How to Choose a Car Battery

Do you need to choose a new battery for your car but don’t know how to go about it? In this article, you will discover how to choose a car battery appropriate for your vehicle.

But before then, here’s how to know when to replace your car battery.

How to Know When to Replace Your Battery

When you experience the following, you will know it is time to replace your car battery:

  • A slow-starting engine
  • Electrical issues and dim lights
  • A bad smell
  • Check light turns on
  • Corroded connectors
  • Deformed battery case

What to Consider When Buying a Replacement Battery

Here are some factors to consider when buying a new replacement battery:

The Size of the Car Battery

The sizes of car batteries refer to the width, length, and height of the object. Different car batteries have groups or sizes that fit into specific car battery trays.

We advise you go for a model that fits perfectly into the vehicle’s battery tray. You can check your car’s manual for information about the battery group suitable for your automobile.

You can also go online to check for information about the battery group. Wrong-sized batteries can wreak a lot of havoc to your car. Loose-fit batteries may also emit acid because of your car’s movement.

ALSO READ: Will Car Battery Die If Not Used?

Position of Terminals

The positioning of positive terminals can significantly affect your car’s polarity. And shorting could occur when the positive terminal touches the metal shell of your vehicle.

It is therefore highly crucial for you to find out the position of the positive terminal. This depends primarily on the car type.

Local Weather Condition

Climate always have a significant impact on the way car batteries work. We advise you go for a battery type suitable for your local weather.

Cold-weather car batteries are labeled “North” or “N” while hot-weather batteries are often labeled “South” or “S.”

For off-road drivers, it is essential to buy automotive batteries that can put up with constant vibrations.

Car Battery with a Good Reputation

Purchasing a car battery that has a lot of glowing reviews from users is a smart choice. Such car batteries have been tried and tested by auto advocates and real consumers.

So, pay more attention to the reviews or go through consumer reports on several commercial sites that sell car batteries. Most car enthusiasts write reviews about automotive batteries based on their longevity and power.

Therefore, confirm whether the battery is a deep cycle battery.


Many car owners are turning to maintenance-free batteries. These types of car batteries do not need any special attention.

However, some car batteries still require regular filling with water. To avoid problems, it’s better to buy a low maintenance battery if you can afford it.

Don’t Buy Old Batteries

No matter how careful you are at storing car batteries, they lose their strength over time. You want to choose brand-new batteries that were manufactured over the last 6 months.

Battery Freshness

Car batteries come with codes–an alphabet and a number–that help people to determine the date they were produced. For example, the alphabet “A” stands for January; “B” refers to February, and so on.

So, when you see a battery designated “B/4,” it implies that the car battery was manufactured in February 2014. Buy the freshest battery you can get, preferably one manufactured in the last 6 months.

Reserve Capacity

Reserve Capacity refers to the time a car battery can run on its own power without the car engine and before discharge.

When a battery has a high Reserve Capacity, it helps the vehicle through tough situations such as alternator failure, noncompliant engine, etc.

ALSO READ: Which Car Battery is the Best for Cold Weather?

Cranking Amps and Cold Cranking Amps

Cranking Amps and Cold Cranking Amps are ratings that refer to the power (current) that a car battery can yield. The difference between these two terms is that Cranking Amps is measured at zero degrees Celsius while Cold Cranking Amps is measured at -18 degrees Celsius.

The thinner and more plates a car battery has, the larger the Cold Cranking Amp is, thanks to the greater surface area.

And the higher the Cold Cranking Amp rating, the greater the starting power of your car battery.

Battery Life

This is measured by repeatedly discharging and recharging each car battery about 3,000 times at a test temperature of 75 degrees for 15 weeks or until its performance drop to intolerable levels. The higher the score, the longer the reliability of the battery.

This imitates the hot under-hood conditions a battery may face during summer.

Types of Batteries

It is important to educate yourself with the different types of car batteries out there. This information will be beneficial when you go shopping for a replacement battery.

