Best Car Battery Brand Review

When is the best time to buy a new car battery? If you believe in Murphy’s Law, it’s not when your car won’t start and you’re stranded. Car problems always seem to happen at the worst possible times, like in the middle of a snow storm.

Car batteries wear down and will eventually wear out. Have your battery checked annually and replace it before it becomes unreliable.

There are many factors to consider in identifying the best car battery for your needs. Don’t worry. We break down absolutely everything you need to know.

Top 8 Best Car Battery Reviews

On average, a new car will require 1-2 new batteries over the course of its life. When buying a car battery it is important to consider the size, amps, polarity, maintenance and price. Our reviews and buyer’s guide cover all this and more.

Be sure to read, “How to Get the Right Fit,”  later in the article.  There are dozens of official Battery Group Sizes for 12 car volt batteries.

 

Our #1 Rated – Odyssey Extreme Series (65-PC1750T) 

The Odyssey Extreme is a top of the line absorbed glass mat (AGM) car battery from a company that specializes only in stored energy solutions.

Odyssey 65-PC1750T Automotive and LTV Battery
Fits many large cars and trucks. High-end, absorbed glass mat battery. Incredible 950 cold cranking amps. Fantastic replacement warranty.

The Extreme uses both superior quality design and parts. Construction is a marvel. The plates are very thin and made from 99.99% pure lead plates (not cheaper alloys). Thinner plates allows more to be fit in the battery, and more plates mean more power.

The result is a product that combines the advantages of an SLI (starting) battery and a deep cycle power battery. The Extreme is rated for 950 cold cranking amps (CCAs) and can surge to 2,250 amps for 5 seconds. That is a lot of power. In fact, it generates 2x to 3x the power of regular car batteries.

The other great thing about the Odyssey Extreme is that there are no real tradeoffs. Having all that power, doesn’t result in a shorter service life, slower recharge times or increased self discharge when stored.

Other than a premium price, the Optima “has it all.” To top it all off, the manufacturer provides an excellent 4 year full replacement warranty that is NOT pro rata. That is the best among all the batteries we reviewed.

Reasons to Buy

  • Maybe the best car battery for cold weather (works at -40 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Service life of 3 to 10 years depending on conditions (vs. 1 to 5 years for regular batteries)
  • Maintenance free battery and no spill hazard
  • Can be stored unconnected for 2 years without needing a recharge
  • Fast recharge (100% in 4 to 6 hours)
  • Up to a 4 year full replacement warranty (not pro rata)

Reasons Not to Buy

  • Premium price
  • Can be overkill for some situations (e.g., don’t drive much, live in a moderate climate).

The Odyssey Extreme is a great battery and is definitely worthy of our Number 1 rating. Check here for the various sizes available.

 

Our #2 Rated – XS Power D3400 XS Series 12V 3,300 Amp AGM High Output Battery

The XS Power is another premium AGM car battery with excellent specs.

Sale
XS Power D3400 XS Series 12V 3,300 Amp AGM High Output Battery with M6 Terminal Bolt
Fits many large Chrysler and GM trucks and cars with high-end audio systems. Advanced absorbed glass mat battery. 1000 cranking amps. 60 day risk free guarantee and limited 3 year warranty.

While the XS Power will work just fine in everyday cars, it is specifically designed for “fast and loud” applications. That includes competitive racing and car audio competitions. However, there are many reasons why everyday drivers need extra power, and the XS may just be the answer.

Constructed using the highest density chemistry in AGM batteries, the XS generates 3,300 max amps and 1,000 cranking amps (XS doesn’t provide CCAs). This battery can power almost anything in a car.  The XS is sealed and valve regulated. It won’t spill even when mounted in awkward positions and is maintenance free.

The XS also has ultra-low internal resistance, which means it recharges quickly.

Reasons to Buy

  • Superior construction quality
  • Power and more power at 3,300 total amps
  • Ideal for high-end car audio systems
  • No spill and maintenance free
  • 60 day risk free guarantee and 3 year limited warranty

Reasons Not to Buy

  • Premium price
  • Other choices better suited for everyday use in extremely hot weather
  • Likely overkill for many drivers.

