Batteries are the heart of a vehicle’s starting and charging system, as well as the storehouse of power for air suspensions and audio/video systems. Yet, the importance of batteries is often overlooked or misunderstood. With a little basic information on terms, types and maintenance tips you can extend the life of your batteries and other energy system components as well.
To some extent, a battery’s life depends on the weather. Cold weather is hard on batteries because it slows down the chemical reactions that produce the current needed to crank the motor. A cold battery also takes longer to charge. On hot days, high under hood, trunk and ambient temperatures can increase water evaporation from a battery. If the water level gets low, and the tops of the cell plates are exposed, they’ll dry out and ruin the battery.
Battery strength is measured by cold cranking amps (CCA), which refers to the number of amps a battery can deliver at zero degrees F to start the engine. When determining engine battery strength needs, a good rule of thumb to follow is to provide one CCA for each cubic inch of engine displacement (for those out there with metric displacement, that’s one CCA for each 16.3872cc).
The cutaway drawing above shows the unique Spiralcell Technology of the Optima YellowTop lead-acid battery. Optima batteries offer deep-cycling capability along with high cranking power with its full dual-purpose performence. Optima is able to outfit nearly all performance vehicles including the new Subaru WRX and Mitsubishi EVO as well as domestic sport compacts and imports. The YellowTop Group 35 is also able to fit some of the most popular European vehicles including Audi, BMW, Volkswagen and various Mercedes-Benz models.
The other industry standard by which batteries are rated is reserve capacity (RC). This refers to how many minutes the battery can put out amps when there is no charging input (for example, when a car’s lights are left on, the stereo is playing or when operating an air ride system). CCA is critical for good cranking ability while RC is important because it helps to power the vehicle’s electrical system in the event of alternator failure.