We all know what car batteries look like, but we may not be clear on exactly what they do. Their job is to power your car’s electricals. These include ignition, headlights, indicators, sound system, and air conditioning. So if your car doesn’t start, it’s probably a battery problem.
The issue may arise in the morning. Or when you need to drive home after work. It might get stubborn after an hour in the parking lot. That can be embarrassing on a hot date! Buying the best car battery reduces your chances of embarrassment, so let’s check out some top models.
The Best Car Battery on the Market of 2021
1. Odyssey PC680 Car Battery
When you buy a battery, you may check the cranking amps (CA of HCA) and cold cranking amps (CCA). The latter is more important because it dictates how well your car can start on cold wintry mornings, especially if the temperature is below zero. The higher the CCA the better.
Odyssey performs pretty well, with a CCA of 170. Its regular CA is 520 with a 5-second pulse. Don’t be fooled by the seemingly conservative two-year warranty – Odyssey has been proven to last 3 to 10 years of standard car battery usage. It’s a sealed lead battery, so no top-ups required.
Because the caps are permanently sealed, you don’t have to worry about spillage. The battery charges fully in 4 to 6 hours, and it continues to function when it’s discharged up to 80%. Odyssey batteries can survive 400 deep cycles. That’s almost 70% longer than competitors.
It’s a stable battery, both mechanically and electrically. It can withstand high voltage and physical car vibrations without shorting out or sustaining any damage. But like all batteries, it’s a custom-fit, non-returnable item, so order the right size. Also, you can’t ship it to Catalina.
Odyssey is an AGM battery that emits twice as much power and lasts three times as long as regular batteries. It’s ideal for high-powered vehicles like motorboats, ATVs, and offroaders.
2. ACDelco 94RAGM Professional Car Battery
If you’re not familiar with car batteries, you might think AGM batteries have no lead or acid. You’d be wrong. Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries use the same chemical reactions as other SLI (starting, lighting, ignition) batteries. They just source the chemicals differently.
For example, this ACDelco battery uses calcium lead positive grids dipped in a highly dense negative paste. This combination increases conductivity levels and extends battery life. The positive charge comes from an alloy of silver, calcium, and lead for enhanced performance.
To help your battery acid circulate better, the glass mat envelope is separated by a robust back that’s resistant to puncturing or vibration while reducing resistance to electrical current. This keeps the battery cool so there’s less chance of overheating, leaking, or short-circuiting.
The battery has a limited 3-year warranty that covers free battery replacements. The battery weighs a touch of 50 pounds and emits 12 volts. It’s a maintenance-free battery that recombines oxygen to conserve battery water and reduce wastage. The lead plates face consistent pressure.
ACDelco batteries last longer, largely thanks to their negative electrolyte paste and positive silver-laced alloy plates. The 36-month warranty is widely applicable within the US.
3. Optima RedTop Car Batteries Our Top Pick
When you walk into a car supply store, the gorgeous design of Optima RedTop will grab your attention. But it’s not just a pretty case. It’s precision-welded plastic that eliminates any leaks or spills, giving your battery longer life. And because it’s factory-sealed, it needs no maintenance.
Most car batteries use vertical cells. Optima uses six cylindrical cells. They’re packed close together to withstand vibration and mechanical damage. Each cell is made from four tightly coiled plates. The plates alternate 99.99% pure lead plates with glass mat layers, two of each.
This design decision increases the surface area of conductivity by 40%, leading to enhanced electrical output, faster recharging, and longer power retention. The battery weighs nearly 40 pounds and has a CCA of 800. It has 100 minutes of reserve power between discharges.
It takes 6 to 12 hours for a full charge, resists road vibrations 15 times better than its competitors. But because it has a spiral design and its bolt battery terminal is on the long side, you need to pay extra attention to location and mounting. It’s great for trunk-based batteries.
Optima RedTop is recommended for extreme driving, include racers, trucks, and offroaders. But if your car has lots of gadgets like DVDs and automated sliding doors, get a YellowTop instead.
