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October 13th, 1999 Article
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Batteries, Batteries, Batteries!

You have decided that your vehicle needs a new battery and being a smart consumer, your are going to go shopping for the best deal. However, the first store you walk into has DOZENS of different batteries and DOZENS of different prices. Which one should you consider? You ask a sales clerk for help and they don't seem to know much more than you do. So lets try and shed a little light on this.

First of all, vehicle batteries are divided into "GROUPS", much like flashlight batteries, D, C, AA, AAA, etc. The first thing you need to know is what "GROUP" of battery your vehicle requires and this information can be found in most owners manuals. But if you cannot find it there, all stores that sell batteries have catalog listings where you can look up your vehicle by the year, make, model and engine size, to find the "GROUP" number you require.

Now you are left with the selection process. You will find a VAST difference in price from one brand to another and all sorts of different ratings that you have no idea what they are talking about. Before I go any further I want to warn all of the Electrical, Technical type people that I don't need any E-mails telling me that I should be dealing with Watts etc because these ratings are not used in these spec's and I want to keep this as simple as possible. What we Primarily deal with in this trade is Volts and Amperage. I will use volts as a RATING and Amperage as POWER. For example, 8 D cell batteries will produce 12 volts but they will not start your vehicle.

This is where Amperage or power comes in. When you turn the key to the cranking position, the starter motor REQUIRES a certain amount of Amperage to turn the motor over fast enough to start. Too little amperage will not allow the starter to turn the motor over fast enough and it will not start. And, a battery is very much effected by temperature, the colder the temperature, the less power a battery can produce. For example; a battery that has just enough Amperage (Power.) to start a car when it is 70 degrees, will NOT start the car at zero. So, you need a battery that has a LOT more Amperage available to compensate for cold weather and the colder the climate, the worse it is for a battery. (Take a new flashlight battery and put it in your freezer overnight and then try and use it in the morning.)

I suggest that it is worth the money to buy a better battery. Look in the catalog at the store and see what battery is RECOMMENDED by that brand and then go to the OPTIONAL listing for a better battery. A better battery will not be required to work as hard and will LIVE a lot longer. The outward size of a battery has very little effect on its performance, it's what's inside the battery that counts. Bigger (In size.) does not mean BETTER.

Now a sales clerk comes over and recommends a type of battery that is a UNIVERSAL FIT battery that will work in just about any vehicle. (????) Let me ask you this: Do you think the manufacturer spent as much money on the quality of the insides of this battery, when they had to spend extra on the universal fit equipment? You are better off with the PROPER battery MADE to fit your vehicle.

What about brands of batteries? I will give you MY OWN preferences, (and NOT because someone is paying me to say so.) I prefer AC Delco, Motorcraft, and Interstate.

"TOOT" Rick "The Wrench" - October 13, 1999
Copyright of Rick The Wrench, 1999

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