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Harsh winters and freezing temperatures are something that you can get used to. However, we can’t say the same for your car battery, since many are prone to fail in the cold weather. This is because car batteries contain a liquid electrolyte, which produces a chemical reaction to make an electric charge that powers the engine. The chemical reaction is sped up by hotter temperatures, and that’s why most fail during the winter.
To avoid getting stranded with a dead battery during the cold weather, we have come up with a list of some of the best car batteries for cold weather.
The Best Car Batteries for Cold Weather
The ACDelco AGM Battery combines fast power startup with commendable overall power output. The credit goes to the full-frame power grids, integrated inside the battery to improve its cycling capabilities while lowering its discharge rate. Gas recombinant technology helps the battery to have three times more cycle life than standard batteries.
It has a CCA rating of 325, which isn’t much but enough to deliver enough power to start or stop any vehicle during the cold weather. In addition, this battery is maintenance-free since you don’t have to add water to the electrolyte and it features a vent cap design to prevent leaks. With a pressurized valve system, the battery won’t dry out even when stored under intense heat conditions. The major complaint we noted is in the delivery of the battery. You may get one that’s the wrong size or damaged from the poor packaging.
Absorbed glass mat design
70 minutes of reserve capacity
- Weight31.2 pounds
Can be used on all vehicles
Long battery life
Protected from acid leaks and short circuits
Easy to install
Reliable during cold weather
Fitting issues with some car models
Might come in poor packaging
Low CCA rating
We recommend the Kinetic AGM battery for drivers who experience only moderately cool winters. It not only provides great starting power in such conditions, but is also one of the best batteries to keep your audio system running for a relatively long time. It has a cold cranking amperage of 550, and the cells are closely packed together to encourage the production of a higher voltage under load.
Its sealed, non-spillable design allows you to install it in any position. Also, it’s compatible with almost all small passenger vehicles.
550 cold-cranking amps
- Weight27.9 pounds
Space-saving and lightweight design
Can be mounted in any position
Compatible with almost all vehicle models
Excellent starting power
May fail during extremely cold conditions
Mostly for small vehicles
Needs to be routinely charged for optimal performance
The Optima BlueTop Battery is advertised as a marine battery, but can be used for automotive applications as a starting and deep cycle battery. With 750 cold-cranking amps, it delivers sufficient starting power even in cold temperatures, and maintains a reserve capacity of 120 minutes for reliable performance.
The battery has a light gray case that’s 15 times more vibration-resistant than regular batteries for maximum durability. Unique SpiralCell technology, which involves coating the lead plates with lead oxide, ensures that you get a clean power source while at the same time monitoring humidity, temperatures, and other automated processes.
750 cold-cranking amps
120 minutes of reserve capacity
- Weight43.5 pounds
Resistant to extreme climates
Recharges pretty fast
Provides a clean and safe source of power
Needs a custom spacer to fit in some car models
Can get damaged from heavy impact
Some have trouble keeping a charge
The Optima YellowTop Battery is one low maintenance battery that doesn’t require constant recharging even during the winter. It uses SpiralCell technology, featuring spiral-wound cells coated in lead oxide to help the battery deliver a precise current. It also prevents the internal components from moving in case of vibrations. This is a great leak prevention strategy for off-road drivers.
An absorbing glass fiber mat also helps with leak prevention and allows you to mount the battery in an inverted position. It’s marketed as a 759-CCA battery with low internal resistance to keep up with the demands of the cold weather. The casing is made from polypropylene, which is heat-resistant and protected from mechanical vibrations.
759 cold-cranking amps
120 minutes of reserve capacity
- Weight43.5 pounds
Great starting power in cold weather
Ideal for commercial vehicles and heavy lift equipment
Requires minimal maintenance
A bit heavier than most AGM batteries
Low battery life
Not compatible with all vehicle models
Specially designed for electric cars, the Odyssey is a decently priced battery that’s protected against shocks and vibrations for extended service life. It’s designed to withstand extreme temperatures and remains fairly stable when the temperatures get too hot or cold. You can, therefore, use it throughout the year regardless of the season.
The casing is designed to be spill-free, and is protected from mechanical vibration and high impact shock. With that, you can expect the battery to last for about three to 10 years. In addition, it’s designed with high recharge efficiency and takes about four to six hours to fully recharge.
330 cold-cranking amps
52 minutes of reserve capacity
- Weight26 pounds
Extreme temperature tolerance
Compact and lightweight design
Fast recharge and low self-discharge rate
Vibration-resistant and spill-proof
Can’t be mounted in an inverted position
Low CCA rating
Low reserve capacity
With 800 cold-cranking amps, the Optima Starting Battery delivers enough power to turn over the engine in a cold climate. It has a reserve capacity of 100 minutes which helps it to keep an eye on the vehicle’s electronic systems, temperature, and humidity long enough before you can get the alternator issues fixed. As with other Optima batteries, it features SpiralCell technology for a cleaner and more precise power output.
