LAST UPDATED: July 14, 2021

The Best Car Batteries: Keep Your Car Running Strong

Best Choice optima Optima Batteries RedTop 34/78
Premium Pick optima yellow Optima Batteries D35 Dual Purpose Battery
Best Value Value Battery Value Battery Group Size 65

Nothing lasts forever, no matter how hard you fight to keep it, and car batteries are no different. Each of these chemical power cells has a maximum lifespan, limiting its ability to perform properly. Now, you could have the newest, most energy-efficient car on the market, but there’s no getting around it — eventually, you’ll have to replace your car battery. That said, when you make the switch, you want the new battery to last as long as possible. 

To choose the right model, you need to consider everything from your climate to the type of vehicle you drive. The good news is that battery tech continues to evolve with modern batteries featuring more cold-cranking amps, better reserves, and higher resistance to wear and tear. Of course, you only reap these benefits if you find the best car battery for your specific vehicle. To make sure you don’t get too battered en route to finding the best car battery, we’ve tracked down the top options

The Best Car Batteries

The Optima Batteries 34/78 RedTop Starting Battery is a popular option designed to deliver high-powered starting ability even in bad, cold weather. The battery is very good quality and can withstand hard launches and sudden, extreme corners, so it’s suited for a wide range of vehicles, including trucks, SUVs, hot rods, and passenger cars.

The RedTop 34/78 delivers a strong burst of ignition power every time you start your vehicle. This battery will ensure you have a reliable start-up regardless of the weather (this is largely due to its SpiralCell technology). This 12-volt car battery features 800 cold cranking amps (CCA) and has a reserve capacity of 100 minutes for constant performance. The manufacturer claims the 34/78 model is a whopping 15 times more resistant to vibration than rival brands, which significantly increases the battery’s lifetime and performance.

In addition, Optima batteries are maintenance-free, so you can say goodbye to adding water to your car battery. Furthermore, it’s virtually spill-proof and super-easy to install, as it’s mountable in pretty much any position.

Key Features
  • 12 Volt, 800 CCA
  • SpiralCell technology
  • High-powered starting ability in all temperatures
  • 15X more vibration-resistant
  • Maintenance free
  • Easy to install
Specification
  • Brand Optima
  • Model 8004-003
  • Weight 38.8 pounds

If you’re looking for a powerful and reliable auto battery, the Optima is a good option. This D35 YellowTop model is a dual purpose battery with a long lifespan and premium cranking power, perfect for modern vehicles with lots of energy-eating accessories.

This is a 12-volt car battery with 620 cold cranking amps and 98 minutes reserve capacity for constant performance. It starts great in both hot and cold weather, thanks to its deep-cycle capability and excellent cranking power. The battery’s SpiralCell design and clean power source ensure safety for you and the environment. And if you’re wondering about the product’s lifespan, the manufacturer claims it’s 15 times more resistant to vibration, which means the battery should last up to three times longer than conventional car batteries.

As for its design, this is a virtually spill-proof battery that doesn’t require any maintenance. The item is also easy to install as it’s mountable in practically any position.

Key Features
  • 12 volts, 620 CCA
  • Great starting power in all temperatures
  • 15x more resistant to vibration
  • Maintenance-free
  • Easy to install
Specification
  • Brand Optima
  • Model OPT8040-218
  • Weight 36.4 pounds

It shouldn’t cost you an arm and a leg to replace your battery, and with the Value Battery Group Size 65 model, it doesn’t have to. This battery is designed specifically to offer a high cold cranking amperage, ringing in at an impressive 650. It features a completely sealed design, eliminating the need for maintenance.

With a well-positioned anode and cathode, this battery is meant for top mounting. Working on 12-volts, this battery is a moderate size at a foot wide and seven-and-a-half inches in both height and width. Once it’s in position, it boasts a standard cranking amperage of 810 amps. Paired with the 80 minutes of reserve capacity, this battery offers a lot of power at a low price. The structure is meant to eliminate issues with vibrations (and thus prevent leaks), helping ensure that it lasts over the long term.

However, like all car batteries, this is only compatible with a specific set of vehicles. Be certain that it is a fit with your ride before making your selection, lest you end up with a spare battery you can’t even use.

Key Features
  • Group size 65
  • Cold cranking amperage of 650
  • Standard cranking amperage of 810
  • 12-volt electrical system
  • 80 minutes of reserve capacity
  • Top-mounting structure
Specification
  • Brand Value Battery
  • Model N/A
  • Weight 38.6 pounds

If you’ve ever had to struggle to get your car going in icy conditions, then you know how deeply a car relies on cold-cranking. With 850 amps of cold cranking capacity, the EverStart Maxx Lead Acid Automotive Battery is a powerful choice. Using lead-acid technology, it runs amperage through a smooth and even system, diminishing resistance and giving your car the energy it needs to run.

In terms of structure, it features the industry-standard top-mounting structure. The battery has prominent posts, clearly marked at the top of the sealed structure. It lets you quickly connect the unit into your vehicle, so you are back up and running in no time. Coming with a three-year replacement warranty, you can expect a lot out of this battery. With strong reserves of approximately 150 minutes, you don’t have to worry about premature drainage.

It’s worth mentioning that cold cranking amps are calculated in standardized conditions. What holds true in the heat and humidity of Florida will likely not be the same in mountainous Colorado. Keep in mind that cold-cranking abilities will vary based on ambient weather and altitude.

