Most drivers expect their car batteries to last forever, which is why many are bewildered and even angry when their car won’t start. But here’s the thing – no matter how good-quality your car battery and no matter how well you maintain your vehicle, these things are simply not built to last forever. It’s more than likely you’ll have to replace your car battery once or twice throughout your vehicle’s lifetime, but the better you choose when purchasing the product, the longer it will last.
Whether you drive a sports car, an SUV or a regular car, there’s a good-quality, affordable automotive battery option for you, and we are going to help you find it. We’ve read hundreds of reviews and done our research so we could create a list of the best car batteries on the market. And we did it – here, you’ll find some of the most popular, affordable and greatest of quality car batteries. Check out which products made it to our list and pick your next auto battery today.
Best Rated Car Battery in 2018:
Optima Batteries RedTop 34/78
One of the most popular car batteries currently, the Optima batteries 34/78 RedTop are designed to deliver a high-powered starting ability even in bad, cold weather. The battery is of very good quality and can withstand hard launches and sudden, extreme corners, so it’s suited for various vehicles, including trucks, SUVs, hot rods and regular cars.
The RedTop 34/78 is first and foremost a great starting battery. Designed to deliver a strong burst of ignition power every time, this battery will ensure you have a reliable start-up no matter the road and no matter the weather (this is mostly thanks to their SpiralCell technology). This 12 volts 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, which is supposed to significantly increase the battery’s lifetime and performance.
If you hate maintenance in any way, shape or form, you’ll be pleased to hear that the Optima batteries are maintenance-free (so say goodbye to adding water to your car battery!). Furthermore, they’re virtually spill-proof and super-easy to install, as they’re mountable in pretty much any position.
12 Volt, 800 CCA
High-powered starting ability in all temperatures
15X more vibration-resistant
Easy to install
- Weight38.8 lbs
ACDelco Advantage AGM Automotive BCI Group 51 Battery
With their Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) design, the ACDelco Advantage batteries are completely spill-proof, with high cycling capacities. Specially designed to match the unique energy needs of the Toyota Prius, these automotive batteries are a perfect fit for all Prius models.
The ACDelco Advantage AGM car battery features valve regulated recombinant technology, which allows the battery to have up to 3 times the cycle life of conventional car batteries. This is a calcium positive and negative battery, with lead-proof pressurized valve, which is specifically designed to ensure safety and long life. This design prevents dry-out and acid damage to the terminals, making this battery one of the safest on the market.
Importantly, the product has a long life and is easy to install. Also, it’s 100% spill-proof, meaning there are no spills or leaks, or maintenance in general for that matter. All in all, an affordable, durable and easy-to-use battery for Toyota Prius.
For Toyota Prius
Calcium + and –
- Weight31.1 lbs
Odyssey PC680 Battery
The Odyssey PC680 batteries are Extreme Series batteries, designed for powersport vehicles that need high-quality, powerful batteries. And with 170 cold cranking amps and durable construction, the Odyssey can handle that constant pounding of a powersport vehicle more than 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 takes a short time to destroy conventional batteries. In fact, the Odyssey has 70% 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% depth discharge. All in all, an impressive automotive battery at an affordable price.
Also, 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 such that it’s easy to mount it any way you like.
12 volts, 170 CCA
Powerful battery great for powersport vehicles
Internal threaded brass terminals
Long battery life
Easy to install
- Weight15 lbs
Mighty Max ML35-12 Deep Cycle Solar Battery
One of the best solar batteries on the market, the Mighty Max is a deep cycle battery with a wide array of uses. This 12v SLA battery can power cars, boats, solar energy generators, tools, and even robotic machines. Regardless of your vehicle or device’s brand, this battery is almost certainly a perfect match.
With its Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) technology and heavy-duty calcium-alloy grid, this battery is durable and performs well. The Mighty Max ML35-12 is also easily rechargeable, with an excellent life-time value. This is thanks to the product’s Deep Cycle feature, which offers long usage without negatively impacting the life-cycle of the battery. What’s also important is that the product works just as well in cold temperatures as it does in hot.
The battery is designed to be spill-proof and is maintenance-free. Also, it can be mounted in any position, so it’s easy to install and use – always a plus!
12 volts, 35 Amp
Easy to install
- BrandMighty Max Battery
- Weight24 lbs
Optima Batteries D35 YellowTop Dual Purpose Battery
If you’re looking for a powerful and reliable auto battery, the Optima is the place you turn to. This D35 YellowTop model is a dual purpose battery with long life and premium cranking power, perfect for modern vehicles with lots of energy-eating accessories.
This is a 12v 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 products lifetime – the manufacturer claims it’s 15 times more resistant to vibration which means the battery has up to 3 times longer life 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.
