Let’s be honest, we’re all looking for ways to save a buck or two here and there. There are many ways we can cut costs, but there are also times when cost savings end up being more detrimental than good. You know what we’re talking about … you save a couple dollars on an item, but it ends up being … well … crappy! So, it’s no time at all before you must invest in the same item again. Buying the cheapest car battery available is an example of one of those situations.
The Differences in a Car Battery
There are typically three types of batteries that are appropriate for vehicle use; Wet Cell, Gel Cells and Absorbed Glass Mat. The most common battery is the wet cell battery, so we will concentrate on that.
Wet cell batteries come in two different styles: serviceable and maintenance free. They consist of lead plates which are separated by a material that slows the flow of ions from the positive to negative plates. Many cheap car batteries use PVC as the separating material versus rubber in the higher end batteries. They also use lower quality components, such as sub-par cables and wires, compared to their more expensive counterparts.
Why does it matter?
Like anything else, an item’s quality comes down to its various components. Check out this video of a vehicle that came into our Tempe auto repair shop to have its battery replaced. You will be surprised at the amount of money they had to spend for repair, just because they purchased a cheap car battery instead of a higher quality one.
Other Items to Consider
When in the market for a new car battery, look beyond the price and consider the battery’s quality. Check out the Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) and Reserve Capacity, as well as the warranty.
The CCA measurement on a battery determines how many amps are delivered to the starter at 32 degrees F for 30 seconds to maintain at least 1.2 volts per cell. In other words, the CCA determines how much power you will have to start your vehicle in most climates. If you live where it gets cold, you will want a battery with a higher CCA rating.
The battery’s reserve capacity determines how long it can keep the vehicle’s electrical components operating in the event that the charging system fails. This is shown in minutes on the battery. For example, a battery with a reserve capacity of 90 can keep the electrical parts operating for an hour and a half without any other charging system.
Most batteries come with a warranty, so look for an option with a longer one. The average warranty is 3-4 years, so don’t buy one that’s less than that. Also, consider the battery’s production date. You don’t want to buy one that has been sitting on the shelf for months. They will be marked with the date and year, such as 1/18, which means it was manufactured in January, 2018.
As always, we’re here to help you pick out the best battery for your vehicle. Come on in and we’ll make sure you get the best bang for your buck!