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    How to Choose A Vehicle Battery

    Most of the time, vehicle batteries eye arrd to provide the energy to start cars, trucks, and other vehicles. Besides supplying power to the ignition system and the starter eye , bries may also power car accessories such as the radio and lights.

    Tractor Supply carries a good selection of automotive batteries, light truck batteries, van and sport utility vehicle (SUV) batteries, commercial-industrial and agricultural batteries for tractors.

    When selecting a battery, you should consider three main factors:

    Battery Voltage

    A volt is a measure of the potential for current to flow. (Think of voltage like water pressure, only for electricity). The higher the voltage of the battery system, the more current can flow through it. Most automotive and batteries are 12-volt batteries.

    Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) and Cranking Amps (CA)

    A CCA rating describes the amount of current (measured in amperes or “amps”) that the battery can produce at 0 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 seconds(and not drop below 7.2 volts). A high CCA rating is a good indicator that a battery performs well in cold weather. A CA rating is a similar measurement at 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Group Size

    Batteries are classified into a number of group sizes according to their voltage or CCA rating, their maximum overall dimensions, their terminal arrangement, and any other special features that affect the battery’s fit.

    It is very important to make sure you choose a battery that meets or exceeds the original equipment manufacturer's (OEM) specifications for the vehicle. Do not select a battery using size alone. Two batteries of the same size may perform very differently.

    If you do not know the specifications for your vehicle, visit or call your local TSC and an expert team member will be happy to assist.

    How Do Batteries Work?

    A battery consists of two or more metal plates submerged into an electrolyte (a sulfuric acid solution). When a load, such as a starting engine eye , irached to the terminals of the battery, a chemical reaction between the acid and plates creates a flow of electrical energy along a wire. This energy can provide power to the load.

    Batteries usually last until the chemical reaction between the metal plates and the acid subsides. (The concentration of sulfuric acid declines over time, and in some cases the metal plate is completely dissolved.) However, extreme temperatures (hot or cold) and excess vibration can shorten the life of a battery considerably. Other factors, such as electric shorts and alternator/regulator malfunction, can also shorten the life of a battery.

    Starting Batteries

    Designed to provide a large amount of current for a short period of time, just long enough to turn an engine over. A starting battery is not suitable for deep cycle applications (it will quickly wear out).

    Deep Cycle Batteries

    Designed to provide a steady amount of current over a longer period of time. A deep cycle battery cannot provide enough “juice” for a starting battery application.

    Dual Purpose Batteries

    Combine starting and deep cycle characteristics.

    Battery Types, Features & Benefits

    • “Wet” lead-acid batteries, which come fully charged and ready for use. Most of the batteries in this module will fall into this category.
    • Motorcycle batteries, which are “dry charged” (that is, they need to be filled with acid and charged before use).
    • The alkaline battery, which are batteries such as AA batteries you would use to run your TV remote control. (Alkaline batteries will not be covered in this course).

    Automotive, Light Truck, Van, Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV), Commercial-Industrial and Agricultural Batteries

    Light trucks (such as pickup trucks), vans, and SUVs are very demanding on batteries. Tractor Supply carries premium batteries that are designed and built to meet the following challenges:

    • Heavy starting loads
    • High vibration levels
    • Extreme temperatures
    • Stop-and-go driving
    • Handling navigation and passenger comfort systems

    Dual Purpose Marine Batteries

    • True two-in-one marine batteries
    • Has both deep cycle and starting ability
    • Strong enough to start the engine and run the electrical systems on boats

    Deep Cycle Marine Batteries

    • Trolling motors
    • Bilge pumps
    • Lights
    • Depth finders
    • Sump pumps
    • Additional accessories

    Specialty Batteries

    Tractor Supply carries specialty batteries for tractors, motorcycles, ATVs and jet skis.

    • Compact size
    • Superior cranking power: Tractor Supply offers 200 CA, 280 CA, and 360 CA models
    • L-shaped terminal for low-resistance connections
    • Easily removable vent caps

    Sealed Motorcycle Batteries

    For added safety, this battery’s special negative plates never release gas during normal charging. These batteries hold their specific gravity (the concentration of sulfuric acid in the battery fluid) three times longer than conventional batteries. Because they are spill-proof, they are good for ATVs, motorcycles, and Jet Ski applications.

    Motorcycle/powersport batteries are unique in that the consumer must fill the battery with the electrolyte and charge the battery prior to installation. Specific instructions are included in each battery box.

    Features include:

    • Sealed
    • Spill-proof
    • Maintenance-free

    Conventional Motorcycle Batteries

    The conventional motorcycle battery can also be used in some garden tractor applications. You can find this battery at Tractor Supply with the following features:

    • Maximum starting power
    • Easy maintenance
    • Lead/calcium alloy, which reduces self-discharge for superior starting power even after months in storage
    • A durable, transparent container, which protects against seepage and corrosion while making it easy to check electrolyte levels

    Battery Safety

    All batteries contain sulfuric acid, which by itself is potentially lethal. Moreover, the sulfuric acid in the battery is diluted with water. The battery breaks this water down into hydrogen and oxygen, and these two components can create a very explosive gas. (This is particularly true when a battery is being charged.) For these reasons, it is IMPORTANT that you ALWAYS use the following precautions around batteries:

    • Wear protective eyewear and gloves.
    • Never smoke near a battery.

    Keep batteries with their tops up, to prevent the acid from leaking out and corroding surrounding metals.

    What Else Will You Need?

    Here are some additional items you may need when changing your battery or for battery maintenance:

    • Jumper Cables
    • Battery Charger
    • Inverter
    • Battery Accessories

    Tractor Supply can special order many batteries that are not stocked at our stores. Visit your local TSC store to special order.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Q: Is there more than one option available for my vehicle?

    A: There are several options available for most vehicles. Each option should meet or exceed the original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM) specification. Visit or call your local TSC and an expert team member will be happy to assist.

    Q: Is this the correct size and shape? Will the battery fit my vehicle?

    A: Sometimes a replacement battery won’t have the same physical dimensions as the one that came with the vehicle, particularly in the case of a dual terminal battery. Check to see if attention to the “Battery Spacer” (a plastic tray shipped with dual terminal batteries) is required.

    Q: Is this battery suitable for off-road use?

    A: Tractor Supply carries batteries with anchor-bonding features. If you do not purchase one of these batteries, you can use the appropriate battery hold-down. Never use coat hangers, bungee cords or chicken wire for this purpose. Visit or call your local TSC and ask a team member for more information about battery hold-down cables.

    Q: Do I have to add water to the battery?

    A: Most batteries sold at TSC are changed and ready to go (except motorcycle batteries). In extremely hot climates, it is advisable to check fluids once a year.

    Q: Is this a fresh battery? Will I have to charge it up to full power?

    A: All new TSC batteries, with the exception of motorcycle batteries, are shipped fresh and fully charged from the manufacturer; no additional charging should be required at the time of purchase.

    Q: Does this battery have enough power for my vehicle?

    A: Call or visit your local TSC store. An expert team member will be able to suggest batteries that meet or exceed the original equipment manufacturer’s (OEM) specification by using the TSC Battery Application Guide, which is stocked in all TSC stores.