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Frequently Asked Questions About Batteries

How a Battery Works
Common Battery Myths
The History of the
  Battery

Are all lead-acid batteries alike?

What's inside the battery makes a difference. Batteries are built with plates made of lead, alloys and lead oxide. During the life of a battery, plates are charged and discharged thousands of times. The quality of the materials, workmanship, and special design features in the manufacturing process can make a significant difference in a battery's performance. Calcium lead alloys, demineralized electrolyte, and durable separator materials are just a few of the internal components that distinguish the quality of batteries.

What is the difference between Antimony and Calcium alloys?

In the past, batteries mainly relied on antimony as an alloying element for improved castability and hardness. However, the greater the concentration of antimony in the grid alloy, the greater the rate of water loss and self-discharge. The popular lead-acid battery of today is a low water loss battery. The grids of a low water loss battery (referred to as maintenance-free) contain little or no antimony. CARQUEST batteries are made with a calcium alloy in order to provide the necessary mechanical strength, cranking amps and life, while reducing gassing and self-discharge.

Which battery is right for my vehicle?

Once you determine which battery meets your vehicle's dimensional requirements, be sure to get a battery with enough power. A battery undersized for your engine and driving needs will wear out sooner and may leave you stranded at the worst possible time. Always check your owner's manual for the minimum rating requirement. And remember that older cars, extra accessories, and low-temperature conditions call for a more powerful battery. In this case, you should always select a level above the Manufacturer's requirements if possible.

How should I compare price for similar batteries?

Always compare batteries with comparable CCAs, reserve capacity and warranty. Make sure to compare CCA to CCA or CA to CA...never mix the two. CCAs or Cold Cranking Amps measures amperes at 0F. CAs or Cranking Amps measures at 32F. This rating will always be higher than a CCA rating.

In addition, beware of low advertised prices. Many times they are for smaller, less powerful batteries, that may not meet your vehicle's requirements. It's important to make sure your battery comes from a dependable supplier like CARQUEST. Remember, much of the battery's performance has a lot to do with materials, workmanship, special design features in the manufacturing process and proper application.

What is the difference between AH and RC ratings?

Ampere-Hour (AH) Capacity rates a battery for a specified quantity of electricity, at a given rate, over a definite period of time. Reserve Capacity (RC) rates a battery with more specific criteria. It measures the time in minutes that a new battery will deliver 25 amperes at 80F and maintain a terminal voltage of = or > 1.75 volts per cell...enough to find emergency help if the charging system fails.

How much bearing does warranty have on a battery's performance?

Warranty alone has NO bearing on how the battery performs.

Performance is based upon battery design, construction, and capacity (CCA / RC / AH), not months of warranty.

What type of maintenance should I do for my battery?

The battery is part of the electrical system. When replacing your battery, always check related components. Replace if necessary.
  • Follow all safety precautions...batteries can explode!
  • Do not attempt without training or proper instructions
  • Check cables
  • Tighten fan belt
  • Clean corrosion off hold-downs, cables and trays
  • Adjust voltage regulator and alternator output to proper specifications
  • Check starter drive
  • Repair shorts in electrical system.
  • Purchase a battery anti-corrosion treatment.
  • The low cost is well worth a longer lasting battery

Is the height of a battery measured from the top of the case or the post?

A battery's height should always be measured to the top of the post. This ensures that when the battery is installed, it will have enough overhead clearance.

Why do I get a low voltage reading when testing side terminals or stud posts?

Charging Posts should be used to ensure the best testing and charging results for side or stud terminal batteries. The charging posts will provide a flush lead-to-lead contact. Be sure to tighten the charging post until it is snug and secure. This will allow a strong current to pass from the charging post to the battery terminal.

DO NOT USE Battery Bolt Extenders or Battery Bolts for testing or charging batteries. They do not provide the necessary lead-to-lead contact, and can reduce your cold cranking amperage (CCA) and state of charge readings. Batteries should be charged if the open circuit voltage (voltmeter) reading is below 12.4 volts.

What are Valve-regulated batteries?

Sealed valve-regulated technology (SVR) technology encompasses both gelled electrolyte and absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries. Both types are valve-regulated and have significant advantages over flooded lead-acid products.

CARQUEST's gel and AGM batteries are manufactured to tough quality standards with high power and excellent performance and life.

What are gel batteries?

A gel battery is a lead-acid electric storage battery that:
  • is sealed using special pressure valves and must never be opened
  • is completely maintenance-free
  • uses thixotropic gelled electrolyte
  • uses a recombination reaction to prevent the escape of hydrogen and oxygen gases normally lost in a flooded lead-acid battery (particularly in deep cycle applications) - unless the battery is overcharged
  • is non-spillable, and therefore can be operated in virtually any position (upside-down installation is not recommended)

What are AGM batteries?

