The Best Car Batteries: Rugged and Reliable Options That Won’t Let You Down
Decrease your chances of being stranded with these top-quality, reliable car batteries.
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BY Lisa Conant / LAST UPDATED ON June 11, 2021
Your car battery is one of those things that's easy to forget about or neglect—this is until it stops working and throws a wrench in your plans. While most car batteries have a life expectancy of four to six years, several factors can leave you scrambling for a new one at the most inopportune time.
Frequent short car trips, prolonged exposure to cold and harsh temperatures, corroded battery terminals, and leaving your lights on are all things that can cause your car battery to meet an untimely demise. If this has happened to you, you've probably just run to the nearest automotive store or called your roadside assistance superhero and taken the first car battery that came your way.
In the interest of proactivity and not wanting to see you stranded again, we've come up with our list of favorite, most reliable car batteries and a comprehensive buying guide to help you choose the best car battery for you.
Protects against high-impact shock and mechanical vibration. Its CCA is 950, and it has a reserve capacity of 145 minutes. It comes with a limited three- and four-year full replacement warranty.
- The Odyssey is capable of 100 percent recharge in 4-6 hours
- Cranking power is excellent
- Overall, it's very durable and reliable
- Battery may not last as long as the manufacturer claims and may die within a couple of years
- On the pricier side
- Handle is flimsy
A budget-friendly, maintenance-free battery that will still deliver strong and reliable starting power each and every time.
- One of the most affordable batteries on our list
- Offers 800 CCA of starting power
- Has excellent cold temperature reliability
- This battery has a shorter lifespan compared to other models
- Not the best choice for vehicles with moderate to high electrical power draws
This is a 12V battery with 800 CCA and 200 amp load. It's powerful, reliable, and designed to last. It comes in handy for regular use as well as emergencies.
- Battery offers a reserve capacity of 100 minutes and ensures an optimal starting power
- Easy to mount and use
- Proves to be very durable
- Unit might be too bulky for some vehicle types
- Several buyers had to make quite some modifications for a perfect fit
- Not easy to claim the warranty, either
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.
Benefits of Car Batteries
- Start your car. The best car battery works by providing a jolt of electricity that powers your vehicle's electrical components. It's necessary for starting your vehicle as well as running the lights, radio, etc.
- Easy to install. Most batteries are located in the front of your vehicle under the hood. They're usually easy to access and replace with just a few tools. The most important thing to remember when installing a new battery is to disconnect the negative terminal first for safety purposes.
- Provide peace of mind. It can be a real hassle if you're on your way somewhere, and you can't go because your car won't start due to a dead battery. The best-rated car batteries are designed to be durable and reliable.
Types of Car Batteries
Wet Cell automotive batteries are often also commonly known as “flooded” batteries. These are currently the most common, most popular, and most affordable car battery types on the market. This type of battery contains free liquid that requires periodic maintenance and monitoring. Extreme cold or harsh temperatures can have a detrimental effect on the electrolyte solution in these batteries, sometimes even causing it to freeze, which will significantly shorten your battery’s lifespan.
Car owners used to have to top off the water in the electrolyte solution of their car's batteries. These days, maintenance-free batteries are much more user-friendly. These conventional batteries don't require topping off the fluid, and the caps aren't meant to be removed. Lead-acid batteries don't hold a charge as long as an absorbed glass mat battery and are less tolerant of deep discharge. However, they're more affordable.
Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM)
AGMs can be drained and recharged more frequently than standard batteries. More and more automakers are using this type of battery for high-performance purposes because modern vehicles are increasingly using more power for things such as fuel-saving stop/start systems and power outlets for mobile devices. These batteries cost significantly more than traditional batteries. If you don't use your vehicle often, and it loses its charge, an AGM is a good pick.
Hybrid and electric cars use this type of battery, which is also referred to as a li-ion battery. In contrast to traditional, lead-acid batteries, Li-ion batteries hold considerably more energy and are much lighter in weight.
Sears, based in Hoffman Estates, Ill., first introduced DieHard batteries in 1967. During the product's testing phase, not one battery failed in over 26,000 starts in temperatures ranging from sub-zero to over 100 degrees. One popular product is the DieHard Platinum Battery.
Optima was founded in 1972 and is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wis. The company was responsible for the first maintenance-free lead acid batteries for commercial and military use as well as the first high‐performance AGM automotive batteries. One of its most popular batteries is the Optima RedTop.
Odyssey batteries are manufactured by EnerSys Energy Products Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of EnerSys, which is headquartered in Reading, Penn. The company has manufacturing facilities in Warrensburg, Mo., and Newport, Wales, United Kingdom. The company produces high-quality products that provide superior performance for a variety of power applications. One top battery is the Odyssey Automotive and LTV Battery.
