Automotive Battery Frequently Asked Questions

  • Frequently Asked Questions

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  • What are the six major keys to longer battery service life are?

    • Using the battery manufacturer’s recommended temperature compensated charging voltages and procedures
    • Reducing the average Depth-of-Discharge
    • Practicing good preventive maintenance and adding distilled water to wet batteries to keep the plates always covered.
    • Keeping the batteries cool in hot temperatures
    • Reducing the number of discharge-charge cycles
    • Periodically fully recharging batteries to “desulfate” them

    How does a battery work?

    A battery stores energy in chemical form that can be released on demand as electricity. This electrical power is used by the cars ignition system for cranking the engine. The car’s battery also may power the lights and other accessories. Should the alternator belt fail, the battery might also need to power the vehicle’s entire electrical system for a short period of time.

    What should I consider when buying a battery?

    SIZE: What are the dimensions of your original battery?
    POWER: What are the Cold Cranking Amps required to power your vehicle?
    WARRANTY: Automotive batteries are backed by a warranty package. Chose what is right for your vehicle’s needs.

    When I am replacing my battery or cleaning the terminals, why is it important to remove the ground wire first?

    Before you start, always check the type of grounding system the vehicle has. If you remove the positive connector first in a negative ground system, you risk the chance of creating a spark. That could happen if the metal tool you’re using to remove the positive terminal connector comes in contact with any piece of metal on the car. If you are working near the battery when this occurs, it might create an ignition source that could cause the battery to explode. It’s extremely important to remove the ground source first.

    How can I tell if a battery is fresh?

    You can usually find a small decal on the side of the battery container giving you the month and year the battery was shipped out of the plant. The letter corresponds with the month, starting with “A” for January, “B” for February, and so on. The number represents the year with “9” standing for 1999, “0” for 2000, and so on. A9, would be January, 1999. C0 would be March, 2000.( The letter “I” is skipped so the letter “M” would be December.)

    What does CCA mean?

    Cold Cranking Amps is a rating used in the battery industry to define a battery’s ability to start an engine in cold temperatures. The rating is the number of amps a new, fully charged battery can deliver at 0° Farenheit for 30 seconds, while maintaining a voltage of at least 7.2 volts, for a 12 volt battery. The higher the CCA rating, the greater the starting power of the battery.

    What are MCA or CA rates?

    This is a rating used to describe the discharge load in amperes which a new, fully charged battery at 32 degrees F (0C), can continuously deliver for 30 seconds and maintain a terminal voltage equal or greater than 1.2 volts per cell. It is sometimes referred to as Marine Cranking Amps or Cranking Amps.

    What is reserve capacity?

    Reserve Capacity, (RC) is a battery industry rating, defining a battery’s ability to power a vehicle with an inoperative alternator or fan belt. The rating is the number of minutes a battery at 80 degrees F can be discharged at 25 amps and maintain a voltage of 10.5 volts for a 12 volt battery. The higher the reserve rating, the longer your vehicle can operate should your alternator or fan belt fail.

    What can excessive heat do to a battery?

    Hot temperatures will deteriorate a battery’s life quicker by evaporating the water from the electrolyte, and corroding and weakening the positive grids

    When my car won't start, how do I know for sure if my battery really needs to be replaced?

    Many other problems can keep a car from starting, so you need to do some troubleshooting. Stores that sell batteries will often do battery testing free of charge, so that is a good first step

    How do I safely jump-start my battery?

    Safety Tips

    Batteries contain explosive gases. Don’t strike a light while jump-starting a car and don’t try to jump-start a damaged battery. Do not jump-start a battery that is frozen.

    Batteries contain sulfuric acid. If any gets on your skin or in your eyes, flush with water and get medical help immediately. We recommend that you wear eye protection, such as ANSI* approved safety glasses or goggles or a face shield.

    Never lean over the battery when making a connection or disconnection.

    Before you begin, you’ll need…

    • A set of jumper cables
    • A vehicle with a good battery that is the same voltage as yours
    • To know the difference between the negative and positive battery terminals and the negative and positive clamps of the jumper cables. Positive is indicated by a (+) sign, the words “POS” and the color red; negative is marked by a (-) sign, the words “NEG” and the color black. The colors may vary but are red (+) and black (-) in most instances.

    Jump-starting

    • 1. Pull the cars next to each so they’re not touching and turn off both ignitions.
    • 2. Connect the positive clamp of the jumper cable to the dead battery’s positive terminal.
    • 3. Connect the other positive clamp of the cable to the positive terminal of the battery in the starting vehicle.
    • 4. Connect the negative clamp of the cable to the negative terminal of the battery in the starting vehicle.
    • 5. Connect the other negative clamp of the cable to the vehicle’s engine block, or other metal surface of the car–away from the battery. This metal surface is exclusive of the carburetor or tubing on the car with the discharged battery. This serves as your ground or connection point.
    • 6. Make certain all cables are clear of fan blades, belts and other moving parts of both engines and that everyone is standing away from the vehicles. Start the car of the battery providing the jump start; then try to start the car with the dead battery.

    If the car starts, allow the engine to return to idle speed, then remove the cables in the reverse order that you put them on.

    • Remove the negative clamp on the ground of the car that needed the jump
    • Remove the negative clamp on the assisting vehicle
    • Remove the positive clamp from the assisting vehicle
    • Remove the positive clamp from the formerly stalled vehicle

    If the car doesn’t start, wait a few moments and try again. If it still doesn’t start, you probably need a new battery.

    *Resources

    ANSI –American National Standards Institute
    These instructions are provided courtesy of the Battery Division of Johnson Controls, Inc.


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