Car batteries are broadly categorized into two distinct groups: maintenance-free car batteries and the high-tech AGM (absorbed glass mat). Each type has unique benefits, and this is what you need to know before reaching any decision.

Lead-Acid Car Battery

Lead-Acid batteries are the most widely used among car owners today. This type of car battery requires regular top ups of the electrolyte solution.

However, low maintenance batteries that require no top up are gaining popularity.

These new breeds of car batteries don’t require as much water as the traditional versions, i.e. flooded car batteries. The batteries retain the electrolyte fluid for their entire lifespan. You must not disconnect their caps for any reason.

Flooded lead-acid car batteries are more affordable than their AGM counterparts. This is the primary reason lead-acid batteries are used to a high degree.

However, lead-acid car batteries cannot hold a charge for extended periods. They also have a low tolerance for deep discharges.

AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat)

Absorbed Glass Mat, or AGM car batteries, are used in many cars these days because of their outstanding performance and smart features.

When compared with regular automotive batteries, AGM models are great at standing up to repeated draining and recharging cycles. These innovative batteries come with smart features such as fuel-saving stop-start systems, electronic safety, power outlets for mobile electronic gadgets, and convenience features.

Absorbed Glass Mat car batteries are more expensive than regular lead-acid batteries. Getting an AGM car battery is also an excellent choice for those who don’t use their vehicles for long periods.

When a car is parked for a long time, the battery loses its charge. But an AGM battery will retain its charge since it is designed to tolerate deep discharges. This makes it highly likely for the battery to recover quickly when required.

How Many Years Do Car Batteries Last?

On average, a car battery can last between two and five years, depending on several factors such as humidity, temperature, etc.

For people living in cold climates, the lifespan of their car batteries may last longer. Warm climates, however, significantly increases damage because of water loss and sulfation.

What Kills a Car Battery?

Loss of battery charge occurs for several reasons, but these four are prevalent:

  • Faulty Charging System
  • Parasitic Drain
  • Old Battery
  • Bad Alternator Diode
Choose a Car Battery

Can a Dead Car Battery be Recharged?

If you have a dead car battery on your hands, you need to do two things. The first is to determine how dead the battery is. This will help you decide on how to recharge it.

For instance, when you measure a good car battery using a handy device known as a voltmeter, it usually shows 12.4V to 12.7V across both terminals.

But a defective car battery, when measured, may show readings below 12.4V. If you try to start your vehicle with this battery, you may run into serious problems.

How much lower than 12.4 volts the voltmeter reads will help determine how to charge the battery after you have jump-started your car.

ALSO READ: Which Car Batteries are the Best?

Go for a ride if the car battery reading is above 12V

If your battery shows between 12 and 12.4 volts, you can recharge it with your car’s alternator.

You should, therefore, drive around the neighborhood for about 30 minutes, using as little electricity as possible. That means your stereo system, inner lights, all cooling and heating functions are inactive.

This helps your vehicle’s alternator to transmit as much energy as possible to the car battery.

Moreover, ensure you keep your car above idle most of the time since higher revolutions will inject more power into the charging circuit.

When you do this, you will get your battery to a level that will guarantee a quick start next time.

If your car battery is well below 12 volts, use a dedicated charger

When the voltage of a car battery plummets below 12V, it is considered discharged. Although your car’s alternator can juice up a good battery, it is not designed to awaken a dead auto battery by recharging it.

So, do not use your alternator to restore a battery that has been depleted as you may end up damaging the alternator.

Alternators are designed to supply energy to other parts of the car. Therefore, don’t force it to work overtime to fill up a depleted battery.

The best option is to connect the depleted battery to a dedicated charger before or immediately after jump-starting it. You can also use a trickle charger to achieve the same result. A trickle charger is designed to restore a depleted battery to full charge safely.


Now that you know how to choose a car battery, we hope you can shop for a replacement battery for your vehicle with confidence. Thanks for reading.