One of the best car battery brands, ACDelco is owned by General Motors and has been around since the birth of GM in the early 1900s. Based in Grand Blanc, Mich., the company's parts are included in more than 2 million GM vehicles produced each year. One of its most popular products is the ACDelco 48AGM Professional AGM Automotive Battery
FirePower, based in Boise, Idaho, has over 50 years of experience in the power sports industry. The company sources the highest-grade materials to create its products, which includes batteries, ignition coils, kill switches, starters, and more. One popular product is the FirePower Featherweight Lithium Battery.
Car Battery Pricing
- Under $100: Car batteries in the price range will give you decent reliability and performance, but they are likely to have a lower lifespan than many more expensive, higher-tech battery options. Expect to get one to two years of fail-safe use out of batteries in this price range. You’ll be hard-pressed to find AGM or lithium batteries in this price range.
- $100 to $200: Most batteries typically fall within this price range. There are plenty of powerful AGM and wet cell batteries in this price range that will last for 3-4 years and are backed by a solid replacement warranty.
- $200 and up: Now you’re getting into the cream of the crop when it comes to long-lasting, uber durable car batteries. Most brands will offer their best battery in this price range. You’ll see a lot of lithium batteries here, as well as high-end AGMs.
Batteries lose strength over time, so it's important that you select the newest one possible. Batteries have a code with a letter and number that indicates when they were manufactured. Companies use different types of codes, so make sure you know what you're looking for when you select a battery. Avoid units that are older than six months from the date they were manufactured.
It's essential that you install a battery that is the correct size with the proper terminal locations. If the terminals are in the wrong spot, the cables on your vehicle might not reach the battery or they might not fit tightly enough. Be sure to check your owner's manual to find out exactly what you need. For instance, size 24/24F batteries fit many Honda, Acura, Toyota, Lexus, Nissan, and Infiniti vehicles, while size 48H6 batteries fit many European and American vehicles.
- Warranty. Look for a product with the longest free-replacement period you can find. Companies typically have a free-replacement period and prorated period, which will give you partial reimbursement. Just note that a warranty can be voided if you neglect the battery (i.e., improperly install it).
- Carrying Handle. Batteries can weigh between 25 and 60 pounds, which can make them hard to lift and carry. This is much easier to do if it has a plastic handle. You can also use the handle to lower the battery into the engine compartment.
- Technical Specifications. Batteries are rated by a variety of factors, including the amp hour, cold-cranking amps (CCA), and reserve capacity. CCA, in particular, refers to the number of amps a battery can produce when the temperature drops to zero degrees Fahrenheit.
Best Car Batteries Reviews & Recommendations 2021
- Be sure to check your car’s owner’s manual or the specifications on your current battery before purchasing a new one, as battery sizes and capacities vary from vehicle to vehicle.
- You should test your car's battery annually to be sure it's in good working order. Also, check it before taking a long trip. Even the best automotive battery needs to be replaced every few years.
- The type of battery you use largely depends on where you live and the weather conditions in the area. If you want the best car battery for cold weather, you may need a battery that's labeled with "N" or "North", while if you live in a warmer climate you will need one labeled with an "S" or "South".
- Some cars such as BMWs need a new car battery that is coded or digitally matched to the vehicle. This requires specific software, so you'll probably need to have it changed by an authorized dealer or facility.
Q: How long does a car battery last?
In ideal conditions, most car batteries can last anywhere from three to six years. Lifespans can vary based on manufacturing techniques.
Q: Why does a car battery stop working?
There are many reasons why your car battery might stop working. Factors such as prolonged exposure to harsh or extreme weather conditions, corroded terminals, forgetting to turn off your car’s interior or exterior lights, excessive battery vibration, and frequent short trips will all shorten your car battery’s lifespan. A battery that’s left sitting for too long without being started can also cause it to drain down below its minimum starting voltage.
Q. How do I know if my battery is dying?
Several warning signs might indicate a dying battery. These include dim headlights or dashboard lights, a slow or lagging engine turnover when you try to start the car, a clinking sound when you turn the key, problems with running some of the car's electrical components, and a swollen battery casing. If the battery warning indicator is illuminated on your dashboard, it's a pretty direct sign that your battery might be going bad.
Q. Can I use a cheap battery in my car?
If you are on a tight budget, by all means, feel free to use a less expensive battery in your car. It may not last as long or perform as well as a more expensive, top-of-the-line car battery, and it may need to be replaced more frequently, but at least you’ll have power to your vehicle without stressing yourself out financially.
If you’re looking for a high-quality, long-lasting, reliable car battery that is guaranteed to give you years of great performance, the Odyssey Automotive and LTV Battery is a great choice. It offers an impressive 950 CCA capacity, super quick recharge rates, and is backed by a solid manufacturer’s warranty to keep you protected.
For a less expensive option that won’t break the bank, we like the DieHard Silver Battery. It’s got a reliable and robust starting capacity, excellent cold temperature reliability, and a two-year manufacturer’s replacement warranty.