Frequently Asked Questions About Batteries (FAQ)

Where can I recycle batteries?
Battery recycling is extremely important to the environment and to our industry. These products are considered dangerous goods and have a dark history of ending up in oceans, waterways, and landfills. So, we make sure we do everything we can to educate our customers that Canadian Energy is the ideal place to dispose of all types of batteries safely and properly. These batteries are worth the time to bring into a regulated battery recycling facility like any Canadian Energy branch across the country. Not only does it put a little extra cash in your pocket, but more importantly, it ensures we strive to leave this planet better than we found it. Find your nearest branch or distributor here.

What is an AGM battery?
Both flooded and AGM batteries contain electrolyte mixture within the battery that's comprised of approximately 35% sulfuric acid by volume. So, approximately 35% of that liquid inside the battery is sulfuric acid. Flooded batteries have excess electrolyte or free-flowing electrolyte within the cells that cover the cells usually by 1/2 to 3/4 inch or cover the plate by 1/2 to 3/4 inch. And flooded batteries are known for off-gassing during charge and discharge operation. So, while the batteries are discharged or charged, they give off hydrogen gas. This hydrogen gas is known to be explosive and corrosive so care must be taken when working around flooded batteries to ensure there's no sparks or open flames and that we wear the proper safety protective equipment such as eyeglasses and rubber gloves.  
AGM batteries on the other hand have all the electrolyte absorbed in their separators. So, they have thick absorbent glass mat separators in between the positive and negative plates. We only have enough electrolyte in that battery that all of that electrolyte is soaked up into those glass mat separators. This means no free-flow acids sloshing around inside the battery. This also means that the batteries are non-gassing. So, during normal charging and discharge the batteries do not emit any off-gas. They do however have rubber valves in the vent caps that if there's too much pressure built up it'll allow that pressure to bleed off so that the battery doesn't bulge and want to blow up, essentially.  
So, some of the advantages and disadvantages to flooded batteries are they're less expensive. The technology's been around for years and years and they're widely available. It's the least expensive battery technology there is. The downside is they're considered hazardous material or dangerous goods. So once again, care must be taken when working around them and when shipping these types of batteries. We must insure that we have the proper dangerous goods paperwork and the proper certifications for handling them.  AGM batteries on the other hand are slightly more expensive. These prices have come down in the last few years but when it comes to automotive starting batteries we're seeing them more common and more available in the market today, The upside is they're considered non-hazardous material as they don't off-gas during normal charge and discharge operation so we don't have to take the same safety precautions as far as paperwork and handling are when we're dealing with AGM batteries.  So, for more information on flooded and AGM batteries watch our video on our YouTube Channel.

What are group 31 batteries?
The Group 31 12-Volt commercial battery is a heavy-duty power battery for heavy trucks, buses, coaches and more. The Group 31 batteries are an extremely popular BCI group size. It can be overwhelming as you attempt to compare and decide what is the best brand and style for your application. Generally speaking these batteries will range between 100-amp hour (Ah) and 125Ah, 600 cold cranking amps (CCA) and 1150 CCA and 150 reserve capacity (RC) and 230 RC. It depends on whether it is a thick plate deep cycle or thin plate stop/start battery or a dual-purpose combination. The dimensions should be roughly 12.90 x 6.75 x 9.25 inches.

What does ‘group’ referring to a battery mean?
This refers to the battery size that will best fit the physical dimensions, terminal locations and type required for your vehicle. The Battery Council International (BCI) assigns numbers and letters for each battery group size. Group size is typically based on your vehicle’s make, model and engine type.
Although some vehicles may accommodate a battery from more than one group size, it is important that you use a battery approved for use in your vehicle. Consult a replacement guide to find the battery group size that works for your vehicle. Also, make sure your new battery will fit and be held down properly according to the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications.

What does cold cranking amps (CCA) mean?
Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) is a rating used in the battery industry to define a battery's ability to start an engine in cold temperatures. Generally speaking, it is easier to start an engine in a warm environment than in a cold one. The rating refers to the number of amps a 12-volt battery can deliver at 0°F for 30 seconds while maintaining a voltage of at least 7.2 volts. The higher the CCA rating, the greater the starting power of the battery.
If you live in a cold climate, the CCA rating is a more important consideration than it is if you live in a warm one. Battery starting power deteriorates as the battery ages, so a battery with higher starting power should give you more confidence over time. Replacement batteries should equal or exceed the OE battery in ratings. Replacing a battery with a battery that has a lower CCA than the original equipment may result in poor performance.

What does Reserve Capacity (RC) mean?
RC is a general indicator of how long a new, fully charged battery can continue to operate essential accessories if the vehicle’s alternator fails. It identifies how many minutes the battery can deliver a constant current of 25 amps at 80°F without falling below the minimum voltage, 1.75 volts per cell, needed to keep your vehicle running.

What does Amp Hour (Ah) mean?
Amp Hour or C20 is an indicator of how much energy is stored in a battery. It is the energy a battery can deliver continuously for 20 hours at 80°F without falling below 10.5 volts.

When do I need to change a car battery?
The main function of a car battery is to start your car. Today, most cars have a single maintenance-free 12-volt acid battery (in the photo). A car battery is rechargeable. It uses its charge to power the vehicle systems while it's parked and to turn over the engine when you want to start it. Once you start the car, the alternator generates additional electric power to recharge the battery. 
Over time, a battery loses its capacity or ability to hold charge. One day, a weak battery will not be able to start your car. Often, this happens when the weather gets cold. When the battery is low on charge, a car will need to be boosted to start. To avoid this situation, a battery should be replaced before its capacity drops to a critical level. 

