The Best Car Batteries for Your Vehicles

By Jordan Maxwell

February 16, 2021

There are several indicators that your car’s battery could be bad, and on its way out, but to know for sure, you’ll want to use a battery tester. Some signs include sluggish starts, dim headlights and of course the obvious one, your car not starting at all. If you’re experiencing any of those issues, it’s time to replace the battery in your vehicle.

With so many options to choose from, how do you know which is the best battery for your car? In this article, we’ll discuss the top picks for car batteries you can purchase online, as well as detail more information on car batteries and answer some frequently asked questions.

1. Editor’s Pick: Optima Batteries RedTop 34/78

Key Specs

Brand: Optima
Cold Cranking Amps: 800
Capacity: 50 Ah

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One of the most well-known brands when it comes to automotive batteries is Optima. The company’s RedTop lineup of AGM (absorbed glass mat) batteries is one of its most successful, building a reputation for reliability and quality. The RedTop features Spiralcell technology with tightly wound construction to minimize plate movement and possible damage from harsh conditions. This helps extend battery life as vibration and jarring are major reasons why traditional car batteries go bad sooner than expected.

With a leakproof design, the OPtima RedTop can be mounted virtually anywhere inside your vehicle, in nearly any position. This is important for those looking to add auxiliary batteries to their car to power accessories. It offers 800 cold cranking amps (CCA), 50 amp-hours (Ah) capacity and the company claims up to three times longer life than normal batteries.

2. Best for High Performance: XS Power D6500 XS Series

Key Specs

Brand: XS Power
Cold Cranking Amps: 1,070
Capacity: 75 Ah

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If you’re racing or building a competition car stereo system, you need performance from your battery. XS Power specializes in just that, with this recommendation offering 1070 cranking amps (CA) in a sealed AGM design and a reinforced ABS plastic case. It has a maximum output of 3,900 amps and capacity of 75 Ah.

With a leak-proof design and no external vents, you can mount this battery in virtually any position without having to worry about leaks or corrosion. These batteries are ideal for stereo systems pushing 3,000 to 4,000 watts and they’re designed to resist extreme vibrations for optimal performance. Of course, they can also be used as a replacement for your vehicle’s standard battery.

3. Best Factory Replacement: ACDelco Advantage AGM Battery

Key Specs

Brand: ACDelco
Cold Cranking Amps: 325
Capacity: 45 Ah

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If you’re shopping for a good original equipment manufacturer (OEM) replacement, consider this recommendation from ACDelco. This brand is owned by General Motors and manufactures true OEM parts for GM and non-GM vehicles. The Advantage AGM battery features a maintenance-free AGM design, which means you don’t have to worry about water, spills, leaks or general maintenance.

By taking advantage of valve regulated-gas combinant technology, ACDelco claims this battery can last up to three times the life cycle of conventional car batteries. A leak-proof pressurized valve system contributes to safety and durability, while preventing possible dry-out and acid damage to the terminals. It offers 325 CCA and capacity of 45 Ah.

4. Most Reliable: Odyssey Extreme 34R-PC1500T

Key Specs

Brand: Odyssey
Cold Cranking Amps: 850
Capacity: 62 Ah (10-hour nominal) / 68 Ah (20-hour nominal)

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What makes this AGM battery from Odyssey unique is that the company engineered it with thin plate pure lead technology. That means this battery’s flat plates are constructed of 99.99-percent pure lead and not lead alloy, which is often found in other batteries. This makes the plates thinner, which allows Odyssey to fit more into the battery. As a result, there’s 15 percent more surface area to deliver increased reliability and longer life.

Boasting 850 CCA and 62-Ah nominal capacity (10 hour) / 68-Ah nominal capacity (20 hour), Odyssey says this battery will last up to 400 cycles at 80-percent depth of discharge, meaning it’ll last up to three times longer than conventional batteries. It’s virtually maintenance free with no need to add water

5. Best For High Demand Startup: Optima Batteries YellowTop D35

Key Specs

Brand: Optima
Cold Cranking Amps: 620
Capacity: 48 Ah

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Another option from Optima is the company’s YellowTop batteries. This lineup of batteries is preferred if your vehicle has electrical loads that are higher than average, or when the discharge cycle is more than just your normal engine starting. That means vehicles with a lot of accessories and aftermarket electronics should consider Optima’s YellowTop instead of the RedTop.

