Don't be left stranded in the cold with a dead car battery. Find out how to choose the right one for your car before your Holiday travels.

Finding the Right Battery for your Vehicle is Imperative

Your car battery is your lifeline to a running vehicle, so if it dies, what are you supposed to do? Cold weather has officially hit and the snow is on its way; the last thing you want to do is be stranded on the side of the road on your way to Thanksgiving dinner because your battery took its last breath. If your current battery is more than five years old it's smart to start looking into buying a new one, and we can help you determine the best choice for your car.

Keep in mind that not all car batteries are the same, and you can't just walk into any store that sells batteries and pick blindly. Each vehicle fits a different size and having one that fits poorly is dangerous. Before heading into any store you should always consult your owner's manual to see which battery is made for your car.

What You Need to Know About Batteries

Almost all car batteries are made by the same three companies:

  • Delphi
  • Johnson Control Industries
  • Exide

These companies also make most of the off-brand batteries as well that are sold at stores like Sears, Wal-Mart, Kmart, and Target. If you can't find the battery size in your owner's manual you can visit any of these department stores and the workers should be able to point you in the right direction, many of them can even install it for you if you wish. If your car is still under warranty you should always visit the dealership in which you purchased the vehicle from to get the new battery. They will surly know which one is for your car, and can install it properly and without hassle.

When you are choosing your battery the two most important factors you should be looking at are the:

Group Size
This is the thing that defines the batteries dimensions and the placement of the terminals. Most of the cars made by one manufacturer will all have the same group size, but a different group size than vehicles from other manufacturers. For example, most General Motors cars fit a group size 75 battery; Ford, Lincoln and Mercury vehicles fit a group size 65; Hondas, Nissans, and Toyotas fit size 35.  If you see a battery that has two sets of numbers such as 35/78, these indicate that there are two sets of terminals and belong to either a GM or Chrysler vehicle.

Cold –Cranking Amps
This is the measure of a battery's ability to start your vehicle in cold weather. When your car has been sitting in the cold for a long period of time the oil thickens and slows the chemical reaction making it the hardest time for your engine to turn over. Cold-cranking amps (CCAs) specify how much current the battery can deliver to the starter at zero degrees Fahrenheit. These are different than the cranking amps (CAs) that are measured at 32 degrees, and usually display a much higher number.

What to Take Into Consideration

Aside from the group size and CCAs you should also take into the consideration the reserve capacity of the batteries. This helps you if your alternator were to fail by showing you how many minutes your vehicle will run on the battery alone. Not all batteries have this posted right on their label, so you may need to check the booklet that comes with it. 

While used batteries and older batteries are available at cheaper prices, it's always better to go with a fresh battery – preferably one that has not been sitting on the store shelf for more than six months. The newer batteries will last longer and help the life of your vehicle. To see what the date that the battery was stamped at, you will have to do some deciphering. Most batteries have a date on it or attached to a label that will start with a letter and the second digit will be a number. This indicates the month and year the battery was made. For example, D12 means April 2012.

Just like a vehicle, the battery also comes with a warranty. Typically they have two different dates – one for the free-replacement period and one for the total warranty. The one you will want to keep track of is the free-replacement period which is generally between three months and three years. This is the time in which you will be given a free battery from the manufacturer if something were to go wrong with your current one. If it breaks after the replacement period has ended, you will have to pay out of pocket.

As We See It

All batteries are not the same and each vehicle is made to run on a specific battery, and it's easier than you think to pick it out. All you need to do is consult your owner's manual to see which size and CCA rating is recommended. Be sure to stick to these recommendations because choosing one that is too small or big, or has too low or high of a rating could be harmful to your vehicle and your wallet! Another thing to look for is how much reserve capacity the battery will have. You don't want to be stuck on the side of the road because your alternator died and your battery has low capacity.

If your car is barely running and you don't think it's the battery, it may be time for a new car. Auto Credit Express can help you get into a new or used vehicle with a well-running engine, battery, and alternator with an auto loan you can afford. Get started today by filling out our online pre-approval car loan application