When it comes right down to it, without a battery your car is little more than a lawn ornament that you can climb inside. However, if you find the best car battery for your needs you go from the car just sitting there to knowing that you are ready to head out and take on whatever life throws your way, if that is just the daily grind of getting work done or going out on adventures all over the globe.
But what separates the top rated car batteries from overpriced hunks of lead that will die in a few months?
Luckily for you we at Garage Chief have tracked down the answer to that question as well as a few more. As is our usual style we’ll start off by highlighting six of the best rated car batteries that you can purchase today.
Not only will we share which we think are the overall best as well as a great value choice to keep a little more money in your wallet, but we’ll go over their high points and their downfalls too.
After that we’ll take a look at a buyer’s guide to help lead you through the questions that might pop up on your quest to find the best auto battery. So without further delay, let’s dive in.
Best Car Battery – Our Top Picks Compared
But first things first, so here is a quick summary of the most important facts in the form of a comparative table.
|editors-choice||Best Product||Best Value|
|editors-choice||Best Product||Best Value|
|item-title||Optima RedTop Starting Battery 8004-003 34/78||Optima Batteries YellowTop Prius Battery 8171-767 (DS46B24R)||Odyssey PC680 Battery||ACDelco 94RAGM Professional AGM Automotive BCI Group 94R Battery||XS Power D3400 XS Series AGM High Output Battery||Exide Edge FP-AGM24F Flat Plate AGM Sealed Automotive Battery|
|item-review||read review||read review||read review||read review||read review||read review|
|Best for||Best Starting Battery||Best Best Toyota Prius Battery Replacement||Best Car Battery for the Money||Best BMW Antifreeze Coolant||Best High Output Car Battery||Best Flat Plate AGM Battery|
SpiralCell Technology AGM
SpiralCell Technology AGM
|Cold Cranking Amps||CCA|
Car Battery Reviews – Finding the Top Rated Car Batteries
We’ll start off looking at the best batteries that we could find for cars on the market today. It is important to note that while these are all great choices, if you are looking for something beefier, like a truck with a bunch of aftermarket electronics, you might need to look at some even bigger options.
You’ll be the only one who is really able to determine which of these is the right choice based on your particular make and model as well as how you use it and what you are looking for. But let’s examine these options.
Optima RedTop 8004-003 34/78 – Best Starting Battery
- Battery Type: SpiralCell Technology AGM
- CCA: 800
- Price: Approx. $240
If you are looking for our pick for the best product when it comes to the top car batteries it is no doubt that it comes down to the Optima RedTop Starting Battery 8004-003 34/78.
Why? This one is simply the best starting battery for normal engine starting where an alternator immediately takes over and monitors the state of charge and provides energy to the battery.
This one has been crafted to give you a high level of performance even when it comes to those bad weather times, like freezing conditions outside. This way you know that your car will have the power to start up no matter what. And that is visible with the 800 cold cranking amps.
Optima has made these batteries with what they are calling SpiralCell Technology. They have built over 100 million of these style since the company first made them in the early 1990s. They claim that this style of a battery will provide better quality and performance for your uses.
The company additionally claims that their battery is more resistant to vibration. It has been made to recharge faster than other styles of automotive battery while additionally giving you a longer lifespan. With all this going for you there is no doubt that this is the best overall choice.
Get it here at Amazon
Optima Batteries YellowTop 8171-767 – Best Toyota Prius Battery Replacement
- Battery Type: SpiralCell Technology AGM
- CCA: 450
- Price: Approx. $300
If you want to get an upgrade from our best product you might want to look at the Optima Batteries YellowTop Prius Battery 8171-767 (DS46B24R).
This is another option that uses Optima Batteries’ unique Spiral Cell technology that will allow that great level of performance and is one of the few true dual-purpose automotive batteries available.
This particular model is also the Best Toyota Prius Battery replacement. So if you are ready to swap out your battery for your Prius, this is definitely one that needs to be on your shortlist.
You won’t need to worry about vibrations with this battery and as an added bonus you won’t have to any spills. It’s basically mountable in virtually any position. And since it is filled this is also a maintenance-free battery, so there is no need to worry about adding water at any point during the life of this vehicle.
However, this battery is made for off-roading as well as having plenty of power for all those extra electronic goodies.
