How to Load Test Your Car Battery

Car maintenance is a necessity. Today many people are finding it more economical to do the work themselves. Understanding the terms used when reading manuals, knowing the correct tools to use, and knowing how to test the battery are ways to save money. Understanding what the battery actually does is also important. Knowing what to ask for at the parts store can keep a person from buying unnecessary or even the wrong parts.

What Does CCA Stand For?

CCA means cold cranking amps. This term is used when referring to the ability of a battery to crank an engine in cold temperatures. The CCA is based on the number of amps that a fully charged battery can deliver at zero degrees Fahrenheit. This is important because the engine’s oil thickens and chemical reactions slow down at lower temperatures, which makes it harder to start. A battery with a high number of CCA’s tells you the engine will crank even when the weather is freezing outside. This is especially important for those living in colder climates.

What Do RC and AH Mean?

Reserve Capacity or RC is how many minutes a fully charged battery at 80 degrees Fahrenheit can be discharged at 25 amps until it falls below 10.5 volts. This is most important when pulling loads, when the alternator is faulty, and in emergencies. The higher rating will give the battery the ability to run lights, pumps, inverters, and other electronics longer before recharging. Choose a battery with a higher rating; the higher the rating, the more dependable the battery will be. AH is the ampere-hour rating of a battery. This is the amount of continuous current a battery can supply, for twenty hours, at certain amperage, at 80 degrees without cell voltage falling below 1.75 volts.

What is a Battery Load Test?

Load testing is the process of applying demand on a system or device and measuring its response. It is done to show a system’s behavior under both normal and stressed conditions. Low power testing is carried out with the resistive loads while very high power testing is carried out with variable loads that may require a different technique. These tests are usually designed to be representative of the load expected, according to normal usage. When the battery is discharged intermittently in the testing, it may appear to have a greater capacity than when it is discharged continuously. This is due to recovery of the battery during the idle periods between the current drains.

What Is a Parasitic Load?

This is the cumulative load produced by electrical devices, like clocks, that operate after the engine is turned off. These loads normally run between 20 to 120 milliamps. Leaving headlights on or leaving the door open will discharge a fully charged battery in two to six hours. Even small devices, such as the light in the glove box, put a strain on the battery when the engine isn’t running.

What Can a Person Do to Make the Battery Last Longer?

Keep your car well maintained. Keep the battery terminals clear of corrosion. Turn off unnecessary devices when the vehicle is turned off. Make sure the alternator belt is tight. Prevent battery from freezing.

Automotive battery life is determined by many things. Testing is done to determine if it is time to purchase a new battery. Always get the battery that is right for the job. Make sure that your battery is kept in optimum working order. If you can’t check it yourself, get a mechanic. Battery testing is essential to its health.