The XS Power costs more but it provides extreme performance. Check here for the various sizes available.

 

Our #3 Rated – DieHard 38232 Advanced Gold AGM Battery

We also reviewed more mainstream batteries like the Diehard Advance Gold.

Sale
DieHard 38232 Advanced Gold AGM Battery - Group 34
Available for Group 34, 34R and 35. Great price for an absorbed glass mat battery. 775 CCAs. 3 year limited warranty.

Diehard is almost certainly the battery brand that the average consumer knows best. It is a great year-round replacement battery. The Diehard is a sealed, AGM battery that is maintenance free and spill proof. Designed with Northern climates in mind, it provides a very solid 775 cold cranking amps. While this is less than our #1 Choice Odyssey’s 950 CCAs, it is also 35% cheaper.

Taking the price into account, the Diehard is a contender for “best car battery for cold weather.” Another feature that stands out is the Diehard’s advanced vibration protection. They claim 20x more vibration enhancements than traditional batteries. Less vibration means a longer useful life.

Reasons to Buy

  • Really good price for the level of performance
  • Sealed, spill-proof construction
  • Designed for Northern climates with 775 cold cranking amps
  • Outstanding vibration resistance
  • 3 year limited full replacement warranty

Reasons Not to Buy

  • More powerful batteries exist if you can justify the need.

The Diehard Advanced Gold is a solid, affordable replacement battery that customers love. Definitely check one out.

 

Our #4 Rated – Bosch S6523B S6 Flat Plate AGM Battery

The Bosch Flat Plate Battery is another winner from the always reliable Bosch line.

Bosch Flat Plate AGM Battery
Group 35. Premium brand manufacturer. 650 CCAs. 4 year full replacement warranty.

The Bosch offers all the performance benefits we expect from AGM batteries over regular lead-acid car batteries. These benefits include 2X longer useful life, 2X faster recharging and ability to generate a lot of starting power even in cold climates. Of course, it is sealed which means no accidental spills and no maintenance.

Reasons to Buy

  • Great brand with a great track record
  • Works well for cars with stop-start fuel savings features
  • Maintenance free and sealed, spill-proof construction
  • 4 Year limited full replacement warranty (tied with the Odyssesy Extreme)
  • Bosch Roadside Assistance Program included

Reasons Not to Buy

  • 650 CCAs while good, trails the Odyssey and Diehard
  • 1 year extra replacement warranty might not justify the higher cost relative to the Diehard.

The Bosch Flat Plate is similar to the Diehard – a little higher price, 1 year better replacement warranty, 125 fewer cold cranking amps. Both are excellent car batteries for everyday drivers, including those that live in cold climates. It also receives great customer reviews.

 

Our #5 Rated – Optima Batteries 8004-003 34/78 RedTop Starting Battery

The Optima Red Top Battery is another battery with a racing pedigree.

Sale
Optima Red Top Starting Battery
Group 34/78. Premium brand manufacturer. 800 CCAs. 3 year full replacement warranty.

The Red Top is Optima’s entry level car battery, and yet still very much a premium model. Optima uses Spiral Cell Technology, which distinguishes it from other leading manufacturers. Instead of flat lead plates (like those in our other top picks), the plates are wound into a spiral. According to Optima, this design allows for more efficient output and greater vibration resistance.

Beyond this design difference, the Red Top is perhaps most similar to the Odyssey. It uses premium 99.99% lead plates (vs cheaper alloys) and offers tremendous power with 800 CCAs.

Reasons to Buy

  • Viewed as an ultra-premium brand
  • Excellent starting power
  • Fast recharging
  • Sealed, spill-proof construction
  • 3 Year limited full replacement warranty

Reasons Not to Buy

  • Some recent complaints of durability issue despite its long history and good reputation
  • Most ultra-premium models offer 4 year warranties.

