RAC Cars News


Replacing Your Car's Battery

By raccars Published

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Hopefully, you haven't had to discover it the hard way this season, but in winter your car battery finds the cold, damp weather challenging. Unless you have taken steps to ensure your vehicle's battery health before the winter really sets in, you may find yourself stuck on your driveway or, even worse, inconveniently stranded by one of the country's most common causes of breakdown. It is estimated that battery faults account for almost 15% of all vehicle health issues, the majority occurring during the winter months.

The average car battery will see you through about five years, and many motorists may receive no sign their battery could be about to fail. However, if your engine is struggling to turn over when you start up, the chances are you could do with a new battery. Like any purchase, planning and research will get you a better deal than a desperate, last minute purchase, so if you have an inkling your battery is on its way out, deal with it now.

Battery health declines with age. When buying a new battery, a model more than six months old will already be depleted of some of its lifetime wear. Unfortunately, checking a battery's date of birth can be tricky, with no industry standard markings indicating battery age. Some models do have a date conveniently marked, others may have a code indicating the age. For example, the letters A to M (I is not included) represent the months of the year, with A representing January, B representing February, etc. The letter will usually be followed by a single digit that advises the production year.

You also need to make sure you buy the correct model of battery for your car. Batteries are categorised by Amp Hours, which is the length of the battery's life without recharging, and Cold Cranking Amps (CCA), which is the battery's power output available to start up the engine in cold weather. A diesel engine requires more CCA than a petrol unit. Therefore, it's a waste of time to spend more money on a battery with lots of CCA if you drive a petrol engined car with a small capacity engine.

The simplest solution is to base your choice upon the car's existing battery. Alternatively, your car's handbook or a main dealer should be able to advise you. You can buy online through sites which use your registration number to identify the battery you need, but these can be unreliable and costly. Whichever model you choose, shop around for the best deal, as prices can vary significantly.

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