Key Features
  • Group 65N Battery
  • 850 cold cranking amps
  • Top-mounting structure
  • Lead-acid battery technology
Specification
  • Brand Everstart
  • Model Maxx-65N
  • Weight 47.4 pounds

The Odyssey PC680 batteries are Extreme Series batteries designed for powersport vehicles that require high-quality, powerful components. With 170 cold-cranking amps and durable construction, the Odyssey PC680 battery can handle that constant pounding of a powersport vehicle just fine.

Thanks to its rugged construction that’s packed tightly with pure lead plates, this battery is greatly protected against vibration and shock that normally destroys conventional batteries. In fact, the Odyssey has a 70 percent longer cycle life than conventional deep batteries and three times the life of standard batteries. And that’s not even all — the battery has up to 400 cycles at 80 percent depth discharge. Overall, it’s an impressive automotive battery at an affordable price.

In addition, the product is tolerant to extreme heat, which is an important feature for powersport vehicle batteries. The design of the product is spill-proof and easy to mount it any way you like.

Key Features
  • 12 volts, 170 CCA
  • Powerful battery great for powersport vehicles
  • Internal threaded brass terminals
  • Long battery life
  • Easy to install
Specification
  • Brand Odyssey
  • Model PC680
  • Weight 15 lbs

The Shuriken Car Audio System Battery is built specifically to accommodate the electrical demands of stereo equipment. It’s also designed to resist the vibrations emanating from that same system. Sound is just vibrations you can hear, and if you’re filling the vehicle with them through a powerful speaker set, your battery needs to avoid shaking and breaking.

This Shuriken battery is resistant to heat and equipped with absorbed glass mat (AGM) technology. It not only enables you to mount the battery in any necessary position, it makes it more durable against inevitable wear and tear. Extremely compact, you can expect this car battery to work with systems using as many as 800 watts. As a point of reference, the average aftermarket stereo rings in at about 300 watts. With low resistance to electrical flow and high resistance to damage, this is a great pick for music enthusiasts.

It warrants a note that this model is curated specifically for luxury audio systems, installed aftermarket. Compatible with either a busbar or ring terminals, it can power your sound system for an impressive amount of time.

Key Features
  • Built specifically for audio systems in cars
  • Mounts at any angle
  • Features absorbed glass matt tech
  • Dimensions: 7.5 x 6.75 x 5.25 inches
Specification
  • Brand Shuriken
  • Model SK-BT35
  • Weight 25 pounds

The Odyssey automotive and LTV battery is designed to last three to 10 years and features a 70 percent longer cycle life versus conventional deep cycle batteries. It lasts up to 400 cycles with an 80 percent depth of discharge, permitting high stable voltage over longer periods of time. The non-spillable design is also vibration resistant, so you don’t have to worry about high-impact shock affecting its performance.

One of the best things about this battery is its high recharge efficiency. It can completely recharge in just 4-6 hours. In addition, it can operate in a wide range of temperatures, from -40-degrees to 113-degrees Fahrenheit. This battery has more plates than other batteries, which translates into more power and a longer lifespan. It’s a good option for a variety of vehicles, including classic cars, high-performance cars, and off-road vehicles.

It features an AGM design to prevent acid spills and is corrosion resistant with a self-regulating relief valve. Overall, it’s a good option if you’re looking for excellent starting power, rapid recovery, and deep cycling capability.

Key Features
  • 3-10-year lifespan
  • AGM technology
  • Up to 400 full discharge cycles
  • Quick recharge capacity
  • Compatible with a range of vehicles
Specification
  • Brand Odyssey
  • Model 34-PC1500T
  • Weight 49.5 pounds

From the scorching heat of a summer sun in Arizona to the icy winters of New York, the DieHard Gold Battery can withstand the pressure. It isn’t vulnerable to the heat in the same manner as a lot of other available batteries, something largely due to the exterior structure.

A lot of manufacturers put much focus on the internal components, and not enough into the outside shell of the battery. It prevents issues due to vibrations and ensures that the battery doesn’t get damaged or dented from outside impact. It doesn’t skimp on the performance features, though. This battery exceeds standard reserve capacity and cold cranking amps of OEM batteries, largely due to the stamped grid tech. It basically adjusts the flow of electricity within the battery itself, relying on the path of least resistance to get the power where it’s needed right away.

Although this battery attempts to compensate, the nature of stamped grid tech leaves an extra risk of corrosion wear. It’s a trade-off for the benefits, but thankfully, the DieHard design uses strong materials and touts 66 percent more wear-resistance than comparable models.

Key Features
  • Group Size 35 battery
  • Max cranking amperage of 800
  • Cold cranking amperage of 640
  • Top-mounted structure
  • Left-position anode, right-position cathode
Specification
  • Brand DieHard
  • Model Group Size 35
  • Weight 39 pounds

Here’s another powerful car battery from Optima. This 12-volt model has an incredible 720 cold-cranking amps and the strongest starting burst available. Like all Optima batteries, it’s durable, powerful, and easy to install and use.

The RedTop 25 battery is designed for cars, trucks, and SUVs. With its SpiralCell technology, where one coated plate is positive and another negative, this battery has high critical tolerances when it comes to temperature and vibration. In fact, the battery is designed to have more than 15 times the vibration resistance compared to conventional batteries, which reflects its long lifespan. The product delivers a strong burst of ignition power whenever you need it, regardless of the weather.