Many people swear by the Optima, although we suggest reading the recent reviews. Check here to find the right Group Size for your car.

 

Our #6 Rated – AC Delco Professional AGM Automotive BCI Group 65 Battery

AC Delco supplies 2 million GM vehicles with factory and OEM parts every year. AC Delco parts are as “battle tested” as they come.

Sale
AC Delco Professional AGM Battery
Group 65. GM OEM provider. 775 CCAs. 3 year full replacement warranty.

If the AC Delco Professional looks similar to the Diehard in terms of specs, it may be because they are both made by Johnson Controls. Both CCAs (775) and full replacement warranty (3 years)  are identical.

It offers excellent power, great cold weather performance and a reasonable price. The AC Delco also gets some of the best reviews in the segment.

Reasons to Buy

  • Made by a well established OEM supplier
  • Excellent starting power
  • Fast recharging
  • Sealed, spill-proof construction
  • 3 Year limited full replacement warranty

Reasons Not to Buy

  • More powerful options exist if you need extreme amperage.

We like the AC Delco Professional Car Battery a lot. If it is a fit for your car, you should definitely give it a serious look.

 

Our #7 Rated – Delphi 94R AGM Battery 

Delphi Technologies is known for quality parts at affordable prices.

Delphi 94R AGM Battery
Group 94R. Long standing aftermarket provider. 800 cold cranking amps. 3 year full replacement warranty.

The Delphi AGM is an excellent battery. Compared to regular lead-acid batteries, it offers more cranking power, a longer life and better vibration resistance. It is maintenance free and will not spill due to its sealed design.

From a performance standpoint, the Delphi AGM compares very closely to both the Diehard and AC Delco models reviewed earlier.

Reasons to Buy

  • Made by company with 100 years of auto parts experience
  • Excellent starting power for cold climates
  • Great price for what you get
  • Sealed, spill-proof construction
  • 3 Year limited full replacement warranty

Reasons Not to Buy

  • Fewer size options available.

Various Delphi battery group sizes can be found here.

 

How to Get the Right Fit

What Are Battery Group Numbers?

There are many different sizes of batteries. Standards and specifications for the U.S. market are set by the Battery Council International (BCI). The specs are collectively known the “BCI Group Number.” They may also be referred to Group Size or simply, BCI.  This video provides a good introduction.

A BCI Group Number provides the following information:

• Maximum size (length X width X height in inches and millimeters)
• Voltage (12 volts standard for cars)
• Terminal location (top mounted or side mounted)
• Polarity (designation of which side, left or right, is + and -).

There are two easy ways to find your group number. First, look on the battery itself. It should be clearly displayed on the top or side (see right hand side of the battery pictured below).

Location of BCI Group Number on Bosch Best car Battery

 

For some cars, the battery can be hard to access. For example, mine is under the passenger seat. In this instance, always consult the owner’s manual. If there are any questions, you can confirm online or call your local dealer.

Common Battery Group Numbers 

For 12 volt car batteries alone, there are almost 70 different BCI group numbers. That is somewhat misleading, as there are 10 or so sizes that cover a large portion of the car market.

We have selected a few of the most common sizes below.

BCI Group Number (click link for price)Terminal LocationFits These Vehicles
Group 24 and 24FTopMany Acura, Honda, Infiniti, Lexus, Nissan and Toyota models
Group 34/78Top & SideMany larger Chrysler vehicles and 1996-2000 GM trucks, SUVs and sedan models
Group 35TopMany Nissan, Subaru, Toyota and newer Honda models
Group 47 (H5)TopMany Buick, Chevrolet, Fiat and Volkswagen models
Group 48 (H6)TopMany Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Jeep, Mercedes, Volkswagen and Volvo models
Group 49 (H8)TopMany Audi, BMW, Hyundai and Mercedes models
Group 51RTopMany Honda, Mazda and Nissan models
Group 65TopMany Ford and Mercury large car, truck and SUV models
Group 75SideSelect GM and Chrysler compact and midsize models
Group 94RTopMany Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche, and Volkswagen models. Select Jeeps like Grand Cherokee.

