The forerunner of the modern day battery was developed by several different inventors in the late 18th century. Every grammar school student is familiar with Benjamin Franklin’s kite in a thunderstorm experiment conducted in 1748. The first electrochemical cell was developed by the Italian physicist Alessandro Volta in 1792, and in 1800 he invented the first battery by connecting many cells in series.

A battery is a device that converts stored chemical energy directly into electrical energy by producing electrons. The stored electrical power is measured in volts, thus named in honor of Alessandro Volta. Modern day car batteries are 12 volts. The stored energy in a car battery is used to start the internal combustion engine. An electrical motor, known as a starter, is mounted on the internal combustion engine. When the ignition switch is engaged, electrical current flows from the battery to the starter. The starter turns the crankshaft of the internal combustion engine causing an air/fuel mixture to be drawn into the cylinders, starting the engine. This is also known as “cranking” the engine. When electricity is drawn from the battery, it must be replenished. This is done by a device known as the alternator. An alternator is mounted on the car’s engine and is powered by a belt connected to the engine’s crankshaft. The alternator causes the chemical reaction to reverse and restore the energy that was drawn out of the battery.

When electricity is drawn from the battery, the current flow is measured in amperage or amps. The amount of amperage required to “crank” an engine is measured in “cranking amps” or CA. Since the chemical reaction that produces electrons slows in cold temperatures, a battery’s CA is rated at the amount of electricity it can deliver at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. For climates that experience extremely cold temperatures, batteries are rated for “cold cranking amps” or CCA. In extremely cold temperatures, the oil in an engine’s crankcase thickens and can require up to three times the amount of power to turn the crankshaft. CCA measures the amount of current flow a battery can produce at 0 degrees Fahrenheit.

At Uptown Auto Service in Alliance, Ohio we specialize in providing the proper battery and battery maintenance to ensure reliable engine starts in cold weather. Come see us at 2075 W. State St. for a free battery test. Enjoy the peace of mind knowing your car will start easily on those cold, January mornings.

The average life of a car battery varies according to the conditions it is exposed to. A rule of thumb is 48 months. There are a few things the average driver can do to ensure the battery’s longevity. Keep the battery clean and secure. An unsecured battery vibrates and may cause damage to internal parts. Keep the terminals clean and cover with a dielectric solution to prevent corrosion. In extremely cold conditions, store the car in a heated garage when not in use. Using a block heater can improve cold starting conditions by keeping the crankcase oil warm requiring less battery power to start the engine.