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Automotive Battery Information  

Automotive Battery FAQs
QUESTION 1: Are Interstate automotive batteries maintenance-free?
QUESTION 2: What does the 18-month free-replacement warranty cover?
QUESTION 3: What happens if a problem occurs with my battery after the 18-month free replacement period ends?
QUESTION 4: In order to get the warranty, do I have to take the battery back to the original dealer?
QUESTION 5: If I accidentally leave my car's lights on overnight, will my battery be damaged?
QUESTION 6: What does "CCA" stand for?
QUESTION 7: What does "CA" stand for?
QUESTION 8: What does "RC" mean?
QUESTION 9: What effect do extreme heat and cold have on a battery?
QUESTION 10: How do I charge a battery? What cautions should be observed?
QUESTION 11: How often should my battery be checked, and what should be done to maintain it?
QUESTION 12: How do I know when to test/replace my battery?
QUESTION 13: How do I determine the correct battery and power requirements for my vehicle?
QUESTION 14: How important is CCA versus voltage level and run time (reserve capacity)?

ANSWER 1: We carry a line of sealed, maintenance-free batteries for cars, trucks and deep-cycle applications. However, most of the automotive batteries that Interstate currently offers are referred to as "low-maintenance", which means that under normal operating conditions, the battery will require minimal maintenance. In hot climates, it is beneficial to own a battery that can be serviced, and Interstate batteries are designed with this in mind. Fluid levels are critical in unsealed batteries and should be checked periodically by a qualified service technician in order to ensure maximum battery life. back to top

ANSWER 2: Our Free Replacement Warranty covers failure of most Interstate batteries due to a defect in material or workmanship for the first 18 months that you own it.

If battery failure does occur, an Interstate dealer will provide you with a new battery at no cost. (Some dealers may charge for their labor to replace the battery.) This warranty applies to all of our unsealed automotive batteries, as well as some of our heavier commercial batteries. You may locate an Interstate dealer by calling our dealer locator phone line at 1-800-872-4100.
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ANSWER 3: All of our batteries are warrantied for the period of time printed on the label. Within 18 months, all replacements are free. After the 18-month free replacement period ends, there is a pro-rated charge for replacing the battery. This amount is a percentage of the list price, pro-rated according to the length of time the battery has been used. Any Interstate dealer whose name is listed on our dealer locator phone line (1-800-872-4100) will be able to assist you with warranty replacements or questions. back to top

ANSWER 4: No. One of the benefits of buying an Interstate battery is the comfort of knowing that if your battery fails, you can call our dealer locator phone line (1-800-872-4100) anytime. This number enables you to find the nearest Interstate warranty dealer. One of our knowledgeable dealers listed on the phone line can help you. back to top

ANSWER 5: Not in most cases. As long as you have your battery recharged as soon as possible after this occurs, the battery should be fine. However, there are circumstances in which the battery may be damaged and unable to hold a charge. The battery may then need to be charged by an external charger and then evaluated by a local Interstate dealer. back to top

ANSWER 6: "CCA" stands for "Cold Cranking Amperes". This is a rating used by the battery industry to define the battery’s ability to start (crank) an engine under low- temperature conditions. Cranking an engine requires a large amount of current for a short time span. The Battery Council International defines CCA as "the discharge load in amperes which a new, fully-charged battery at 0F can deliver for 30 seconds and maintain a voltage of 1.20 volts per cell or higher." back to top

ANSWER 7: "CA" stands for "Cranking Amps". According to the BCI, this is "the discharge load in amperes which a new, fully-charged battery at 32F can continuously deliver for 30 seconds while maintaining a terminal voltage equal to or higher than 1.20 volts per cell." The CA rating of a battery may be misleading, since it can be up to 30% higher than its CCA rating. The Battery Council International requires that a battery carrying a statement of its CA performance must also carry a statement of CCA capacity. back to top

ANSWER 8: "RC" stands for "Reserve Capacity". RC is an industry rating used to define a battery’s ability to maintain a low amperage load for ignition, lights, fuel pump, etc., in the case of an alternator failure. It is defined by the BCI as the number of minutes a new, fully-charged battery at 80F can be discharged at 25 amperes and maintain a voltage of 1.75 volts per cell or higher. (For example, RC would be the number of minutes that a 12-volt battery could maintain a voltage of 10.5 volts.) back to top

ANSWER 9: Extreme heat causes the corrosion and chemical processes inside the battery to accelerate. Both of these processes shorten the life of the battery. In addition, high heat causes the battery’s fluid to evaporate more rapidly.

