Get the right new battery for your car
7:00

Get the right new battery for your car

Roadshow
[MUSIC] Hey folks, Cooley again, got another one of your emails about high tech cars and modern driving. Law in Bridgeport, Connecticut says, I'm in the market for a new battery for my 2015 Ford Fusion Hybrid and I've found that several will fit. The "strongest" has almost twice the Cold Cranking Amps of my current battery. Can I do any damage to my vehicle by installing a stronger battery? The short answer here Law is no, but let's figure out what goes on when you head out there to buy a battery because these are one of those things kind of like tires. There's a lot of code that doesn't necessarily make sense And there's a lot of choices. So there are a lot of right answers like tires. That's what makes it confusing. Here's how you determine the right battery for your car. The basics, the easy part are, first of all, you've got to get the right voltage. On almost every car, today, that means 12 volts. Some really old cars use 6-volt batteries. But you know who you are. You're collector, vintage car people. And in the future, cars may transition to 48 volt batteries, but that's still on the cusp. So basically you're looking for a 12 volt battery. You don't even need to ask for that. The next thing you look at is fo the correct fit, the actual size and shape, dimensions and proportions. This guy right here is what they call a BCI 65 battery. Used to be what they call a group number, but now they call it a BCI num ber. that tells you the dimensions and the proportions of where they are length, width, and height of this battery so it fits in the battery tray and under the battery hold down in your car. That's what keeps it from bouncing around and causing catastrophic results. The last of the easy things to consider is terminal position. You've got a positive and negative terminal on every battery. They have to be in the right place. They could be on the top, they can be on the sides. If you buy the wrong battery the terminals might be in the wrong place or in the right geography but flipped positive to negative. The problem then is your cables won't reach. This is all about cables reaching without being strained or stretched. Now all of that is also reflected in your BCI number. The number is dimensions, the letters after it. Also fill in the picture so that the dimensions and the terminal location is all specified. Now you've got the easy stuff done now is when it gets a little trickier, that cold cranking and stuff you were asking about Cold cranking amps are a measure of the battery's resources if you will. That's the best way to put it. I think right now you're confused, and you're thinking it's a measure of the battery's force, something it will do to the car. Instead, cold cranking amps should be thought of as something it can offer to the car. It's a reserve, but having more of them does not damage the car because it does not force them on the vehicle. For example, the definition of cold cranking amps is how many amps can be delivered for 30 seconds at 0 degrees farenheit? If you see a number like on this one here, 850, that means this battery can deliver 850 amps at 12 volts DC for 30 seconds at 0 degrees Farenheit. And the temperature does matter cuz batteries will perform differently at different temperatures. Zero is pretty tough on a battery. So, that's it, a very sort of a conservative estimate. Another measurement you'll see on there, you can see it on this table right here, is this idea of what they call a reserve capacity. And that might sound like, good, my battery is dead, I can somehow tap into a reserve. It's not really that. Your battery has one capacity. What reserve capacity does, is express the battery's power in another language, basically. And this one is not so commonly talked about so you don't really need to know this. But it means the number of minutes the battery can deliver 25 amps which is actually quite low for a car battery And do so at 80 degrees Farenheit. So I don't think it's one that you need to worry too much about but if you do see it, it's another way of expressing capacity. It's not a separate amount of capacity in the battery. Don't be fooled by that name. Now all this leads to a question of what makes a quality battery? And this matters because this will affect the price of the battery. Good batteries, bad batteries, what's the difference? One of the first things you're paying for in a price differential is warranty. It's almost more of an insurance calculation than it is an actual technical or product reflection. Some batteries have very long warranties. Some can be quite a bit shorter. They can range three to four x from the cheap ones to the expensive ones in terms of how long they stand behind you. And they tend to do prorated ratings. So when you come back with a battery that gonna die halfway through its life, you don't get a completely fresh new one. They gonna prorate the cost of a new one. Always look for that to be punched out on the top here of the battery. Or make sure you keep your receipt when you buy one of these. That's a receipt that you don't wanna lose. Another big factor in cost is whether is an old-school battery or more modern design. This is your typical battery right here. And it's what you'd call a flooded lead acid design cuz it has these lead plates sitting in a big old bath of dilute sulfuric acid. And the chemical reaction between those two causes electrons to flow. And that's where you get power at the terminals. You can kinda feel it if you slosh it around a little bit. You used to have to top these up with more liquid. Very rarely now. But this is an old design, very heavy and very we inside. The newer technology is called AGM, Absorbent Glass Mat. It still has lead, and it still has sulfuric acid that is liquid, but it's all largely kept in place by these fiber glass mats. That sort of manage the liquid against the lead. They tend to be a little lighter and they also tend to be a little better about delivering power And they also are better about being leaned over or tipped and not leaking. So they've got a whole bunch of performance attributes to them, but they're not something you have to have. And yes, they cost more. And the last thing is the quality of the case. How well this thing is built so it seals and doesn't have evaporation of the flooded fluid inside here, which can cause the battery to fail as well. And freshness date. Look for that on a sticker on the battery case. Try to buy a battery that is no more than six months old. These things don't get better sitting around not being used. The last tip I wanna give you is knowing what kind of battery you've got. A standard battery is a standard battery, it's meant to give you a lot of amps for a short time and then recharge for a long time while you're driving. There's also another kind of battery called a deep cycle battery or a marine battery. That is one that is happily used for long periods. Let's say you have your car in standby a lot with the radio or maybe the parking lights on. Whatever your odd application might be. You may want a deep cycle battery. They're designed a little differently. They still use lead and acid. But they're designed in a way where they can trickle out there power for a long time in a way that won't damage the battery. And can then be recharged again, and do that over and over. They tend to cost a little bit more. You can get those in traditional flooded design, or as an AGM property. Optima, for example, makes one called a yellowtop. That is designed for deep cycle usage, not just occasional usage like just starting your car. [SOUND] [MUSIC]

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