Check it out at Amazon
Odyssey PC680 Best Value Car Battery
- Battery Type: AGM
- CCA: 170
- Price: Approx. $115
If you are looking for a more budget-friendly option to put into your car, you’ll want to consider the Odyssey PC680 Battery.
Odyssey is willing to stand behind their battery, in that they ship this battery with a 2-year warranty, so you don’t have to worry about your battery dying early. It has the normal service life of between 3 and 10 years. They also state that this battery set up can have more recharge cycles, this one should last up to 400 cycles of going down to 80 percent depth of charge.
One of the top features of this battery is that it sports a fast recharge time. The company claims that this one can be charged all the way back to 100% of its charge in as little as 4 to 6 hours. This means that even if your battery is completely drained, you can get it back ready to go in just a few simple hours, instead of having to wait nearly a day.
One thing to note about this battery is the cold cranking amps are a bit low, this isn’t a problem if you live in an area without cold weather, but it might not be enough for the harshest winters.
Check it out at Amazon
ACDelco 94RAGM Best Professional AGM Battery
- Battery Type: AMG
- CCA: 800
- Price: Approx. $200
If you are looking for a great option for a battery, whether you have a General Motors vehicle or not, you should take a look at the ACDelco 94RAGM Professional AGM Automotive BCI Group 94R Battery. This one is filled with a high-density negative paste, that in addition to providing a better quality battery it also means that it is much harder to have this battery leak.
It does feature a vent cap that aids in keeping leaks to a minimum as well. The alloys inside are silver calcium alloys, which can also bump up the lifecycle of the battery as well as its overall performance.
This battery comes, like all those from ACDelcro with a 36 month replacement period. If your battery doesn’t survive this period the company is willing to send you another one, since they are so confident in the product that they make.
They have a number of different setups to reduce water loss for the battery. This means that these batteries are maintenance free.
Read customer reviews at Amazon right here
XS Power D3400 XS Series AGM Best High Output Car Battery
- Battery Type: AMG
- CCA: 800
- Price: Approx. $290
If you are looking for a battery that gives you great performance but doesn’t weight a ton, you should look at the XS Power D3400 XS Series AGM High Output Battery. This 12-volt battery tips the scale at a mere 12 pounds, so just about anyone can lift it and get it into their car.
It is also sealed to make it spill proof, meaning that you don’t have to worry about it leaking. Additionally, it is vented, so you won’t have to worry about it overheating and exploding. It is also crafted to make sure that vibrations aren’t an issue as you are driving around.
The company has a racing heritage and it shows in the way that they have tested these batteries. They have tested these batteries in just about everything from dirt racing cars to others flying across salt flats. It is ready to stand up to whatever you’ll throw at it and keep your radio blasting.
Go and check it out at Amazon
Exide Edge FP-AGM24F Best Flat Plate AGM Sealed Automotive Battery
- Battery Type: AMG
- CCA: 710
- Price: Approx. $190
If you are looking for an Exide battery review, you’ll be happy to find that the Exide Edge FP-AGM24F Flat Plate AGM Sealed Automotive Battery made our list.
This battery has been designed to handle heavy loads better than the standard batteries currently on the market. In fact, the company claims that it will outperform other batteries both in stop and go traffic scenarios as well as under heavy electrical loads. This is a pick that has been made for holding up under stress.
One of the extra features that this battery has is the fact that there is an easy carry handle on the top. While this won’t influence how the battery works, you will start to wonder why these aren’t standard on all automotive batteries, especially if you’d had to swap a few out in your automotive career.
One does need to note that this is set up as a starter battery, but not a deep cycle option, so while it can do well, you shouldn’t plan on routinely draining it.
Check it out at Amazon
Auto Batteries – In-Depth Buyer’s Guide and FAQ
So, what is a battery and what does it do for you in your car. Both those answers can be explained rather simply. First, let’s consider what a battery is.
It is a device that can store electrical energy to be used latter. In most people’s everyday lives’ they come across tons of them.
But why does your car need one?
If your car doesn’t have a crank on the front of it, it probably has an electric starter motor. This is what the car uses to get the engine going when you turn the key or push the button. That starter motor needs to draw power from somewhere and that somewhere happens to be the battery.