 

Buyer’s Guide

Types of Car Batteries

If you scan the internet for “different types of car batteries,” you will find a lot of confusing, incomplete and poorly defined information.

The most common type of car battery is “lead acid.” Simply put, lead and an electrolyte solution create a chemical reaction to generate electrons or electricity. That electricity can be used to start the car, turn on the lights, run the radio…anything that requires electrical power.

There are two types and three sub-categories of lead acid batteries (hence the confusion). The two types are: SLI (starting, lights and ignition) and deep cycle, and the three sub-categories are wet cell, absorbed glass mat and gel.

Types

SLI Battery. These are what people think of as car batteries. They deliver power in short bursts to start cars and are sometimes referred to as “cranking batteries.” They can also power things like radios, lights and USB ports that require less energy for longer periods of time. SLIs have shallow charge cycles, meaning they deplete and recharge quickly.

Deep Cycle Battery. Provides less of a power burst than SLI batteries but more constant energy for a longer period of time. While these batteries can be used in cars, they are often not practical. For example, many do not have sufficient amps, or surge, to start a car’s engine. Deep cycle batteries are most often found in RVs, marine vehicles and golf carts.

Sub-Categories

The sub-categories of SLI batteries are what most people think of when talking about car batteries. These are:

• Wet cell or flooded (sometime just referred to as regular car batteries)
• Absorbed glass mat 
• Gel cell.

Wet Cell (Flooded). These batteries contain a liquid mix of lead, sulfuric acid and water to create an electrolyte solution (aka battery acid). Wet cell batteries come in “maintenance free” and “serviceable” varieties. Serviceable wet cell means that the battery has removable vented caps. Once the caps are removed, distilled water can be added to replenish the electrolyte solution.

Absorbed Glass Mat: AGM batteries are variant of wet cell but based on a newer design. They have a fiberglass mat between the battery plates that absorbs the electrolyte and keeps it in a dry state. When needed, the electrolyte moves from the glass mat to the plates to create a chemical reaction and ultimately, electrical power.

AGM’s are becoming increasingly popular in cars. They are 40% to 100% more expensive than regular car batteries but offer many advantages, including:

• Low maintenance
• Up to 3x longer shelf life
• Vibration resistant
• Cold resilient
• Sealed (no spill)
• Better weight to power ratio.

Gel Cell. With a gel cell battery, the electrolyte is suspended like with an AGM, but it is suspended in gel versus liquid. Silica is added to the electrolyte to covert it from a liquid state. They make great deep cycle batteries but are not common in cars.

Best Car Battery Brand 

Another way of thinking about “brand” is earned reputation. Companies that do everything well from design to performance to durability usually have great reputations and ultimately develop great brands. Vehicle batteries are complex products that the average driver knows very little about. No one wants to be stranded with a car that won’t start. Given these factors, buying the best car battery brand simply makes sense.

Man in need of best car battery

 

Who makes the best car battery? Here is a list of the better brands (listed alphabetically).

AC Delco. Although it can trace its roots to the very beginning of the automobile industry, AC Delco proper was formed by merger in 1974. Making both factory and OEM parts for GM cars and trucks, AC Delco is as well established as it gets. AC Delco car batteries are typically mid-range in price, neither budget nor top of the line. They generally receive good feedback and have a solid reputation for durability.

AutoCraft. AutoCraft is the house brand for Advance Auto Parts stores. They sell Economy, Silver, Gold and Platinum lines. Their batteries are attractively priced, but lower-end models have shorter full replacement warranties (1 or 2 years) than some competitors.

Bosch. As a conglomerate, Bosch makes everything from household items to car parts. Bosch auto parts are typically marketed as “premium” products, one step below “ultra premium” or the absolute top of the line. We rarely run across a bad Bosch product, and most are ranked at or near the top of their segment. Car batteries are no exception. Bosch is not the biggest player in car batteries, but the products they do offer are very good.

