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Why Are Car Batteries So Heavy? (Top 10 Reasons)

Why Are Car Batteries So Heavy? (Top 10 Reasons)

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Auto mechanic replacing car battery

 

All cars require a battery to run.

If the battery fails, you need to charge it or replace it.

Conveniently, most car owners can work on their car battery themselves.

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If you need a new car battery, use the car’s user manual to determine the right battery size or ask a sales associate to help you.

When you pick up a car battery, you will immediately notice its enormous weight holding you down as you make your way to the hardware store checkout lane.

How can a car battery possibly weigh so much?

We will cover the top 10 reasons car batteries are so heavy, and why every pound contributes to getting you from point A to point B.

 

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Top Ten Reasons Car Batteries Are So Heavy

Mechanic changing car battery

 

Some mechanics and car owners don’t think about exactly why the battery in their car weighs so much.

They simply trust the science.

However, in a world of constant progress and increasingly compact parts, some people may wonder if the weight is necessary and look for alternative options.

 

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1. Lead Batteries

Battery car

 

Most cars with a combustible engine (not electric) use a lead battery due to their power and longevity compared to the price.

The average lead car battery weighs 40 lbs.

Lead weighs a heavy 11.342 grams per cubic centimeter, and the lead in the liquid of the battery increases the weight of the entire component.

See the following weight of average lead car battery for common car makes and models:

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  • Chevy Impala ~ 53.6 lbs.
  • Chevy Malibu ~ 53.6 lbs.
  • Ford Explorer ~ 44.6 lbs.
  • Ford Focus ~ 46.7 lbs.
  • Honda Accord ~ 35 lbs.
  • Honda Civic ~ 27 lbs.
  • Nissan Altima ~ 53.6 lbs.
  • Subaru Impreza ~ 28.4 lbs.
  • Toyota Corolla ~ 45 lbs.
  • Toyota RAV4 ~ 39 lbs.

Natural gas is the most used alternative fuel source in America powering more than 175,000 vehicles, and while we move toward more environmentally friendly options when appropriate, gasoline still makes the most convenient and cost-effective option for most families.

If you want to reduce the amount of time and effort you need to spend hauling around lead car batteries, you should drive with car battery preservation in mind.

Most car batteries last two to five years, depending on the battery and how well you care for it.

To prolong the life of your lead car battery, keep up on regular vehicle maintenance, especially oil changes.

During your regular maintenance, you should also test the battery and clean any initial indications of corrosion.

You will also prolong the life of the battery by minimizing the use of electronics when not necessary.

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For example, shut off the lights and radio when you don’t need them, especially when idle.

 

2. Size

Car battery isolated on white background

 

Car batteries are much bigger than the AA or C batteries you have in your junk drawer at home.

Common sense tells us that larger items usually weigh significantly more than smaller items.

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The size does not refer to the power of the battery.

The only thing it describes is the dimensions of the car battery.

While the numbers vary, most car batteries are between nine and 12 inches in length, six and seven inches in width, and seven and nine inches in height.

It’s important for the battery to fit in the correct space and have accessible connections.

That’s why car batteries are not universal.

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Luckily, most car owners only have a couple of options to consider.

Most batteries have a size with two numeric digits and a letter at the end.

The most common car battery sizes for American and Japanese cars are:

  • 24
  • 24F
  • 25
  • 34
  • 35
  • 51
  • 51R
  • 52
  • 58
  • 58R
  • 59

To find the correct size for your vehicle, refer to the vehicle’s owner’s manual (ideally, still found in the glove compartment).

If you don’t have the owner’s manual, any mechanic or lube technician can assist you.

 

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3. Charged

Mechanic Testing Car Battery

 

A car battery weighs more when charged than depleted, but what good is a depleted battery?

A depleted battery only weighs about 15 pounds.

Always let a battery run out if you want to remove it from the car and dispose of it unless you want to get a good workout in during your car maintenance to kill two birds with one stone.

However, in most cases, car owners need to know the weight of the battery when full, especially if you need to consider how the weight of the battery affects the performance of the vehicle.

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A heavy battery can actually damage a car over time.