On average, a car battery lasts from 5 to 7 years. The battery lasts longer if the vehicle is driven daily and the battery is kept fully charged. When the vehicle is parked for extended periods of time, the battery deteriorates sooner. We have seen the battery lasts up to 10 years. 
How can you tell that the battery capacity is getting low? 
One way is to have it tested. The battery capacity is often measured in CCA or Cold Cranking Amps. Many automotive repair shops can test your battery with a special tester (in the photo). The battery tester can measure the actual CCA and compare it to the new battery CCA rating. A battery tester can also test the alternator and the charging system.

The battery and charging system test, known as the AVR test, costs from $20 to $50. Canadian Energy offers a battery test at no charge. After the test, you might get a printout, showing the battery CCA rating and actual CCA. The printout will indicate if the battery should be replaced or just need to be recharged. See the sample printout in the photo. Are there any signs that a car battery is failing? Yes. When the battery is weak, you might notice that the engine turns over slower than usual and the dash lights flicker or go dim when you are starting your car. This happens even if the battery is fully charged after driving. 

Another sign is when you operate your power windows after the engine is turned off, the windows move much slower than when the engine is running. You also may notice that the headlights are dim when the engine is idling but become brighter when the engine is revved. Often you will also see excessive corrosion at the battery terminals and cables when the battery is getting weak. 

Considering changing your car battery? Read this first!
1. With proper care, a car battery can last as long as five years. If you live in a hot climate, however, battery failure can occur in as little as three years.
2. Some of the leading causes of premature car battery failure include chronic overcharging (or undercharging), abuse and excessive vibration.
3. Even when your car is parked, its computer systems are creating a small—but constant—drain on your car battery.
4. Before attempting to change your car battery yourself, consult your owner’s manual. Set aside approximately 30 minutes to complete the job.
5. It’s important you source the right replacement battery. To eliminate guesswork, bring your old battery with you to the auto parts store.
6. Your new car battery should be fully charged prior to installation, otherwise you risk overloading and/or damaging the charging system. (It’s not designed to recharge a dead battery.)
7. The order in which you disconnect the dead car battery’s cables is key: Always disconnect the negative cable first.
8. To lift the dead battery out of the car, you’ll have to remove remove the battery hold-down or clamping device.
9. Car batteries contain electrolyte solution, which is an extremely corrosive acid. Keep the battery in an upright position to prevent this solution from leaking.
10. After placing the new battery in the battery tray, secure it with the hold-down or clamping device. This helps to reduce vibration—one of the key contributing factors in premature car battery failure.
11. Check the battery cables for corrosion, and, if necessary, clean them. Apply grease or petroleum jelly under the clamps to prevent further corrosion.

Can you test a battery with a voltmeter? 
Battery voltage is a good indicator of the state of charge of the battery. A fully charged battery should read 12.6 Volt or more. Testing the capacity of the battery with a voltmeter is more difficult. One way is to test the voltage of the battery under the load, for example, with the headlights on. If the battery voltage with engine off and headlights on drops from 12.6 Volt to less than 11 Volt in a couple minutes, the battery is weak. 

Can a problem with battery terminals cause the vehicle not to start? 
Yes. If one of the battery terminals is loose or corroded, it may cause many problems including a no-start, check engine light, stalling, as well as lack of the electric power steering assist. Many dealers and reputable repair shops visually inspect the battery terminals during regular oil changes. Your mechanic may recommend servicing battery terminals if they are corroded as in the photo. The battery terminal service costs from $25 to $50. It includes cleaning the battery posts and terminals and applying a protective spray or grease. 

How much does the battery replacement cost? 
A new car battery costs from $60 to $200 and your dealer may charge another $30-$50 to have it replaced. Replacing a car battery as a do-it-yourself project is not very difficult, but the battery is heavy (30-45 lb). Lifting it out of the car can be hard on your back. An old battery is often covered in electrolyte, which is very acidic and can burn your clothes or skin. 

Where to recycle an old car battery? 
Some automotive repair shops and car dealers will accept your old battery for recycling. You can find the nearest place to recycle your old battery at the Canadian Energy Website.

How long is a battery warranty? 
In most cars, the battery is covered under the basic bumper-to-bumper warranty. In some cars, the battery coverage is pro-rated. This means, for example, the labor might be fully covered, while the part might be covered 100 percent within the first year, 50 percent within the second year and so on. You can find the warranty coverage details in your Warranty Guide brochure, or on the manufacturer's website.

How to boost a car when the battery is low on charge? 
To boost a car, you will need a portable booster or jumper cables to boost from another car. Your owner’s manual has the proper instructions. Be careful, if the booster cables are connected to wrong terminals, it may cause a big spark and some fuses and other electrical components could be fried.

How long does it take to recharge a good battery that is low on charge? 
If the battery is still good, 20-40 minutes of running the engine or driving is usually enough to recharge it. However, be aware that in some cars with electric power steering, the steering assist might not work properly until the battery is sufficiently charged. That can make driving with a low battery dangerous. If a good battery has not been used for an extended period of time and is completely drained, it might need longer time to recharge. In some high-mileage cars, the engine may run rough at idle or even stall after replacing the battery. This happens because when the battery is disconnected, all learned settings in the engine computer, including the idle speed are reset. For this reason, some older cars may require the idle speed re-learn after the battery is replaced. The procedure varies for different cars, but it won't take you long to google it. To avoid this problem, many repair shops use a simple memory saving device that keeps the engine computer powered during battery replacement. In modern cars, the idle speed is re-learned as you drive.