Written By Heather Fishel
Published Oct. 13, 2021

While some batteries can last — and perform reliably — for years, others only last a couple years. Everyone has to replace their car battery at some point. If you’re noticing your battery isn’t quite living up to its old standards or isn’t worth reviving, it’s time to swap it out for a newer one that’ll get you on the road effortlessly. We have chosen our top picks of car batteries from hundreds of options available.

Best Car Battery Reviews & Recommendations

If you’re searching for a battery that delivers all-around great performance no matter where you are or what the weather is like, the Optima Batteries RedTop Starting Battery is a great option. This product works anywhere and everywhere, but it’s a standout because it delivers optimal starting power even in bad weather and temperature extremes. This lead-acid AGM 12-volt car battery delivers 720 cold-cranking amps and has a reserve capacity of 90 minutes.

It measures 9.38 x 7.69 x 6.75 inches and sits in a polypropylene case with SAE terminal posts. The battery’s construction is 15 times more resistant to vibrations, which helps with durability. The high power delivery of this battery makes it a great choice for your typical passenger car, but it’s also great in trucks, SUVs, and high-performance cars. Just keep in mind that if you drive your car infrequently and let the battery sit for most of the year, it may not start when you get back behind the wheel.

Specs
  • 720 cold-cranking amps
  • SAE terminal
  • Battery case is made of polypropylene
  • 90 minutes reserve capacity
  • 15 times more resistant to vibrations
PROS

Good starting power

Works reliably in temperature extremes

Meets the needs of high-performance vehicles

CONS

Not as reliable if it sits unused for lengths of time

You don’t have to sacrifice power in favor of price, just take a look at the Delphi MaxStart AGM Premium Automotive Battery. This is an affordable battery, but it’s one that offers even more power and reserve capacity than more expensive models. With an impressive 800 cold-cranking amps and 140 minutes of reserve capacity, this battery goes well beyond basic performance. It features a reverse terminal setup but offers 20 times the vibration resistance of a conventional car battery, giving you some seriously great long-term durability.

It’s designed with optimized component compression and fortified posts, straps, and welds for all-around longevity. The sealed corrosion-resistant housing tops off its list of protections. This value-rich battery is ideal for today’s vehicles and their many high-tech accessories, from heated seats to DVD players to touchscreen controls. It may be a bit smaller than your OEM battery in certain vehicles, so it may need adjustments for a secure fit. However, it’s an all-around great product.

Specs
  • 800 cold-cranking amps
  • Reverse terminal
  • 140 minutes reserve capacity
  • Corrosion-resistant sealed housing
  • 20 times more resistant to vibrations
PROS

Good starting power

Offers great vibration resistance for protection against wear and tear

Can power accessories easily

CONS

May be a bit small for certain makes and models

The Odyssey Extreme Automotive Battery may be on the more expensive end of the car battery spectrum, but it’s a worthwhile investment if you want a product that uses top-tier materials and design cues. This battery, which delivers 770 cold-cranking and offers 130 minutes of reserve capacity, balances the needs of high-tech, accessories-rich cars with solid power and performance. With plates made of virgin lead and more plates overall, this battery offers more plate surface area for twice the overall power and three times the lifespan compared to conventional batteries.

You can get up to 400 cycles at 80 percent depth of discharge. Extra perks such as corrosion-resistant brass terminals, internal cell connections designed to prevent vibration damage, and flame-retardant cell containers make this battery robust. The battery is a great all-around option, but it is expensive. Additionally, if you do encounter any problems that fall under the warranty’s coverage, it can be a challenge to get your battery repaired or replaced, even while it’s still new.

Specs
  • 770 cold cranking amps
  • SAE terminals
  • 130 minutes reserve capacity
  • 15 percent more plate surface compared to spiral-wound batteries
PROS

Delivers enough power for high-performance, accessories-filled cars

Built with sealed, corrosion-resistant components

Durable, especially in the face of vibrations

CONS

Expensive

May be difficult to take advantage of warranty coverage

Finding just the right fit for your hybrid vehicle can be a bit more challenging than shopping for any other car battery, but the ACDelco Gold Hybrid Vehicle Battery is a straightforward option. Made to work with hybrids as well as other vehicles, this battery fits many common hybrids like the Honda Prius from multiple model years. It measures 18.5 x 11.4 x 9.5 inches, so make sure to double check the fit for your exact hybrid. It weighs 31.5 pounds.

