Best Car Battery: Ultimate Buying Guide and Product Review
Car’s are full of all sorts of necessary parts and pieces but it’s hard to argue if there is anything more integral than the battery. Providing the ignition to get your motor started and electricity to your audio system, air conditioning, and lights, a car battery it is probably one of the most important parts in your car. Getting the best car battery for you is just a matter of knowing some of the different characteristics to look out for.
How Long Can a Car Battery Last?
In temperate weather with a low level of humidity, you can expect your car battery to last around six years. There are few people that actually live in such prime conditions though, so a more realistic assessment is in the two to five-year range. The South-East United States, which has some of the highest temperatures and levels of humidity, resulting in a noticeably shorter battery lifespan. In order to maximize the life of your battery, it's best never to leave your lights or radio on without the engine also running.
What Should You Consider When Buying a Car Battery
When looking at the best car battery for you there are a couple things you should keep in mind - everything from what type of vehicle you have to what you expect to do with it.
- Make sure to get the right size. Typically organized in grouping delegated by a combination of numbers or letters, battery sizes can even vary among the same brand of automobiles. While there are online tools you can use to look it up, it's better to look in your vehicle's manual or go to an auto parts store to get the right size.
- Know if you need a heavy duty battery. Vehicles that go off-roading a lot will result in batteries that go through particularly more punishment. Heavy-duty batteries are more vibration resistant, protecting the important components within.
- Always choose a fresh battery. This can go without saying but a newer battery will have a superior charge over one that has been collecting dust on the shelf. Ideally, you want to avoid any battery that is more than six months old.
- Know the warranties. You can expect most batteries to have at least a three-year replacement warranty but there are a few that go even longer. The warranties themselves are divided into two categories - replacement and prorated refund.
- Keep an eye on cold-cranking amps. This the number of amps, or power, a battery has in cold temperatures labeled with the acronym CCA. The higher the amperage the more effective the battery will be at starting in cold weather.
- There are roughly three types of batteries. Gel Cell batteries use a gelatin substance for lower discharge, making them ideal for hot weather along with any vehicle that creates a lot of heat. Absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries, on the other hand, use a series of thin mats to keep resistance at a minimum - making them great for cold weather. Flooded, or wet cell lead acid batteries are filled with electrolyte liquid to provide an electrical charge. While not excelling type of whether they do have the least amount of maintenance.
- Look out for reserve capacity. This is the amount of time a battery can provide a certain amount of power (typically 25 amps) without the engine running. This is especially important in warmer climates as air conditioning puts more stress on a battery, potentially killing it faster.
- Do you need a secondary battery? If you’re running a lot of audio equipment it won’t matter how great your normal starter battery is. A secondary battery will allow you to power all of your electronics while also putting significantly less stress on your primary one.
Top 10 Car Batteries Picked by Experts
There are plenty of brands on the market today and it might seem a bit overwhelming siphoning through all the information to get a good car battery. This list of best car battery reviews will help you get an idea of what you should be looking at. To add diversity to this list we coordinated down to the best batteries relative to their groupings - so while one may be the best lead-acid battery, for instance, another might be better for extreme weather conditions.
1. Optima Batteries 8004-003 34/78 RedTop
At 12-volts and 800 cold cranking amps, this Optima product is an excellent lead-acid model and considered to be the best battery for cars. Were it really shines is the massive reserve capacity of 100 minutes - giving you consistent performance even under the worst of weather conditions. Like all Optima batteries, this one comes fitted with the extra-durable case that is rated at fifteen times the vibration resistance compared to more traditional models, making them ideal for off-roading, hot rods, and SUVs.
The battery itself is designed to deliver a powerful burst of power right from the startup, which provides great ignition power in even colder climates. The source of all of this batteries power and durability is a result of the spiral winding plates under a carefully controlled process that maintains temperature and humidity.
2. Odyssey PC680 Battery
When it comes to a battery that can take a beating and still give reliable power in even extreme weather conditions, look no farther than this PC680 Odyssey car battery. This battery most impressive feature is its deep cycle life. At a full 70 percent, longer cycle life compared to other deep cycle models, you can expect considerable and stable voltage for an extended period of time. To keep maintenance at a minimum it is made in a non-spillable design. The warranty to is impressive - there is a limited 2-year full replacement warranty along with a 3 to 10 year prorated.
The inside is packed tightly with pure lead plates inside a case that is highly shock and vibration resistant - this allows for optimum use on not just the land but in snow and sea swell. The absorbed glass mat (AGM) design helps maximize conductivity along with eliminating any acid spills.
3. VMAX V35-857 Marine Deep Cycle
An excellent battery that comes at an even better price - VMAX proves that you don't need quality for a lot of money. The heavy-duty grids are made from a lead-tin alloy which has been shown to provide superior performance. VMAX has provided a battery of remarkable durability - this is a result of the special treatment it undergoes in the manufacturing process. Part of this process involves putting AGM between the plates, increasing both the durability and electrical power of their batteries.
Known specifically for their incredible lifespan, this battery also sports a great recovery after even repeated deep discharges. While this product works great with cars, it also does a good job in most small boats.
4. Mighty Max ML35-12 Deep Cycle Solar Battery
Not only is this a great solar battery but also an amazing rechargeable car battery. The AGM technology is reinforced with a calcium-alloy grid that gives you an incredible amount of power while also being remarkably durable. The deep cycle nature of this battery allows you to use it without the motor running - maximizing its life cycle.
Being able to be used in everything from car, boats, and even solar generators, this battery also works incredibly well in extreme hot and cold temperatures. Because of its spill-proof case, it requires practically no maintenance. This Mighty Max product can be mounted easily, making install a breeze.