It has a solid, dark gray casing that’s leakproof, and designed to resist mechanical vibrations and shock. The case is supposedly 15 times more vibration-resistant than other batteries.
800 cold-cranking amps
100 minutes of reserve capacity
- Weight37.9 pounds
Can be mounted in any position
Fast recharge rate
May come in poor packaging
Can slow drain even when the car is sitting idle
May have issues holding a charge when fully drained
The Delphi MaxStart is an AGM battery built for better cycle life, and is 20 times more vibration-resistant than a standard flooded battery. You won’t have a hard time starting your vehicle even when the temperatures dip below minus 46 degrees Fahrenheit, owing to its cold cranking amperage of 800. That’s more than enough to start, stop, and power your electronics throughout the ride.
It’s equipped with manifold ventilation to prevent the buildup of corrosive gases. What’s more, in case the alternator fails, you get 140 minutes of reserve capacity to fall back on to power your heated seats or the windows.
800 cold-cranking amps
140 minutes of reserve capacity
- Weight51.6 pounds
Faster recharge than flooded batteries
Offers adequate emergency power when needed
Dependable starting power
May not come in the advertised size
Overcharging can destroy the battery
May die after a few years
Best Car Batteries for Cold Weather Buying Guide & FAQs
Do you ever notice how you often get lazy during the winter? All you want to do is snuggle up in a warm bed and not do anything strenuous. Well, the same thing happens to your car battery in subzero temperatures. The chemical reactions are slower and your engine consequently sounds sluggish. The best thing you can do is switch to a car battery that can handle the extreme temperature change.
However, with all the fancy designs popping up on the market, it gets a bit hard to determine which one is best for your vehicle. Well, don’t fret. Our buying guide will help you choose the best battery for the cold season and one that’s suitable for your car.
The Advantages of Owning a Car Battery For Cold Weather
A regular battery can be rendered useless even at subzero temperature since the electrolyte freezes and no chemical reaction can occur. A cold-weather battery, on the other hand, doesn’t freeze up during cold weather and puts out enough power to start or stop your vehicle. It can also power most of your energy-consuming electronics.
Picture getting stuck in the middle of nowhere during winter with a dead battery. It can be really difficult to get someone to drive out there and jumpstart your battery. If you are lucky enough to get a tow truck to pick you up, you can be sure that it will arrive a bit later than usual. It’s, therefore, a good idea to have a battery that can handle the extreme dip in temperature to avoid such inconveniences.
- It only takes about five seconds for a cold-weather battery to bring the engine to life.
- It has a slower discharge and faster recharge rate during cold weather than a regular battery.
- It delivers enough power to run the extra accessories such as a car heater and a seat warmer during the winter season.
- It saves your regular battery for the hot season.
Popular Types of Car Batteries for Cold Weather
All automotive batteries are rechargeable, have lead-acid, and typically function the same way by supplying the power that starts the engine. It’s the internal construction that differentiates the batteries, as explained below.
- Flooded Batteries
Flooded or wet cell batteries are the most commonly used batteries since they are designed to offer better performance than traditional lead-acid batteries when it comes to the start and stop functions of your engine. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and are typically not sealed to allow the gases produced in the reaction of the electrolyte to be vented externally. That makes them less eco-friendly, plus you need to do maintenance by routinely adding water to replace the lost electrolytes.
Also, the lead plates may corrode when the electrolyte level drops and exposes the plates to air. Flooded batteries are the cheapest option available on the market since they have the weakest internal construction and are prone to fail sooner than AGM batteries.
- Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM)
AGM batteries are designed to handle constant recharging. It’s a standard for most modern vehicles to come with an AGM battery straight from the manufacturer. That’s because of some of the benefits it offers such as fuel-saving function and electronic safety.
They can’t be used interchangeably with flooded batteries since they are more heavy-duty. You’d have to do a software reconfiguration on your vehicle’s electrical system, which we’d recommend hiring a professional to do it for you.
- Traditional Lead-Acid Battery
A traditional lead-acid battery is filled with a liquid electrolyte and produces power by converting chemical energy to electric energy. Lead-acid batteries were once the norm for most vehicles before they became outfaced with AGM batteries. They are typically heavy but can supply relatively high current. That’s probably why they are still a staple for most of the older car models.
Lead-acid batteries aren’t fast-charging and can take up to 16 hours to attain a full charge. Most are prone to leaking, but they are cheaper than AGM batteries.