This 12-volt lead-acid AGM battery is built with durability in mind, with features that minimize the impact of vibrations and internal pressurization and optimized calcium alloy to maximize the battery’s life cycle and lower water consumption. It’s 100 percent maintenance free and is spill and leak resistant. If needed, it can be retrofitted as a higher-performance battery. This battery might not fit perfectly in every hybrid. Additionally, it isn’t recommended for temperatures below 30 degrees, especially if you’re storing the battery.

Specs
  • Lead-acid AGM battery
  • Made with optimized calcium alloy
  • Pressurized internally for vibration resistance
  • Spill and leak resistant
PROS

Maintenance free and made for longevity

Optimized calcium alloy can extend battery’s lifespan

Can be retrofitted for more versatility and use in other vehicles

CONS

May not fit every hybrid from every model year

Isn’t recommended for temperatures below 30 degrees

The XS Power High-Output Battery claims it can really deliver power. If you’ve got a demanding vehicle or a car with power-hungry accessories, you’ll like the high amps this battery can provide. It’s more than a basic 12-volt lead-acid AGM battery as this six-cell model is spill proof, sealed, valve regulated, and vibration resistant to offer all-around good performance. It features ultra-low internal resistance and can deliver 1,000 cranking amps with a potential maximum of a whopping 3,300 amps.

You can mount this battery in nearly any position, plus this high output car battery has been tested for serious performance. XS Power tests it on everything from 300-mph salt-flat cars to drag racers to your average vehicles. IHowever, the price is high, and it doesn’t come with battery posts, so you’ll have to buy those separately.

Specs
  • 1,000 cranking amps
  • 3,300 amps maximum
  • Ultra-low internal resistance
  • Can be mounted in almost any position
  • Vibration-resistant
PROS

Made for high-power, high-performance applications

Fires up quickly for fast starts

Delivers impressive amperage for starts and reserve capacity

CONS

Very expensive

Doesn’t come with battery posts

How We Selected the Best Car Battery

Car batteries can all seem pretty similar, but we chose our top picks for the best car batteries by taking an in-depth look at the design, materials, cold-cranking amps (and reserve capacity), and overall reliability and performance of many batteries. We compared each 12-volt car battery based on attributes such as maintenance, spill- and leak-proof design, durable and vibration-resistant housing and design, and high-amperage output to get your car and its accessories up and running. And we took real-life experiences with these products from users into consideration to get a sense of their reliability over time.

Our product selections, rankings, and awards for this story are based on research. While we haven’t conducted real-world testing on all of these products yet, we’ve looked at consumer testimonials and data, tutorials, and general discussions on social media and in forums. We also consider price and specification in the context of the segment. And, of course, we rely on our institutional knowledge of the automotive landscape to weed out weak products.

Buying Guide/What to Look for 

Start your search for a quality car battery right here. We’re sharing advice on what you should look for, how to distinguish great batteries, and how you can pick out the right one for your vehicle’s needs.

What to Consider When Buying a Car Battery

Types

Flooded lead-acid battery

A flooded lead-acid battery is one of the most common types you’ll encounter, and it’s also one of the oldest in existence. This common battery type is a wet-cell battery made with six cells and a liquid electrolyte blend that includes water and sulfuric acid. A flooded lead-acid battery is reliable, and it can deliver enough electricity for most standard car accessories. This battery type does require maintenance, and you’ll need to resupply its electrolyte solution every so often. A flooded lead-acid battery can only be installed upright. Otherwise, it can spill. 

Gel-cell battery

A gel-cell car battery is a non-spillable version of the flooded battery. It’s an improved format that’s also known as a dry-cell battery. Instead of requiring a liquid electrolyte solution, this kind of battery features calcium along with lead plates and silica, which turns the electrolyte solution into a gel. These car batteries typically have increased life cycles and can handle vibrations better. However, they aren’t very common. 

