Today’s topic is the car battery. A lot of things run on batteries. Of course, the batteries we’re most concerned with here at Craig’s Car Care are those in our vehicles. Car batteries wear out just like any other battery and need to be replaced. There are a couple of things drivers should know when looking for a new battery.
There are two measurements that come into play: one is cold cranking amps and the other is reserve capacity.
First let’s start with cold cranking amps. This can be thought of as the power output used to start a cold engine. The number of cold cranking amps you need depends on your vehicle and where you live, specifically how cold it is where you live. The two factors are that the colder your vehicles engine is, the more power it takes to turn the engine over to get it started. It has all that cold, sluggish oil to contend with.
The other factor is that the chemical reaction in the battery that creates electrical energy is less efficient in the cold. We even have a table. Let’s say it’s 70 degrees Fahrenheit out. At that temperature, 100% of the battery’s power is available. At freezing, only 64% of battery power is available, but it requires 160% as much power to start the engine as it did at 70 degrees.
As you can see, the colder it gets, the more power’s needed, but the available power drops.
So, if you live where it’s cold, you need a battery with more cold cranking amps than you do where it’s moderate or hot. The battery that originally came with the vehicle was based on averages. At Craig’s Car Care, we like to remind auto owners that they should always get at least as many cold cranking amps as the manufacturer recommends but may want to upgrade if they live where it gets real cold.
And the type of engine you have will impact the battery you need: A six-cylinder engine requires more cold cranking amps than a four. An eight cylinder needs even more. And diesel ford vehicles require more than a gasoline engine with the same number of cylinders.
Now on to reserve capacity: It’s a measurement of the number of minutes of reserve power the battery has at a given load. The number is more important to drivers these days because of parasitic drain. Parasitic drain is the battery energy that’s used when the key is off in your ford vehicles. So, the power drawn by the security system, the remote start system, even the power the computers require to maintain their memory.
Reserves are also needed when you make very short trips around. You’re not driving long enough for the battery to recover the energy it used to start the engine. So, go with the minimum recommended by your manufacturer or Craig’s Car Care and upgrade if you need more.
Talk with us about your options. If you need more from your battery, a larger, heavy-duty battery may be called for.