Car Battery Buying Guide

The battery is a vital part of your car. From buying a car battery to jumpstarting a dead car, make sure you know the battery basics before you hit the road.

Car Batteries 101

The battery is an important part of your vehicle. It’s the power behind your engine, and it also keeps your favourite accessories going strong. Just like any other part of your car, you need to care for your battery properly to keep everything running smoothly — from your heat/AC to your radio. After all, a dead battery can be a major inconvenience — or even leave you stranded. Become battery savvy with these simple shopping and maintenance tips to keep your vehicle’s battery in best form.
 
 

Battery Basics

  1. Size: It’s important to buy a battery that fits your car perfectly. This helps to prevent problems like heavy vibrations, damage, and battery failure due to poor fit. Check your owner’s manual for details on the best size of battery for your car.
     
  2. Cold-cranking amps (CCA): CCAs measure how much current your battery needs to power a car in cold weather. It can take almost twice as much energy to start a battery when the temperature drops, so this is a must for cooler Canadian climates. Helpful hint: the higher the rating, the more powerful the CCA.
     
  3. Reserver capacity (RC): The RC is often overlooked by battery buyers, but an RC rating is an important consideration. The RC measures how long your accessories will run without power to the engine, which is crucial for cars equipped with several electrical accessories. The higher the rating, the longer your electronics will last without engine power.
     
  4. Freshness: Much like food on a shelf, a car battery won’t stay fresh forever. The longer a battery sits, the more it loses its charge and its capacity to recharge. Luckily, batteries come with date codes so you can check just how fresh it is. It’s important to become familiar with the format of the date codes. For guaranteed freshness, look for a battery that is fewer than six months old.
 
 

Battery Warranties

Before you choose a warranty for your battery, you should be aware of two main terms:
  • Free replacement term is the timeframe in which a defective battery will be replaced for free
  • Total replacement period is the timeframe in which the battery will be replaced at a portion of the original cost
 
Once you’ve decided on a warranty, make sure to ask about any restrictions it might have. You should always keep your receipt and a copy of your warranty agreement in a safe place in case you need it.
 

Factors that can shorten battery life:

The average battery lasts between 4 to 5 years, but there are many factors can lead to a shorter life span:
• Extreme temperatures — especially hot weather — can strain your battery
• A defective vehicle charging system can cause early failure
• Running the electrical system with the engine off (for example, leaving the lights on) is often responsible for a dead battery

But don’t worry: if your battery dies, it’s not necessarily “dead” for good. You can easily jumpstart your car to bring your dead battery back to life.
 
 

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How to jumpstart your battery

Jumpstarting a dead battery is an important skill every driver should learn. It’s easy, effective and can save you a pricey service call. Remember: you should always keep a set of jumper cables in your car.
  1. Grab your jumper cables.
  2. Put on protective eyewear.
  3. Find a vehicle with a working battery that has the same voltage as yours.
  4. Park the cars close to each other, and make sure they don’t touch.
  5. Turn off the ignition.
  6. Take the positive clamp of the jumper cable. It will be labeled with the word “POS,” a positive ( ) sign, and will typically be red. First, connect the positive clamp to the positive terminal of the dead battery.
  7. Then, connect the other positive clamp to the positive terminal of the starting vehicle battery.
  8. Take the negative clamp, labeled with the word “NEG,” the minus (-) sign, which is typically black, and connect it to the negative terminal of the starting vehicle.
  9. Take the other negative clamp and connect it to an unpainted, metal part of the engine block or chassis (a bolt works well). This is crucial, as it will act as your ground or connection point while recharging the battery.
  10. Double-check the cables and engine to make sure all lines are clear of fan blades, belts or other moving parts.
  11. Once everything is ready, everyone should move a safe distance away from the cars. Start the car with the working battery, and then try to start the stalled vehicle.
  12. If your car starts, you’ve successfully boosted your battery!
  13. If your car doesn’t start, wait a few moments before trying the jumpstart again. If it still doesn’t start, you might need a new battery.
  14. Remember: always take off the clamps in the reverse order that you put them on.
 
 

Jumpstarting DO’s and DON’Ts

To make sure everyone is safe while boosting your vehicle, follow these simple dos and don’ts.
 
DO:
  • Take the proper precautions when jumpstarting a vehicle. Ex: wear proper eye protection
  • Avoid contact with battery fluid, which contains sulfuric acid
  • In case you come into contact with battery acid, immediately wash your skin and/or flush your eyes with water, and call a physician
  • If you’re unsure about your battery’s condition, it’s best to call a car service professional
 
DON’T:
  • Try to jumpstart a damaged or frozen battery
  • Smoke, light a match, or bring open flames near the battery
  • Lean on the battery while changing it
 
Legal
This article is intended as general information. Always be sure to read and follow the label(s)/instruction(s) that accompany your product(s). Walmart will not be responsible for any injury or damage caused by this activity.

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