5. Optima Batteries 8042-218 YellowTop Battery
Optima is known not just for its incredible starting power but a design that is unmatched in terms of durability. Sporting a vibration resistance that is 15 times more resistant than traditional batteries equates to triple the lifespan of conventional batteries. This type of battery sport 620 CCA with an impressive 98 minutes of reserve capacity at 12 volts. The spiral design is found in this battery functions for a dual purpose - maximizing its ignition power while also giving consistent performance regardless of the temperature.
Probably what makes this specific battery stick out from others is how well it does even against multiple pulls of power. If you have a vehicle with a plethora of audio equipment and other electronic gadgets, then this is the battery for you.
6. Optima Batteries 8006-006 BlueTop Marine Battery
Considering they sport some of the best car batteries in the world, is it a wonder there is yet another on this list? Like all Optima brand batteries, it is located in the ultra-durable case that can not only go up against the most brutal of conditions but is practically maintenance free.
Because of the unique coil design of the plates, this battery has great starting power in even the coldest of conditions. Indeed, this BlueTop variant sports a massive 800 CCA meaning you'll get a great start every time you turn that key. While this battery works amazingly in a car, truck, or van, it really does well in marine conditions such as boats.
7. DieHard 38275 Advanced Gold AGM Battery
This DieHard product boasts one of the highest vibration resistance on the market - an impressive 20x that of normal batteries! This provides a minimum of double the battery cycle life, resulting in superior performance for the longer time. To reduce the possibility of electrical shorts that could hamper battery life, both the negative and positive plates have been optimized for maximum power. The suspension system has been enhanced to provide more electrolyte protection to all internal components. For lower maintenance, this battery has a spill proof design which has been shown to increase durability.
The manufacturer is so sure of this product that it provides an impressive free replacement warranty up to 3 years. To ensure that you'll get the most out of this battery it is heat-sealed to make it completely tamper-resistant.
8. SoundQuest SQB2000 Power Battery
One of the best audio car batteries out there today as it sports an impressive 2000 watts of power. The AGM technology means that this battery uses a series of ultra-thin plates as its mechanism for action - this allows it to work in even frigid conditions. The amount of wattage it contains allows it to power subwoofers, speakers, tweeters, and other electronics with little problem.
This device is manufactured to actually store energy so you don't need to worry about buying an extra capacitor. All in all, if you find that your car's lights start to dim underneath the strain of your audio equipment, this battery can go a long way. For extra customization, this SoundQuest device has removable brass battery posts.
9. Kinetik HC600 BLU Power Cell Battery
If you are looking for a car audio battery that works great but is still highly affordable, then look no further than this Kinetik battery. This product provides 12 volts of high current power, allowing you to power everything from your audio equipment to DVD player with little trouble. What's interesting about this product is that it is actually reverse compatible as a standard battery in a pinch. Its AGM design is streamlined to work in colder weather and is rated perfect for 600-watt car audio systems.
This battery, despite its impressive power output, is made in an incredibly compact design. Being so small you are able to fit it in spots most batteries aren't capable of. It is capable of doing this because of its remarkably low Equivalent Series Resistance (ESR) coupled with a high energy density - bringing the perfect balance of power and reliability.
10. DieHard 38188 Advanced Gold Battery
Being a DieHard Gold battery you know it has the mind-boggling 20x vibration protection. This high level of vibration performance doubles the cycle life compared to conventional lead-acid batteries. Providing 775 CCA and 120 minutes of reserve capacity means that you'll not only be able to start your vehicle with little to no problem but also not have to worry about it dying. The case is completely heat-sealed giving you a higher level of protection while also not having to worry about any maintenance. The plates themselves are full-frame on both the negative and positive plates, reducing electrical shorts and maximizing battery life.
Being mountable in just about any position means that this battery can work great for just about any make or model of car.
Common Question and Answers for Car Batteries
#1. How do I Recharge a Car Battery?
While it is recommended to follow the manufacturer's instructions on how best to use a car charger, there are a few steps you must always take. First, make sure all power is cut off - that means the power to the charger and car battery alike. Hooking up the cable is as simple as coordinating the correct one with the positive and negative terminals of the battery. From here you're going to want to set the charger at the lowest rate and set the timer. The number of amps trickling into the battery will determine how long it will take relative to how many CCAs your battery has. For instance, 10 amps will charge a battery with 500 CCA in about 6 hours.
#2. When do I Need to Buy a New Car Battery?
It doesn't matter how well you maintain it, eventually, your battery is going to need to be replaced. So you don't get stranded somewhere when your car won't start you need to watch out for a few warning signs. The most obvious is the check engine light will come on when the battery is weak. If your car is taking longer than normal to start up, this may be from a lack of power coming from your battery as well. Physical problems in the battery case itself can result in swelling, bloating, and leaking. Even if you don't have any of these problems you might want to think about replacing your battery if it's been more than three years
#3. What Accessories do I Need for my Car Battery?
While you’ll never want a reason to use them, there are a few things you should have on hand just in case. The first is a car battery charger - there are many brands and types out there but as long as it as it has a couple different setting for charging along with the associated clamps you should be fine. You should also have a set of separate battery clamps in case you need to get a jump - or give a jump to anyone else. There are also car jumpers that give your battery a surge of power to properly start-up in a pinch.
Picking the right battery for you depends heavily on your local environment and how much stress you're going to put on your vehicle. Regardless of which one you choose you should invest in a jumper, charger, and jumper cables in case of an emergency. In ideal conditions, a car battery should last you around six years - for the rest of us that don't live in paradise though you can expect an average of two to five years. Your battery is the heart of your vehicle and picking the right one can make your ride smoother and give you peace of mind.