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Running On Reserve

3 min read
When selecting a replacement car battery, it is wise to look beyond price and brand, and understand the various factors that affect the performance, longevity and maintenance of a car’s battery. Arguably, the most important of these is the reserve capacity of the battery.

If you are looking to replace your car’s battery, it can be overwhelming, as there are so many different styles, sizes and brands. Understanding the specifications of the battery can help you find the correct one for your car. Some car buyers may not be aware of this, but the battery reserve capacity (RC) is actually one of the most important specifications to consider. Knowing the RC of your car is also an essential part of your car maintenance — it can determine how long your battery will last.

The RC rating of a car’s battery refers to how long, in minutes, a fully charged battery can provide 25 amperes while maintaining a minimum voltage of 10.5 volts before it dies. The higher the RC rating, the longer a fully charged battery is able to sustain the car. This is important, as sometimes the car’s charging system, like the alternator belt, fails and the battery has to take over the running of the car. If a battery has a RC at 25 amperes of 160 minutes, this means the battery can supply 25 amperes for 160 minutes before the voltage drops.

At a high-level reserve, the RC is a more accurate measurement of how long a lead-acid battery will last under a sustained load than its ampere hour (AH) rating. The AH rating, which indicates how much energy is stored in the battery, will actually be much lower than the actual capacity of the battery due to Peukert’s Law, which states that the battery capacity decreases as the current draw increases. That is even more evident in modern cars fitted with features that consume high amounts of energy.

High-reserve batteries have capacities higher than the average battery. However, these often produce a lower but still usable charge, and will overall last longer. These products are good for people who leave their batteries unused for extended periods; they are more likely to retain some energy even after the car has been idle for some time, thus helping car owners avoid unexpected dead-battery situations.

To maintain its effectiveness, it is important not to max out the battery’s RC level. Doing so on a regular basis will dramatically shorten the battery’s lifespan. It should be pointed out that once you start using the battery, the RC level will start to decline.

When choosing a replacement battery, consider whether it meets your everyday needs, and how far it can be pushed in the event of an emergency. While different brands may advertise and promise the many benefits their battery brings, comparing the RC makes it a simple and straightforward decision. If you are looking for a battery with a longer lifespan, make sure to check the RC rating.

Unsure of the condition of your car battery or the type battery your car is using? Members can simply approach AA Singapore to conduct a free battery check with our mechanics for our assistance. AA Singapore also carries a wide array of battery models to suit different car makes and models, such as our maintenance-free Amaron batteries, which deliver high performance with minimum care.

Find out more about our AA Battery Services here.