Its design is virtually spill- and leak-proof, and maintenance is not required. Also, since the battery can be mounted in almost any position, it’s a perfect match for a wide range of vehicles.

Key Features
  • 12 volts, 720 CCA
  • SpiralCell technology
  • 15X more vibration-resistant
  • Maintenance free
  • Easy to install
Specification
  • Brand Optima
  • Model OPT8025-160
  • Weight 31.7 pounds

The Champion Premium Battery is a bit different from other car batteries — and that’s just one reason why it’s a standout choice. This battery is created with a unique grid design that’s meant to deliver extra power for your vehicle and handle the demands of the road with ease. It provides your vehicle with a powerful supply of energy, and it can even meet increasing or extra-high power demands in newer models.

With this car battery, you’ll get consistent and reliable starting power. The current flow is specially optimized to ensure you don’t have to deal with battery problems. It’s protected for extra durability, too, with minimized corrosion so your car’s power isn’t compromised with wear and tear. Able to handle both hot and cold temperature extremes, this battery even delivers in unpredictable or unexpected weather changes. It’s also backed by a 30-month warranty for a bit more peace of mind.

Key Features:
  • 12-volt battery with 650 CCA at 0 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Measures 7.5 x 6.9 x 9.5 inches in size
  • Optimized current flow is designed to last for the battery’s lifespan
  • 30-month free replacement warranty
Specification:
  • Brand: Champion
  • Model: N/A
  • Weight 33 pounds

If you drive a vehicle that’s demanding when it comes to battery power, the Interstate MTX Series Automotive Battery is the perfect pick. This car battery is specifically designed for high-performance cars, and it’s also a great choice for any vehicle that uses a whole lot of tech accessories, gadgets, or plug-ins. It’ll provide all of the power you need with its 12-volt, 900 CCA each time you start your engine.

This car battery is an absorbed glass-mat (AGM) battery, and it delivers excellent starting power. Designed to be a perfectly fitted replacement for original equipment AGMs, it easily provides the extra power you need when you own a high-performance car. As a group H8 battery, it measures 13.93 x 6.93 x 7.5 inches in overall size and is made with pure lead acid. It’s also backed by a long three-year warranty, you’ll be able to confidently trust that this car battery delivers for years of reliable power.

Key Features:
  • Measures 13.93 x 6.93 x 7.5 inches
  • AGM pure lead acid design
  • Group size H8
  • 900 cold cranking amps
  • Backed by a three-year limited warranty
Specification:
  • Brand: Interstate Batteries
  • Model: 105238
  • Weight: 58.8 pounds

Twelve-volt batteries power plenty of different vehicles, but they also offer other uses — which is exactly why the versatile UPG 12V AGM Sealed Lead Acid Battery is such a great product. This battery suits plenty of cars, but it’s also able to be used in ATVs, motorcycles, snowmobiles, wheelchairs, and even products and devices like exit lighting systems and portable tools. It’ll give you flexibility if you need it, and can make a great replacement for your original battery.

With this car battery, you’ll get a sealed lead acid (SLA) absorbed glass mat (AGM) battery that can be recharged when depleted. It arrives charged and ready for use, and its maintenance-free design means you don’t have to worry about keeping a close eye on the battery once it’s in place under the hood. The battery delivers superior performance thanks to its reliable, consistent performance. Also, it can be mounted in any position, thanks to its shock- and vibration-resistant construction.

Key Features:
  • Measures 7.75 x 5.19 x 7.13 inches
  • Maintenance-free and spill-proof
  • Can be recharged when depleted
  • Can be mounted in any position without worry about shock or vibration
  • Backed by a one-year warranty
Specification:
  • Brand: UPG
  • Model: UB12350ALT258
  • Weight: 22.5 pounds

Looking to restore power to your car’s performance? The XS Power 12 Volt AGM Sealed Power Cell Car Battery will bring it back to its former glory with smooth, powerful starts and a revved-up engine. This sealed, spill-proof AGM battery is a 12-volt option that offers 2,000 amps, 500 CCA, and a 55-minute reserve capacity.

There’s more to this battery than purely power, though. It’s also reliable, thanks in part to low internal resistance and top-tier M6 terminal hardware. The car battery is also valve-regulated and resistant to vibrations. Sold with all of its necessary hardware, you can actually mount this battery in any position. It won’t leak or spill, and it can survive shocks, vibrations, and all of the challenges of the road however it’s placed. It’s even backed by a three-year manufacturer’s warranty for some added peace of mind.

Key Features:
  • 12-volt AGM lead acid battery
  • Measures 6.5 x 6.93 x 4.92 inches
  • Can be mounted in any position
  • Deep cycle and spill-proof
Specification:
  • Brand: XS Power
  • Model: D925
  • Weight: 23.54 pounds

Car batteries don’t need to be overly complicated, and the Value Battery Group Size 75/86 is one that’ll fulfill all of your needs without any frills. This car battery is reliable and long-lasting, uncomplicated, and easy to manage and maintain. Maintenance-free in design with dual terminals and 12-volt construction, this sole battery packages together everything you need for consistency with little effort.