Now, your battery can be used for a number of other things too. It will provide power to the electronics, such as the lights and radio. If you were just to use your battery to give out this power it would rather quickly become depleted.
Your engine translates some of the power it makes back into electricity via the alternator and recharges the battery while it is running. This is why it is important to run your car every now and then if you just have the lights or sound system going for a while.
When it comes to looking at some of the top batteries on the market, you’ll find a number of different types listed. We’ll dive deeper into some of the most common options that you’ll come across.
Most batteries used for vehicles tend to be Lead-Acid batteries. This is a battery that has a mixture of acid and lead to store an electrical charge that can be used when needed. Our three cases of battery will all have some type of acid, so use caution when working with them.
These batteries can found as either a serviceable or non-serviceable option. They are both filled with a mixture of electrolytes to hold and maintain charge. The non-serviceable or maintenance free option is totally sealed up and when level drops too low your battery will start to lose performance.
The serviceable option lets you add in distilled water and check how the mixture is doing. This will mean that you can extend out the life of your battery a bit, but you have to do more maintenance on the battery.
Absorbable Gas Mat (AGM)
This battery type keeps the electrolyte solution close to the metal plates in a battery, which should boost efficiency in both discharging and recharging it. These types of batteries can also hold their charge for a longer period of time.
Learn more on battery chargers here.
A gel-cell is still a lead-acid type battery but instead of having a liquid like a wet cell the electrolyte solution is suspended in a gel. This leads to many these types of battery having many similar characteristics to the AGM type of battery.
While these types of batteries may provide a better life in hot environments, they require a special type of charger. If these batteries are over-charged or used with an incorrect charger their lifespan will be cut.
Parameters and Design
When it comes to the parameters that you need to be concerned with for a battery, perhaps the first is how much power you will need. At the most basic level, you need to have the power to start up your car.
There is the engine itself to consider and often times your manual will give you either a rating in Cranking Amps or more likely Cold Cranking Amps (CCA).
CCAs are measured by determining the amps a battery can put out when measured at 0 degrees Fahrenheit over a period of 30 seconds. This has some very important points factored in, the first being the low temperature, and over a period of time. Cold weather can drain a battery, so knowing that it will be able to start your truck even on a cold day can be reassuring.
Cold Cranking Amps (CCAs) are measured by determining the amps a battery can put out when measured at 0 degrees Fahrenheit over a period of 30 seconds.
At a very basic level, more CCA is better. If you consult your manual you’ll be given what the manufacture of your particular car says that you need. You’ll want to go with something more than that level. If you have any fancy aftermarket electronics added on your ride, it might be worth going with something a little bit more powerful though.
Overall capacity in a car battery is a little bit more tricky to look at. For starters, most car batteries are 12 Volts, though you can find a few that are 24 Volt options.
If we look at the 12 Volt standard, for most car batteries you’ll be told that the capacity is 45 Ah. This is a measure of amps per hour the battery can provide before it is completely discharged. So, you could provide 1 amp of power over 45 hours, or 2 amps for 22.5 hours and so forth.
You’ll have to remember though, you don’t want to just drain out the power until the battery is dead, as it can cause damage to the battery. Additionally, running your engine with recharge the battery.
Design and Fitting
The overall fit inside your engine compartment is a very important feature, but not one that is often considered when it comes time to buy a battery. You see, most car batteries are a fairly standardized size (BCI battery group numbers for dimensional specifications, polarity and terminals).
So, while there is only an opening that is so large for you to put a battery into, unless you have some highly specialized set up the battery will tend to fit there. The bigger problem may be the placement of the battery and the way that the terminals line up.
The Battery Council International (BCI) is the association of OEM and aftermarket battery manufacturers and is responsible for publishing industry standards including testing standards, battery dimensions and sizes of batteries.
A vast majority of cars on the market put their battery somewhere under the hood. Generally, when you lift the hood up you’ll be able to find the battery rather quickly.
This is great, especially if something goes wrong, as you aren’t mucking around trying to locate it. However, if you are swapping to a specialized battery for some reason, you might have to find a different spot to put your battery.
Sometimes when going to a larger battery, perhaps to power a big beefy radio, people find it easiest to put the battery in the trunk. This can work well, as long as you find a good way to secure it and run new power lines to it. This way your car will be able to draw energy to start the engine and then give the battery power back as the engine runs.
