Like many parts of your vehicle that are consumables, there’s another part that plays an important role in your vehicle, and that is your vehicle’s battery. In charge of firing up your engine before you start moving, a dead or weak battery will leave you stranded.

What are batteries for?

As stated above, the main role of your vehicle’s battery is to start up your engine, and it does this by providing power to the starter to crank your engine whenever you turn over your key or press the engine start button. It is also used to power your vehicle’s headlights, stereo, and any other electrical components when your engine is not running.

When your engine is running, it also runs the alternator, and it takes over the battery’s job and generates electricity to recharge your battery and keeps those that need electricity running.

How to know if your battery is good?

Vehicle batteries typically last for 3 to 5 years depending on various factors such as environment and usage, and the most obvious sign of a dying battery is when it’s difficult to start your vehicle (assuming your engine is in good condition). If your vehicle is stationary for long periods of time, the batteries should be recharged once in a while either by letting the engine run or using a battery charger.

When the engine is not running, a healthy battery should keep a charge of 12.6 volts, and it’s normal for the voltage to drop over time due to wear and tear. As long as its charge is above 12 volts, your battery should have enough power to start your vehicle, and if it drops below 12 volts, it’s a sign that your battery has reached the end of its lifespan.

*Note: The same applies to the battery voltage when the engine is running, where a good battery will have a voltage of 14.6 volts or lower, and anything less than 13.5 volts is also a sign of a dying battery.

Not all batteries are the same

Vehicle batteries have different standards, differing in size depending on your battery holder, cold crank amperage (CCA) where vehicle’s with bigger engine capacity will need a higher rating, reserve capacity (RC) which shows the minimum amount of time your battery can supply voltage without your engine running, and amp hours (AH) that shows how many hours a battery can provide 1 amp of power or the max amps it can provide for an hour.

These all are typically too complicated and irrelevant for consumers, and when replacing batteries be sure to refer to your owner’s manual, or consult your battery dealer for the best replacement battery.