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How to Buy a Car Battery

by Liv | Published on August 14th, 2009, 10:20 am | Sports

So Shannon drops me off for an appointment on Battleground and takes off with the car. This is when she discovers it almost doesn't start. Luckily she makes it back, but it's clear we need a battery for the car. Actually I've known for sometime, but have put it off due to time and money. It's seemed to have a dead-cell in it for sometime, but we really killed the thing when we left the lights on the day we went to What-A-Burger.

Now it's been awhile since I've purchased a battery, but the prices have gone up quite a bit. 10 Years ago, you could easily get a generic battery for $29.99. My first few calls wanted $79.00 for battery. "Bolshevik" as Sum would say.

My first gripe when buying a car battery was that the auto-part workers are so used to looking everything up they can't handle normal questions like:

I want you cheapest top-pole, non-application specific battery, with a negative on the left-hand-side.

They're like "Uh, we can't do that."


Finally I figured I'd drive to Wal-Mart. Cheapest? $50.00 and it's 660 CCA.

The guy slithers his way over and goes "That's not enough power for your car."

I'm like Jesus Christ dude... It's a 3.0 Liter... (besides the golden rule is 2X C.I. = CCA [two times the cubic inches equals the necessary cranking amps]) You do the math...

"What you putting it in?"

"A table saw, think it will work?"


So for $50.00 I left Wal-Mart with a new battery... Came home, stuck it in the Taurus and all is well.

Well sort of.

The battery is dimensionally smaller, but a small piece of wood to shim it in, holds it in tighter than a fat man in a Smart Car.... which really makes you wonder... When did we go from universal battery trays and hold downs, to application specific batteries that cost 2 or 3 times as much? Why not a single universal size?
OE for a V6 Taurus was (I believe) a group 58, 620CCA. So it ought to be OK. The problem for the stores is that they can only look them up by model. If you know the size of the box and the CCA you need then you can stand in the store with a tape measure.

The only vehicle I've had to replace a battery on in the last 25 years was my Mazda MPV with a 3l V6. The original battery was physically big but was rated at 600CCA. It died after three years. I replaced it with one much smaller but it claimed the same spec. It lasted two years. I then measured the box and went Wally world and bought the biggest battery that would fit - an 1100 CCA energizer. End of battery problems. My Toytota and Subaru's all had their original batteries for life.

But my cars have more of a challenge :P

MazdaSnow.jpg (11.23 KiB) Viewed 2185 times
All stupid ideas pass through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is ridiculed. Third, it is ridiculed
August 14th, 2009, 11:11 am
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A Person
Location: Slightly west of the Great White North
We were looking for a quick fix, though I did tell Shan if we moved to colder climates we'd have to upgrade....

Delco use to make a mother of a beast back in the day 1000CCA and was very highly rated... these days, I have no clue, but with EFI, and NC's rather plesant weather... this should get us by.
August 14th, 2009, 11:21 am
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I show you something fantastic and you find fault.
Location: Greensboro, NC
Some big claims are being made for this battery. It will be interesting if it turns out to be genuine.

Inside Ceramatec's wonder battery is a chunk of solid sodium metal mated to a sulphur compound by an extraordinary, paper-thin ceramic membrane. The membrane conducts ions -- electrically charged particles -- back and forth to generate a current. The company calculates that the battery will cram 20 to 40 kilowatt hours of energy into a package about the size of a refrigerator, and operate below 90 degrees C.

This may not startle you, but it should. It's amazing. The most energy-dense batteries available today are huge bottles of super-hot molten sodium, swirling around at 600 degrees or so. At that temperature the material is highly conductive of electricity but it's both toxic and corrosive. You wouldn't want your kids around one of these.

The essence of Ceramatec's breakthrough is that high energy density (a lot of juice) can be achieved safely at normal temperatures and with solid components, not hot liquid.

Ceramatec says its new generation of battery would deliver a continuous flow of 5 kilowatts of electricity over four hours, with 3,650 daily discharge/recharge cycles over 10 years. With the batteries expected to sell in the neighborhood of $2,000, that translates to less than 3 cents per kilowatt hour over the battery's life. Conventional power from the grid typically costs in the neighborhood of 8 cents per kilowatt hour.
August 14th, 2009, 11:47 am
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A Person
Location: Slightly west of the Great White North
When Wal-Mart gets em for $50, I'm in.
August 14th, 2009, 12:28 pm
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I show you something fantastic and you find fault.
Location: Greensboro, NC
Be glad you dont have a mazda miata they take a special small battery (think motorcycle) to fit properly. My wholesale price to buy one is $85
August 14th, 2009, 5:08 pm
I love Miatas....

That said, this seems to be the week for car problems.... Battery is doing swimmingly, but the ignition actuator decided to go on Shan at work the other day, and she couldn't get the car to shut off.... Spent 6 hours yesterday stripping the dash away to get to the steering and found out I have to remove the whole assembly, airbag... ect to get at the actuator....

I said screw it...

I'm ordering parts to rewire it for a push button start.... which should prove interesting..... Getting my brain into the "rewiring with relays" mode is proving difficult... I hate electrical diagrams....
August 15th, 2009, 1:55 pm
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I show you something fantastic and you find fault.
Location: Greensboro, NC

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