Finally, and more of a concern to most drivers, is the position of the terminals on a battery. While a vast majority of the options on the market today have the terminal pegs on the top, you will come across some that are put on the front or sides.
The company making the battery may have any number of reasons to do this, but you’ll need to think if the cables in your car are going to be able to reach to these different locations. If you can’t hook the terminal to the cable the battery becomes little more than a paperweight.
Best Car Battery Brand
There are many different brands out on the market today. Some of them are great choices and others are just out to make a quick buck. Four of the top brands out today are Optima, Odyssey, AC Delco and XS Power.
Odyssey is part of EnerSys Energy Products. They have been making batteries for over 100 years. This gives them lots of experience to fall back on when making the high-class batteries that you count on for your ATV and UTVs.
To ensure that all of their batteries meet the standards that they’ve set, all Odyssey batteries are manufactured in one of two plants.
Their Extreme series batteries are standouts for any diesel vehicle. These batteries pack their plates much denser than a standard six-pack layout. These plates also are made of pure lead, instead of lead alloys. This change means the plates themselves can be thinner and result in more plates in the battery. These two changes from the more standard design mean that you can pump more power out of this battery.
They are also built to last, being able to endure over 400 discharges down to 80% of the batteries depth. This gives you a lot of power over a long period of time to power anything that you might have hooked up to your pickup.
Check all Odyssey batteries at Amazon
Optima is another standout battery company. With a 40 year history, this American based company has provided not only the first maintenance free lead acid battery but has a history of providing high-end batteries for military applications. They have taken some of those powerful batteries and offered them to the public for their own toys.
There are three different lines of batteries from Optima that are currently available. Conveniently they are named according to the color of the top of the battery.
The first is the Optima Red Top series. This is their baseline battery. It is a hard worker but designed more to just get your engine up and going. It is a solid choice for a diesel pickup with no extra electronic add-ons.
The next is the Optima Yellow Top series, these are the deep cycle beasts. They will get your engine going, but then will continue to keep your stereo system pumping and the light bar burning bright.
The Optima Blue Top options are made for marine purposes. They can come in either starting or a dual purpose deep cycle style. The main difference is that these offer threaded studs in addition to the standard SAE studs on most car batteries.
Check all Optima batteries at Amazon
AC Delco is a company that is owned by General Motors. They make a wide array of parts for your car, even if you aren’t driving something in the GM family.
They make over 90,000 parts and they are focused on making parts for GM vehicles that meet the standards of OEM or even surpass them at times. But they are a company that is going beyond just making parts. They have a number of programs in place to spread knowledge to those who will end up using their parts in the end.
Check all AC Delco batteries at Amazon
Last but not least is XS Power. While only being around since 2005, this company has made a big name for themselves in producing batteries.
They have a strong focus on testing to ensure that they only put out the best quality batteries that they can. This means that they are using both an in-house lab as well as outside accredited labs to check and double check that they have the best set up.
With this setup, they claim that they have been able to squeeze the highest energy density into their AGM style batteries.
They have a wide range of choices to select from when it comes to different batteries. If you are looking for a basic starter battery they have both their audio series and their racing series. These batteries will provide you that power to get things going.
They also offer two series of supplemental battery. The XP and the step up MX. This is a solution if you have a lot of aftermarket additions, as a secondary battery can help provide power to all your toys, if you are comfortable enough to do a little extra wiring.
Check all XS Power batteries at Amazon
What else to look for considering car battery buy?
Some companies put out what are known as dual purpose batteries. These will function both as a starter battery, which is what you need for getting your ride going and as a deep cycle battery.
While a starter battery is meant to provide power in short bursts and not meant to discharge very much of their overall power, a deep cycle battery is meant to provide more of its power (sometimes down to 45%). Discharging a battery too far can lead to a shortening of its effective life.
These dual purpose batteries can give you the best of both worlds. The CCAs will deliver the power to get your vehicle up and running. The deep cycle end of the spectrum will provide the continuing power to give juice to all your aftermarket electronics, be they that kicking sound system or just having lights everywhere to let you see what is going on.
FAQ – Questions and Answers about Auto Batteries
Why does a car need a battery?