This Value Battery product delivers maximum convenience by eliminating water. You don’t have to refill or worry about checking in on your battery once it’s installed inside your vehicle. It’ll deliver solid power each time you start your engine thanks to its 650 cold cranking amps, and it offers a reserve capacity of 93 minutes. Over the battery’s lifespan, you can expect consistency and easy starts. To top off this simple battery’s benefits, the affordable price is friendly for just about any budget.

Key Features:
  • Measures 9.06 x 7.06 x 7.312 inches in size
  • 650 CCA with 810A cranking amperage
  • Requires no maintenance
  • Reliable starting power
Specification:
  • Brand: Value Battery
  • Model: Group Size 75/86
  • Weight: 32.55 pounds

Not all car batteries deliver the same amount of power, and the DieHard Platinum AGM Battery is made to impress. If you own a vehicle that’s demanding and power-hungry, this battery is the perfect choice for your needs. It’s designed to provide more power in many facets, including more starting and reserve capacity power along with more power in cold weather.

Choose the DieHard Platinum, and you’ll get a car battery that can provide up to double the lifespan of your average standard flooded battery. It’s an especially great choice for vehicles that demand power, like those with a lot of electrical accessories or heavy-load items such as back-up cameras, heated seats, and navigation systems. Designed with Stamped Grid Technology, this car battery features a strong positive and negative grid. A higher vibration resistance compared to standard batteries also give this DieHard product more longevity and better performance.

Additionally, in cold weather and extreme climates, this car battery offers exceptional starting power. It provides 760 cold cranking amps, and it’ll exceed your expectations whether you’re firing up the engine or using reserve capacity.

Key Features:
  • Lasts as much as two times longer than a standard battery
  • Starts easily in extreme weather
  • High vibration resistance
  • Maintenance-free and non-spillable
Specification:
  • Brand: DieHard
  • Model: Group Size H6
  • Weight: 45.6 pounds

If you’re in need of a battery that can support your powerful pickup truck or commercial vehicle, the Optima Yellow Top Deep Cycle Battery is a fantastic contender. This car battery is specifically designed for a certain class of vehicles: cars with high-demand and heavy-duty electronics, trucks that haul and tow, and commercial-duty vehicles.

Why is this particular car battery so strong? It’s built to be a high-power, heavy-duty, and highly reliable source of electricity. Made of 99.99 percent pure lead, highly compressed radial grid plates, this battery won’t be bothered or affected by vibrations or corrosion. It’s constructed with Optima’s proprietary AGM flat-plate technology, which includes ultra-pure glass matt fiber separators to maximize power. These details also help offer better durability and longevity. With 800 cold cranking amps and a 140-minute reserve capacity, this battery will power you up in the toughest scenarios. You can rely on it to survive everything from dramatic weather changes to heavy towing loads.

Key Features:
  • 800 CCA with 925 cranking amperage
  • Works under extreme conditions, including excessive heat and cold
  • Suitable for electronics-heavy cars and trucks
  • Made with nearly 100 percent lead grid plates
Specification:
  • Brand: Optima
  • Model: N/A
  • Weight: 54 pounds

The Interstate MTP Series Automotive Battery is one of the best choices for drivers who live in cold to moderate climates. With this battery installed under the hood, you’ll get consistent and reliable starts even when temperatures fall and winter weather arrives. It delivers 590 cold cranking amps, a solid amount of power when facing 0 degree temperatures. And, it’ll meet or exceed your original battery’s performance.

With this Interstate car battery, you’ll have little to worry about. The 12-volt, group size 96R battery offers 740 cranking amps regardless of temperature. The flooded, non-AGM design is well-suited for cold to warm temperatures, and its performance is sure to impress as weather grows colder. It’s even designed to match your car’s OEM specifications, as long as your vehicle uses a 96R battery of this size.

There’s also a 30-month manufacturer’s warranty standing behind this Interstate battery. You’ll get 30 months of protection on both parts and labor, just in case it’s needed.

Key Features:
  • Battery measures 9.5 x 6.31 x 6.31 inches
  • 590 CCA and 740 CA
  • Backed by a 30-month warranty
Specification:
  • Brand: Interstate
  • Model: 105234
  • Weight: 30.3 pounds

New cars come with a whole lot of fancy tech features and gadgets — and they also require more battery power in order to operate all of these little perks. If you own a newer vehicle, you’re going to want to consider the Champion AGM Battery. This battery is designed to meet the needs of today’s electronics-laden cars, and it’ll have no problem powering up everything from demanding navigation systems to power-hungry audio systems to temperature perks like heated and cooled seats.

With this AGM car battery, you’ll be able to run an increased electrical load in plenty of cars. Engineered for durability and power, this battery can operate even in demanding situations. It delivers an impressive 850 cranking amps at 32 degrees Fahrenheit and 680 cold cranking amps at 0 degrees. With a specially designed cycling capability, the battery can charge quicker and last as much as two times longer than your standard flooded battery.

Additionally, this Champion car battery is spill-proof and reliable. Its positive and negative grids minimize corrosion for a longer use life, and you won’t have to worry about regular maintenance.

Key Features:
  • 850 CA and 680 CCA
  • 12-volt with 100 reserve capacity minutes
  • Designed for reliable, repetitive cycling
  • Can handle high-powered electronics in any weather
Specification:
  • Brand: Champion
  • Model: N/A
  • Weight: 40 pounds

Not all batteries can handle the bumps, dips, and challenges of the road — but the ExpertPower 12V Rechargeable Deep Cycle Battery can. This car battery is designed to survive shocks and resist vibrations, keeping its power and performance consistent even after miles of jostling around on not-so-smooth terrain.

