Best Car Batteries (Review & Buying Guide) in 2022
These are the batteries leading the charge.
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BY Robert Bacon / LAST UPDATED ON November 19, 2021
Many consider a vehicle’s engine to be its beating heart but without a working car battery, you’re not going anywhere. Once your motor begins to crank slowly, it’s time to get your hands on a new battery before you wind up needing a tow. And unless batteries are an area that you’re familiar with, it can be tough to understand how car battery performance figures relate to you. Whether you compete in car stereo contests or just want to heat your seat on a cold winter’s morning, there’s a battery for you. We’ve created a buyer’s guide to help you understand what features and types to consider before choosing a model. You’ll also find a list of the best car batteries on the market below.
This is a reliable battery from a trusted brand with 800 CCA on tap and a 100-minute reserve capacity.
- 800 CCA
- 100-minute reserve capacity
- Spill-proof design
- Vibration resistant
- On the higher end of the price spectrum
Here you have a reliable battery that won’t break the bank. It produces 640 CCA, but it’s a wet cell battery so won’t last as long as the AGM models.
- Great value for money
- Three-year warranty
- 640 CCA on tap
- Wet-cell battery
- Not suitable for large diesel engines
It pumps out an impressive 850 CCA and has a 135-minute reserve capacity. Unfortunately, high-performance stats like these don’t come cheap.
- 850 CCA
- 135-minute reserve capacity
- AGM battery
- Uses virgin lead
- One of the priciest batteries producing under 1,000 CCA on the market
Why Trust Us
Our reviews are driven by a combination of hands-on testing, expert input, “wisdom of the crowd” assessments from actual buyers, and our own expertise. We always aim to offer genuine, accurate guides to help you find the best picks.
To choose the best car batteries on the market, we employed a comprehensive research methodology. We evaluated dozens of batteries before choosing the top contenders. Although we haven’t personally tested these products, our selection is informed by consumer testimonials, expert reviews, discussions on relevant online forums, and our institutional knowledge of the automotive industry.
We visited the Car Talk subreddit to get a more informed opinion of what automotive enthusiasts felt about the products on the market.
Some brands are already well-established in this niche, and priority was given to their products. However, other lesser-known brands were also evaluated. The main features taken into consideration were price, CCA, reserve capacity, battery type, group size, reliability, durability, and warranty. Car batteries were immediately disqualified from consideration if they were unreliable, hazardous, or not fit for the demands of modern vehicles.
Best Car Battery Reviews & Recommendations
Our Verdict on Car Batteries
The Optima Batteries 8004-003 34/78 RedTop is our best overall car battery. This is a tried and tested model from a trusted brand, built to last, and competent in all but the most extreme situations. But, if you need a reliable replacement that won’t break the bank, then check out our value pick, the EverStart Maxx Lead Acid Battery.
What to Consider When Buying a Car Battery
Unless you’re an automotive expert, you would be forgiven for not knowing what battery best suits your vehicle and needs. This guide will explain what key features and battery types to consider before purchasing. If you still have any questions, check out the FAQs section.
Types of Car Batteries
Flooded Lead Acid Battery (Wet Cell)
The flooded lead acid battery (also known as the SLI “starting, lighting, ignition”) 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 aren’t 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 battery’s life. So, while they’re suitable for starting vehicles and powering standard accessories, they’re not a good option for anyone using heavy-duty electronics.
Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) Battery
Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) batteries are a type of valve-regulated lead-acid battery (VRLA) 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 today’s 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 don’t 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.
AGM batteries aren’t as negatively affected by being deeply discharged and can safely cycle down to 80-percent of their capacity. These are better suited to vehicles that have an automatic stop-start feature. Keep in mind that if you retrofit an AGM battery to a car that’s set up for a wet cell battery, the AGM battery won’t work to its full potential.
Deep cycle batteries, also known as ‘marine’ batteries, use a lead-acid solution, but they can be flooded or sealed. These models use a denser active material and thicker battery plate in their cells. This allows deep-cycle batteries to sustain a low power draw for long periods. These models are well-suited to recreational vehicles and boats.
Car Battery Key Features
Cold Current Amps (CCA)
The number of CCA a car battery produces refers to the starting performance of the battery in cold temperatures. This is a good measure of how much power your battery can sustain over short bursts. More specifically, this is the number of cold cranking amps that the battery will deliver at a temperature of minus-18-degrees-Celsius for 30 seconds with the voltage staying above 7.2 volts. If you use a gasoline engine, you want at least one CCA per cubic inch. Anyone who’s using a diesel engine will need to double this.
