Best Car Batteries of 2021

Best Car Batteries of 2021

You don’t want to wait until the day your car doesn’t start to begin researching replacement car batteries. Eventually, your car’s battery will run out of charge and needing a replacement is part of your car’s maintenance. Generally, you will likely have to replace your car’s battery once or twice during its life, although there are products you can purchase to help maintain and extend your car’s battery life. But that’s not what this article is about—you’re likely here because you’re shopping for a replacement car battery.

There are two general types of automotive batteries: Lead-acid (regular) and Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM). Lead-acid batteries typically cost less than AGM batteries but won’t hold a charge for as long. AGM batteries, on the other hand, are designed to withstand routine draining and recharging cycles. Most modern vehicles with high-tech features such as start/stop systems now come from the factory with AGM batteries, which is why most of our recommendations on this list are AGM batteries. They may be more expensive, but they offer better long-term performance by withstanding deep discharges and are more likely to be recovered if they’ve been accidentally drained.

Batteries also come in different sizes and terminal types, so you’ll want to check your car’s manual to get the right one prior to purchasing. You may notice some of the battery models on our list are similar but with different top terminals—make sure you’re getting the one you need.

As you browse through our list, you’ll see that we’ll highlight a couple features for most of the batteries. One of them is cold cranking amps (CCA), which measures how well a battery can start your car in cold weather conditions. Another feature is reserve capacity, which is how long a battery can run if any parts of your car’s charging system fails.

1. Editor's Pick: Optima Batteries RedTop 35

Optima is one of the most well-known brands within the segment, so it’s little surprise 3 of its batteries end up on our list, even though 2 are essentially the same with different terminals. Our top recommendation is the company’s RedTop 35 starting battery. It’s a good balance of price and performance, boasting 720 cold cranking amps (CCA) and C20 capacity of 44 Ah, along with a reserve capacity of 90 minutes for constant performance. The battery itself measures 9.38″ by 7.69″ by 6.75″ and weighs 31.7 pounds.

The RedTop 35 features SAE posts and its case is made of polypropylene.

Providing a strong starting burst, Optima claims this battery has more than 15 times the vibration resistance of a standard battery and is maintenance-free with up to 3 times longer life. It’s spill proof and mountable in virtually any position.

Product features:

  • 720 CCA
  • C20 capacity: 44 Ah
  • Strong starting burst
  • Up to 3 times longer life
  • Reserve capacity of 90 minutes for constant performance
  • 15 times more vibration resistant
  • Spill proof
  • Mountable in virtually any position
  • Maintenance-free
  • Faster recharging
  • Polypropylene case
  • SAE posts

2. Optima Batteries YellowTop D34/78

If your car is packed with a lot of accessories, such as an aftermarket audio system, you’ll want to invest into a high-performance battery. We have a few high-performance batteries on our list, but our recommended pick also comes from Optima and its YellowTop lineup. The YellowTop D34/78 offers 750 CCA and its C20 capacity is 55 Ah. Measuring 10″ by 6-7/8″ by 7-13/16″, this battery weighs 43.5 lbs and boasts dual SAE and GM posts. If you need different terminal types, make sure to check out the rest of Optima’s YellowTop lineup.

Along with a polypropylene case like the RedTop 35, the YellowTop D34/78 has a reserve capacity of 120 minutes (versus 90 on the RedTop 35). This battery also claims to be 15 times more resistant to vibration for enhanced durability.

Offering deep-cycle and cranking power, the YellowTop also boasts faster charging and over 300 discharge/recharge cycles before it needs to be replaced. Like other Optima batteries, it has a spill proof design and can be mounted in virtually any position.

Product features:

  • 750 CCA
  • C20 capacity: 55 Ah
  • Up to 3 times longer life
  • Reserve capacity of 120 minutes for constant performance
  • 15 times more vibration resistant
  • Deep-cycle and cranking power
  • Spill proof
  • Mountable in virtually any position
  • Faster recharging
  • Polypropylene case
  • Over 300 discharge/recharge cycles
  • Dual SAE/GM posts

3. ACDelco 94RAGM Professional Automotive Battery

From popular brand ACDelco is the company’s 94R Professional AGM battery. This battery features a leak-proof pressurized valve system that is engineered for safety and long life, helping prevent dry-out and acid damage to the terminals. The 94R has high cycling capabilities and is remarkably charge-receptive, which means they’re great for vehicles with start/stop systems.