With this 12-volt lead-acid AGM battery, you’ll get a durable and rugged housing that can handle plenty of challenges. It’s a maintenance-free, high-impact battery that’s protected by non-conductive ABS plastic material around its exterior. Whether you’re putting it through its paces in hot weather, vibration-inducing roads, or weather changes, it’ll handle it all like a champ. It’s even chemical-resistant, just in case. The spill-proof construction ensures the battery will hold in its most critical components without worry. It’s such a stable choice that you can use the battery in just about any position, making it quite versatile.

Key Features:
  • Maintenance-free and spill-proof
  • Housed in tough ABS plastic
  • Resists shocks and vibrations
  • Can perform in unpredictable weather
Specification:
  • Brand: ExpertPower
  • Model: EXP12330
  • Weight: 22 pounds

Here’s a battery that can handle the demands of a hybrid gas and electric vehicle: the ACDelco Gold B24R Hybrid Vehicle Battery. This car battery, which is a 12-volt lead-acid AGM product, makes for a fantastic fit in plenty of popular hybrids like the Toyota Prius of different model years. If your hybrid needs a new battery, this OEM-quality product will deliver reliability and the right amount of power.

This ACDelco hybrid car battery features a durable design that’s able to reduce the impact of vibrations to provide consistency. It’s constructed with calcium alloy, which results in a fine-grain, corrosion-resistant grid that maximizes battery cycle life and minimizes water consumption. Together, all of these details help create a battery that lasts many miles and years.

Just make sure that you double-check that this car battery will work with your hybrid. Some customers report issues in Prius models with smart keys, for example, so it’s imperative to make sure it’s compatible.

Key Features:
  • Measures 18.5 x 11.4 x 9.5 inches
  • Protected against road vibrations with durable housing
  • Great for many Prius models
  • Delivers reliable starting power
Specification:
  • Brand: ACDelco
  • Model: ACDB24R
  • Weight: 31.5 pounds

The DieHard Silver Battery is technically the middle-of-the-road product in the DieHard lineup, yet this car battery is more than just your average old battery. With outstanding reliability and consistent starting power that can suit plenty of different makes and models, this battery will give you power and performance that you’ll be pleased with.

This 12-volt battery delivers 720 cranking amps in moderate weather and 575 cold cranking amps when it’s freezing out. The group size 26R battery measures 8.187 x 6.812 x 7.75 inches in overall size, and it has top-mount terminals. Once you’re up and running, a reserve capacity of 81 minutes gives you plenty of backup to rely on. And, you’ll love how little effort this battery requires thanks to its maintenance-free design. Convenient and reliable under just about any conditions, you can trust this car battery to power up your vehicle for quite a while to come.

Key Features:
  • 720 CA and 575 CCA
  • Maintenance-free operation
  • Offers an 81-minute reserve capacity
  • Meets vehicles’ starting and reserve capacity power requirements
Specification:
  • Brand: DieHard
  • Model: N/A
  • Weight: 28.41 pounds

Best Car Battery Buying Guide & FAQ

It can be overwhelming to suss out the best selection, but the advantage is that there are a plethora of options. With more than 276 million vehicles in the United States registered, it’s no surprise that the technology required to power those rides differs. The key is to identify your priorities and find a battery curated to those needs. 

Are you driving on rural roads, complete with potholes and flying gravel? This requires more vibration resistance. Perhaps you deal more with the continual stop-start of traffic lights on your commute, this requires more forgiveness when draining and re-upping charge. Think about your environment when deciding what battery to choose. Everything from temperature to road conditions makes a difference, so be sure to keep your specific needs in mind when picking the best car battery.

fixing car battery

Things to Consider When Buying Car Battery

The best car batteries might last you up to five years, though most require changing every three years–it all depends on how much wear and tear you put on it. There are a few things you can do to extend the lifespan of your car battery, ranging from battery maintainers to trickle chargers. Incorporating these helps extend the lifespan of the battery, but it’s still essential that you make the right pick.

Take your time and consider everything from cold weather to your driving habits. As long as you know your car’s needs and factor in environmental factors, you can find a great battery for your ride.

Right Fit

Let’s start with the basics – a battery should first and foremost be of the right size for your car’s battery tray. Meaning it should have the right length, height, and width. So, before you even think of buying a certain battery, make sure it’s the right size and has the right terminal locations for your car (check the owner’s manual or consult with your mechanic). This is crucial, as the battery needs to fit perfectly in its tray so it can be secured and protected against vibrations.

Power Requirement

One of the most important features of a good car battery is its power requirement, or its Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) and Cranking Amps (CA). CCA represents the battery’s ability to start a vehicle at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, while CA represents the energy required to start a car at temperatures of 31 degrees Fahrenheit. To put it bluntly — the more CCA, the better.

Battery Freshness

It’s important to buy a fresh car battery as they lose strength over time, like when they’re stored in storage for a long time. So how do you check for your battery’s freshness? There is actually a code that consists of a letter and number that indicates how fresh a battery is (in other words, when it was manufactured). For example, A/5 means that the battery was made for January 2015, while B/4 means it was manufactured for February 2014 (letters are months). But, not all manufacturers use the same code for their batteries, so it’s important to check for yourself. If a battery doesn’t have a ‘typical’ code, it has a shipping code for sure. Never purchase car batteries older than six months from the date of manufacture.

