A healthy battery is one of the many key components to proper vehicle operation. It helps start the engine and helps keep the electronics running. It also lets you charge your phone and play your music--even when the engine is off.
But automotive batteries gradually lose power over time, and cold weather is especially hard on them.
You should have your battery tested at a local dealership. If you need a new battery, here’s what you need to know to get the right one.
THINGS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A NEW BATTERY
When shopping for a new battery, you should consider three important factors: group size, cold cranking amps, and reserve capacity. Here’s some additional information to help you choose the battery that’s right for your vehicle.
Battery Group Size
The group size is the length, width, and height of the battery. Most vehicles will allow for more than one group size, so check your owner’s manual to find which battery group sizes fit.
Cold Cranking Amps (CCA)
CCA is a very important battery performance indicator. It’s based on how well a new battery will supply sufficient power for 30 seconds, at zero degrees Fahrenheit. The higher the number, the better.
Your new battery’s CCA number should match the CCA number in your owner’s manual, or the CCA of the vehicle’s original battery. If you live in a cold climate, a slightly higher CCA rating may be beneficial to your vehicle’s cold-starting performance.
Note that some batteries use hot cranking amps (HCA), cranking amps (CA), or marine cranking amps (MCA) numbers. HCA, CA, or MCA numbers may look higher than the CCA number, but because these tests take place at 32 degrees and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, they are not equal to CCAs. Choose a battery based on CCAs instead.
Reserve Capacity (RC)
Reserve capacity is another important performance indicator. It measures how many minutes the battery can supply power before falling below the minimum voltage level.
With RC, the higher the number, the better. This is an important factor to consider if you’ll be operating electrical equipment on your vehicle while the engine is off.
Battery Date Code
Most batteries have a date code, which shows when it was made. Date codes come in the form of a sticker, or the code may be melted into the battery itself.
On your original Ford battery, the first two characters in the code are a letter and a number. The letter is the month: A is for January, B is for February, and so on. The number is the last digit of the year of manufacture. So a code starting with A9 would mean the battery was made in January of 2009.
When you buy a new battery, be sure to ask the salesperson for the newest available battery in your group size. A battery that’s been on the shelf for an extended period can lose some of its charge, and might not perform as well.
Read the battery’s warranty. Look at how long the free replacement period is and if there is any coverage on a prorated basis beyond that point.