One standout feature on this battery is its use of high density negative paste, which improves performance and increases battery life. In addition, enhanced life alloy/Silver Calcium stamped alloy increases life cycle and also contributes to improved battery performance. A precision manufactured ribbed case, which has been 100% pressure tested to help avoid future leaks, adds strength and rigidity.

ACDelco’s Professional Automotive AGM batteries come with a 36-month free replacement period.

Product features:

  • Leak-proof pressurized valve system
  • High cycling capabilities, remarkably charge-receptive
  • Great for vehicles with start/stop systems
  • High density negative paste
  • Enhanced life alloy/Silver Calcium stamped alloy
  • 100% pressure tested, precision manufactured ribbed case

4. DieHard Advanced Gold Battery

One brand you’ve likely heard of in this segment is DieHard. The company offers a wide range of replacement car batteries and we recommend its Advanced Gold lineup. Several different models are available depending on your vehicle, so make sure you select the right one for your car prior to purchasing. These batteries range in CCA and Ah rating, from CCA 650 to CCA 850 and 50 Ah to 92 Ah.

Designed to withstand elevated temperature conditions and increased accessory power demands, these batteries are maintenance free and feature a spill proof design. They can also be mounted in practically any position. Heat-sealed and tamper-resistant construction adds protection for sophisticated electronic equipment, while an enhanced electronic suspension system works to safeguard internal components in these batteries.

DieHard says these batteries have 20 times more vibration protection and provides twice the life cycle of regular batteries. They are also backed by a free replacement warranty for up to 3 years.

Product features:

  • Wide range of options
  • Maintenance free
  • Spill proof design
  • Can be mounted in practically any position
  • Heat-sealed and tamper-resistant construction
  • Offers 20 times more vibration protection
  • Twice the life cycle of regular batteries
  • Backed by 3-year free replacement warranty

5. AutoCraft Platinum Battery

If you need a replacement car battery in a hurry, we have two options on our list that you can purchase online and pick up locally. Advance Auto Parts carries AutoCraft’s lineup of car batteries and 2 of them land on our list. The first is the Platinum AGM battery, engineered to provide up to twice the life compared to a standard flooded battery. AutoCraft’s AGM batteries use what it calls PowerFrame grid technology, which is a stronger and more durable positive grid technology. AutoCraft says PowerFrame offers up to 70% better electrical flow than other grid technologies. In addition, PowerFrame virtually eliminates premature failure and is up to 66% more durable and more corrosion-resistant than other grid designs.

As a spill proof battery, it can be installed in any location on your vehicle, while the battery itself has a robust design that offers exceptional high temperature climate performance and reliable starting power in cold conditions. It also boasts a higher level of vibration resistance compared to standard flooded batteries.

The AutoCraft Platinum battery is rated at 60 Ah and 740 CCA. It measures 10.25″ by 7.75″ by 6.812″ and weighs 38.7 lbs.

Product features:

  • 60 Ah
  • 740 CCA
  • Engineered to provide up to twice the life compared to a standard flooded battery
  • PowerFrame grid technology – offers up to 70% better electrical flow and is 66% more durable and more corrosion-resistant than other grid designs
  • Spill proof
  • Can be mounted in any location
  • Robust design offers exceptional performance in extreme temperatures
  • Higher level of vibration resistance

6. Odyssey Extreme Series Battery

Another brand you really can’t go wrong with is Odyssey. These batteries are made in the U.S. and its Extreme Series is our recommendation, specifically the 34R-PC1500. It’s designed for general automotive use and light trucks, ending up as a popular option for SUV owners. This particular battery offers 68 Ah and 850 CCA with 135 minutes of reserve capacity.

Unlike the lead alloy used in other batteries, Odyssey’s battery plates are made of pure virgin lead, which means it can pack in more plates. More plates result in more plate surface area, providing more power. Odyssey says the 34R-PC1500 has twice the overall more power and 3 times the life of conventional batteries, with up to 400 cycles at 80% depth of discharge.

This battery uses SAE terminals and is resistant to vibration with flexible mounting options. The company provides a limited 3- and 4-year full replacement warranty.

Product features:

  • 68 Ah
  • 850 CCA
  • 135 minutes of reserve capacity
  • Ideal for light truck and SUV owners
  • Battery plates are made of pure virgin lead
  • Twice the overall power
  • Three times the life of conventional batteries
  • Up to 400 cycles at 80% depth of discharge
  • Vibration resistant
  • Flexible mounting
  • Limited 3- and 4-year full replacement warranties
  • Made in the U.S.

