If you’re like a lot of people, you probably take your car battery for granted. You put your key in the ignition and expect your engine to turn over without a second thought. If it doesn’t start, you probably need a new battery. Buying a car battery isn’t rocket science, but you do have many options. The best car batteries work more effectively when they’re made to fit the specifications of your car.
How To Choose A Car Battery
Most car owners don’t need a mechanic to install a battery, but you can’t just pick one off the shelf. The easiest way to find the right battery is to go to your owner’s manual or use a VIN number lookup to find the battery specs for your vehicle. You need to know:
- Battery group size – typically a 2-digit number, such as Size 75 for most General Motors cars.
- Battery brand – some manufacturers recommend specific brands but you should be able to find aftermarket brands that may be more affordable.
- Battery Reserve Capacity – the RC rating is how long your battery can operate if the alternator fails. Check your owner’s manual to know what RC rating your car can take.
- Cold-cranking Amps – CCA rating measures how well your battery can start in cold weather. If you live in a colder climate, you want a higher CCA rating. You should also check your manual for the maximum CCA rating for your vehicle.
Additional Car Battery Buying Tips
At AutoZone, technicians assist you in finding the right battery, but it is good to know the different ratings. Every car battery has an age. The newer the battery, the better. You can interpret the age by finding the 2-charater code with a letter first, then a number. The letter, A through L, refers to the month the battery was manufactured. A is for January; B is for February, etc. The second character is a number from 0 to 9, which indicates the year. Zero stands for 2020, 1 for 2021. At every decade the numbers start over, so if you happen to see a 9, it probably refers to a battery manufactured in 2019. You want a battery that was produced in the last six months or so.
Before purchasing a battery, check the old one to see if it is still under warranty through your auto’s warranty or through the battery manufacturer. Don’t buy a used battery to replace an old battery. Always buy a new battery. When you first have signs of your battery not functioning well, it’s better to be safe and get a new one before getting stranded. You may want to keep a car battery charger in your car for emergencies, but don’t rely on that once you notice your battery failing.
Check your car battery to keep it in good shape. The terminals and cables should be free of corrosion. You may need to scrub away any gunk on the battery or ask your mechanic about it. Check the age of your battery, because most batteries last three to four years.
Shop for car batteries with AutoZone.