October 31, 2010|By Steven Cole Smith, AUTOMOTIVE
The complete is unmistakable: “RRRR, RRRR, rrrrr, rrrrr… click.” Then: nothing. It’s the complete of a array dying, and best of us accept heard it.
In Florida, we don’t accept the acute ache on batteries like car owners do up north, or alike in the arid states out west. But still, like tires and drive belts, batteries charge be replaced eventually. And it can get a little confusing.
The aboriginal step: Diagnose the problem. Accomplish abiding you charge a new battery, if castigation loses power. A array that died because you larboard an autogenous ablaze on brief can be recharged. A apart affiliation at either end of the array cables can additionally actor a asleep battery; all you charge is for the access to be bankrupt and tightened.
Step two: Do your homework. If your array absolutely does charge replacement, ysis your owner’s manualfor the appropriate admeasurement and ability requirements. Sizes are generally listed as “groups” — Group 75, for instance, covers abounding Accepted Motors vehicles. Group 35 covers abounding Japanese-branded vehicles. Some batteries accept the terminals on top, others on the side. It will additionally acquaint you area the array is. Sure, on best vehicles, it’s appropriate there beneath the hood, but added manufacturers are affective the batteries to added locations, such as central fender, or alike to the rear of the car.
Step three: Award the appropriate one. With a agent like my Ford F-150 — the acknowledged agent in the U.S. for years — award a backup array is a allotment of cake. For attenuate vehicles, or some exceptional brands, you may accept to appointment the banker for a factory-branded battery. You consistently accept the advantage of affairs a array from your dealer, and with the accent on the charge to access account aggregate at dealerships to accomplish up for apathetic new-vehicle sales, abounding dealers are alms actual aggressive prices.
If you adjudge to buy a array from an absolute store, though, a from the size, there are several factors to consider. One, of course, is price, and that can be deceptive. When I afresh shopped for the array for my F-150, there were four altered batteries, at four altered prices, at the aforementioned store. The cheapest array had the everyman accommodation for “cold-cranking amps,” which is how abundant ability the array can bear to the amateur in acutely algid weather. That isn’t a above agency in Florida, but it does chronicle to the battery’s all-embracing capacity. The array may additionally account simple “cranking amps,” which describes the battery’s accommodation at 32 degrees. The cardinal for cranking amps will be college than the cold-cranking amps. Be abiding you are comparing apples to apples.
The cheaper the battery, about the beneath the warranty. Twenty-four months seems to be the minimum, with 72 months actuality a the aerial end. Read the assurance carefully, though, to see if it will alter the array absolute if it fails aural the assurance period, or will aloof pro-rate the battery’s amount as it ages. Either way, be abiding to accumulate the sales cancellation for the array in case you charge it after for assurance purposes.
Step four: Amount considerations. How abundant should you absorb on a battery? A lot of it depends on the acceptance of the vehicle. I bought a mid-priced array for the F-150 — about $70 — because I don’t drive it that often. If it was my go-to-work-daily vehicle, I’d apparently go with a added expensive, added able battery. Another agency to accede is how continued you plan to accumulate the vehicle. Alike an bargain array should aftermost three years in Florida, so if you are planning on trading the agent or affairs it in the aing six months, you may not charge the top-of-the-line model.
Step five: Installation. Unless you plan to install it yourself, you’ll charge to additionally addition into the amount any amount for the abundance or banker to install it. I accept no botheration installing my own battery, so I bought from a abode that answerable added for installation, which I didn’t need. But with abounding batteries, accession is free, and it is a hardly blowzy job. And batteries are heavy. If you alter the array yourself, you’ll charge to acknowledgment the array to the abundance to get aback the state-mandated array auctioning fee. If you accept the abundance install it for you, they’ll be able to accord you acclaim for the old array on the spot.
Step six: Brands. As for brands, it’s beneath important than it acclimated to be. Only a scattering of companies accomplish the all-inclusive majority of the batteries awash in the U.S., and you’ve apparently never alike heard of one of the largest, Johnson Controls, which makes batteries for added than a dozen above outlets.
Batteries accept not gone up abundant in amount in contempo years, but that may not be the case forever. Environmental apropos accept bankrupt a lot of advance mines, and advance is acclimated in accomplishment the plates in batteries. Only one actual big-ticket cast still uses abstinent lead, while the others use mostly recycled lead, one acumen it is so important to acknowledgment acclimated batteries. Regardless of how committed you are to recycling in general, recycling batteries is binding to advice accumulate the amount down.
Steven Cole Smith can be accomplished in Central Florida at [email protected] or 407-420-5699, or in South Florida at [email protected], and 561-243-6519, or 954-356-4361. Or address to Orlando Sentinel, 633 N. Orange Ave., MP-218, Orlando FL 32801.
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