4. Mighty Max Deep Cycle Solar Car Battery Budget Pick
Having a memorable name is one way to make your mark, and Mighty Max does it well. Its plain black casing isn’t distinctive, but it has certain admirable features. For example, while it’s a sealed AGM battery, it does have rubber release valves to reduce the chances of bloating.
These valves are activated in case the battery overcharges. They safely release gas by-products to prevent the ABS battery case from swelling or cracking. Like many batteries. Mighty Max uses a sulfuric acid electrolyte and lead plates. The positive plate lead is fused with tin and calcium.
This creates a powerful but stable alloy. Meanwhile, the negative plate is lead dioxide. The plates are designed by computers to minimize structural errors. Each of the plates is separated by fiberglass insulators. The battery has a 30-day money-back guarantee and a 1-year warranty.
This lightweight battery is a little over 20 pounds and offers deep-cycle performance. It has no harnesses or connectors in the shipping box, so you’ll have to source them separately.
5. XS Power High Output Car Battery
It’s rare for a battery to be completely dead while it sits inside your car. Usually, it discharges to 70% or 80% then kicks into its energy reserves. With XS Power, these reserves give you a generous 150 minutes of extra life as you scramble to recharge your electricals.
It’s easy to recharge this unit since its convenient ergonomic handle makes it simpler to lift and move. The battery itself is sealed, so beyond charging and occasional wiping (to get rid of surface grime), it doesn’t need maintenance. Its internal resistance is described as ‘ultra-low’.
This high output battery emits 3900 amps and has a hot cranking amp of 1070 at 32°F. It weighs close to 60 pounds so it’s on the heavier side. It’s favored by racers, not just for its ignition power but also for its audio abilities. That’s crucial for receiving navigational instructions.
When you order from XS Power, you’ll only get the battery. They don’t ship harnesses, terminals, or mounting trays, so remember to order them separately. And be sure to buy a tray in the right size. Also, if you’re big on hygiene, that pale gray lid will quickly gall you.
XS Power batteries offer high output and slow discharge. If you need clear audio feeds for your speed racer or mobile disco, XS is a good choice. But don’t forget the tray!
6. Kinetik HC600 Black Lead Acid Car Battery
Some batteries have a built-in mechanism to lower the risk of overcharging. Others are more sensitive, so you need to keep a closer eye on voltage and timing. Kinetic falls into the latter category. Even before you go into the details, you see a clear warning against charging power.
The manufacturer recommends chargers with voltage limits and reminds you to charge in the open air or well-ventilated spaces. Air-tight charging increases the chances of short-circuiting. Many drivers prefer Kinetic as a back-up battery – it powers 600W audio systems quite well.
So while it can power your ignition, it’s designed to route your sound system, allowing your main battery to focus on essential car functions like starting your engine and feeding your lights. And yes, some drivers consider the car radio essential, so it’s still a worthy purchase.
Its compact size makes it easy to slip in beside your primary car battery. And its vivid colors help you distinguish it from your generally discreet main power source. It only weighs 11.6 pounds, but it still has the power of a regular 12-volt battery. If you position it next to your amplifier, it generates 800 additional amps of high fidelity sound. Great for block parties.
This battery seems small and strangely pretty, but it has enough oomph to start up a V8. It has Guinness cred, providing 180dB for the World’s Loudest Vehicle and has 18 amp-hours.
7. Soundquest High-Performance Energy Cell Car Battery
The average smartphone user walks around with charger cables. But power users often have a wall adapter, a mini cable, a car charger, and several power banks. If you’re this kind of driver, you probably have a spare car battery as well. And Soundquest Emergency Cell is a good option.
This high-powered battery emits over 2,000 watts in 5-second bursts. Its reserve power is 33AH, and it can survive more than 300 recharge cycles. The bright blue battery is easy to distinguish, with its loud coloring and removable brass posts. Oddly, this battery needs a battery of its own, but it’s included in the shipping box, so that’s not a problem.