12 volts, 620 CCA
Great starting power in all temperatures
15x more resistant to vibration
Easy to install
- Weight36.4 lbs
ACDelco 47AGM Professional AGM Automotive Battery
The AGM car battery from ACDelco’s Professional line is manufactured to meet ‘professional’ expectations for function, form and fit. This good-quality battery has high cycling capabilities and is highly charge-receptive – basically, it meets or exceeds virtually all OE specifications.
This automotive battery is a perfect choice when a car battery replacement is needed as it features AGM design, and is leak and spill proof. Also, due to a maintained pressure on the plates which reduces the amount of active mass lost from the grid, these batteries have a longer life expectancy than other, similarly priced batteries.
The product has a robust envelope separator as well as puncture-resistant back, which allows increased circulation, prevents shorts and helps battery remain cool and safe. Importantly, the product is 100% pressure and electrical short tested for maximum safety. As for maintenance, it’s not required.
12 volts, 630 CCA
Meets all OE expectations
Long battery life
- Weight39.2 lbs
Soundquest Power Battery AGM Design
Affordable, reliable and quite powerful, the Soundquest Power battery is a perfect secondary battery for your audio needs. With excess of 2000 Watts, this battery will not only make your car music sound perfect (especially that bass!) but you can also say goodbye to flickering lights.
The Soundquest battery uses Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) technology, which makes it highly durable and efficient at what it does – it runs something up to a whopping 2000 Watts without causing any issues that usually come with high-powered audio (such as dimming lights). The battery actually stores energy, so there’s no need for adding a capacitor to the system to get a quick burst of energy when you need it. It holds a reserve power of 33AH and can be recharged with pretty much anything.
All in all, a great secondary battery at an OK price.
Excess of 2000 Watts
300+ full discharge cycles
33AH reserve power
525A 5 second burst power
- Weight22.4 lbs
Kinetik HC600 BLU Series 600-Watt 12-Volt AGM Car Audio Battery
Another car audio battery, the Kinetic HC Blu Series SLA AGM Power Cell is not only crazy cheap but super powerful. With 12 volts and 600 cranking amps with an 18 amp hour rating, this battery is perfect for most car audio systems.
The Kinetic HC 600 features a sealed Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) design that is 100% leak-proof. The battery is of good quality and can withstand extreme heat tperatures,as well as vibrations, as it’s packed in a reinforced ABS plastic case. To increase its energy density, Kinetic has equipped this power cell with more plates – great news for a high voltage underload. Also, this product stores energy so you don’t need a capacitor for your system.
This AGM power cell is a perfect car audio battery that can also be used as an additional battery for extra power, or even a replacement for the vehicle’s standard battery. And did we mentioned is super-cheap?
12 volts, 600 Watts
Resists extreme heat and vibrations
More plates for stronger energy density
- Weight11.8 lbs
DieHard Advanced Gold AGM Battery Group 34R
One of the best gold batteries on the market, the DieHard Advanced 34R uses AGM technology for great power (772 old cranking amps) and extreme longevity. So, if you’re looking for a way to power your machine, whether it’s a regular car, a truck or a marine, definitely check out this battery.
DieHard gold batteries are specifically designed for vehicles that undergo intense vibrations during everyday use. With optimized power full-frame negative and positive plates which help prevent life-robbing electrical shorts, and enhanced electrolyte suspension system that protects internal components, this battery can withstand today’s elevated temperatures with no issues whatsoever.
The company claims 20 times more protection against vibration, so longevity should be guaranteed (in fact, they say this battery’s life 2x extends the life of conventional acid batteries). The product’s design is spill and leak proof, ensuring protection for sophisticated electronic equipment. Also, it’s maintenance-free and mountable in practically any position.
12 volts, 775 CCA
20X more vibration-resistant
Easy to install
- Weight44.5 lbs
Optima 25 RedTop Starting Battery
And we’re down to our last product – another powerful car battery from Optima. This 12v model has an amazing 720 cold cranking amps and strongest starting burst you can find. 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 to temperatures and vibration. In fact, the battery is designed to have more than 15 times the vibration resistance than conventional batteries, which reflects in battery’s long lifetime. The product delivers a powerful burst of ignition power whenever you need it, no matter the weather.
Its design is virtually spill and leak proof, and maintenance is not required. Also, since the battery is mountable in almost any position, it’s a perfect match for a wide array of vehicles.
12 volts, 720 CCA
15X more vibration-resistant
Easy to install
- Weight31.7 lbs
Best Car Battery Buying Guide & FAQ
So there you have it – our top 10 list of car batteries. Whichever product you choose from this list, we’re sure you won’t regret it, as we’ve spent a lot of time researching about each and every auto battery that ended up on our Top picks.