7. AutoCraft Automotive Battery

If you quickly need an extremely affordable replacement battery, there’s AutoCraft’s entry-level automotive battery. Available at Advance Auto Parts, which means you can pick it up locally after purchasing it online, this is a fairly basic car battery offering 650 CCA. Aimed at providing starting power at an affordable price, this battery is maintenance free and has a “durable” battery life span.

Given its price, this battery is mainly an option for low maintenance vehicles and for car owners looking for something really cheap. If you need a battery to just get you going temporarily, this is the way to go. Advance Auto Parts also provides a 90-day replacement if the battery is defective.

It’s worth noting that AutoCraft has other battery models as well. So if you don’t need the performance from the Platinum AGM battery earlier on our list and want something a bit more reliable than the standard battery, take a look at the company’s Silver and Gold options.

Product features:

  • 650 CCA
  • Basic battery
  • Extremely affordable
  • “Durable” battery life span
  • 90-day replacement if battery is defective

Car Battery Groups

Size 24/24F (top terminal): Fits many Acura, Honda, Infiniti, Lexus, Nissan, and Toyota vehicles.

Size 35 (top terminal): Fits most Japanese nameplates, including many recent Honda vehicles, most Subaru vehicles, and most Mazda, Nissan, and Toyota vehicles.

Size 47 (H5) (top terminal)
: Fits many Buick, Chevrolet, Fiat, and Volkswagen models.

Size 48 (H6) (top terminal)
: Fits many vehicles from Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Jeep, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Volkswagen, and Volvo.


Size 49 (H8) (top terminal): 
Fits many vehicles from Audi, BMW, Hyundai, and Mercedes-Benz.

Size 51R (top terminal): Fits many vehicles from Honda and Nissan.

Size 65 (top terminal): Fits large cars, trucks, and sport utility vehicles from Ford or Mercury.

How to Find the Right Replacement

Before you buy a new car battery, know the correct group number for your vehicle, which varies depending on make, model, year, and engine size.

Batteries are defined by physical size, type, and placement of the terminals, as well as mounting style. Be sure to replace your battery with one that’s from the same group so that it will fit its tray and the leads will connect properly.

The basic specs for a replacement battery can be read off the battery that’s currently in your car.

There are other sources to help you select the proper battery, including your owner’s manual, battery company websites, an in-store guide, or your local mechanic. If you bought a used car, don’t assume it has the proper battery installed. Be sure to check with one of those other sources to identify the correct type.

Tips for Buying a Replacement Battery

This year’s results continue to show that buying a battery from a car dealership or mechanic may not be your best bet. For example, three EverStart batteries get a CR’s Best Buy designation, and they’re sold only at Walmart. Compared with the batteries sold at dealers or by mechanics, “EverStart’s warranties are just as good, and in some cases might be a little better,” says Mark Allwood, a senior market analyst at CR who covers car batteries.

Regardless of where you buy them and what brands they belong to, a majority of batteries are built by a handful of manufacturers, Allwood notes. For example, Duracell car batteries—one of which gets a Best Buy designation—are made by East Penn, a major battery manufacturer.

CR’s experts caution against buying a battery online. There may be shipping restrictions. And although it can save you money over paying a local retailer—as much as $40, Allwood says—it may not be a good idea for those who aren’t experienced installing a car battery.

“If you’re not comfortable doing it yourself, you should go to a qualified mechanic,” says John Ibbotson, chief mechanic at CR’s Auto Test Center. “With most cars, it’s a pretty straightforward job, but for some cars, the installation is more involved.” For example, some cars hide the battery under a seat, in the trunk, or behind a wheel well, which may require the removal of parts before installation.

Plus, even older vehicles can require some level of reprogramming by a mechanic when a battery is changed to allow all systems to work.

The good news is that many auto-parts stores—including Advance Auto Parts and O’Reilly—offer free installation of most of the batteries they sell, as does Batteries Plus Bulbs.

Some auto parts chains may allow you to order a battery they don’t stock and install it. Confirm before ordering.

When buying a car battery, it’s common to incur a “core” charge. This is essentially a deposit that’s refunded when you turn in the battery for recycling. The other piece of advice is to look for a battery with the latest (most recent) date code.  

 

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