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Best Car Batteries

Updated July 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 62 Models Considered
  • 35 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 231 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best car batteries

    Last Updated July 2018

    When you’re in a hurry to get to work or an appointment, there are few things more frustrating than finding out your car won’t start. In most cases, it’s a dead battery that’s keeping your car from getting you where you need to be. No matter how much you pay for your car, the battery usually has to be replaced at least once during the car’s lifetime — so it’s a good idea to be prepared. You shouldn’t wait until your car refuses to start before shopping around for a new battery.

    Unfortunately, many car owners don’t know what to look for when it comes to purchasing a new battery. There are different types and sizes to consider, as well as factors like CA and CCA ratings, that are key to choosing the right battery for your car.

    At BestReviews, we buy all our own products, which means our reviews are completely unbiased. We also conduct field research and consult with experts like Dale, who has over 40 years of experience in the automotive industry, so we can pass along all the info you need to make an educated shopping decision. If you’re ready to buy a car battery, take a look at the matrix above for our top recommendations. For general information on shopping for a battery, continue reading our shopping guide.

    You may notice your headlights become dimmer, your radio volume lower, and your AC’s airflow become reduced when your car battery is about to die.

    How can you tell your car battery is about to die?

    • The engine may have a hard time turning over when you start the car.

    • Your headlights may become dimmer.

    • The AC might start to make strange noises.

    • You may notice reduced air flow from the car’s vents.

    • The car’s radio volume could become inconsistent.

    • Your power windows might open and close more slowly.

    Dale
    EXPERT CONSULTANT

    Dale brings over 40 years of automotive industry experience to the BestReviews table. An avid DIY guy, he has worked with, rebuilt, and led maintenance on a variety of vehicles. He’s also well-versed in fleet management and vehicle operations. Dale’s past experiences include distinguished service as an officer in the US Army.


    Dale  |  Automotive Super-User

    Types of car batteries

    Valve-regulated and lead-acid (VRLA) batteries

    VRLA batteries are low maintenance, and don’t require adding any water like wet cell batteries do. They are completely sealed, though, which means they usually can’t be repaired. If the battery goes, it must be replaced.

    There are two main types of VRLA batteries: gel cell and absorption glass mat (AGM). Gel cell types work best in deep cycles, and may have issues in extreme hot or cold, so they’re not the best option for cars. AGM batteries provide more power in short bursts than other sealed batteries, so they work well for cars.

    EXPERT TIP

    If your car won’t start, it’s not always the battery that’s to blame. The alternator, starter motor, fuel injector, or spark plugs can also be an issue.


    Dale  | Automotive Super-User

    Starting, lighting, and ignition (SLI) batteries

    Most car batteries are SLI batteries, which help start the car, as well as power the lighting, radio, ignition, and other features. They are a type of lead-acid, rechargeable battery, but can only provide power in quick bursts, such as the few seconds it takes to start the car.

    Deep cycle batteries

    Deep cycle batteries deliver power over a more prolonged period of time than SLI batteries. They’re not used as often in cars, though, because the battery can run down fairly quickly, making it difficult to drive long distances.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    For a battery to recharge itself properly, you need to drive the car regularly and for long enough distances. Taking regular longer trips in your car can actually increase the battery life up two times.

    Wet cell (or flooded) batteries

    Wet cell batteries contain fluid, such as a combination of lead, sulfuric acid, and water, that create electrolyte to power the battery. They are usually the least expensive type of car battery, but require more upkeep than other types.

    Lithium-ion batteries

    LIthium-ion batteries are found in hybrid and electric cars. They can usually store more energy than traditional car batteries and are fairly lightweight. However, they typically have a short lifespan.

    EXPERT TIP

    To be prepared for a dead battery, have a set of jumper cables in your car at all times. You’ll need another car with a fully charged battery to jump your car, though.


    Dale  | Automotive Super-User

    What should you look for in a car battery?

    Size

    Car batteries come in different sizes, which usually fit according to the make and model of your vehicle.

    The sizes are divided into groups with numbers and letters to designate each.  Some cars can accommodate more than one battery size, but it’s important to choose a battery that’s approved for use in your vehicle.

    Consult the car manufacturer’s specifications to determine what size battery is appropriate for your vehicle.