However, you don’t have many alternatives.

 

4. Eco-Friendly Efforts

Electric Car in Charging Station.

 

Lithium-ion car batteries for electric cars are larger and weigh more than standard car batteries.

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To care for a Li-ion car battery, most car manufacturers recommend only charging the battery to 80% and not letting it get all the way down to 0%.

This means that electric cars may not be the most ideal solution for people who plan to go on numerous long-distance car rides.

Nonetheless, electric vehicles seem to be the way of the future.

President Joe Biden aims to facilitate the change to electric cars by installing more electric car charging stations and tax incentives for consumers.

In fact, the government put $100 billion toward these efforts.

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Why would the government encourage the change to electric cars so emphatically?

The environmental and domestic economic benefits of electric cars and electric car batteries are clear, but it will require a significant financial investment by the government to install charging stations and create tax incentives to get the people on board.

In America, we benefit from using electricity that we can produce self-sufficiently as opposed to gas which we get from foreign entities.

If one does want to use fuel that we get domestically, many consumers consider making the switch to propane.

While propane costs more up front and makes up a minuscule portion of the fuel industry, we generate 90% of propane here in America.

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Plus, it doesn’t release as many toxins into the air.

Finally, Hank Hill supports the decision.

However, many people want to bypass using any fossil fuel at all and purchase an electric car.

Some people make the mistake of thinking that electric cars only run on electricity.

However, there are different types of electric cars.

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For the majority, the idea isn’t to rely solely on electricity but to use it as a primary source and then have a backup gas supply for when the electricity gets used up.

The three types of electric cars are:

  • Plug-in electric—relies solely on electricity and requires charging.
  • Plug-in hybrid—relies on electricity first then gas. Requires charging to use electricity.
  • Hybrid Electric—runs on gas but with the added efficiency of an electric battery. No charging capabilities.

Instead of stopping at a gas station, electric cars must charge when depleted.

Charge time can fall anywhere between 30 minutes and 12 hours depending on the vehicle.

While running on solely electricity can significantly reduce fuel costs, many people prefer hybrid models for the time being so that they don’t end up stuck charging the vehicle before work when late or stranded when not around a charging station.

With a hybrid car, you can run on gas if need be while using electricity whenever possible.

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5. Power

Automobile battery charging

 

Most car batteries put out up to 600 amps at 120 volts.

Sports cars may require up to 1,000 amps.

You simply can’t contain that kind of power in a small, compact package.

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A standard C battery only generates one to two amps.

It’s not as simple as all that, though.

In order to understand the power produced by a car battery, you also need to understand Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) and Reserve Capacity (RC).

The CCA refers to how well the car will start in cold weather.

It’s not only about the amperage but how well it works under certain conditions.

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Since the battery can’t produce peak power in the cold, the CCA rates how many volts the battery will produce consistently for 30 seconds at freezing temperatures.

Keep in mind that the rating indicates the voltage at 32°F.

If the temperature falls below freezing on an especially cold day, the rating can be even lower.

RC refers to how long the battery will remain active before it becomes depleted.

Unfortunately, the car battery will slowly deplete, whether you have it running or not.

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If you have a car parked in the garage, the RC tells you how long you can leave the car there and still expect it to restart as normal.

If you plan to keep a car in storage for an extended period, you may benefit from removing the car battery and storing it in an appropriate place until you plan to take the car out again.

Ideally, store the battery in a battery box in a temperature-controlled environment.

 

6. Cost-Effective

Battery of a car

 

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A new car battery generally costs between $118 and $216.

The total cost varies based on a number of factors, including the make and model of the car.

You can save money by replacing the battery yourself instead of getting professional services.

You may also find auto shops that will install the battery for free if you buy it from them.

Unfortunately, to keep the battery in an appropriate price range, it must be large and heavy.

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You can buy expensive car batteries that weigh less than eight pounds, but they cost about two or three times the amount of an average car battery.

Unless you drive a racecar and need to reduce weight to increase speed, most people don’t see a benefit to spending the extra money on a lightweight option if not explicitly recommended by the manufacturer.

