When that car battery finally gives up the ghost and it’s time to replace it – you have options. First let’s be clear that you should always get a replacement battery that meets or exceeds your vehicle manufacturer’s specifications. But you may have some special needs.
When they first put the battery into your vehicle at the factory, they had no idea where it would end up over its life or how YOU would use it. That battery was chosen to meet the needs of a wide range of motorists. Replacement time is a good opportunity to talk with your service advisor about how you use your vehicle, so you can get just the right battery.
An obvious criterion is where you live. Cold starts require a lot of power from your battery. The colder the climate, the more power needed. This comes from a combination of cold sluggish oil and the slower chemical reaction within the battery itself when it is cold. If this sounds like you, ask your service advisor about a battery with more Cold Cranking Amps.
The next consideration is reserve capacity. This is the number of minutes of reserve power the battery has under a load. If your driving is mostly short stop-and-go trips, your battery may not have time to fully recharge while driving. You may need to tap into those reserves to get started again. Also, modern vehicles have a lot of always-on systems that draw on the battery – things like the security system, remote sensors, and vehicle computers. These combined with the electronic entertainment system, sensors, heated seats, and even chargers for phones, tablets, and computers put a high load on the battery. Your service advisor can give you his thoughts on the reserve capacity you might need.
Most standard batteries are “wet-cell” meaning they are filled with liquid battery acid. New Absorbed Gas Mat (AGM) batteries are “non-spill” which makes them safer. They also have a longer life span and greater cycle life than wet-cell batteries. Off-roader’s like these batteries because their performance is not affected by steep inclines and odd angles. They are also well suited for use in RV’s and boats.
A final consideration is warranty. Premium batteries often come with a longer warranty. Warranties are typically either full-replacement (the battery is replaced if it fails within the warranty period) or pro-rated (a partial credit is given for the failed battery depending on how far into the warranty period you are when it fails).
When the battery is replaced, your technician may need to recalibrate some accessories such as power windows and sunroofs. Also, some vehicles may need to have the battery registered into the engine computer.
Your service advisor can help you decide which battery is right for you and your vehicle.