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What Happens if You Use the Wrong Size Battery?

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Modern cars come with strict requirements for replacement parts. They’re high-performance vehicles with very specific demands. The wrong part will make one of your car’s systems work improperly and might even damage it.

One of those is the battery. It provides the bust of power to crank up your engine and runs your electrical components. It’s not as simple as bigger is better. Automakers design vehicles with specific batteries in mind.

What happens if you choose to use a different battery than what your vehicle manufacturer recommends? Is it worse to use too small a battery, or is too big a battery worse? Keep reading, because this article will answer your questions.

What Happens If You Put the Wrong Size Battery in Your Car?

What Happens If You Put the Wrong Size Battery in Your Car

Automakers have tight specifications in parts these days, and it’s always a good idea to follow their recommendations. While putting the wrong size battery in your car won’t cause it to explode, there are other things it can do.

The most likely outcome of using too small a battery is that you’ll have trouble maintaining the battery.

If you take a lot of short trips, your alternator might not work enough to recharge your battery. If you use a lot of electrical accessories, that might drain a smaller battery faster than a big one.

A smaller battery might not have enough power to immediately start a vehicle. Bigger engines come with more Cold Crank Amps, which refers to the power available to start a cold engine. In winter, a smaller battery could be a problem.

Batteries that are too big won’t into the compartment. Batteries are sized by length, width, and depth. A battery from a group that is 12 inches long won’t fit in a compartment designed for a 10-inch case.

Does Battery Size Matter in a Car?

Does Battery Size Matter in a Car

Your vehicle is a well-designed piece of machinery. Its parts work together like pieces of a puzzle. One of its most important systems is the electrical system. So, battery size matters.

Smaller batteries hold less energy. They are also more compact and easier to design a room for in an engine compartment. They are also overall less expensive.

If you have a big car with a lot of electrical accessories, you’ll want a bigger battery. Those will take up more space in an engine compartment and add weight. That could affect your vehicle’s fuel efficiency.

Automakers pair vehicles with a battery during the design process for those reasons.

What Happens When You Put Too Big of a Battery in a Car?

What Happens When You Put Too Big of a Battery in a Car

As long as your battery holds a 12-volt charge, putting too big a battery in your car won’t have much impact on how it runs.

If it discharges more electricity than it’s supposed to, it could wear out the alternator.

The real issue created by putting too big a battery in a car is finding space for it. Your vehicle’s engine compartment is not designed with a lot of extra space. The place for the battery holds the battery designed for your vehicle.

Batteries are measured by length, width, and height. Even if you can find one that snugs into your vehicle’s frame, it could still be a little too tall for the space.

This might not affect performance, but it changes the engine compartment’s weight distribution. That can affect tire wear and even fuel efficiency.

You probably won’t be able to secure it with the battery straps, either. That can be dangerous.

Will Your Car Start With the Wrong Battery?

Will Your Car Start With the Wrong Battery

As long as a battery can deliver the correct amount of power, your car should start if you don’t use the right battery. Most car batteries in reality have very similar specifications.

The real issue is if you take a lot of short trips. Your vehicle’s alternator requires time to recharge your battery. This is why if you get a jump-start, it’s recommended that you drive for approximately 15 minutes. That’ll guarantee your battery getting recharged.

If you take a lot of short trips with a smaller battery, it might drain the battery faster.

Does a Bigger Battery Mean More Power?

Does a Bigger Battery Mean More Power

All vehicles are designed to use roughly 12 volts of power, so all batteries are designed to deliver that. Big batteries deliver the same power as small ones.

What bigger batteries generally come with is more energy. They don’t work harder. They work longer. On average, it’ll take longer to drain a bigger battery than a small one. It just won’t do any additional work.

What Happens If You Use a Battery That is Too Small?

What Happens If You Use a Battery That is Too Small

If you put too small a battery in your vehicle, it’ll probably still start unless you are starting the car in cold weather. Vehicle batteries are all designed to provide a similar amount of power.  

The issue will be that the charge in your battery won’t last as long. Smaller batteries generally have less stored energy than big batteries. That will show if you mostly take a lot of short trips. Your alternator may not completely recharge your battery and eventually, it’ll drain.

If you live where it’s cold, a smaller battery could make it harder to start your vehicle. Bigger batteries can deliver more Cold Crank Amps, which is the measurement of power a battery can give a cold engine.

One other thing to consider is that engine compartments are carefully designed to accommodate the battery. That includes physical size and weight. Using too small a battery could throw that design out of whack.

The battery could also slide around under straps designed for a bigger one. That could damage battery connections.

What Happens if You Use a Battery That Is Too Big?

What Happens if You Use a Battery That Is Too Big

For the most part, vehicle batteries are designed to deliver a similar level of power. So, you’ll most likely not notice a massive difference if you use a larger battery than specified. However, there is likely to be a performance cost.

Remember that automakers design engine compartments for a specific battery. That includes physical size and weight. Using too small a battery could throw that design out of whack.

It might be much more difficult, even impossible, to secure too big a battery in place. This could throw off a car’s weight distribution and impair tires and fuel efficiency.

Conclusion

Putting the wrong-size battery in your car can cause problems. Too small a battery could mean too little cranking power to start your car or a drained battery. A battery that is too big probably won’t fit.

This isn’t just for the health of your vehicle. Use the wrong size battery and you could wind up replacing it over and over and over. That might not damage your vehicle, but the costs will add up.

If you learned something of value from this article, feel free to leave a comment below. If you have experience with using the wrong size battery, we’d love to hear it. You can also share this article on your social media networks.

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