An AGM battery is a lead-acid electric storage battery that:
  • is sealed using special pressure valves and must never be opened
  • is completely maintenance-free
  • has all of the electrolyte absorbed in separators consisting of a sponge-like matted glass fibers
  • uses a recombination reaction to prevent the escape of hydrogen and oxygen gases normally lost in a flooded lead-acid battery (particularly in deep cycle applications) - unless the battery is overcharged
  • is non-spillable, and therefore can be operated in virtually any position (upside-down installation is not recommended)

How does a SVR battery work?

SVR batteries are "recombinant" gel or AGM batteries. This means that the oxygen normally produced on the positive plates of all lead-acid batteries is absorbed by the negative plate rather than escaping the cell like traditional flooded batteries. This suppresses the production of hydrogen at the negative plate. Water (H2O) is produced instead, retaining the moisture within the battery. It never needs watering, and should never be opened as this would "poison" the battery with additional oxygen from the air. Opening the battery will void the warranty.

Important Charging Instructions for SVR batteries: The warranty is void if improperly charged. Use a good constant potential, temperature-compensated, voltage-regulated charger. Constant current chargers should never be used on SVR batteries.

What are the differences between gel batteries and absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries?

Both are recombinant batteries. Both are sealed valve-regulated (SVR) - also called valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA). AGM batteries and gel batteries are both considered "acid-starved."

In a gel battery, the electrolyte is not a normal liquid. The electrolyte has the consistency and appearance of petroleum jelly.

Like gelled electrolyte batteries, absorbed electrolyte batteries are also considered non-spillable - all of the liquid electrolyte is trapped in the sponge-like matted glass fiber separator material.

The "acid-starved" condition of gel and AGM batteries protects the plates during heavy deep-discharges. The gel battery is more starved, giving more protection to the plate; therefore, it is better suited for super-deep discharge applications.

Due to the physical properties of the gelled electrolyte, gel battery power declines faster than an AGM battery's as the temperature drops below 32F. AGM batteries excel for high current, high power applications and in extremely cold environments.

What's the difference between SVR batteries and traditional wet (flooded) batteries?

Wet batteries do not have special pressurized sealing vents, as they do not work on the recombination principle. They contain liquid electrolyte that can spill and cause corrosion if tipped or punctured. Therefore, they are not air transportable without special containers. They cannot be shipped via UPS or Parcel Post or used near sensitive electronic equipment. They can only be installed "upright."

Wet batteries lose capacity and become permanently damaged if:

  • left in a discharged condition for any length of time (due to sulfation). This is especially true of antimony and hybrid types.
  • continually over-discharged, due to active material shedding. This is especially true of automotive starting types.
CARQUEST gel cells have triple the deep cycle life of wet cell antimony alloy deep cycle batteries, due to our unique design. The shelf life of a SVR battery is seven times higher than the shelf life of a deep cycle antimony battery.

How do gel and AGM (SVR batteries) recharge? Can I use a "regular battery" charger?

No! You cannot use a "regular charger." While our SVR batteries accept a charge extremely well due to their low internal resistance, any battery will be damaged by continual under- or overcharging. Capacity is reduced and life is shortened. Overcharging is especially harmful to any SVR battery because of the sealed design. Overcharging dries out the electrolyte by driving the oxygen and hydrogen out of the battery through the pressure relief valves. Performance and life are severely reduced. Any battery that is continually undercharged, a power-robbing layer of sulfate will build up on the positive plate, which acts as a barrier to recharging. Premature plate shedding can also occur. Performance is reduced and life is shortened.

Therefore, it is critical that a charger be used that limits voltage. The charger must also be temperature-compensated to prevent under-or overcharging due to ambient temperature changes.

Important Charging Instructions: The warranty is void if improperly charged. Use a good constant potential, temperature-compensated, voltage-regulated charger. Constant current chargers should never be used on SVR batteries.

Can I use a car battery in my boat?

Batteries that are not designed for marine applications or withstand marine conditions may fail at the worst possible time, in the worst possible situation. That's why you should always choose a marine battery that can withstand the rigors of typical marine use.

It's also important to have the right type of marine battery to match the power demands required by your boat. CARQUEST offers a complete line of starting, deep cycle and dual purpose marine batteries to meet all your individual marine power needs.

What is the difference between a starting and deep cycle battery?
A starting battery is designed to deliver several hundred amperes of power to the starter motor very quickly...within a few seconds. The power comes off the surface of the plates inside the battery. Therefore, a battery with more plate surface and less resistance will deliver more instant power.

However, a deep cycle battery is called upon to deliver a long, slow discharge of fewer amperes...for several minutes or hours...in a deep cycle applications like trolling motors, boat house power, etc. In this case, the power comes from deep within the plates, not merely off the surface, as in starting. CARQUEST deep cycle batteries are specially engineered with heavier, thicker plates with fiberglass reinforcement, special power producing active material, and special heavy-duty separators. With these features, the battery can withstand the potentially damaging effects of continually being deeply discharged and recharged over and over again.




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