illustration: Diana Di Poce

Caring for Your Car Battery

By AMA Staff

Your battery is at the heart of your vehicle: Its stored energy is essential for starting the engine. After that, it complements (and is recharged by) the alternator as a power source for everything from lights to infotainment systems. Treat it with care—and heed these warning signs so you know when to get a new one.

• It’s more than three years old. Batteries lose capacity over time. In Alberta, a typical battery lasts three to five years.

• The engine is slow to turn over. It takes 175 to 250 amps of battery power to get a car going. A sluggish start could mean an insufficient charge.

• The headlights dim while your vehicle’s idling. When idle, a car may draw more power than the alternator alone can produce, so your battery kicks in. Dim lights could mean a drained battery.

• Digital systems power down quickly. Radio, GPS and other accessories use battery power when the engine is off. Performance issues with these devices suggest a depleted battery.

Freezing temperatures limit starting power. Plug in your block heater at -15 C and below. Your battery will have an easier time starting a warm engine. CAA-branded batteries are built to withstand harsh Canadian winters.

Batteries lose juice even when not in use. Get a battery tender if you won’t be driving for long periods. It keeps the battery topped up at its proper storage voltage. Buy one at an AMA centre or from your Mobile Battery Service professional.

CAA Battery Service helps to make your battery-related service call efficient and hassle-free. Available to all members, the service offers boosts, of course, as well as testing and battery installation if necessary—all at no cost to you.

Book an appointment (online, or by calling 1-800-CAA-HELP) and an AMA technician will come to you and test your battery for free. If you need a replacement, we’ll install our competitively priced CAA Premium Battery. We’re so confident in our battery that it’s backed by a six-year warranty—including free replacement if it fails within its first three years.