Three best car batteries
When your car battery works, it's easy to forget about it. Especially if it's been working for the past few years without fail. Then, one day, you slip your key into the ignition, give it a twist...and nothing happens. Purchasing a battery for your car is a little trickier than getting batteries for your remote. Size, cranking amps, and reserve capacity are just some of the things you'll need to consider. Luckily, this quick guide will give you everything you need to know to find the best battery for your car. We even offer some tips on how to get the most out of your car battery, as well as our top three product recommendations.
Considerations when choosing car batteries
The Battery Council International (BCI) has a system of numbers and letters that define each battery group size. All you have to do is check the manufacturer's specifications to determine which group size your car needs.
Cranking amps is the number of amps your battery delivers at 32°F. If your battery is rated lower than your vehicle's needs, you won't be able to start your car. Having more cranking amps than your vehicle requires is okay, but it's not necessary to be excessive. Cold cranking amps is the number of amps your battery delivers at 0°F.
This number lets you know how long a fully charged battery will last at a 25-amp discharge in 80°F. In layman's terms, this simply means the higher the number, the longer your battery will last before a recharge is needed.
A warranty helps protect you financially in the event a car battery fails prematurely. Some companies offer a prorated warranty (your discount decreases the longer you have your battery), while others offer full replacement. A full-replacement warranty is usually for a much shorter period of time, typically only two years. Some companies will combine the two and offer full replacement for a designated period, then switch to a prorated warranty after that time is up.
On average, a car battery costs between $120 and $220. You can find budget batteries for as low as $80, while some premium batteries could cost as much as $300.
Q. Are there any signs that my car battery might be dying?
A. After about four years--three if you live in the southern half of the U.S.--it's time to pay closer attention to the little things that might be big clues that your battery isn't operating at an optimum level anymore. Two of the biggest signs are slower starting and noticeably dimmer headlights. A smell of sulfur or a bulging battery case could also indicate that something's not right.
Q. What can I do to get the most out of my car battery?
A. Don't play the stereo, run the AC, or use the lights while idling. Shut off all electronics when you turn the engine off. Keep the terminals of your battery clean. Make sure your battery is securely fastened. And take an occasional long drive to be sure your battery is fully charged.
Car batteries we recommend
Best of the best: XS Power D3400 XS Series High Output Battery
Our take: A powerful AGM (absorbent glass mat) car battery that is suitable for a wide range of vehicles.
What we like: XS Power's sealed, spill-proof car battery delivers 1,000 cranking amps. It includes two M6 terminal bolts. The low internal resistance means a higher current.
What we dislike: The price is a little on the high end, but that is to be expected with a high-quality car battery like this one.
Best bang for your buck: Odyssey PC680 Battery
Our take: A potent, durable car battery designed to hold up under the grueling demands of powersport vehicles.
What we like: Odyssey has constructed a shock-resistant, spill-proof battery that can handle the extremes of a wide variety of terrains. It delivers stable voltage, has an impressive recharge rate (four to six hours), and can last for up to 400 cycles.
What we dislike: Purchase carefully as this car battery is not returnable.
Our take: A solidly built, low-resistance car battery that is suitable for a wide variety of vehicles. It excels in many areas.
What we like: Optima's RedTop delivers 800 cold cranking amps and has a reserve capacity of 100 minutes. This car battery is highly resistant to vibrations, and its spiral-wound plate design gives you increased starting power.
What we dislike: It costs a little more than the average battery.
Allen Foster is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.