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Shopping for a New Auto Battery
John Nielsen with AAA's Approved Auto Repair shares some tips on how to shop and purchase a new battery for your automobile.
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John Nielsen: Hi! I'm John Nielsen with AAA's Approved Auto Repair. We don't often think about our batteries until they leave us stranded, but when it is time to replace our battery a little bit of information can go a long way towards helping us make sure we have the right battery in our car that's going to last the longest for us.
Let's start with a general discussion about how batteries are designed. There is a number of different sizes, the height, the width, the length, where the terminals are on the top or the bottom, and those are designated by group sizes. Now it's not important for you to understand that there's group 34s and group 64s and group 78s, the important thing to do is look in a battery application catalogue when the time comes to buy your battery.
Oftentimes when you look at the Battery Application Guide, you'll find that there is a battery that's custom-fit for your vehicle and then also a universal replacement, where possible you want to make sure that you get custom-fit battery that's designed specifically for the space in your engine compartment. So the next thing to think about is Cold-Cranking Amperage. You'll often see this referred to on the battery and in the Application Guide as CCA.
Now in the Application Guide the CCA listed usually refers to the minimum amount of energy a battery needs to start that particular car under cold environments. On the battery the CCA refers to how much energy is in the battery under really cold conditions. So you can match those two together and know you've got the right battery for your car.
Now oftentimes you'll see batteries with really high cold-cranking amperages in the same case size, and that can be a good thing in some of the northern environments, but when we look at batteries for the midsection and especially the southern part of the country going with a really high cold-cranking amperage can actually reduce the overall life of the battery.
The next thing to consider is the warranty on the battery, and this is usually expressed in two numbers. The first number is anywhere from one to three years, and this talks about how long the battery will last, and if it doesn't it'll be replaced free of charge. That's really the number you want to look at because if the battery fails within that timeframe there's absolutely no cost to you to get it replaced providing you have your receipt your warranty.
The second number is usually somewhere between three and five, six years, and this is a prorated warranty. And this says that you will pay a certain amount for every month the battery is older than the free replacement. But it is kind of tricky because oftentimes you'll find that you're paying as much or more than a new battery as part of the prorate process. So really the number that's important to us as consumers to look for is that free replacement period.
So keeping these tips in mind can help make sure that you get the right battery for your vehicle.