Its compact dimensions are 7 inches by 8 inches by 9 inches, and it weighs 22.4 lbs. Despite its tiny size, this battery could be used as your primary power source. But it’s not intended to be the main battery. It works best as a back-up, or a stop-gap ‘first aid’ kit when your main battery is on its last legs. It’s a handy device to have in your car during road trips and long haul journeys.
Remember to have it regularly checked though. Being a spare, you won’t use it much, so if you don’t routinely recharge it, it’ll be flat when you need it the most. You could hook it up to your sound system and car video player. That way it stays active and is less likely to be neglected.
If you’re the type of driver that’s always playing music (or podcasts), especially if you drive a lot, keep a SoundQuest battery in your trunk. It’s a great hook-up for your stories and tunes.
8. VMAX Marine Deep Cycle HI Performance Car Battery
Most car batteries are 12 volts. But sometimes, you need more power, even within that standard voltage. VMAX Charge Tank offers that kind of power. It’s strong enough for marine use, so you should be careful if you’re using it in a regular town car – it’s a bit of a waste. Instead, you could install it on a racecar or offroad. It packs a heavy punch and could overwhelm smaller cars.
Because these power engines have larger, wider casings, the VMAX has a distinct, convenient handle for enhanced portability. It measures 7.7 inches by 6.6 inches by 5 inches. It’s a sealed battery that needs no top-ups or maintenance, and it uses lead-tin alloy plates.
It charges best if you use a branded VMAX charger, especially the BC 1204 model. But being a deep cycle quick-charge battery, it refills in record time, no matter which charger you use. This AGM battery withstands rough treatments and vibrations, both on the water and the road.
The battery weighs 25 pounds, and while it’s recommended for water-based vehicles, it makes a good replacement battery for your off-road vehicle. Especially if your car is pimped for Nascar, jungle driving, desert-scapes or other power motoring activities. The battery runs 4 to 9 hours.
You’d have to think carefully before putting a boat battery in your car. But if you’re an experienced car enthusiast, VMAX could give your modified car a lot more va-va-vroom.
9. DieHard 38217 Group 49 Lead Acid Car Battery
These batteries are as hardy as their name suggests, and they have a 36-month warranty to back it up! They used to have a lifetime warranty, but they cut it down to three years. The battery has a CCA of 850, so they can survive chilly winters without freezing their terminals off. In 2018, it was voted America’s most recommended battery by Women’s Choice Awards.
And unlike imported batteries, this is a fully American brand, complete with a 1-800 number for your electrical emergencies. It lasts twice as long as a typical lead-acid battery, and it can withstand 20 times the vehicular vibration of regular batteries. This battery is completely sealed.
It has a reserve capacity of 170 minutes and its electrolyte system is enhanced. The plates suspended in the electrolyte have additional absorption so the battery discharges slower than competitors. This also means there’s less likelihood of short-circuiting and burn-out. The battery weighs 60 pounds and needs an internal battery, which is included in the shipping box.
DieHard is a high-powered battery ideal for super users. That means you can put it on a boat, RV, or off-road truck, but don’t waste it on your daily city commute. That’s too much.
10. Sealed Lead Acid (AGM) Deep Cycle Car Battery
Interstate batteries have a good reputation and are quite popular. Unfortunately, this also means they face a high risk of counterfeiting. So if you’re buying the battery in person, carry your old battery and carefully compare them to be sure it’s genuine. You should also double-check the year of manufacture since batteries can go bad while they’re unused on the shelf.
Now for the good news. Interstate is a lightweight 23-pound battery that’s ideal for a wide variety of uses – though it’s not advisable to install it on a golf cart. It’s a sealed non-lithium battery with ¼ inch bolts. It’s on the smaller side, so while you can use it in a car, it’s more often used to power wheelchairs, UPS, emergency lights, solar panels, and child-sized toy cars.
