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A quick ‘how to’ guide on the different types of batteries, what the ratings mean, and how to maintain your battery and starting / charging system.
The main type of battery used in vehicles and boats is called a wet battery because it is filled with a lead / acid mix. They can be:
- Wet Standard
- Wet Maintenance Free (sealed)
- Wet Low Maintenance
These batteries have a rating system of cranking amps (CA). The CA of a battery will be on the label and is the most important factor to get right when replacing your battery as larger engines and diesel engines require more CA to start them.
Technically, CA is the number of amps a lead acid battery can deliver for 30 seconds at 0 degrees Celsius and maintain at least 1.2 volts per cell (7.2 volts for a 12 volt battery). In other words, cranking amps determines how much power you have to start your car.
Batteries have another rating called reserve capacity. This refers to the battery‘s ability to operate essential accessories in the event of a charging system failure and will determine how far you will get on the battery alone.
Replacing Your Battery
When replacing your battery, you should check the automobile owner’s manual for proper size and minimum recommended cranking amps.
You can also consult a battery application guide by looking up correct make, model, and year to determine the proper size for your vehicle.
Never use a battery with a lower capacity rating than is recommended by the manufacturer. Using a battery with a higher capacity is not detrimental, and is recommended for older vehicles to improve starting and provide longer life for the battery.