA). The cranking amps are rated at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.
Reserve capacity is one of the ratings or specifications ascribed to a battery. Reserve capacity is defined as the number of minutes a fully charged 12-volt battery at 80 degrees Fahrenheit can provide 25 amperes at 10.5 volts until the voltage decreases.
An average car battery has a capacity of around 48 amp hours which means that, fully charged, it delivers 1 amp for 48 hours, 2 amps for 24 hours, 8 amps for 6 hours and so on.
Flooded or “wet cell” batteries are the most commonly used batteries on the market today. Flooded batteries again use lead plates, a sulfuric acid electrolyte, and plate separators but that is where it stops. Usually flooded batteries are not sealed, and do not recombine the gases to liquids internally.
These batteries have starting power, plus the ability to power the many creature comforts in today’s boats and RVs. In addition, these batteries have thicker lead plates and typically have both threaded posts as well as the standard SAE automotive posts to connect to the vehicle’s battery cables.
Golf Cart Batteries
Unlike car batteries, golf cart batteries don’t need starting ability. Instead, they need to be able to power your cart with long periods of time between charges.
Lawn and Garden Batteries
Designed to work as hard as you, Lawn and Garden batteries can power up your mower week after week. They’re also designed to tolerate the high vibration created in most mowers which helps them last longer.
Only difference between a 51 and a 51R (rarely called a 51F) is the polarity (positive and negative posts have been swapped). Between manufacturers there may be very slight differences, but they still much conform the BCI Group size standard. If you have slack on the cables, you’ll be just fine.
There are a number of factors affecting an alternator’s ability to adequately charge a battery. The greatest factors are:
- How much current (amps) from the alternator is diverted to the battery to charge
- How long the current is available (drive time)
- Battery temperature
- Battery age
Generally, running the engine at idle or short stop-and-go trips, during bad weather at night, will not recharge the battery effectively.
In the following situations, the alternator will not adequately recharge a battery:
- The battery is drained because an interior light was left on in the car for 18-24 hours.
- The battery is drained because the vehicle has not been driven for a month or more.
- The car is only driven at 60 km/h (35 mph) to a nearby store and back 2 or 3 days a week.
Hot weather means high temperatures under the hood, which accelerates corrosion inside the battery. It can also cause water to evaporate out of the battery’s liquid electrolyte. This can result in decreased battery capacity, a weakened ability to start an engine and, ultimately, shorter battery life.
Under ideal conditions you can probably expect your car battery life to be about five years. On average, a car battery lasts between two and five years. Properly maintaining batteries will maximize the lifespan.
If you have either bought a battery from Elite Battery, or a competitor and are suspicious of quality or performance, we will provide you with a complete test result for free.
Please see our warranty section for details on Elite Battery returns or if you need assistance returning a battery to a competitor based on the test results.
Please see our warranty section for details on warranties.