Check out Forbes’s list of the best car batteries of 2021 to learn your options and find a reliable car battery that suits your purposes without any pushy salesmen.

 

7. Metal

Battery installed near the V8 motor in SUV

 

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Most car batteries have a metal casing.

Metal weighs significantly more than plastic or other lightweight options.

Steel usually weighs six times the weight of plastic, and aluminum usually weighs two times the weight of plastic.

However, plastic can’t withstand heat nearly as well as metal, making it less than desirable for construction.

While Japanese scientists now have plastic car batteries that can replace metal batteries, the technology is still new, so we have some time before it becomes common practice.

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Metal is strong and holds up to high temperatures.

Not only is metal durable, but it’s also recyclable.

When the battery depletes, you can recycle it to be repurposed as a new car battery for someone else.

Recycling car batteries keeps them out of the already crowded landfills.

However, metal can sometimes fall victim to the natural deterioration process known as corrosion.

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It can help to clean the connection terminals on the battery every now and then to remove any corrosion before it becomes a problem.

 

8. Resist Extreme Weather

Car battery inside the car

 

Car batteries run into trouble when they encounter hot and cold temperatures.

Heat causes the liquid inside the battery to evaporate.

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This allows the battery to corrode more easily.

Cold temperatures can make batteries less effective so that they don’t produce as much power as they could at full capacity.

Naturally, a car battery requires materials that will withstand both hot and cold temperatures.

This material weighs more than other options, but the additional weight can save money in unnecessary early car battery replacement.

To reduce the possibility of heat-related car battery problems, keep the car in a garage when not in use.

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Furthermore, don’t drive inappropriate vehicles for the weather conditions.

Do not drive a Rear Wheel Drive car in the snow unless absolutely necessary.

You’ll also want to avoid black leather on hot days.

 

9. Ease of Use

Auto Mechanic - Jumper Cables

 

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Luckily, most car owners can feel comfortable maintaining or replacing a car battery themselves.

The size and weight of the battery help make it easily recognizable under the hood.

Its size also forces it to remain relatively isolated so that you don’t have to worry about other components getting in the way.

The three main things you will need to do involving your car battery are:

  • Clean corrosion
  • Jump battery
  • Replace battery

To clean signs of corrosion, you only need to use a specified cleanser to clean all connections.

It will be best to remove all connections when cleaning to get into the crevices.

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To jump a battery after it unexpectedly dies, you simply need to connect jumper cables from a full battery to the dead battery.

If you need to replace a battery, recycle your old battery and replace it with your new battery.

You don’t necessarily need to buy a battery from the manufacturer as long as it is the correct size.

If possible, let the car battery cool down before working on it.

While the risk of injury is low if you handle the battery properly, it’s best to practice safety precautions.

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Do not work on a car battery if you do not feel comfortable.

Also, don’t think that a successful car battery replacement means you can perform more advanced repairs without proper knowledge.

 

10. Slow Yet Steady Progress

New lead-acid automotive electric battery replacement in old car

 

Why do car batteries weigh so much?

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We need them to weigh a certain amount to work effectively, efficiently, and safely.

Unless you plan to use public transportation every day, you need to adjust to the car battery weight instead of fighting the facts of car mechanics.

Scientists at the most popular car manufacturing companies work every day to develop lighter car batteries with impressive success.

In a couple of years, we can expect the average car battery’s weight to decrease as people replace old cars with newer models.

However, this will take a substantial amount of time.

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The Model T by Ford didn’t have a battery.

Instead, it used a crank.

While astounding at the time, many people could keep up with the car on foot.

Car batteries started becoming common to power the starter beginning in the 1920s, but they were small six-volt batteries.

The car batteries that we are familiar with didn’t become popular until the 1970s.

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Conclusion

Charging car battery with electricity trough jumper cables

 

By now, you should have a good understanding of car batteries and why they weigh more than most toddlers.

While you can buy lightweight models, car battery weight doesn’t negatively impact most vehicles.

However, keep your eyes open as new options continue to present themselves.

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Also, the heavier and larger car batteries in electric cars are worth it.

Consider the power and functionality of the battery as opposed to its weight.

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