How to check if a car battery is good?

Car Engine

Car Engine

These days, almost everyone owns a car. While some choose to stick to the basic setup of the car, some users prefer modifying their vehicles for getting higher performance out of it in terms of accessories and usability. Often these upgrades come at substantial costs and can require you to change some or more of the OEM components of your car.

Adding additional accessories can substantially affect our car’s battery life and might cause it to die way sooner than your batteries under normal conditions. In this article, we will talk about how you can diagnose your car battery for potential problems and also talk about some other measures and tips you can take care of to ensure longer battery life.

Before we talk about looking for damages in car batteries, we must first talk about the different types of batteries we come across on a daily basis. Most of the batteries we come across on a daily basis can be classified into two parts: deep cycle batteries and cranking batteries.

Now, the latter is the type of battery you would normally use in a car. Deep cycle batteries are the ones that we normally use to power electronics in conjugation with inverters and UPSs.

Deep cycle batteries have the capacity to provide a steady flow of current over a long period of time. Although cars have some applications that are meant for deep cycle batteries, they do not make ideal batteries for all the applications a car requires.

The main purpose of the battery in a car is to crank the engine to start it. This is done by powering a powerful motor for a short amount of time which in turn ranks the engine and this gives you the desired power level required to start a car engine.

Once the engine has started running, the engine takes over the basic power requirements and also charges the car battery simultaneously. As such, car batteries do not require high capacity.  and longer battery lives. They only need enough charge and power to be able to start an engine once. Although that is a theoretical estimation and normal batteries can crank multiple times before dying out. For faster effects, one can refer ez battery reconditioning method.

Such batteries that are specifically built to fulfill these purposes are called cranking batteries or starting batteries as they help to crank(or start) your car engine.

Car Interface

Car Interface

 

Challenges faced by car batteries

A car battery needs to account for and take care of a lot of factors. Knowing these factors can help you find the best car batteries for your use. The regular OEM batteries that come with your car are normally buffed up to take care of the components that come with your car. Some users may intend to install third-party accessories in their cars and expect their batteries to handle the additional strain.

This, however, is a wrong approach and can often lead to unwanted troubles. Excessive loads can harm the battery’s performance which may cause the battery to fail without proper warning signs.

You can instead upgrade to a battery that can handle the load for a smooth and non-risky experience. Two parameters mostly affect the quality of your regular cranking battery. They are Cold Cranking Amps(CCA) and Reserve Capacity(RC).

Cold Cranking Amps is the measure of the cranking power of your battery. In simple words, it tells you how much electricity the battery can provide instantaneously. A battery with a higher CCA can crank bigger engines. The CCA of your battery will depend on a lot of factors including your model and the weather you use the car in. Colder areas tend to require higher CCA batteries.

Reserve capacity or RC is the measure of the time a battery can crank an engine for. Higher RCs are recommended in tougher climates as they can crank batteries quite easily and can take a load of a hard to crank the engine.

Having insufficient RC can be a very risky deal. Imagine your battery dying in the middle of nowhere. We don’t want that, right?

When you use electronics with your car battery before the engine starts, the battery slowly gets drained and affects the RC. That is what might cause a battery to fail. Always make sure your battery is in top condition before you go on long journeys to make sure your trip is hassle-free and safe. Here is how you can diagnose your car battery and make sure everything is fine with your battery.

  • Go to a mechanic and request for a battery test. Even though you can test it yourself, having professional assistance is a good idea if you are not sure about what you are doing.
  • Get it done yourself. Although this can be a little tricky, here’s how you can test your car battery yourself.
    • Use a multimeter to check the voltage across the battery terminals. Fully charge your battery and then take a reading. If the reading is anywhere above 12 volts, your battery is safe and working fine. If the battery level is less than 12 volts when fully charged, consider getting it replaced as the battery is not working fine.
    • There is another simple hack you can employ. This is not a very reliable test but it gets the job done and you can test your battery very quickly by following this method. Start your car and turn on your headlights. Then try sounding your car’s horn. Note the intensity of the light and the volume and sound of the horn. Now turn your engine on and repeat the same process. If you notice an increase in the intensity of the sound or light, it is likely that your battery is not in the optimal state and you should get it checked.

And that’s it. These were some simple easy ways for you to check your battery life.

 

FAQs

1. Can you use any battery in a car?

Ans: Theoretically, you can. But you should always try using cranking batteries.

2. What is the battery in a car used for?

Ans: The main purpose of a car battery is to crank an engine until it starts. Once the engine has started, it takes care of the electronics via the alternator.

3. How to know which car battery to buy?

Ans: Choosing a car battery can be tricky. Always make sure you have an appropriate amount of CCA and RC. Consider consulting a professional if you are unsure.

Conclusion

In this article, we have discussed the various points you should keep in mind to check if your car battery is working perfectly. Hopefully, you’d find the article informative.

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