The reserve capacity of a battery indicates how long it can deliver a current of 25 Amps, at a temperature of 25-degrees-celsius, until its voltage drops to 10.5 volts. Along with the CCA, the reserve capacity completes the picture of how powerful your battery is by indicating how well it works over long periods with a low draw. This will be an important feature for anyone who will use appliances while the engine is off, especially ones with a high electrical load like speaker systems or winches. But it's also important for general users, as it indicates how long your battery will last if you accidentally leave standard electric appliances on, like headlights.
A battery’s group size refers to its physical size and terminal locations. For example, batteries that are group size 24F fit many Honda, Toyota, and Nissan cars but mightn’t fit American or European vehicles. If you’re unsure whether your vehicle’s battery compartment can accommodate a certain group size, you can use an online compatibility checking tool. You could also check your owner’s manual to see what battery group sizes are suitable.
Date Of Production
Since batteries lose power over time, you always want to buy the freshest one possible. Some battery manufacturers print codes on their batteries consisting of a letter and a number, which relate to the month and year of production, while other brands use a print date of production. Whenever possible, check this code before buying and try to get a model that was produced within the last six months.
Car Battery Brands
Optima Batteries is a premium brand of auto, marine, and commercial batteries owned by Johnson Controls. This brand has been producing batteries for over 40 years and is based out of Milwaukee, Wis. Optima is undoubtedly one of the biggest names in the industry and has a reputation for producing high-end, reliable products. There are three lines of batteries: RedTop, YellowTop, and BlueTop. Regardless of if you need a battery for your boat or sports car, you’ll find something suitable in one of the company’s ranges. All models use a unique six-pack design and Spiralcell AGM technology. Most Optima batteries come with a three-year replacement warranty.
Odyssey is a well-known brand that has been producing car batteries for 25 years. The batteries are manufactured by EnerSys, which has production facilities in the USA, United Kingdom, and France. Odyssey produces premium AGM batteries, which are on the high end of the price spectrum. These models come with a limited four-year replacement warranty.
EverStart is a Johnson Controls company that produces good value car batteries. EverStart shares technology with some of Johnson Controls premium brand names and performs just as well, but for a lower price. The manufacturer produces AGM batteries, but you’ll find the best value in its wet cell models. Depending on what model you choose, EverStart batteries come with a 1-3-year warranty.
ACDelco produces a range of automotive parts and is owned by General Motors (GM). It was founded in 1916 and its headquarters is in Grand Blanc, Mich. The brand produces factory parts for GM and aftermarket parts for non-GM vehicles. The AGM batteries this company produces are high-spec, reliable, and good value. ACDelco batteries for non-commercial vehicles usually come with a 36-month warranty.
XS Power Batteries
XS Power Batteries was established in 2005 and is located in Knoxville, Tenn. This manufacturer specializes in high-performance batteries and is favored by people who compete in car stereo contests. The AGM models produced by XS Power are some of the most powerful in the industry and have the performance figures to match. These batteries are some of the most expensive on the market and warrant the price by their high-performance specs. All XS Power Batteries come with a three-year warranty from the date of purchase.
Tips and Tricks
As with something you do for decades upon decades, you pick up a few tips and tricks along the way in terms of selecting the right product, and/or using it. 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.
- If your car's electrical system is set up for an AGM battery, this is the type you should use if you need to replace the original battery.
- Similar to the last tip, if your car’s electrical system is set up for a wet cell battery, it won’t be able to fully utilize an AGM battery’s performance.
- Keep your battery terminals clean by using a toothbrush dipped in a baking soda and water mixture. Rinse with cold water and dry thoroughly after cleaning. This will reduce the speed at which they corrode.
- If you regularly drive on bumpy roads, make sure your battery is tightly fastened. The more a battery vibrates, the more prone it is to internal damage to short circuits.
You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers!
Q: How long does a car battery last?
Flooded batteries usually last 3-5 years, although their lifespans are getting shorter due to the heavier electrical load modern vehicles require. AGM batteries can last up to 10 years if well maintained.
Q: How do I know if my car battery is dying?
If your engine is slow to crank, then your battery is on the way out. Dim headlights are also a sign of a dying battery, as it can’t fully power all electrical components.
Q: Why does a car battery stop working?
Put simply, car batteries run out of juice over time. Other issues that could cause your battery to fail included corroded or loose battery connections, faulty electronics that drain the electrical system, and exposing your battery to extreme temperatures.