However, if you’re still unsure which car battery to purchase, have no fear – we understand this can be a tough decision to make, as there are so many products on the market. Interestingly, all claim they perform the best and last the longest. But if this was the case, you probably wouldn’t be here. Maybe you purchased an expensive battery with impressive specifications which ended up being a dud that worked for a couple of months. Hey, it happens! Actually, with good-quality car batteries, this shouldn’t happen.
To help you find just that – a good-quality auto battery – we’ve prepared this buying guide and answered some of the frequently asked questions. Be sure to read it all (or at least the most of it!) so you can make the best and most informed purchasing decision – hopefully, even before your current car battery stops working!
Things to Consider When Buying Car Battery
As mentioned at the beginning of this article, it’s more than likely you’ll have to replace your car batteries a couple of times throughout your vehicle’s lifetime, but if you choose wisely the first time, it’s guaranteed the battery will last longer and perform better while it lasts. But how do you do this? How to choose a great auto battery in the first place?
There are a few things you should consider before making any purchasing decisions, and we’ve bullet-pointed the most important ones.
- 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 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, such as when they’re stored in a 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.
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. Saying that, even maintenance-free batteries should be checked from time to time.
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
Although they all have the same purpose – to power up your vehicle and everything that comes with it – car batteries come in various types and sizes. Let’s cover some of the commonly used types of auto batteries.
- Starting, Lighting and Ignition (SLI)
SLI batteries are the most common type of auto batteries, so most cars use them. As their name suggests, they help start the car and provide power not only to ignition, but lights, radio and more. These batteries have a shallow charge cycle and can only provide power in short bursts, so you do need to recharge them fairly frequently.
- Deep cycle
Deep cycle batteries are not only more powerful at providing power, but can do so over a longer period of time. For this reason, they’re ideal not only for cars but some marine vehicles, electric vehicles and even golf carts.
- Lithium-Ion (Li-ion)
These auto batteries are quite handy – they store a lot of energy (much more than conventional), they’re lightweight and compact and they can be rapidly recharged. However, they’re not so common as they’re incompatible with the majority of vehicles people drive. They are perfect for hybrid and electric cars though, and there appears to be a growing number of new vehicles that can use them too. But, they do have one drawback - a short lifespan.
- Valve-Regulated Lead-Acid (VRLA)
VRLA batteries are sealed batteries, meaning spill and leak proof items that don’t require any maintenance. This is great news if you think of adding water to your battery cells as a waste of time, as you really don’t have to worry about maintenance with these auto batteries. However, because they’re sealed, VRLA batteries usually cannot be serviced, meaning, if they start developing problems, the only thing you can do is replace them.
There are two sub-types of VRLA batteries, and these are Gel Cell and AGM batteries. Gell Cell batteries have silica-based electrolyte and typically work best for deep-cycle applications, while AGM batteries deliver a higher rate of power in short bursts compared to other sealed batteries.
- Wet Cell
Flooded or wet cell batteries are some of the most affordable auto batteries. But there’s a reason for that, or rather multiple reasons – they don’t provide the same cycle life as VRLA batteries do and they usually require regular maintenance to replace lost electrolytes. Speaking of which, this is why they’re called wet or flooded batteries – they contain a liquid that creates the battery electrolyte.
Get the Right Fit
The right battery fit is nonnegotiable. 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 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.
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 by 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.
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 your 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. Beleiving in these myths can prevent you from taking proper care of your car battery, and as result, lead to 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.
Q: How do car batteries work?
A: 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 electrical one, 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?
A: 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 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 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 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 retaining system.
And you’re done!
Q: How can I diagnose a dead car battery?
A: 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?
A: 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 a water to my battery? How much and when?
A: 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 5 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?
A: 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?
A: It’s not a secret that extreme temperatures are not good for the health of car batteries. But 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 thickening of fluids which can cause battery issues, leaking and even the death of a battery.
Our Top Pick
This review and buying guide article wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t share with you our favorite car battery from our Top 10 list - Optima Batteries RedTop 34/78. This product is the best in our opinion because it comes from a reputable brand, it has a long battery life and it's very powerful with an excellent reserve capacity (100 minutes).
Thanks to its SpiralCell technology, the RedTop 34/78 is highly resistant to vibrations and extreme temperatures. Furthermore, it’s built to withstand hard launches and extreme corners, so it’s perfect for the majority of regular cars, SUVs and even trucks. Importantly, it’s also maintenance-free so you don’t have to worry about adding water – ever.
Considering its great quality, this is a budget-friendly car battery that we think is definitely worth checking out.