Things To Consider Before Buying A Car Battery
Theres a reason behind the multiple tiers in the car battery world. If your car has auto start/stop, or you know youll do a lot of short trips, then a battery thats designed to withstand this sort of use is essential. If you drive a compact economy car in mild weather, with a charging system thats in tip-top shape, and you drive long enough to make sure the battery stays topped off, then something with less reserve and a lower cold-cranking amp rating is a safe bet.
Tips For Buying A Replacement Battery
This years results continue to show that buying a battery from a car dealership or mechanic might not be your best bet. For example, three EverStart batteries get a CR Best Buy designation, and theyre sold only at Walmart. Compared with the batteries sold at dealers or by mechanics, EverStarts warranties are just as good, and in some cases might be a little better, says Mark Allwood, a senior market analyst at CR who covers car batteries.
Regardless of where you buy them and which brands they belong to, a majority of batteries are built by a handful of manufacturers, Allwood says. For example, Duracell car batteriesone of which gets a CR Best Buy designationare made by East Penn, a major battery manufacturer.
CRs experts caution against buying a battery online. There may be shipping restrictions. And although it can save you money over paying a local retaileras much as $40, Allwood saysit might not be a good idea for those who arent experienced in installing a car battery.
If youre not comfortable doing it yourself, you should go to a qualified mechanic, says John Ibbotson, chief mechanic at CRs Auto Test Center. With most cars, battery replacement is a pretty straightforward job, but for some cars, the installation is more involved. For example, some cars hide the battery under a seat, in the trunk, or behind a wheel well, which may require the removal of parts before installation.
Below are the best performing batteries in each tested group.
What Does Reserve Capacity Mean
When picking a car audio battery, you must consider its reserve capacity. The reserve capacity shows how long the battery will deliver power when it is not being charged.
Pick a battery with a high reserve capacity so that you can listen to music for longer hours, even when the car engine is turned off. A good battery should have a reserve capacity of more than 2 hours.
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Q: What Is A Cold Cranking Amps Rating
Battery manufacturers have used the Cold Cranking Amps rating to do a lot of bragging, but for most of the country, its not something we should give so much weight to. You see, Cranking Amps is the output of the battery at 32 Fwhen water freezes into ice. Cold Cranking Amps is the measurement for how much the battery can put out at 0 F. There certainly are parts of the country that see 0 and belowIve lived therebut if your winter only dips into the 20s then you probably dont need to spend the extra money to get a few hundred more CCAs.
Best Car Battery Brand Reviews & Recommendations
- Poor warranty process
Easily one of the most recognizable names in the industry is Exide, known for serving the average car owner for many years. Lead-acid batteries are familiar territory for the name, but there are AGMs in the lineup to meet the demands of newer vehicles. Of course, the prices of Exide batteries are partly to thank for its popularity, as is the convenience of being able to source these U.S.-made batteries from many big-name chains.
Unfortunately, the warranty is not Exide’s strong point. At just two years, its on the short end. Customer service is also something of an issue. Many users feel that the warranty just isnt worth the hassle.
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Final Thoughts On The Best Car Batteries
Getting the right car battery can make the difference when youre dealing with some of the extremes the country can throw at you. As you start researching and shopping for a battery, take into consideration where youll be spending most of your time, how much you value a free replacement warranty, and how much you can spend. If you decide to buy one of the car batteries on this list make sure youre paying for the features you need, and not wasting money on things you dont.
Xs Power D3400 High Output Battery
Another high-performance replacement car battery option comes from XS Power with the D3400. Boasting capacity of 65 Ah, 3,300 max amps, and 1,000 cranking amps , this battery is spill proof, sealed, valve regulated, and vibration resistant. Its designed for heavy-duty applications with ultra low internal resistance and is ideal for vehicles with stereo systems that require a lot of power.
XS Power claims to use the highest energy density chemistry known in AGM batteries and the brand has quickly become the battery choice for competition car audio enthusiasts. So if youre in need of a strong battery that will last, take a look at XS Power.