Expiration Date

There’s a reason day-old donuts are sold at a discount — they stale and depreciate in value. Now, car batteries may not do this as quickly, but they still lose some oomph as they sit on the shelves. The good news: there is actually a coded expiration date. It’s pretty straightforward. Take, for example, B19. The letter indicates the month, ascending by letter where A equals January. After the slash is the year in which it was made. The B19 battery was made in February of 2019. You can apply this information by only choosing batteries younger than six months. After that time, it loses its edge and you are effectively buying a faulty product.

Maintenance

When it comes to maintenance, auto batteries come in two varieties: maintenance-free and low maintenance. Batteries that require no maintenance are sealed for protection, and the liquid electrolyte can run throughout the battery with no need for replacement. As for low maintenance batteries, they’re unsealed with caps, which allows the driver to occasionally add water. Because most people prefer maintenance-free car batteries, we decided to focus only on them in this article, which is why you won’t find low maintenance batteries in our top 10 list. Having said that, even maintenance-free batteries should be checked from time to time.

Warranty

All car batteries have some form of warranty, but you naturally want to go for the longest free replacement period you can get. This is because sometimes things just don’t work as they should, and if that happens to be the case with your auto battery, you really want to be able to get a free replacement. Speaking of free replacement period, besides this, a car battery also has a prorated period which allows partial reimbursement. For example, the code 24/84 means that you have a free replacement period of 24 months and a prorated warranty of 84 months. Again, it’s wise to look for batteries that have the longest free replacement period.

The Types of Car Batteries

The end goal — powering your car — remains the same regardless of the type of battery. However, each design is meant for superior function in specific environments. Depending on where you live and the roads you drive, you’ll want to orient your search towards a specific type of battery. Picking the right one will impact both performance and battery lifespan.

  1. SLI Batteries

This type of battery is prevalent, both as an aftermarket option and an OEM product. Short for starting, lighting, and ignition, these batteries supply power to the entire electrical system in the vehicle. Whether to your spark plugs or sound system, these batteries supply the amperage you need. Not without their downsides, these have an alarmingly short charging cycle. It takes less to recharge but drains faster too. Better for short bursts, though they are able to run your lights and other parts, it diminishes the capacity (quickly). Consisting of six galvanic cells wired in a series design, these batteries offer a reliable 12 volts. They are useful as a battery to run your ignition but bear in mind that these are crafted for short-term, high-energy jolts, not a slow and steady trickle.

  1. Lithium-Ion Batteries

Another common approach to powering cars is through the use of lithium-ion technology. The vast majority of hybrid rides use this tech, largely because it is able to store substantially more energy than other types. Lightweight than other selections, lithium-ion tech is fairly new to the market. While cars date back to the 1800s, this only goes back to 2012. Tesla vehicles rely on this type of battery, giving it a bit of extra traction in the market. The tech is pretty simple. There’s an intercalated lithium base at the cathode and (usually) graphite at the anode. The result is a trade, back and forth, of electrons. This offers high energy efficiency and an impressive lifespan, often in excess of five years.

  1. Lead-Acid Batteries

Classic and common, these batteries tend to be user-friendly due to the low-maintenance demands. Though they’re heavy, largely due to the weight of lead itself, they are also sturdy. While you won’t be able to repair them, they are generally found at a reasonable price for replacement. Another model that’s ideal for blasts of power to the starter, these batteries tend to be quite reliable. The technology relies on an interaction between lead and sulfuric acid, resulting in stray hydrogen particles (positively charged) and two spare electrons. These electrons generate an electric field that powers your car. It’s essential to keep in mind that these are warm-weather batteries. The chemical makeup means they are the most likely type to freeze in cold conditions.

  1. AGM and Gel Cell Batteries

Falling under the classification of Valve Regulated Lead-Acid (VRLA) batteries, this duo is so similar, that they fall under the same category. Both use lead-acid tech to produce water, limiting heat. Absorbed glass mat technology, the namesake for AGM uses thin, fibrous glass to absorb electrolyte solution between the plates of the battery. Conversely, gel batteries rely on a silica-based gel that suspends the electrolytes. Though it would look viscous to the naked eye, it actually enables the free flow of electrons, optimizing efficiency.

If you’re choosing between these subtypes, there are some things to consider. Gel batteries will drain power sooner in colder environments because the gel will basically freeze.  They are, however, more energy efficient. AGM batteries are better in extreme weather, though there is a nominal decrease in the efficiency of electrical flow.

  1. Wet Cell Batteries 

While there is a certain novelty to being able to do battery upkeep, wet cell batteries aren’t the most popular selection. Also called flooded batteries, while they are extremely budget-friendly, it’s not without cause. These batteries don’t cycle as powerfully as other models. The flooded nature means that there is literally a fluid inside the battery controlling the electrolyte.

Acids, by their chemical nature, result from certain molecules’ interaction with water. The result is stray electrons — the same electricity you use to power the car. The result of the design is such that the solution drains and you must add water. High-maintenance and not that long-lasting, these will work particularly poorly in arid climates with the dry conditions damaging the solution even more. Great for short term cost but not necessarily long-term gain, these batteries continue to diminish in consumer popularity.

