If you have just recently owned your car, say you have been driving you own vehicle for a little more than year, then you may have thought and maybe even learned about the different maintenance procedures for your car.
There are some parts that are giving more frequent attention, but the battery is less so because it needs relatively fewer maintenance checks than the other parts. But when you feel like the battery is about to give up, asking “What kind of battery does my car need?” may be one of the first few questions that pop in your head.
Finding the right battery fit for your car may be challenging, especially when you are changing batteries for the first time. However, it gets easier as time goes on, as you will gain more and more experience and knowledge about what type of battery is best for which purpose.
Of course, one of the most obvious things you can do is just check the type of battery that is currently installed on your car. If you are satisfied with the performance of this type of battery, then you can stick with it.
Find a dealer that sells this type of battery, be it on a physical store or online and just order it. If you are not satisfied with the current battery’s performance and feel the need to try another type, or if you feel like trying out that fancy brand-name battery that you have seen in an advertisement, then this is the perfect time to scrounge up for new options.
You can always check the user manual included in your car to check what the type of battery your car needs. You can also check for online battery checkers like Walmart Battery Finder to determine the battery type by entering general information about your car.
With this online battery finder from Walmart, you just enter your car’s make, year, model, and engine (you can choose from a dropdown list) and then hit enter and a list of possible battery types will be prescribed for you.
If online recommendations are not your thing, you can always call your favorite car dealership, mechanic, or auto shop to get their professional opinion about the exact type of battery you are looking for.
Car Battery Sizes
Regardless of the method you choose to get a better idea for your new battery, there are parameters that are generally deemed important to consider overall. One of those is size.
There are online weight and size charts available on the internet that will give you alternative considerations for the current type of car battery you have. There may be lightweight solutions to your current battery which may well weigh significantly lighter than the one you are using right now.
Battery size charts may also be essential materials in your hunt for the perfect battery. Battery sizes vary wildly, and the one for your car depends on its year of manufacture, make, and model (as evidenced by the data required by Walmart’s online battery finder mentioned earlier).
You need to know the specific parameters for your car, because choosing the wrong type may end up with you owning a battery that you will never use.
Take note of the physical measurements of the current battery you have. The one you are trying to replace. Its dimensions, like height, width, and length, are good places to start.
There may be a label somewhere on the battery that indicates its weight, but if not, then you should try to find out the weight of the battery yourself. This is useful as a comparison tool, so that you can judge whether the (presumably lighter) weight difference with the new battery is worth investing in.
You should also consider the terminal type that is involved in your battery, as this could determine the basic compatibility of the battery to your vehicle.
Size charts found online or in auto shops help immensely with this hunt for the perfect size. This is because charts organize the battery sizes according to the parameters mentioned earlier.
They then give these groups special code designations, and when you go shop for a battery, you can always just give the size code to make your purchasing options easier.
There is a group called the Battery Council International that standardizes size groups for batteries and the assigned code for each respective class.
These combinations of letters and numbers will be the bread and butter of your search, as knowing the different codes for the group size you are typically concerned will go a long way towards finding a fresh battery to replace your old one.
The good thing about size charts is that they also associate a specific size group to some make and models that they are typically compatible with. So if you have no idea what to look for, you could always start with looking for your car’s make and model in an online size chart and then start there. The chart will provide options based on your car.
However, size charts do not tell you much about the technologies involved in the batteries you can buy. Ideally, a good size chart just shows a list of size groups which will help the user figure out what battery to buy for his car.
Some of the technologies and structures that are used in automotive batteries will be discussed in the next section of this article.
Technology and Composition
Wet Cell and Dry Cell
One of the most common dilemmas when going for fresh batteries is whether someone should get a wet cell or a dry cell battery. Both have advantages in their own right.
For one thing, wet cell batteries is the most common type of car battery because it is cheap, efficient, and can last a very long time given proper maintenance. But the thing is, this maintenance is also one of the main reasons for inconvenience and hassle.
You need to regularly check the water levels in a wet cell battery, and refill them when they get low. If not, then the plates inside the cell will become dry, and they get exposed to oxygen.
This will lead to a buildup of sulfation, which is described as one of the most common causes of battery failure nowadays. So if you decide to get a wet cell battery, keep in mind that you need to be aware about the maintenance procedures that come with it.
If you think that you can handle it, then you can have this cheap but efficient battery type to provide energy for your car.
Now, there is a relatively newer type called the dry cell. It is more efficient but it is also more expensive.
This type of battery uses a gel-like substance as an electrolyte solution, so the whole structure can be completely sealed without any problems. Unlike the wet cell battery, dry cells require no ventilation, thanks mainly to its electrolyte, gel-based solution.
They also do not need to be refilled with water in regular intervals.
The dry cell battery is known for its high energy density, packing more power in such a small amount of space. Needless to say, with regards to size, this type of battery can have some of the most compact and lightweight designs in the market.
Absorbed Glass Mat, More Commonly Konwn as AGM
If you think that the dry cell battery not needing a lot of maintenance is great, then you are going to love batteries utilizing Absorbed Glass Mat or AGM technology. AGM batteries are recommended by experts, mostly because of the lessened hassle and worry of not needing to top the cells off with water over and over.
You can just install it and leave it as it is until it deteriorates due to its natural cycle. But in the duration of its serviceable years, it will see little to no maintenance work, barring some unusual circumstances or emergencies.
However, if you live in a place where the climate is usually cold, then you should probably stay away from batteries that utilize the absorbed glass mat technology.
Car Battery Life
Last but not the least, you should consider how long the new battery can be in service. Battery life is, of course, one of the most important considerations you can make.
The longer, the better— no one wants to buy batteries multiple times in a couple of years, after all. Battery life can be approximated in years or “cycles.”
A cycle is a process of discharge and recharge, so when it is said that the battery will last 1000 cycles, then it means it will withstand 1000 discharge and recharge cycles before performance is expected to deteriorate.
All in all, the answer to the question “What kind of battery does my car need?” hinges not on one but multiple parameters. You should consider car compatibility, its size (or the corresponding size group it belongs to), the technology used on the battery, and of course its life expectancy.