How to Pick a Car Battery That’s Right for Your Climate
In the United States, climates can vary substantially from place to place at any given time of year. While a large part of the U.S. experiences a relatively mild climate all year round, the north and south can see huge fluctuations in temperature, which cause driving conditions that put a large demand on your car’s battery. Here are some thoughts on how to pick a car battery that’s right for where you live.
Something you often hear about when it comes to a car battery is cold cranking amps (CCA). CCA is a rating used to describe your battery’s ability to start the engine in extreme cold conditions. This rating is measured at 0°F and determines how many amps a battery can provide for 30 seconds.
If you live in warmer climates this spec isn’t as important in choosing the right battery, but if you live somewhere where the temperature in the winter can reach 0 F or even lower, you know all too well what happens when your battery can’t pump out the amps. For cold climates a battery with a higher CCA rating is best.
Battery manufacturers may also call out Reserve Capacity (RC). At first glance this may not sound important, but in hot weather conditions your battery’s ability to power essential accessories when the alternator fails is critical.
RC is rated by how many minutes a battery can continue to pump out 25 amps at 80 F. In the summer heat, extra accessories like air conditioning, fans, power windows or radiator-fan usage can all put a heavier strain on your vehicle’s alternator and, in some cases, cause it to fail. In these instances, having a battery that can provide enough power to keep the most important functions going could be the difference between getting stuck on the side of the road and making it home or to a repair shop.
Look for the battery manufacturers’ climate recommendations. Battery makers spend countless hours of research and development testing any given situation the battery may encounter in its lifetime. To make choosing the right battery an easier process for you companies take this information and develop a system of symbols to indicate if a battery is better suited for cold or hot temperatures. Cold-weather batteries typically have higher cold cranking amps and reserve ratings, while hot-weather batteries have higher electrolyte-to-lead ratios for more durability in heat.
Knowing how to pick a car battery when the weather changes is crucial. Make up, cold cranking amps and reserve capacity are all factors that play a part in determining which battery is best for you.
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