Extremely cold temperatures also affect the life of your battery. Battery capacity is reduced at low temperatures because the chemical reaction slows down. At 0F, a battery will deliver only about 40% of the power that it would deliver at 80F.
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ANSWER 10: Batteries should always be treated with caution. All lead-acid batteries contain highly corrosive sulfuric acid and have warning labels which should be read and followed closely. Hydrogen and oxygen gases are produced when a battery is being charged. The following precautions should be taken:

1) Read the charger manufacturer’s instructions before attempting to use the equipment.

2) Always charge a battery in a well-ventilated area.

3) Prior to charging, fill the battery with distilled water to cover just the tops of the plates.

4) Never allow smoking, open flames or sparks near a charging battery.

5) Always switch off and unplug the charger before connecting or disconnecting the battery. Make sure the leads are connected to the proper battery terminals. Follow the charger manufacturer’s instructions.

6) Never wiggle the connections to check contact while the charger is turned on or plugged in.

7) Never attempt to charge a frozen battery. Allow the battery to warm to approximately 60F before charging.

8) Do not allow the battery to become hot to the touch.

9) Keep the vent pods or caps in place during recharge.

The charging current and time required depend upon the charger being used and the battery in question. Some chargers automatically adjust to the battery’s state of charge and shut off when the battery becomes adequately charged. Some chargers have an optional setting for low-maintenance versus standard or deep-cycle batteries. If the charge requires manual adjustment for current or shutoff, check the charger’s instructions for the setting appropriate to the battery’s rating. Be sure your charger is on the proper setting.
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ANSWER 11: The battery should be checked every three to six months by a qualified service technician for incorrect fluid level and signs of corrosion at the terminals. The cables, terminals and battery top should be cleaned if they look dirty or corroded.

Some batteries are equipped with removable pods or vent caps so that the electrolyte levels in each cell can be checked and filled with water if the level is low. Always use distilled water to fill the battery in order to prevent chemicals from contaminating the battery. Be careful not to overfill the vent wells. The fluid should cover the lead plates in the battery and be no higher than 1/8 inch from the bottom of the vent well. If your vehicle has not been driven for an extended period of time, the battery should be recharged before use.
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ANSWER 12: You might need to test/replace your battery if:

1) Your starter motor is experiencing slow or interrupted turnover;

2) Your instrument panel indicates battery discharge for extended periods after the engine is running;

3) Your battery seems to lose power quickly in cold or extended starts; or,

4) Your headlights dim at idle.

Any of these warning signals may also indicate a problem with the electrical system in your vehicle and not necessarily a battery failure. If you suspect that your battery is failing, have it tested or replaced as soon as possible.
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ANSWER 13: The best way is to consult the vehicle owner’s manual for the correct group size and minimum rating. The vehicle make, model and year can also be found in a battery application guide, which will include the recommended group size and rating. All Interstate dealers are furnished an Interstate Batteries application guide.

You should never use a battery with a rating lower than that which the vehicle manufacturer recommends. However, using a battery with a higher rating is usually a good idea in cold climates and generally provides greater starting ease and longer battery life. This is especially true for older vehicles. Hot-climate areas typically require only to meet vehicle manufacturer CCA recommendations.

It is important to choose a battery grade consistent with your vehicle, region, and driving patterns. If you are disappointed with your battery life, you may want to discuss options with your dealer.
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ANSWER 14: Each is important and are interrelated. In order for starting current to flow, the battery voltage must be at or above a minimum voltage level and the electrical circuit must be complete. As current is withdrawn, the battery’s voltage lowers. Normally, the engine starts and runs without sustained or repeated cranks.

The load required to crank the engine determines how much current the starter will draw. It draws only what it needs, regardless of the excess CCA capacity the battery may have. If the engine doesn’t fire and if cranking is sustained, the current discharge continues until there is insufficient voltage to supply the required current, and cranking slows to a stop. CCA is usually stressed in comparing battery performance, and a higher-rated battery will typically give longer cranking time under the same load conditions. CCA, however, is a very specific rating geared to a worst-case starting condition (0F). A battery can be manufactured to meet its CCA rating but fail rapidly at the end of the 30-second test limit. It is also possible to make a battery which meets its CCA rating, sustains voltage better at more typical starting currents, and has much better reserve capacity.

Depending on your driving habits and region, it may be better to select a battery with comparatively high reserve capacity at the required CCA rather than simply looking at batteries with very high CCA ratings.
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DISCLAIMER: The above information is provided to the public freely via Interstate Batteries Info Sheet and any and all proccedures should be done by trained authorized personnel.