It’s an AGM battery with individual spiral-wound cells comprised of two pure (99.99-percent) lead plates that have been coated in lead oxide. It’s designed for deep-cycle and cranking power, offering 650 CCA and 48 Ah capacity. Like the RedTop, expect the YellowTop to offer up to three times longer life than conventional batteries. It’s also virtually spillproof and can be mounted in nearly any position.

6. Best OEM Replacement: Delphi MaxStart Battery

Key Specs

Brand: Delphi
Cold Cranking Amps: 775
Capacity: 55 Ah

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Our final recommendation comes from Delphi with the MaxStart battery. This AGM battery offers 775 CCA and 55-Ah capacity and is designed to be an OEM replacement with better performance. Compared to a traditional flooded battery, MaxStart’s AGM batteries offer twice the cycle life and are 20 times more resistant to vibration.

Other features that contribute to the battery’s reliability and durability include optimized component compression, fortified posts, straps and welds. It’s also resistant to corrosion thanks to its sealed housing with manifold venting system.

Things to Consider Before Buying a Car Battery

Asides from the fact that batteries tend to last between three to five years, depending on usage, climate and the nature of trips, there are other factors you need to look out for. This list below should help you cover all necessary steps before making your purchase decision.

The size of the battery: It is quite important to check the length, width and height of the battery you wish to purchase. To know the perfect fit for your vehicle, you should consult the owner’s manual that came with the car or make an appointment with your mechanic. The right size should fit adequately in the battery tray, securing the battery and protecting it from damage in the case of vibrations.

The manufacturing date of the battery: This is important as it is not recommended to purchase a battery more than six months after its manufacturing date. This information is portrayed as a code consisting of a letter and a number. The letter would stand for the month, while the number would stand for the year it was manufactured.

The reserve capacity of the battery: The “reserve capacity” refers to how long the battery can run on its own before discharge and without the engine. Getting a car battery with a high reserve capacity can save you from a lot of sticky situations.

The Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) and Cranking Amps (CA): Referred in shorter terms as the power requirement of the batteries. CA is the energy that is needed to start a vehicle at 0-degrees Celsius, while CCA is what’s required to start the car at -18 degrees. As you can tell, CCA mainly concerns colder climates and we recommend purchasing batteries with higher CCA, although not all manufacturers will publish that specification.

The maintenance requirement of the battery: Now, there are two types of batteries in this category—low maintenance batteries and maintenance-free batteries. Maintenance-free batteries include batteries that are sealed with liquid electrolyte, so no maintenance is required. Low maintenance batteries are unsealed with caps and occasionally require distilled water.

Warranty Period: We would recommend purchasing batteries with a long period of free replacement in case of any unforeseen issues.

Terminal Type and Position: Always check to make sure the battery you are purchasing is equipped with the correct terminals for your vehicle.

The Ampere Hour (Ah): This means the capacity of the battery to store electricity. Like you may have guessed, we would recommend purchasing a battery with high Ah, as it will be able to maintain load for a long time without the fear of the battery running out.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

As you can tell, there are plenty of options when it comes to replacement car batteries. Start by seeing what specifications your vehicle requires, if you’re simply looking for an OEM replacement. If you’re adding additional accessories to your vehicle, you’ll want to invest into a high-performance battery that offers more capacity and cranking amps. Here are some frequently asked questions when it comes to replacement car batteries.

Can a completely dead battery be recharged?

Yes, many batteries can be recharged, even when you feel they may be completely drained.

Are all car batteries the same?

No, car batteries vary in different ways, depending on the vehicle’s specifications and requirements.

Can a bad battery ruin your alternator?

No, your battery should not have any effect on the alternator. Although, a faulty alternator will not keep your battery consistently charged. Sometimes it may be your alternator that is going bad if your battery isn’t maintaining a charge and you know it’s in good condition.

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