Get the Right Fit

The right battery fit is non-negotiable. If you purchase an auto battery that doesn’t fit securely in its tray, you may not only lack power but may damage your car’s components. To find the best car battery for your vehicle, pay attention to battery size (width, length, and weight) and terminals. If one of these things is off, the battery won’t properly fit.

First, check your owner’s manual or consult with your mechanic. Then, make a comparison between car batteries and choose what seems to fit not only your car’s measurements but your own needs as well. Here are different group sizes for different vehicle models:

  • Size 75: General Motors cars, mostly mid-sized and compact ones, and some Chrysler vehicles.
  • Size 65: larger cars, trucks, and SUVs from Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln.
  • Size 35: most Japanese cars, including Toyota, Nissan, Honda, and Subaru.
  • Size 34/78: large Chrysler cars and the majority of SUVs, GM pickups, and large sedans from 1996 to 2000.
  • Size 51R: many Japanese cars, including Nissan, Mazda, and Honda.
  • Size 49 (H8): many European and Asian cars, including BMW, Audi, Mercedes, and Hyundai.
  • Size 48 (H6): European and American cars, including BMW, Mercedes, Volkswagen, Audi, Jeep, Volvo, Chevy, Cadillac, Buick.
  • Size 47 (H5): most Chevy, Buick, and Volkswagen cars.
  • Size 24/24F: many Toyota, Honda, Acura, Infiniti, Lexus, and Nissan vehicles.

Car Battery Maintenance

Most modern car batteries are maintenance-free, meaning they’re sealed and you don’t have to (nor can you) add water. On the other hand, low maintenance batteries which are not sealed, require you to check them regularly and add water from time to time to avoid drying up.

replacing a car battery

But no matter if your battery is labeled as low maintenance or free maintenance, one thing remains true – you have to check it regularly and care for it to prolong its life and ensure optimal performance. Consumer Reports recommends having your car battery checked and tested regularly even if it’s labeled maintenance free – once a year once it’s two years old if you live in a warmer climate, or once a year once it’s four years old if you live in a colder climate. We agree – having your auto battery checked regularly by a professional can save you a lot of time and trouble.

If your battery is low maintenance, here is what you should do regularly:

  • Clean the cables thoroughly and remove corrosion from around the battery
  • Check the level of the electrolyte and add water to fill cells if necessary
  • Test the electrolyte in each cell with a hydrometer to check the charge of the battery

Finally, if the battery is not in good condition, make sure you replace it before it starts giving you a headache.

Battery Charging

To charge a car battery you need jumper cables or a battery charger.

If you’re in a hurry and you need some quick power to get on with your day, use jumper cables to get energy from another car. This is quick and painless, but if your car battery can’t hold a charge properly, you’ll have to jump it every time you want to drive, which is obviously something you want to avoid.

Investing in a good portable battery charger is always a smart idea as it can save you from a lot of trouble in the future. Using a portable charger is a piece of cake – just attach the positive clamp to the positive battery terminal (this would be red to red), and the negative clamp to the negative terminal (which would be black to black). After you’re done connecting the charger, plug it into a household outlet, and turn it on. Keep in mind that to charge a completely discharged battery you need more than eight hours, so it’s best to leave it on overnight. Of course, you don’t want to overcharge your battery either, but most modern battery chargers have lights that show when the battery is fully charged anyway, so you’ll know when to turn it off.

Car Battery Myths

Like all things, car batteries have their myths  – some come from people who mean well but don’t know enough about the topic, but some are just pure lies. Believing in these myths can prevent you from taking proper care of your car battery, and as result, lead to a shorter than normal battery lifetime. Avoid falling for the following car battery myths as they’re just bad advice!

Maintenance-free batteries don’t require any maintenance at all

While it’s true maintenance-free car batteries don’t require much maintenance, it’s not true you’re completely off the hook when it comes to battery care. No matter which auto battery you have (low maintenance or free maintenance), you need to regularly check on them, clean the cables, and look for physical signs of wear and tear. Also, it’s a good idea to let a mechanic check on your car battery once a year.

Driving a car will fully recharge the battery

While you can recharge your battery somewhat while driving if it’s almost completely discharged, driving around won’t help much. Despite what some people may think, alternators are not oversized battery chargers – they simply cannot transfer large amounts of power to the battery quickly. So, if your battery is significantly discharged, use an external charger – it’s safer, actually quicker, and cheaper as you won’t spend gas.

Disconnecting the battery is a good idea if the car is not used

If you’re planning to go on a vacation and you want to make sure your car battery is all nice and charged, you may think it’s a good idea to disconnect it from your car for about a week or so before you travel. This is actually a bad idea because most modern vehicles have a bunch of computer and electronic systems that do not like being deprived of power for extended periods of time, even if the car is not in use. A much better idea is to buy a quality maintenance charger.

Related Post: Best Motorcycle Battery

Best Auto Battery FAQ

Q: When should I replace a car battery?

Batteries last an average of three years in optimal conditions. To avoid issues, it’s best to replace your battery once every three (or at least four years). Once you hit the five-year mark, you can’t rely on the battery to perform. If you have issues activating the electrical systems in your ride and can’t turn over the engine, then check your battery, especially if it’s on the older end.