Diehard. Quite possibly the most well known battery brand. Founded in 1967, Diehard has been an innovator for more than 50 years. They make excellent batteries that are known to last a really long time. Historically associated with Sears, Diehard batteries can be found on Amazon as well, which is important given Sears’ recent struggles and store closings.

Duralast. This is a private label brand for AutoZone that we like a lot. Manufactured by auto suppliers, such as Johnson Controls, Duralast is simply a good solid car battery brand. While not in the ultra-premium segment, they offer a wide range that covers most cars, trucks and SUVs. They sell average priced products that get great reviews.

EverStart. EverStart is a private label brand for WalMart. They offer a full range of battery group sizes. True to WalMart’s principles, EverStart provides solid performing batteries at budget prices.

Interstate. A 65 year-old battery chain with over 200,000 dealers, they sell every kind of battery imaginable. This includes cars, RVs, cell phones and medical instruments. They have a full range of car batteries from cheap to premium models.

NAPA. NAPA is a parts and auto care/collision repair chain with over 6,000 parts stores and 16,000 auto care centers in the U.S. alone. They offer a full line of batteries including several low cost, wet cell batteries that can be hard to find elsewhere.

Odyssey. Made in the U.S.A. by a company that focuses on stored energy solutions. Odyssey is an ultra-premium brand. They are known for offering much higher cranking power and longer life spans than regular lead acid batteries. Odyssey is truly an innovator that offer some of the best car battery options at a premium price.

Optima. As a 40-year old company with its roots in the racing and hobbyist markets, Optima is known for its innovative SpiralCell technology. Their bread and butter products are ultra-premium AGM batteries. Features include strong starting bursts, long life cycles and no maintenance. Among car enthusiasts, Optima is a bit polarizing. Reviews can be mixed on some products, so always do your due diligence.

Key Purchase Considerations 

Right Fit and Type. Given what a battery is – a box full of sulfuric acid that creates electricity – it is obvious that getting the right type with the right specs is paramount. For standard 12 volt car batteries, BCI has almost 70 different group size classifications (discussed above). Knowing the BCI Group Number for your car’s make, model and year will save you a lot of headaches. Not the least of which is having to return a 30+pound brick if you get the wrong size!

Amperage. While most automotive batteries are 12 volts, they can generate different amperage. Amps represent how much power can be stored in a battery. The two metrics to know are Cranking Amps (CA) and Cold Cranking Amps (CCA). Cranking amps are how much power you have to start your when the average temperature is 32 degrees Fahrenheit.  CCAs are how much starting power is available when the temperature is at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Batteries don’t perform as well in cold weather, so available CA are greater than CCA.

Technically, both measures are the amount of amps that can be delivered for 30 seconds at 1.2 volts per cell. What consumers need to know is that the higher the CA or CCA, the more starting power a battery has.

Maintenance. Batteries that are sealed and do not require periodic top ups of water are considered “maintenance free.” Most cars today have maintenance free batteries. Batteries that have removable caps are called “serviceable.” Being able to add water can extend the life of the battery. From our perspective, the hassle factor of serviceable batteries (e.g., dealing with battery leaks, routine monitoring required) is not worth a marginal increase in useful life.

Manufacture Date: Vehicle batteries don’t just wear down with use, they lose power even when being stored. You want to buy a battery as close to its manufacture date as possible. Within 3 to 6 months is ideal, and a little longer is okay. Some batteries have a manufacture date listed while others have a code, e.g., certain letters that designate January, February, etc. Always check before buying. If a manufacture date is not available, large stores that sell high volumes are preferable. Even the best car battery will suffer from setting on shelf.

Good Reputation. Given how annoyed drivers get when stranded with a vehicle that won’t start, most people evaluate car batteries very critically. Brands that stand the test of time and have earned a good reputation do all the big AND little things well.  They offer good reliability, sell fresh batteries and have excellent customer service. You can save a few bucks by purchasing off-brand batteries, but in our experience, that route is rarely worth taking. This is especially true if you live in cold weather climates.

