The basics of the battery that runs your vehicle

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Vehicle batteries are one of those things that most of us only think about when something goes wrong. Image: Flickr / stephanridgway / CC-BY

A vehicle battery has to serve a multitude of purposes, but most of us rely on it to start the vehicle every day. The numbers and markings on a battery can help you keep apprised of the state of your vehicle’s health.

What the numbers mean

Batteries are generally sold with one large number that is intended to indicate how long the battery is supposed to last. An “84” battery is supposed to last about 84 months, or seven years. A “24” battery, on the other hand, is supposed to last about two years. A battery maker will usually warranty the battery, including free replacement, for the full number of months from the date of manufacture.

The battery code tells you the date of manufacture. The letter stands for the month the battery was made: B = February, C = March, etc. The number is the last number of the year produced. Therefore a battery with H11 was made in August of 2011.

How batteries work

A vehicle battery is a re-chargeable battery that is intended to be charged and re-charged, then used, on a regular basis. A battery is charged by the alternator, which turns the mechanical energy of an engine running into the electrical energy that the battery can store. The life of a battery is judged, in part, by the number of charges it can take. The length of time a battery can last under normal operating conditions is indicated by the strength of the materials the battery is made of.

What can limit the charge

If your battery is losing charge quickly, consistently needing to be replaced long before it should be, then there could be a problem with how the battery is charging. If most of your vehicle trips are less than five miles, you could be draining your battery before it has a chance to completely charge. The connection between battery and alternator could also be shorting out.

[The Howdy Honda Austin TX dealership can offer a helping hand, or a new vehicle.]

It is worth having the electrical system checked out if the battery is consistently causing problems. Just remember that the battery is intended to last as long as it is marked for, and you should be checking those numbers and replacing the battery when it is close to the end of its life.

Remember to recycle

When a battery has reached the end of its useful life in a vehicle, it should not be thrown away. Batteries can be recycled, and they are a valuable recycling resource. Most recycling houses will pay between $2 and $10 for a used vehicle battery. Throwing away a battery can release toxic chemicals into landfills and ground water, so when your A09 24 battery is dead and gets replaced, take it to a recycling center.


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