Batteries fail a lot in cold weather, but did you know that summer is much harder on them? It’s true. Heat is the biggest reason batteries are damaged, but many times you don’t know they are weak until winter comes around.
If you turn the key and your engine won’t turn over at all, there is a decent chance that low battery voltage is the problem. But just replacing the battery might be a waste of money. There might be a draw on the battery that’s draining it overnight or the alternator might not be recharging the battery or the starter could be out. Get the entire charging and starting system tested before you replace any parts. Mechanics can check your battery, starter and alternator with a diagnostic machine and the battery should be fully charged prior to the test to ensure that the test is accurate.
If you need to replace a battery, there are many choices available. The group number is related to the size and shape of the battery along with how the cables mount. Some are side mount, and some are top mount. The group number is mostly related to the size of the battery itself, which is important as the battery usually needs to fit into a confined area in the engine compartment.
You have several choices when it comes to what’s called cold cranking amps (or CCA). That’s the amount of power that the battery has when you start it up and the bigger the number of cold cranking amps, the more power the battery has to start your vehicle. If your vehicle is left out in the bitter cold a lot, you might consider getting a battery with more cold cranking amps.
Reserve capacity (or RC) is basically how long the battery can last before it goes dead. With new vehicles having multiple control modules on board, you can imagine how many different things are drawing power from the battery, even after you shut the engine off. Buy a battery that has plenty of reserve capacity, especially if you sometimes go several days between driving the vehicle.
When a battery is replaced, it’s always best if you can keep a different voltage source hooked up to the vehicle while you disconnect the battery. Otherwise, all of the different control modules on board the vehicle might lose their memory and your radio might even go into a theft deterrent lock mode. Once the radio does that, it can be a real pain to find the right procedure and code to get it unlocked. If you don’t have access to a supplemental power source to use when replacing the battery, it might be worthwhile to have the battery replaced by a tech who has the right equipment.