How Do You Know if Your Car Needs a New Battery?

Tips & Support
OPTIMA Batteries
Milwaukee, WI

We hear a lot of comments from people who try to offer advice on how to determine if a car battery needs to be replaced. Unfortunately, a lot of it is bad advice. The end result is that a lot of car batteries get replaced unnecessarily. Just because your car needs a jump start (or multiple jump starts) or starts your engine more slowly than you remember doesn't mean it's time to replace your battery. The voltage of a battery essentially serves as the electrical fuel gauge for your battery. Fully-charged, your battery should measure at least 12.6 volts.

If your battery measures less than 12.6 volts, it probably needs to be charged. We're obviously big fans of OPTIMA chargers and maintainers and not just because they can recover many batteries other chargers cannot charge. These chargers can pay for themselves by maximizing the performance and lifespan of any 12-volt car battery and save you from having to buy a new car battery before it's really necessary. Once you get your battery fully-charged, then you can have it load-tested.

Most quality auto parts retailers will load-test your battery for free and a load test on a fully-charged battery is one of the best ways you can determine if your battery needs to be replaced. Even if you don't have an OPTIMA charger or another charger, many of these same auto retailers can try to charge and load test your battery for you. Contrary to what you might hear from some folks, many car batteries won't fail suddenly and many will give you warning signs of impending failure, but you need to pay attention to notice the signs.

When you get your battery load-tested, the results may indicate cold cranking amps below the rating on the battery. While that doesn't necessarily mean the battery needs to be replaced immediately, it does indicate the battery is on the decline and you should definitely keep closer tabs on it going forward, including more frequent maintenance charging. At a certain point (which can vary from one battery to the next) the load test may indicate it is time to replace your battery. You should also consider how your battery is being used. If you are headed into the winter months and your battery is not offering strong load test results, it might be a good idea for safety's sake, to replace your battery sooner than the point of absolute failure. The same may be true if your are going on a long trip or traveling through remote areas.

When it comes time to replace your battery. Remember that a retailer with a nationwide presence may be able to offer your more immediate service than an online retailer. You can find an OPTIMA-authorized retailer near you at the "Find Your Store" search tool on this page.