 

How to Change a Car Battery

How easy it is to install a car battery depends a lot on your particular vehicle make and model. For a Honda Accord, it is simple. Just pop the hood, and the battery is right up front and easy to access. For newer Jeep Grand Cherokees, the car battery is underneath the passenger seat. That’s right, the passenger seat.

For those that want to go the DIY route, changing a vehicle battery is not really that difficult. We have outlined the general steps below. Always check your owner’s manual first. There are often brand-specific peculiarities that cannot be captured in a general process.

How to Disconnect a Car Battery

Disconnecting a car battery is straightforward, but there are a few safety precautions to observe.

The most important steps are:

  1. Always make sure the car is not running and the ignition is fully off. Check to be sure the keys are removed from the ignition.
  2. Wear gloves and safety glasses.
  3. Find the negative terminal post. It will be black and have a “-” sign.
  4. Remove the rubber cover from the post (most newer cars have them).
  5. Using the correct size socket, loosen the nut on the negative terminal.
  6. Once it is sufficiently loose, remove the connector cable from the negative post.
  7. Repeat steps for the positive post. It will be red and have a “+” sign.
  8. Note: once removed do not let the positive (+) connector touch metal. Residual electrical current could create a spark and damage internal circuits.

Sometimes bolts get stuck and require a fair amount of force. That said, most people find the process relatively painless.

How to Remove a Car Battery 

Once the cables have been safely disconnected, the car battery can be safely removed.

Often there is a top bar that secures the battery. If your car has one, simply loosen the bolts and remove. If there is room, grab the battery by the sides and lift straight up. Again, you should always wear gloves.

Serviceable flooded batteries can leak or spill acid out of the posts if tipped. Be very careful as battery acid can harm both your skin and your car’s paint. Set the battery out of the way and on a flat surface.

After removal, it is a good idea to clean both the connectors (using a toothbrush) and the battery box.

How to Install and Maintain a Car Battery 

Installing a new battery is simply the reverse of the removal process. Batteries are heavy so make sure that you can lift the battery easily enough to control it during the installation process.

The first step is important. Be sure you place the new battery in exactly the same direction as the old battery. For example, if the positive terminal of the old battery faced the rear of the vehicle and the negative terminal faced the front of the car, install the new battery the EXACT SAME WAY. This may seem obvious, but people make this mistake all the time.

Unlike the removal process, when installing a battery the positive cable should be connected FIRST (+ then – which is the reverse of the removal process). Connecting the negative terminal first will create a bridge and thus an electrical current.

Lastly, make sure the connectors are tight and the rubber covers are back in place.

If you have a maintenance free battery, you’re done! For serviceable batteries, check the fluid levels at least once a year.

 

Conclusion

Car batteries are the classic “never think about it until you need it” maintenance items. Studies show that most people do not change their car batteries until the battery stops working. Studies also show that most people regret not acting sooner.

Battery technology has made impressive strides in the last 20 years. Nowhere is that more evident than with our top overall choice, the Odyssey Extreme Series. It may be the best car battery for cold weather available, if not the best overall period.

Odyssey 65-PC1750T Automotive and LTV Battery
Fits many large cars and trucks. High-end, absorbed glass mat battery. Incredible 950 cold cranking amps. Fantastic replacement warranty.

Have your car battery checked annually. If it needs changing, all of the batteries in our reviews are worthy of your consideration.

 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should I have my battery tested?

The rule of thumb is annually and also before taking long road trips. The latter is especially important if your battery is already 2-3 years old. Local dealers or mechanics can do the tests if you do not have the required equipment at home. I check mine one time per year when changing my oil.

How long will a car battery last?

Obviously that depends on the type of battery, AGM or regular lead acid, and where you live. Many mechanics say 6 years is possible in ideal conditions – no extreme heat, low humidity. A more realistic number is 2 to 5 years. If you live in a colder, Northern climate, you will probably get an extra 1 to 1.5 years out of your battery. Warmer climates are harder on vehicle batteries due to sulfation and water loss.