    If you’re not experienced with working on cars, it’s best to have a professional replace your battery.

    Staff
    BestReviews

    Cranking amps (CA)

    CA measures the starting power of a battery. Your owner’s manual should list your vehicle’s requirements when it comes to a CA rating, so you can choose the right option for your car.

    Cold cranking amps (CCA)

    CCA measures a battery’s starting power in cold temperatures. The rating indicates the number of amps that a 12-volt battery is able to deliver at 0℉ for 30 seconds, while keeping the voltage at a steady 7.2 volts.

    CCA rating is particularly important if you live in a cold climate. For the best results, choose a battery with the highest CCA rating available that fits the car manufacturer’s requirements.

    Ample Energy

    The XS Power D3400 battery features AGM technology with electrolytes suspended in fiberglass. Benefits of this setup include prevention against spills, and appropriate seals to prevent leakage, along with regulated valves and vibration resistance. As this battery is designed for racing, it can be installed in a variety of positions. Customers noted that in addition to powering their cars quite well, this product also supplies ample energy to the "extras," such as high-end audio systems, within the vehicle.

    Battery reserve capacity

    A battery’s reserve capacity indicates how long it can provide power if the you leave the headlights and other accessories on, or if the battery’s charging system fails.

    Look for a battery that can supply at least 1½ hours of reserve capacity. For a higher performing battery, opt for one with 2 hours of reserve capacity.

    Maintenance

    The best car battery is relatively maintenance free, which means you don’t need to add liquid to it. Look for a completely sealed battery for the least maintenance necessary.

    DID YOU KNOW?

    A dying battery can lower your car’s fuel economy because the alternator requires more horsepower to charge the battery properly.

    Warranty

    To be sure that the battery will last as long as possible, look for a model with a strong warranty. Opt for a battery with at least a three-year replacement warranty. You can find batteries with longer warranties for extra security, or options that allow for a prorated refund should the battery fail within a certain time period after the replacement warranty ends.

    Handle

    Car batteries can weigh as much as 40 pounds, which can make them difficult to maneuver. If you plan to install the battery yourself, it helps to choose a model with a handle to make lowering it into the tight confines of a car engine a little easier.

    EXPERT TIP

    Most batteries sold today are ‘sealed batteries.’ As a result, you cannot check their fluid levels.


    Dale  | Automotive Super-User

    Car battery prices

    Car batteries vary in price based on the type and the size, but you can typically expect to pay between $100 and $300.

    For an SLI battery, you’ll usually pay between $100 and $200.

    For a sealed battery like an AGM, you’ll usually pay between $200 and $300.

    Deep-Cycle Battery

    The Odyssey PC680-P is a deep-cycle battery, making it especially useful for electric cars. It also features a non-spill AGM design to help protect it against shocks and vibrations that can easily destroy a battery. Most deep-cycle batteries are designed for long-term use as opposed to significant starting power.

    Tips and tricks

    • Prolong your car battery’s life by not using the radio, lights, or AC when the car isn’t running.

    • To keep your car battery’s positive and negative terminals from corroding, treat them with a terminal protector spray every so often.

    • Driving your car for longer periods can help prolong the battery life, so try to take the scenic route home every now and then.

    • If you’re replacing or otherwise working on your car battery, always wear safety eyewear and rubber gloves to protect yourself.

    • In the winter, park you car inside a well-insulated garage when possible, to protect the battery.

    If properly installed and maintained, most car batteries last up to six years.

    FAQ

    Q. How long will a car battery last?

    A. A car battery’s lifespan depends on how it’s used and maintained. If you care for your battery properly, it can often last four to seven years.

    Q. How does temperature affect a car battery?

    A. In hot temperatures, a battery’s capacity increases. However, the battery life actually decreases. In cold weather, the battery has a lower capacity, but it typically lasts longer.

    Q. What should I do with my old car battery?

    A. When you purchase a new car battery, many stores will take the old one to recycle for you. In some areas, you’ll actually pay a fee if you don’t turn in your old battery, in an attempt to keep the dangerous lead and acid in car batteries from winding up in landfills.

    The team that worked on this review
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      Devangana
      Web Producer
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      Eliza
      Production Manager
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      Heather
      Chief Content Officer
    • Jeff
      Jeff
      Editor
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
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      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor