Car batteries wear out just like any other battery and need to be replaced. Especially when the weather outside is as cold as it has been this winter! There are a couple of things you should know when looking for a new battery: one is reserve capacity and the other, cold cranking amps.
Let’s start with cold cranking amps. Think of it as the power output used to start a cold engine. The number of cold cranking amps you need depends on your vehicle and where you live, specifically how cold it is where you live. The colder an engine is, the more power it takes to get the engine started. The other factor is that the chemical reaction in the battery that creates electrical energy is less efficient in the cold. Considering most of the country has been hovering around freezing temps the last several months you can imagine that this is a pretty important element of a battery.
So the colder it gets, more power is needed, but the available power drops. You should always get at least as many cold cranking amps as the manufacturer recommends, but may want to upgrade if you live where it gets real cold.
A NAPA AutoCare note: Batteries may list the Cranking Amps – CA – number. It is the Cold Cranking Amps, CCA. CCA is the number to use in your battery comparisons.
Now with all this talk of cold temperatures, it’s important to note that heat is also a real enemy of long battery life. The damage that’s done over the hot summer months shows up with the increased demands on the battery when the weather turns cold.
Now on to the topic of capacity: It’s a measurement of the number of minutes of reserve power the battery has. These days, this number has become increasingly important because of parasitic drain. Did you know that your battery loses power when the key is off?! Parasitic drain is the battery energy that’s used when the engine is off. Your vehicle uses power for the security system, the remote start system, even to power the computers so they maintain their memory.
Reserves are also needed when you make that short trip down the road to the grocery store. You’re not driving far enough for the battery to recover the energy it used to start the engine!
Talk with your NAPA AutoCare Service Advisor about your battery options. Discuss your power needs and have your local NAPA AutoCare Center test your battery so you don’t get stuck in the cold.