Absorbent-glass-mat battery

Absorbent-glass-mat, or AGM, batteries are very common. These car batteries are able to handle higher energy demands, which makes them one of the most popular choices for today’s electronics-heavy vehicles. AGM batteries are similar to flooded lead-acid batteries, but they feature a glass mat (a fiberglass separator) that absorbs the battery’s electrolyte solution to keep it securely inside. With faster charging, a much longer cycle life, and the ability to recover energy better in start-stop applications, it’s a solid performer. But AGM batteries do tend to be more expensive.

Deep-cycle battery

Deep-cycle batteries are a different kind of lead-acid car battery. These batteries can either be flooded or sealed, and they’re built with thicker battery plates and denser materials. A deep-cycle car battery is meant to be used in vehicles that need sustained power with a lower current draw. While you can use a deep-cycle battery in a car, they’re typically better off (and more commonly found) in vehicles like golf carts, RVs, and boats.

Lithium-ion battery

If you drive a hybrid or electric vehicle, you may need a lithium-ion battery. These batteries are common in hybrids and EVs, as they can store more energy and recharge faster than your conventional car batteries. They’re lightweight and can offer better travel distance on a single charge. Lithium-ion batteries are more expensive, but they do typically come with longer warranties. 

Key Features

Battery size

Sure, car batteries might all seem identical, but they aren’t. And their sizes certainly aren’t universal. Twelve-volt car batteries come in various sizes, so it’s important to check out your vehicle’s owner’s manual to determine which size is the right fit for your needs. You want your battery to fit perfectly inside your battery tray and secure easily, without potentially causing damage to the surrounding components when vibrations happen.

Power requirement

The power requirement, which is known as a battery’s cold cranking amps, is a critical detail. Cold cranking amps refer to the amount of energy needed to start your vehicle at a temperature of zero degrees Fahrenheit, and it helps indicate how powerful a car battery is. The higher the cold-cranking amps, the faster your battery will start your car in freezing temperatures.

Alternatively, you can also look at cranking amps on a battery. This metric tells you how much energy is needed to start your vehicle at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Similar to CCA, a higher CA means more power (and a faster start).

Reserve capacity

Reserve capacity might sound like a back-burner detail, but it’s worth considering. A battery’s reserve capacity tells you how long a battery can run on its own power when your engine is off. So, your car battery’s reserve capacity essentially indicates how long you can run accessories without running the engine. It’s especially helpful to have a long reserve capacity just in case you leave your lights on or experience issues such as an alternator failure or engine trouble. You’ll find reserve capacity measured in minutes, and more minutes means a longer reserve capacity.

Tips and Tricks

When you use products for a long period of time, you tend to pick up a few tips and tricks along the way. That’s the case with us and car batteries. To help you bridge the information gap, here’s a selection of what we’ve learned along the way.

  • Even if your car battery is doing fine now, it’s smart to invest in a new one before your existing one fails. Car batteries can sit on the shelf for months or years, so you’ll be prepared for anything if you’ve got one ready to go in your garage.
  • Always check the warranty on a new car battery. Should you encounter any issues in the first months or years, you’ll be able to get it replaced worry free. 
  • Make sure to check the mounting position required for any car battery, as this affects its ability to work with your vehicle and the polarity. You want to know where the positive terminal sits and if it works with your setup.

FAQs

Q: What does a car battery cost?

Car batteries are available at nearly every price point. You can find budget-friendly batteries for less than $100, and there are premium batteries available for as much as $300 to $400. Most batteries, however, sit within the $150 to $250 range.

Q: How do I know what battery to buy for my car?

Check your vehicle owner’s manual. This will give you the battery requirements, and it’ll also show you the specs on your original battery.

Q: How long should a car battery last?

Every car is different. Some vehicles will get one to two years of life out of a battery, while others will get five to six years. In general, you can expect a lifespan in the middle of these two polar opposites as you’ll likely need a new battery after three to four years.

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