Cold weather is upon us and this is a time that battery failures occur most often. Not only does extreme cold make an engine harder to turn over in the morning, but it also slows down the chemical process that produces electricity in the battery cells. If you ever go to start your car and hear the starter hesitate and turn over slower for the first half second or so, this is often the first indication of a battery that’s near the end of its life. Have it tested immediately! Don’t wait till it strands you.
If it is time to replace, there are some things you need to know. First, there are only a couple of battery manufacturers in America that make batteries for all the suppliers, so even though there are a huge number of different brands of batteries, they are all made by one of these two companies. I favor brands made by Johnson Controls. (And no, you will never see that name on any of their batteries.) Secondly, you need a battery that is rated for your vehicle. Battery shape is a consideration, but how much power it can deliver varies. You’ll need a stronger battery for a diesel engine than you need for a gas engine. You’ll need a stronger battery for an 8 cylinder vehicle as opposed to a 4 cylinder vehicle. Battery strength is rated in Cold Cranking Amps, or CCA for short.
If you pick up an inexpensive battery and a quality battery, you will notice that the quality battery, (always the more expensive one), is much heavier than the inexpensive one. Why?? It’s because the better battery has more lead in it. It’s the lead that costs money. The battery with more lead will last longer during normal service. It will also have a higher reserve capacity. A battery with a higher reserve capacity will run your vehicle much longer in the event of an alternator failure, and may be the difference between being stranded on the freeway, or making it home. When it’s time to replace a battery in one of my vehicles, I always buy the strongest battery available that will fit.
Lastly, is there a reason you might want to pay someone to change a battery instead of doing it yourself? Absolutely. Modern cars don’t just have radio station settings that can be lost during replacement, many of the computers on board have learned or “adaptive” information that can affect how your car runs if it is lost. Some Volkswagens for instance, will lose communication with the throttle body and not idle correctly if the battery is disconnected. At Bron’s Automotive, we have a memory saver battery that plugs in under the dash during battery replacement, and prevents any information from being lost. (We also have scanners and can reset things like the Volkswagen throttle body link, if you have replaced a battery at home.) Bron’s Automotive has been serving Tumwater, Lacey, Olympia, and Thurston County with high quality work for over ten years.