What is reserve capacity?

Reserve capacity is one of the standard measures created by the Battery Council International (BCI). It is measured in minutes. It is how long a fully-charged vehicle battery can deliver 25 amps of current in an 80 degree Fahrenheit environment, before the battery is discharged down to 10.5 volts.

An alternator recharges batteries once a car has been started. If an alternator were to fail, the reserve capacity would be how long a new, fully charged battery could continue to operate essential accessories.

How do I recycle my old battery?

It is very important to recycle your old automotive battery. One reason is that they are toxic and harmful to the environment. Secondly, 99% of battery materials are recyclable, so your effort will not go to waste. Many retailers will recycle batteries even if purchased elsewhere. A list of local recycling centers can be found here. You can also check your local government webpage.

What are the different types of warranties?

Manufacturers offer two types of performance warranty: free replacement and a pro rata. These warranties are just as they sound. With a free replacement warranty, if your battery fails, you get a new one. Note, most manufacturers do not reset the warranty date if you receive a replacement. For example, if you have a 24 month full replacement warranty and your battery dies in 23 months, you will get a new battery. That battery will have a warranty of 1 month (the remainder of the original warranty period). The best car battery brands feature 3+ year full replacement warranties.

Pro rata performance warranties mean you get a partial refund or credit. If you’ve had your battery for 2 years, you may receive 50%. Some manufacturers offer both on the same battery, i.e. a shorter free replacement period and a longer pro rata period.

What are the most common problems with car batteries?

Automotive batteries can die for several reasons. Some of the main ones include:

  • Short circuited cells
  • Sulfation if not used regularly (sulfation is a buildup of lead sulfate crystals that lower performance)
  • Broken plates due to excessive vibration
  • Cracked battery case
  • Low electrolyte solution (i.e. battery acid) levels.

What are customers’ biggest complaints about buying car batteries?

Our evidence is qualitative, but three or four factors in reviews seem to stand out. First, is the battery dies before the warranty period is over. Most people expect to get 5 years and are upset if they only get 3 or 4. Another big complaint is fit. Many customers seem to buy the wrong size. Stick to the BCI group numbers religiously! Damaged packaging is also a common complaint (for all products not just batteries).

Why would anyone ever consider a serviceable lead-acid battery vs maintenance free battery?

There are at least two reasons. One is lower cost. Generally, serviceable batteries are at least 50% cheaper. Also, if you live in a hot climate, serviceable batteries can have a longer useful life. Hot temperatures cause evaporation even in a sealed battery. Having the ability to add water can greatly extend the useful life. Practically speaking, this is not an option on many of the best cars.

Do I need any accessories with my battery?

Not really. If your vehicle/battery sits for a long time without being used, you may want to consider a trickle charger (also called a battery maintainer). Basically, these are electrical (plug in) chargers that provide a small current that matches the rate of self-discharge (the energy being lost due to sitting).  It is always a good idea to carry either jumper cables or a portable jump starter in your vehicle as part of an emergency kit. Even if you have a new battery, they still fail occasionally. Also, you never know when a friend or family member will need help.

Who makes the best car battery? Remember, you have to separate manufacturers from retailers. Johnson Controls supplies half the market. The other two big manufacturers are Exide and East Penn. So for example, Auto Zone (a retailer) sells Duralast (a private label brand) made by Johnson Controls (the manufacturer). There are other smaller companies like Odyssey. All of these are quality manufacturers. It is more a matter of evaluating individual products. Some products will have a higher manufacturing budgets with better quality components and as a result, are the best car battery products available.

Is it worth spending a little more money to get the best car battery? With some vehicle parts the answer is no (e.g. some air filters). For automotive batteries, we think the extra investment in the best car battery is worth it. This is especially true if you have a lot of electronics in your car, live in cold climates and/or park your car long periods of times without starting it.

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