As we mentioned above, a car first needs a battery to get it started. The power pulled from the battery can get your engine up and running. Luckily once it is running the engine can sustain itself. As far as the pull goes, this is the single being demand on your battery.
However, just getting your car started doesn’t mean that your battery can just hang out. Vehicles are wired so that any of the electrical components draw their power from the battery. This means that if you turn on your stereo, flick on your headlights or even hit your power windows, they are all pulling some amount of power from your battery.
Why do car batteries die?
Generally, a car battery is referred to as dead because it doesn’t have any charge left in it. This can happen from a number of different things, but the two most common issues are there is a short somewhere in your system or something was left on and pulling power. A short is a wiring problem that is causing your battery to drain. Leaving your headlights on overnight can also cause the battery to drain.
Happily, if your battery is only drained you can recharge it and it will still have a lifespan left. You can either connect a charge and let it recharge, or get a jump from someone and let the engine charge the battery. If you try one of these methods and the battery just won’t hold a charge or gets charged and then quickly loses a charge, the battery may be truly dead.
Any battery will have a certain lifespan of how much it can be charged and discharged before it can no longer hold a charge. Letting batteries like car batteries full discharge can reduce that lifespan. Once you hit it and your battery won’t hold a charge for a period of time, it is time to replace the battery.
How do you know if it’s the alternator or the battery?
As we mentioned, power is drawn from the battery to give juice to the car and then recharged through the alternator. This means that if your alternator goes bad, you will end up with a battery that has no juice left in it.
The clearest cut case of this is if you are driving along and your car goes dead, won’t start and nothing electronic will power up. Since your car had started up fine and things were going well, this probably indicates that the alternator stopped recharging the battery.
Another scenario is a little harder. If your alternator dies, but there as enough battery power left that you got to your destination and didn’t notice anything amiss. In this case, your battery will be dead, but your alternator is the true cause.
Many people would go with the easy first answer that it is a battery probably, swap it out and then wonder why the battery didn’t last too long. That’s a clear sign of an alternator issue. If you just changed out your battery, or have tested it, and it is draining quickly with use, it is probably time to check out the alternator.
Best Car Battery Prices and Where to Buy One?
One of the things that you need to consider when it comes to buying your next car battery is to find the price range. Generally speaking, the more expensive batteries tend to give you a better performance.
However, just paying more money for a battery will not guarantee that you are getting a good one. Also, there are a few options that work well while saving you some more money. The ones that made our list range from right around $75 but then can make their way up to around $300.
Another thing to consider is where to purchase your next battery. Many stores will have batteries in stock, but since they have to have a wide range of them, they tend to only have offerings from a single company or two.
If you want to have a good amount of choice you may need to go to an online retailer. If you do so, since batteries are heavy, you’ll need to look at something like Amazon that has a great shipping policy.
Having a dependable battery gives you piece of mind when it comes to your car. There is a niceness to knowing that you can walk out and hop in your car and expect that the battery will work fine and the car will start right up.
This comes from purchasing a high quality battery with the right CCA. Remember, that batteries can lose some power if left in the cold. If you live in an area with cold winters you’ll want to go with the most CCA that you can find for your car’s battery.
Additionally, the levels of electricity you are dealing with for a car battery can be fatal. No matter what you are doing with our battery, jumping it, replacing it, or just checking something near it, take care.
Often times the first step in doing just about any auto maintenance should be to safely disconnect your battery. That is a process you should familiarize yourself with.
Best Auto Battery – Bottom Line and Conclusion
And with that, you should have everything that you need to know in order to pick the best car battery for your given needs. We started by going five of the top rated car batteries for sale today. While any of these would make a great choice we felt that the top model was the Optima RedTop Starting Battery. It really stood above the other options in our eyes, but if you are looking for something that will keep a few more dollars in your pocket you should consider the Odyssey PC680 Battery.
After going over those options we launched into our buyer’s guide. We went over the basic battery information that you should have on your mind when you are looking at purchasing your next battery. We went over the different types of batteries as well as some of the other factors that you should take into account, like the CCA.
Finally, we’d love to hear from you. Do you have any experience with our selections? If so, let us know about them in the comments section below.
Here’s the short video explaining how OPTIMA batteries are constructed and how the unique SPIRAL CELL design differs from a traditional battery.
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