Your car's starting and charging system is the life source of your engine. Consisting of the alternator, battery and starter, it supplies the energy needed to start the engine and maintain all the electrical elements of the car—from the headlights to the stereo.

When the charging system fails, an indicator light will activate. The most common charging system failure is a loose, worn or broken alternator belt, so have it checked first.

It is extremely important to have your starting and charging system checked by a trained technician on a regular basis.

A thorough starting and charging system inspection should include the following:
  • Checking alternator belt. A loose, worn or broken alternator belt is the most common cause for a charging system failure.

  • Checking connections on all battery and starter cables. Loose or corroded connections diminish performance.

  • Checking the battery load. To perform a battery load test, a certified technician will attach a special diagnostic machine to the battery that provides a clear measure of the battery's condition.

  • Checking the electrolyte levels. Do not let level drop below the low line or overfill the battery.

  • Checking the state of charge. Battery should be charged when the state of charge is low.

  • Checking that the battery is firmly anchored to its location.

Your car's battery—the heart of the electrical system
Your car's battery is the heart of its electrical system. It supplies the power needed to run your vehicle's ignition system, starter, lights and other electrical equipment. With the proper maintenance your battery should provide many years of reliable service. To obtain maximum performance and extend the life of your battery, regular inspections from a trained technician are recommended.

How can I increase the life of my battery?
Keeping your battery and engine well maintained is the best way to extend the life of your battery.

Turning off unnecessary accessories and lights BEFORE starting your car will decrease the load on the battery while cranking, especially when it is cold. Leaving your lights and other accessories on can result in a fully discharged—or ruined—battery. If this should occur, have the battery fully recharged and determine the state of charge. This will tell you if the battery is capable of holding a charge or if it needs to be replaced.

Today's batteries do not require a lot of care. To insure a full life of service from your battery, make sure the top surface remains clean and dry. Its fluid and connections should be checked:
  1. During normal engine service (oil change, lube, etc.)

  2. Before vacation or extended road trip

  3. When tire, muffler or alignment work is done

What should I look for when buying a new battery?
In the event your current battery will no longer hold a charge, you'll need to purchase a replacement. And with the many choices available today, selecting the right battery for your vehicle can become overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be if you know what to look for. Highlighted below are some important features to consider before purchasing a battery. Depending on the climate where you live, certain ratings can play a more important role than others.
  1. Cold Cranking Amps (CCA). CCA is the rating that shows the battery's ability to deliver its rated amps for 30 seconds at 0° F while maintaining a sufficient operating level. Colder climate residents should look for a high CCA rating.

  2. Reserve Capacity (RC). RC tells you how many minutes the battery can supply 25 amps of power at 80° F or 27° C without falling below 10.5 volts (minimum voltage necessary for operation). This is the battery's "staying power" and more is better in all climates.

  3. Check for Freshness. Learn to read the battery date code, or ask the retailer to check for the freshest battery available. Batteries that sit on the shelf for too long without being recharged may not provide the performance you'll need.

  4. Warranty. Look for the most "hassle-free" warranty you can find. Some questions to ask are:
    • Do they require a receipt before warranting the battery?

    • How long is the free replacement period?

    • After that period, does the warranty work on a straight proration period?

    • Do you have to bring the battery back to the same facility where it was purchased to be replaced?