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Are Car Battery Terminals Universal?


No doubt, the battery of your car is an important component. You can’t start your car without it. That’s why it’s important to know every detail of a car’s battery, including the answer to “are the car battery terminals universal.”

Generally, the terminals of a lead battery are universal. If your car uses a lead battery, you can easily find its replacement. The terminal configuration will also remain the same.

However, the advancement in the automobile industry has divided car batteries into three categories based on the terminals.

This post will guide you about the different battery terminal configurations.

Car Battery Categories

If you spend time with auto parts, you must have seen the variety of terminal configurations of the car batteries. No doubt, most cars commonly have a lead-acid battery having prominent positive and negative terminals on top.

But some of the battery manufacturers changed this setting due to reasons that we shall cover in this post.

Therefore, let’s discuss the first car battery category.

Hands of car mechanic working in battery check

Top Terminal Batteries

The most common batteries you see when you open up the car’s hood. It’s a nice rectangular box having two terminals protruding upwards from the battery. That makes it easy to connect the jumper cables and wires.

Moreover, you will find the top post or top terminal batteries inside Japanese vehicles and other American SUVs and trucks.

Top Recessed-Terminal Batteries

The top recessed-terminal battery is a different version of the standard battery. You might find both these categories similar. However, there are small recesses at the corner of the battery. The terminals are attached to these recesses.

You will find this battery terminal category in European cars like BMW and Audi.

Side-Terminal Batteries

There is no terminal on the top of the battery. However, you will find the terminals on the front side where the actual battery logo is.

This design of battery terminals reduces the chances of corrosion. Since the terminals are comparatively less exposed, there are fewer chances of humidity reacting with them.

However, it’s a bit difficult to connect the jumper cables to this kind of battery terminal configuration.

Besides, you can find this battery category in General Motors vehicles.

Now, what if your car’s battery runs out of juice?

You have the option of calling a battery expert at your home. However, that will cost you some bucks. So it’s better to learn how to charge your car’s battery.

Therefore, follow the DIY guide below.

Charge Your Car’s Battery

car battery

Pre-Charging Stages

  1. First of all, check the charge level of the battery. It’s the level of electrolyte that represents how much juice a battery has left. Moreover, you can clean the top of the battery with distilled water.
  2. Look for any damage or corrosion on the battery case. If there is any, solve that first.
  3. Once you are ready to charge the battery, make sure the area has good ventilation. It’s because the battery charging process produces Hydrogen gas. It can easily catch fire, so make sure there is no source of ignition nearby.

Connect Charger

  1. Don’t turn on the charger before connecting the leads to the terminals. Connect the charger leads to the battery’s terminal. Note this down: Red goes to the positive terminal, and Black goes to the negative terminal.
  2. Now, turn on the battery charger. CAUTION: Don’t touch the charger’s leads when it’s ON.
  3. Select the Amp charging rate on the charger if adjustable. Typically, 10-20% of the battery’s actual amp-hour capacity is set. But to avoid any mishap, contact your car battery’s manufacturer and ask them.
  4. During the charging process, keep checking the status of the battery. It’s because some batteries are faulty and might get hot while charging. Therefore, quickly turn off the charger if the battery is getting too hot. Check the Amp rate and reduce it to below 20% of the battery amp-hr capacity.

Disconnect Charger

  1. Once the charging is done, turn off the charger.
  2. Disconnect the charger’s leads.

Check Battery Voltage

  1. Before checking the voltage of the battery, wait for at least one hour. That will dissipate the surface charge.
  2. Check the charge status. A fully charged car’s battery has 12.7 – 13.0 volts.

Check out the NOCO GENIUSS battery maintainer and charger.

Which Car Battery Should You Buy?

As you have understood the terminal configurations and battery charging procedure, you should now learn which car battery you need.

auto mechanic change the car battery

It’s not uncommon that your car’s battery goes faulty or sometimes dead due to aging. However, consult an automobile expert if you believe that your new car’s battery is misbehaving.

So, first of all, check the model of the battery installed in your car and the BCI code. The BCI code represents the physical dimensions of the batteries.

The Amp-Hr capacity and BCI code, these two are the major factors you should keep in mind while buying a new car battery.

Now, it’s recommended that you should go for a bigger size for more power. It’s just a suggestion to enhance the battery performance of your car. However, you can still replace the battery with the exact same model as well.

Moreover, if your car’s battery uses a Gel Cell, it’s better to go for AGM. That will amp the efficiency and battery life.

You already know that the battery inside your car is responsible for the following functions:

  • Stores Car’s Power
  • Gives Electricity to the Engine
  • Regulates Voltage
  • Activates the Ignition System
  • Gives Power to Other Electric Accessories (lights, doors, meters, etc.)

Therefore, invest in the best battery to boost your driving experience. In fact, a good battery runs for at least 3-4 years. After that, you have to look for a replacement.

Check out the Odyssey Battery for automobiles and LTV.

Final Words

Of course, there’s more to the car batteries. You can look up things like cranking amps, voltage, and cell composition. However, you have understood the terminal configurations of the common automobile batteries.

While charging up your battery, make sure you follow all the DIY guidelines mentioned above. If you feel something suspicious, like a foul odor from the battery or smoke, stop the charging process and contact the battery manufacturer. It’s possible that there’s leakage inside the battery of your car, which is reacting with the outer metallic surface.

Therefore, choose the right battery option for your car that’s durable and long-lasting.

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