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The Best Car Batteries: Reviews & Recommendations
- Enough capacity to handle multiple accessories
- Two hours of reserve capacity
- Available in all common sizes
- Costly AGM design not necessary for all cars
- Warranty shorter than cheaper batteries
I knew I wanted to include a DieHard battery in this list and, while you would be well served by a Gold or Platinum, the Platinum AGM took the top spot for a few reasons. First, the cost was only about $30 between it and the Gold when comparing the F-150 battery size. Second, the AGM design means itll hold up even better to high electrical demands, and would handle a stop-start system easily. To top it off, DieHard brags a bit that this and one other battery in their lineup are made from a minimum of 94% recycled materials. Lead and acid arent the friendliest materials in the world, so its nice to know this battery is recycled as much as possible.
The downsides include cost and warranty length. If cost is a major concern for you then you could save a few dollars by dropping down to a DieHard Silver, which dropped to under $200 in my application. Though, even thats nowhere close to my value pick. Then, though 3 years for a free replacement is longer than some batteries, DieHards non-AGM Platinum is warrantied for four years and is less money.
What Are The Longest
I want a car battery that can survive the cold and keep my car firing for as long as possible. What are some of the best options?
priciertype of vehicle you drivetype of performance you requiresix or seven
- Optima YellowTop Deep Cycle Battery
- Delphi MaxStart AGM Premium Automotive Battery
- Odyssey Performance Series 48-720
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Which Battery Should I Install For My Car Audio System Redtop Or Yellow Top Battery
This depends on your preferences and needs. Redtop batteries are great for starting the car engine as they deliver high bursts of power to the ignition. These batteries are also spillproof and maintenance-free.
On the other hand, yellowtop batteries are ideal for powering electrical components. These batteries are also convenient to use as they can be mounted in any position and provide excellent deep-cycle and cranking power.
Also Consider: Braille Intensity Battery
Braille Intensity lithium batteries are racing-grade batteries designed to provide high CCA while being lightweight. For most drivers, this battery is not necessary or appropriate for their vehicles, but if you need to power a race car, the battery offers superior performance.
Unlike an AGM or flooded battery, this battery can sit for a long time without losing charge. Even after a year of storage, many Braille Intensity batteries will maintain 90 percent of their charge.
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Types Of Car Batteries
Flooded Lead Acid Battery
The flooded lead acid battery is one of the oldest battery types and was the most common type around. But, as accessories now place a larger electrical load on vehicles upon ignition, these models arent as practical. These batteries are usually made up of six cells and have a liquid electrolyte solution of sulfuric acid and water. Some models require you to periodically top their solution up with water. Since this solution can spill, wet cell batteries need to stay vertical.
If you discharge these models below 50 percent it greatly reduces the batterys life. So, while theyre suitable for starting vehicles and powering standard accessories, theyre not a good option for anyone using heavy-duty electronics.
Absorbent Glass Mat Battery
Absorbent Glass Mat batteries are a type of valve-regulated lead-acid battery that are better than wet cell batteries in most measurable ways, but they also cost more. They are better able to support the higher electrical loads todays vehicles place on batteries. These models work like wet cell batteries, but a fiberglass separator keeps the electrolyte solution in place by absorbing it. AGM batteries are sealed, so you dont need to install them vertically. When compared to wet cell batteries, AGM models can charge up to five times faster and last two to three times longer.
Three More Things You Need To Know
Another number to understand is the battery’s reserve capacity, which is how long it can provide power with the engine off and headlights and/or accessories on or if the vehicle’s charging system fails. One and a half hours is good. Two hours is better.
Also important is the warranty, which should be at least three years for full replacement , plus, in some cases, a prorated refund for some time after that. Bear in mind, manufacturer warranties are often not supported when parts and accessories are purchased online from retailers like Amazon or Walmart.
Finally, be forewarned: Some brands, such as BMW, require the battery to be “coded” to the car or it will not take a charge. Coding the battery requires BMW-specific OBD-II software that any reputable service shop or BMW dealer will have.
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Best Car Batteries Of 2022
CR tests dozens each year to separate the positives from the negatives
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Car batteries are essential to every commute, errand, and road trip. It can be easy to take it for granted that your car will start each and every time, but batteries do wear out . . . and not always at a convenient time.
To help members find the best replacement car battery, Consumer Reports tests 150 individual car batteries every year in our lab to help you make smart decisions when its time to replace your battery. We test five units of each rated model to ensure that your experience matches our results.
