The signs that your car or truck needs a new battery can be subtle: your engine takes a few extra seconds to start; your lights dim slightly when you turn on the heat or air conditioning; you notice corrosion on the battery terminals. If your vehicle is showing these symptoms, it may be time for a new car battery.
To learn more about car batteries, we spoke to Nick Kovalkevich, automotive battery expert and NAPA account executive for East Penn Manufacturing Co., Inc., a battery manufacturer and NAPA supplier. Kovalkevich discussed how to test, replace and maintain your vehicle’s battery.
Kovalkevich also explained that, although your vehicle’s battery may provide less energy in cold winter weather, heat is its main enemy. Heat speeds the chemical reaction that produces electricity inside a battery. As it does, it sheds the active material in the reaction and decreases the battery’s ability to store energy.
“Heat is the biggest killer of batteries,” Kovalkevich said. “In Arizona, you may get two years out of a battery. In Minnesota, the same battery may last five years.”
Still, battery problems may present themselves in winter, when cold conditions slow that same chemical reaction and limit the energy the battery can offer.
The best way to find out if your battery is on its way out is to have it tested. Your local NAPA AUTO PARTS can test your battery, and most will go out to your car so you don’t have to remove it. The test will help you determine if you need a new battery, or if you vehicle has another electrical problem, such as a bad alternator.
If you do need a new car battery, you can replace it yourself, typically with just a few common tools. Kovalkevich provided a few tips to make the job safe and easy:
- Wear gloves and eye protection
- Never smoke or use an open flame around a car battery
- Keep the battery upright
- For late-model cars, use an OBDII memory saver while replacing the battery (avoid memory savers that use a 9-volt battery)
- Clean the battery clamps and terminals and use terminal protectant spray
- Batteries are 100% recyclable, so return your old battery to your local NAPA store for recycling
Check out all of the batteries available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on buying a new car battery, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Nick Palermo is a freelance automotive writer and NAPA Know How blogger. Since becoming an auto news and reviews contributor at AutoTrader.com in 2011, he has broadened his coverage of the automotive industry to include topics like new car technology, antiques and classics, DIY maintenance and repair, industry news and motorsports. A committed advocate for automotive media professionals, Nick is a member of the Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association.