What to Consider When Buying a Car Battery for Cold Weather
If you are thinking of buying a new battery, then you are probably concerned that your current battery doesn’t have what it takes to handle the cold weather. To avoid repeating the same mistake with your new battery, we are going to show you what to look for in a cold-weather battery.
- Cold Cranking Amps (CCA)
Simply put, CCA is the measure of how well a car battery can start the engine in cold weather. It’s calculated as the number of battery amps that can be allotted in 30 seconds at a temperature of zero degrees. The higher the CCA rating, the better the cold-weather performance of the battery.
Regular batteries don’t have a CCA rating since it’s not an important feature for warm weather performance. Also, the components of the battery aren't meant to handle intense cold temperatures. It should, therefore, be easier to identify the best cold-weather battery with the CCA rating.
- Reserve Capacity (RC)
In case the alternator malfunctions, your battery needs to hold down the fort by running important functions to keep you comfortable in your vehicle. For instance, you may still need to use the stereo, charge your phone, or power the windows, among other functions.
The optimal temperature at which a battery can function efficiently is around 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Reserve capacity is the measure of the number of minutes a battery can push out 25 amps at 80 degrees. The higher the RC, the better you can expect the battery to perform during the cold season.
If you don’t like to fuss over your battery after you’ve installed it, you should consider using a maintenance-free battery. It’s basically any type of sealed battery that doesn’t require you to top it off with water to replenish the electrolytes.
Most AGM batteries are sealed except for the provision of a small vent hole to release the corrosive gases. The water loss is almost insignificant in that case. Maintenance-free batteries also have a longer lifespan due to the lower self-discharge rate in comparison to vented batteries.
Some battery models are designed with tightly packed cells and robust shells to resist vibrations. This is because, when a battery vibrates in its place, it can suffer mechanical and high-impact shocks that can damage the internal components. This can entirely damage the battery or significantly reduce its lifespan. In some cases, the battery gets excessively noisy and you’d have to suffer through the constant buzz as you drive.
It’s an unspoken rule that the best products have the best warranties. The length of the warranty tells you what the manufacturer thinks of the quality of their product. It’s how you know that you are not going to have to buy a new battery in less than a year.
Car batteries can last for at least three years, so most of the warranties tend to offer around one to two years. Ideally, you want the longer warranty coverage, but you also need to do your homework on whether the manufacturer follows through on their promise.
Tips for Buying and Using a Car Battery for Cold Weather
Heat is good for batteries since it accelerates the chemical reaction of the electrolyte. However, too much of it can lead to internal corrosion, and that’s mostly why you may find yourself with a dead battery when the temperatures drop. To prevent this, you can buy a battery that can withstand both extreme temperatures. It may be a bit sluggish during the winter, but it will pick up with time.
It takes about three years for a car battery to show any signs of damage. That’s when you start to notice peculiar engine sounds or slow engine starts. To prevent that, have your battery checked for damages after it hits the three-year mark to make sure that it can retain a full charge.
It’s important to make sure that your battery is fully charged since a lowly powered one has more chances of dying during the winter. A fully charged battery can last through temperatures as low as minus 50 degrees, but if the battery is low, it may give up even when the temperatures are slightly below zero.
- Consider buying a trickle charger to top off your battery when your vehicle is sitting idle during winter.
- Park your car in the garage to reduce exposure to cold weather.
- After switching to a cold-weather battery, avoid charging your electronics in the car to avoid straining it.
- Keep your battery clean, and free of dirt and grime to boost its performance.
- Ensure that the battery’s connecting circuits are well-aligned to deliver the right amount of current and prevent a malfunction.
Best Car Batteries for Cold Weather FAQs
You deserve to have all the information you can possibly get in order to make better decisions when buying and using car batteries. That’s why we will try to make things more clear by answering a few questions you may have.
Q. How do I know it’s time to replace my battery?
A: Replace your battery if you notice any leaks or a bad odor. Also, replace it when the engine is sluggish or can’t crank despite several attempts.
Q. How long do batteries last?
A: A typical lead-acid battery can last for about five to seven years. If you notice any problems after five years, it probably means that you are working with an old battery and need to change it.
Q. Is it possible to reverse the damages on a frozen battery?
A: No. The liquid inside the battery tends to expand when it freezes. This destroys the charge cells and you can have a cracked casing. You’d have to buy a new battery.
Our Top Pick
Our top pick is the ACDelco Automotive AGM Battery simply because it’s a leak-free battery with low internal resistance for optimal performance. It delivers enough power to start and stop a vehicle in subzero temperatures and remains fairly stable despite drastic temperature changes.