If you're buying a new battery for your car, there are several factors you need to consider to ensure you get the right battery for your car.
Step 1: Determine group size Determine the proper group size for your car. The group size identifies the outside dimensions of the battery, whether it will fit in your car, and the placement of the terminals -- side posts or top posts.
TIP: Group size 75 fits mainly General Motors, size 65 fits most Ford cars, and size 34 fits most Chryslers. Newer Hondas, Nissans, and Toyotas use size 35. Your owner's manual will specify your car's group number.
Step 2: Determine CCA needs Determine the cold cranking amp, or CCA, requirements for your vehicle. CCAs measure the battery's ability to start in cold weather and indicate how much current the battery can deliver to the starter at zero degrees Fahrenheit. Your owner's manual will specify your CCA requirements.
Step 3: Check the reserve capacity Check the battery's reserve capacity. The reserve capacity denotes how many minutes your car can run using the battery alone if the alternator fails. Check the battery's product information literature for reserve capacity -- it likely won't be noted on the label.
Step 4: Buy a fresh battery Buy a battery manufactured fewer than six months earlier than your purchase date. Batteries are stamped with a date code, and the manufacture date is usually indicated by the first two characters of the code.
TIP: The first character in the code will indicate the month -- A for January, B for February, through L for December. The second character will indicate the year -- 8 for 2008, 9 for 2009, or 0 for 2010, etc.
Step 5: Consider your electrical needs Consider the electrical needs for your vehicle. If you have installed additional entertainment features, such as a stereo with a large amplifier, television screens, DVD players, or video games, your car will have increased electrical demands.
Step 6: Consider a universal fit battery Consider a universal fit battery, which fits most battery trays and has both top and side posts. Many universal fit batteries are specially designed to increase both output and battery life, but can cost more than twice as much as other batteries. Getting a new battery is an investment in your car's life, so be sure to choose the one that fits your needs.
FACT: In 2008, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that nearly 99 million wet-cell lead-acid car batteries were manufactured each year.