What should you know before you buy a car battery?

We know: 7 Tips on How to Buy a Car Battery

Tip # 1: Get the right size

Don't buy a battery that doesn't fit. You can find out what size you need from your car's manual or at an auto store. Car batteries come in 4 basic sizes. They are 37, 75, 34/78 and 65.

Tip # 2: Choose for Climate

Batteries often list what is called 'cold cranking amps' or CAA. This is a purported measure of the starting current at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a cold climate, where having a battery that will work in freezing weather is essential, be sure your battery has sufficient voltage to get you going. You may want to check Consumer Reports to see which batteries have the most reliable CAA.

Also, there are batteries designed for northern climates, to work in extreme cold, and for southern climates, to work in extreme heat.

Tip #3: Get A Long Life Span

Check to see how long the manufacturer says the battery is designed to last before it needs to be replaced.

Tip # 4: Find Out How Long It Will Run on Empty

Batteries have what is called 'reserve capacity', which means the length of time the battery will run your car if the alternator stops working and it is not being recharged.

Tip # 5: Get One with a Short Shelf Life

Buy a battery that hasn't been sitting on the store shelf for more than six months. Look for the shipping date code. The letters represent the month it was shipped (A for January) and the number represents the year (4 is for 2004).

Tip # 6: Get a Good Warranty

Most warranties have two areas of coverage: the free replacement period, and the total number of months the battery is covered by the warranty. A longer free replacement period is usually to your best advantage (as opposed to more months of warranty coverage.) A number on the battery usually tells you the warranty period in months, with the replacement period first, then the warranty period, i.e., 24/84.

Tip # 7: Get a Handle on It

If you plan on installing the battery yourself, look for one with a handle to make lifting it easier.

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