Anyone who owns a car is familiar with the battery component. Unlike some other hidden parts of a car, we know exactly what it looks like and where to find it. We even know that it’s the component that turns on the radio, the air conditioner, the indicators, all the car’s lights, and enables you to start your vehicle. Remotely operated doors and windows would not open and close without a car battery. But what we’re not so familiar with is how to choose the best battery for our cars.
The moment your car battery dies, or goes flat and runs out of charge, your car is no longer functional. Just like other car components, batteries wear out over time, and especially when your car is standing idle for longer periods, their lifespan diminishes.
To save money, it’s not that difficult to replace a battery yourself, but shopping for a battery could be trickier. Of course, you could just replace your old battery with the exact same one, but you’re here because you’re a savvy car owner!
Factors When Buying a Car Battery
A battery typically needs replacing every 3 to 4 years. Don’t wait until your car battery dies to replace it. As soon as you start to see the signs, start shopping for a new one.
Size & position of terminals
Vehicle batteries come in group sizes, which are typically based on the vehicle make, model, and engine. Battery group sizes refer to:
- The physical dimensions (height x width x length) that the battery will fit into
- The location of the positive and negative posts (polarity)
It’s important your replacement battery fits properly and snugly into place. A perfect fit prevents the battery moving or vibrating which can cause damage to your battery. Ensure that you buy the correct group size approved by your vehicle’s manufacturer by consulting your owner’s manual, or use Willard Batteries’ Replacement Tool.
It’s important to replace your old battery with a fresh one. A battery that stands unused and uncharged for lengthy periods may cause a build-up of sulphation on the plates. Therefore, never buy a battery that is older than six months, and preferably under three months from the date of manufacture.
How to check battery freshness
Look for the alphanumeric (letter and number) shipping code on the battery case or on the battery itself. The code can be several characters long, but you’re looking for the first two characters in the sequence.
This is how to read the code:
- Number (0-9): Stands for the year of manufacture. E.g. ‘1’ represents the year 2021, ‘2’ represents 2022, etc.
- Letter: Stands for the month of manufacture from A-L representing January to December. E.g. ‘A’ represents January, ‘L’ represents December.
- The letter and number is interchangeable and mean the same thing
- Therefore, ‘1H’ or ‘H1’ indicates the battery was manufactured in August 2021.
Reserve Capacity Rating
The Reserve Capacity (RC) of a battery refers to how long a battery can run on its own power.
The purpose of the RC of a car’s battery is times such as your alternator or fan belt failing or accidentally leaving the lights on, the battery will continue to run for a while, allowing you to continue driving and avoid being stranded.
You may also come across Ampere hours, referring to the amount of electricity a battery can store. A battery with a higher Ah rating will maintain a load for longer.
Each make and model has a recommended RC – check your owner’s manual and ensure you replace your car battery with one that falls within the recommended range.
Batteries come with two types of warranties: A replacement period and a pro-rated period. The former replaces a faulty battery for free, and the latter reimburses partially for the cost of the battery. Choose a battery that comes with a long free replacement warranty.
When it comes to choosing a brand, the answer is perhaps less simple. With so many brands and varying price ranges on the market, it can be perplexing. 100% South African-owned, Willard Batteries is arguably the most well-known and reputable brands in the country, offering a 25-month guarantee across it’s entire range.
Other car battery brands available in South Africa:
Ultimately, the best battery to replace your old one is the one of the same size and specification recommended by the car’s manufacturer. Always consult your driver’s manual, especially if you’re taking the DIY route. An incorrect battery, as well as an incorrectly installed one will deem any warranties invalid.
At Supa Quick, all our batteries come with an extensive cover from the manufacturer and are valid for 18 to 25 months from date of purchase.
Disclaimer: This content is for informational, educational, or entertainment purposes only. We do not make any guarantees about the completeness, reliability, and accuracy of the content.