This battery looks as strong as any other on the list, but it emits limited amounts of power. If you want to install it in your car, you may need a set of two or three, so just buy something else.
On average, a car battery lasts 3 to 5 years. And if you have a good mechanic, they’ll do a free battery check every time you visit. You also need to be sure it’s suitable for sub-zero weather by reviewing its cold-cranking amps (CCA). What other tips can help you buy the best car battery?
A car battery can either be lead-acid powered or AGM (absorbed glass mat). Lead-acid batteries are more old-school. They’re cheaper too, so they’re more common. They’re powered by battery fluid, so you may have to top this up. Batteries that need regular top-ups have removable caps. Newer lead-acid batteries have fused caps because they don’t need battery fluid refills.
At the other extreme, modern cars are often fitted with hi-tech AGM batteries. They have smart features for safety and longer life spans. They also have ports for additional gadgets like USB. They recover better from deep discharges, and they can withstand more recharge cycles before they crash. AGM batteries also offer better fuel economy, thanks to their start-stop features.
In older cars, your battery was only used to start the car, run the lights, and play music. These days, it taps into your DVD player, GPS, AC, USB chargers, and many other functions. So it needs way more power, and you should probably avoid buying a used one. AGM batteries have more power and longevity than lead-acid batteries, but they sometimes cost twice as price.
Your driving weather also affects your battery power. In tropical regions, your battery could overheat in the sunlight. But if you buy a low-powered battery and drive through the snow, your battery will have to work extra hard to keep the car warm. That could shorten its shelf life. Driving habits make a difference too. Warming up the car before you drive protects your battery.
You may think a low-maintenance battery is a good idea. It certainly sounds like a good thing. A low maintenance battery needs you to top up your ‘battery water’ every once in a while. You can use designated battery fluid or distilled water. It’s easy – just unscrew the caps and pour it in. You’ll need to keep an eye on the fluid level indicator. Check it every time you drive.
No-maintenance batteries don’t need your involvement. Their caps are non-removable, so you couldn’t unscrew them if you tried. These batteries can often run until they die, but once their depleted, you can’t jump-start them with tap water. They also cost a lot more than low-maintenance batteries, and you need a professional battery test to see if they’re still viable.
Age of the Battery
Just like any other battery, your car battery can discharge on the store shelf. So while you might think you’re buying a new battery, it could have sat there for months or even years. With some batteries, it’s easy to check its age. For example, Interstate Batteries are all labeled with a code of four or five digits. The code starts with a letter of the alphabet (A to L) based on the month.
A is for January, C is for March, L is for December. This month-code is followed by a year code in 10-year cycles. So 0 would be 2020 while 9 could be 2029 or 2019, depending on when you bought the battery. The other three or four digits indicate the shipping source. Remember, these codes don’t indicate the date of manufacture – they say when the battery was shipped to the store.
The physical size of your battery receptacle matters. Check your car manual or ask your mechanic for guidance. Gas station attendants can help too. Most car batteries have a similar size, shape, and location under the hood. But a difference of an inch or two millimeters could make your purchase moot. And because batteries are expensive, you want to be sure it fits.
Some batteries have generic measurements, so they’re suitable for a wider variety of brands and models. Others are far more specific. If you’re shopping online, you may see a pop-up or light-box on these batteries. The message will prompt you to double-check your car battery slot. If it’s not a one-size-fits-all battery, the website may ask for the year, make, and model of your car.
According to our research, the best car battery is Optima RedTop. Here’s why:
- Its cylindrical components and sealed case can withstand harsh driving conditions.
- It uses 99.99% pure lead for maximized performance.
- It conducts better, recharges faster, and hold charge longer than competing brands.
- It has six separate AGM cells with lead plates separated by glass mat.
- The plastic case is precision-welded to keep it leak-proof and airtight.
- It has a 40% wider surface area for enhanced conductivity.
What kind of battery are you using right now? Send us a picture in the comments!