The tests are tough by design. We charge and discharge the batteries thousands of times while in a 167º F water bath to simulate underhood temperatures and find out how long theyll last. We also put them in a freezer to see how theyll perform at 0º F, and we track how long theyll last if you leave your cars headlights on or the charging system fails.
There are many factors that have an impact on battery life, with weather being one of the most significant. Thats where our extreme testing can separate the batteries with promise from those that come up short.
The Reserve Capacity Of The Battery
The amount of time it takes for a car battery to reach a full discharge under certain conditions is referred to as reserve capacity. Most batteries are purchased based on the make and model of the vehicle, however, it may be possible to purchase a slightly larger battery with a higher reserve capacity for around the same cost of a smaller battery with a lower reserve capacity.
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How Can I Tell If A Battery Is Good Or Bad
First, youll need a multimeter. Then, follow these steps:
How Many Watts Are Suitable For A Car Stereo
First, you need to calculate the wattage of your audio system. This will give you an idea of the output of power that the stereo requires to run. Then, invest in a battery that meets or exceeds that wattage.
For example, if you have an audio system with a wattage of 1600, you would need to buy a battery that meets that rating.
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Not All Car Batteries Are Created Equal
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Buying new car batteries is about as exciting as watching paint dry, but choosing the right product can significantly affect how your car starts and drives. Its essential to buy a battery designed for your climate, type of vehicle, and power accessories to make sure you can start your car whenever needed.
Before you buy just any old car battery, you’ll need to know exactly what size battery your vehicle is designed for. That means more than just the external dimensions batteries get all kinds of ratings for power output, and larger engines and vehicles will need larger batteries. Most manufacturers have charts to help you find the right battery for your car, truck or SUV, including recommended brands like Optima. If you’re still not sure, we’d suggest you check your owner’s manual.
In case you’re wondering, yes, your vehicle almost assuredly has a standard 12-volt battery, even it’s a hybrid or electric model.
Weve gathered a few of our favorite batteries to get you started, so lets get rolling. After a few recommendations, we’ll cover some frequently asked questions.
Editor’s Pick: Optima Batteries Redtop 35
Optima is one of the most well-known brands within the segment, so its little surprise 3 of its batteries end up on our list, even though 2 are essentially the same with different terminals. Our top recommendation is the companys RedTop 35 starting battery. Its a good balance of price and performance, boasting 720 cold cranking amps and C20 capacity of 44 Ah, along with a reserve capacity of 90 minutes for constant performance. The battery itself measures 9.38 by 7.69 by 6.75 and weighs 31.7 pounds.
The RedTop 35 features SAE posts and its case is made of polypropylene.
Providing a strong starting burst, Optima claims this battery has more than 15 times the vibration resistance of a standard battery and is maintenance-free with up to 3 times longer life. Its spill proof and mountable in virtually any position.
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Can You Mix And Match Batteries
Some vehicles have multiple batteries, and while its usually advisable to replace them together, that doesnt mean you have to. But if you are just replacing one battery, do you need to get the same model and type for the other one?
While you can technically mix and match batteries as long as theyre both the same type , we recommend sticking with the same battery.
Its all about getting equal output from each battery so theyll both last up to their full potential. If one battery is pulling more of the load, then it can shorten the battery life.
Car Battery Buyers Guide
With so many great batteries to choose from it can be a challenge to narrow it down to just one. Not only that but sometimes theres a lot of confusion out there about whether you actually need a new battery or not.
Theres a lot of misinformation out there, and thats why we came up with this comprehensive buyers guide to clear the air. Not only will we help you decide if you actually need a new battery, but well walk you through all the different specifications to help you figure out what you need for your vehicle.
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How Long Does A Car Batteries Last In General
A good rule of thumb is that warranty length should tell you how long will a certain battery last.
If youre lucky, and if you were taking good care of it, the battery might last much longer than how much warranty length is.
And of course, if the car battery fails before the warranty expires, then they should replace the battery for sure.
It is recommended to replace it somewhere around the warranty expire date. Its because in general lead-acid batteries are not safe after that date.
From the table above you can get a good idea of what to expect how long the battery might last. Like everything in life there are always exceptions to the rule.
Better brands tend to produce batteries with quality materials and in better production environments. So, its always a good idea to consider buying from a better quality brand. But, like in most cases your wallet will dictate the purchase.