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How to choose a battery for a car

The battery life is typically three to eight years. This time range depends on many factors, including the driving style, the presence of additional electrical appliances, and the frequency of service work.When purchasing a battery, it is better to choose a model that will last as long as possible. To do this, you need to know the types of batteries, in what form they are sold and how to properly check the serviceability of a new battery.

How to choose a battery for a car

When to change the battery

If in the morning the car starter is not able to crank the engine, then this is a signal of a low battery charge. In the summer, this malfunction does not manifest itself as much as in winter. A low battery charge is only a consequence of problems, and their cause lies in the generator or the battery itself. A discrepancy between current consumption and its charge is possible when the belt tension is weakened or the generator brushes are worn out, or the terminals on the battery contacts are oxidized. If these components and elements are in order, then you can try to restore the battery itself.

Batteries are divided into serviceable and maintenance-free. The latter are conditionally unsuitable for any work: it all depends on the possibility of opening them while maintaining their functionality; according to the rules, it simply needs to be changed. It is easy to distinguish a serviceable one: there are filler caps on the top of the battery. After unscrewing them, you gain access to the contents of each battery jar - an integral part of the entire battery.

To restore functionality, you will need a charger and a hydrometer - a small portable device for measuring the density of the electrolyte. First of all, we check the electrolyte level in the jars: it should be above the plates. If this is not the case, then add distilled water, not boiled water. Next, we charge the battery for several hours: the charging period depends on the type of charger and the age of the battery.

Many “chargers” are equipped with an automatic device that turns off their power when a predetermined voltage value is reached on the battery. After this, we check the density with a hydrometer, which is considered normal in the range of 1.27–1.29 g/cm³. If the test shows the density in one or more battery banks is significantly lower than the specified values, then you will have to look for a worthy replacement.

Electrolyte density measurement

Buying a new battery: tips for choosing

When asked how to choose a battery for a car, the answer is usually a recommendation to purchase a similar one. The main parameter of a battery is capacity. It is expressed in ampere/hours and indicates the battery's ability to produce a certain amount of current for one hour.

Choosing a battery according to the manufacturer's recommendations will be quite reasonable, especially if the machine is equipped with only a basic set of current consumers. A balanced generator-battery combination allows you to maintain the battery in good, charged condition until scheduled maintenance is carried out.

Choosing a battery

In winter, many car enthusiasts install a battery with a larger capacity than provided for in their cars. You can buy it as a main one, but only with good electrical wiring: “twists” and oxidized contacts increase the current consumption, which can lead to failure of the generator. With normal wires, a serial generator is capable of supporting a high-capacity battery in a given charging mode. But if you doubt this, you should replace it with a more powerful one. It is important to remember that such an increase in current entails a loss of engine power, especially with all electrical consumers turned on. It is also not always possible to place a more capacious battery under the hood: it often exceeds the installation space dimensions specified by the automaker.

In addition to capacity, the battery is selected according to the following parameters:

• the ability to add distilled water or change the electrolyte.

• ready for immediate use.

• starting current - starter discharge current at the pole terminals in engine starting mode.

• location of contact terminals.

• dimensions.

Any battery is capable of working out its guaranteed life, but often this time differs for batteries of the same capacity but different types.

Dry and charged battery

Usually, the correct choice of battery for a car does not depend on its pre-sale preparation. The store sells already charged batteries, but distinguishes between a “dry” charge and a “flooded” one. If the battery is needed urgently, then it is worth buying an already charged, “filled” version. In practice, this is a completely finished product and will only require a small recharge.

A “dry” battery really lives up to its name: the electrolyte is completely removed from it. Before installing such a battery on a car, you will have to perform some steps: you need to fill in the electrolyte and wait up to an hour until it saturates the plates, then it will take time to charge, which varies depending on how it is stored in the warehouse, and then check with a load fork for functionality. There is a small risk that the battery will be faulty, with damage to one of the cans. In these cases, you will have to prove your non-involvement in such a situation.

There is one more disadvantage when buying such a battery. Most often, the manufacturer of a “charged” battery fills it with high-quality electrolyte. This is due to responsibility and calculation: a bad electrolyte can damage the plates quite quickly. Buying electrolyte separately is like playing roulette; the battery can quickly fail. Usually no one will prove that the purchased electrolyte does not comply with the standards, and many car enthusiasts have superficial knowledge of chemistry. It's easier and cheaper to buy a new battery.

The advantages of dry-charged batteries include low weight, which is convenient for transportation. There is also no chance of accidentally spilling electrolyte due to its absence. Buying a “dry” battery can be profitable: often dry-charged ones are sold at a discount due to their long shelf life in dry form. It is worth considering that a dry-charged battery can really be stored for up to three years, but it is important to take into account the store’s warranty period. If you activate the battery after the warranty period, then any faults that arise cannot be transferred to the manufacturer. An on-site inspection of a dry battery is only possible based on appearance.

Features of purchasing batteries: check or not

If knowledge of the basic characteristics described above helped you decide which battery to choose for your car, then all that remains is to put this into practice.

The following points should be taken into account in the store:

1. The seller must provide the goods for external inspection: there should be no traces of cracks or leaks (if electrolyte is present). If the battery has opening lids, then you should make sure that the electrolyte completely covers the plates and its transparency is the same in all banks. Dark, opaque indicates the closure of the plates, their sulfation.

2. It will be important to demonstrate the functionality of the battery during testing. For this, a load fork and a voltmeter are used. The absence of such control tools forces the buyer to purchase them. But it’s easier to find a store with the possibility of pre-sale control.

3. The voltage at the battery terminals must be at least 12V and remain this way when connecting the load plug for 10 seconds.

4. When purchasing a battery of a different model than the one that failed, it is important to ensure that the contact terminals are located correctly. The “plus” and “minus” of the battery should be located on the same side and in the same order as on the old one. Power wires in a car usually have a limited length.

It is better to check a charged and serviced/unserviced battery in a store. You will have to take only the dry-charged version “blindly”. Upon receipt of the buyer's consent to purchase the product, its parameters (voltage, time under load) and the date of sale are noted in the warranty card.

It is worth purchasing a new battery from the maintenance-free category. These are the best batteries for cars, especially if you need to immediately replace a failed battery.

You can purchase dry-charged ones for future use: they can be stored for up to three years in a working, preserved state without losing their properties. For those without service, this period reaches 18 months.

Whether or not to check the battery when purchasing depends on your trust in the store. However, if circumstances favor the choice of a “dry” battery option, it is better to choose a large chain store that is unlikely to close in the near future.


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