Q: Can a car battery just die?

Sadly, yes, a car battery can die out of the blue. Now, short of an EMP, you’ll probably get some signs. For starters, the check engine light pops on, your engine isn’t starting quickly, or there’s corrosion on the connections. However, if your battery’s on its last legs, and you leave a door ajar overnight or forget to unplug your adapter, it could be the final blow where it will no longer charge properly. 

Q: How do you tell if it’s your starter or your battery?

When you start the car, do you hear a clicking noise as you turn the key? If so, or if the car won’t start yet the electrical system (lights, etc.) are working, it is likely your starter. The final box to check so you can ensure it’s your starter is if you boost the car yet the engine won’t turn over. If that’s the case, your battery isn’t the problem.

Q: How do you tell if it’s your battery or alternator?

Alternators are vocal, and if one starts to go, you’ll hear it grumble. Your alternator failing will also result in the cloying scent of burnt rubber and plastic. These are extreme cases though, other ways to tell is flickering lights and excess, or diminished, brightness. The final nail in the coffin is, when you boost the car and it starts but the engine sputters out right away, it’s probably the alternator instead of the battery.

Q: How do car batteries work?

Car batteries provide a jolt of power needed to put electrical components to work. Basically, they bring your car to life by providing it with electricity through a chemical reaction – they convert chemical energy into electricity, delivering voltage to the starter. Furthermore, they also stabilize this energy to keep the car’s engine properly running.

Q: How can I install a new battery?

Asking your mechanic to replace your car battery is always a good idea, but you can do it on your own if you want to. Here are a few simple and easy-to-follow steps that can help you with the task.

  • Turn the engine off and check your owner’s manual to locate the battery. Remove the negative (its color is black) cable from the battery using a wrench. First, loosen the bolt or nut and then use the terminal puller to detach the cable and terminal from the post. Then, do the same thing with the positive one (its color is red).
  • Using a combination wrench, [remove the battery](https://www.carbibles.com/how-to-remove-car-battery/) clamp and take out the battery from its tray. Because most batteries are heavy, use both hands (or a handle if there’s one).
  • Clean any corrosion you find with a [battery cleaning](https://www.carbibles.com/clean-car-battery-terminals/) solution or a mixture of baking soda and water. Also, clean the cable connectors with a wire brush.
  • Put the new battery in the tray so that the positive post matches the positive terminal. Then, secure it with the clamp.
  • Remove the plastic caps that cover the posts and spray both terminals with an anti-corrosion solution.
  • Attach and tighten the positive cable first, then the negative.
  • Wiggle the battery to ensure everything is tightened – if it moves, tighten the clamp of the retaining system.

And you’re done!

Q: How can I diagnose a dead car battery?

To diagnose a dead car battery watch out for the following symptoms:

  • The engine cranks but cannot start
  • Headlights and radio won’t turn on and the car won’t start
  • Sometimes the car starts fine, sometimes it doesn’t (for example, won’t start in the morning but starts later in the day)
  • You’ve jumped the battery a lot of times already.

Q: Why do batteries fail?

There may be multiple reasons why your car battery has failed, and some of them may include:

  • Poor maintenance (especially true for low maintenance batteries that require you to add water regularly)
  • Bad driving habits (for example, leaving your headlights on overnight)
  • Extremely cold or hot temperatures
  • Parasitic drains in the electrical systems
  • A factory defect (rare).

Q:  Do I need to add water to my battery? How much and when?

If your car battery is not labeled as maintenance-free, meaning it’s not sealed, you need to add water from time to time to prevent drying up. Use only distilled water to fill the cells and only add it after you check water levels — this is usually every 10 charges of the battery. It’s wise to check water levels every five charges, though.

As for how much water, only add enough to cover the plastic element protector by about ¾ below the top of the cell. Just make sure you don’t overfill it.

Q:  How can I tell if my battery is charged?

Fully charged car batteries should measure (use a multimeter) at 12.4 to 12.6 volts, or 13.7 to 14.7 volts when the engine is running.

Q:  How does excessive cold affect my battery?

It’s not a secret that extreme temperatures are not good for the health of car batteries.  But the excessive cold, in particular, is harmful to batteries as it can:

  • Reduce their capacity
  • Increase draw from starter motors
  • Increase draw from accessories.

Basically, very cold weather leads to the thickening of fluids which can cause battery issues, leaking, and even the death of a battery.

car battery

Our Top Pick

We all know the day is coming when battery replacement is inevitable, and making the right selection goes a long way to lifespan and functional value. That’s why we’ve named the Optima Batteries RedTop 34/78 as our top pick. Not only does it have a proven track record on the market, it also touts impressive reserve capacity and a long lifespan. The high-end tech resists vibrations and both heat and cold. Fitting most SUVs, cars, and many trucks, it’s the winner of this roundup. 

If you are budget-focused and want something that will get the job done without stretching the wallet, the Value Battery Group Size 65. It’s priced affordably, highly compatible, and easy to set up. This is an ideal choice if you need the battery now and prefer to cross the wear and tear bridge in three year’s time. 

Whichever model you choose, opt for quality manufacturing, sufficient power; and, above all else, make sure it fits your car.

Sources:

  1. 10 things to consider when buying a car battery – Driver Knowledge Tests
  2. How To Charge  A Car Battery – Digital Trends