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Car Battery Reviews

By: Amy Livingston on September 28, 2017

Editor's Note:
Though not all sizes are created equal, for most passenger cars, Sears DieHard batteries are top rated. Need a cheap battery? Walmart's EverStart Maxx packs a charge. If your ride is packed with lots of energy-draining gear, nothing tops an Optima YellowTop.

Best car battery
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Group size – 24/24F Cold cranking amps -- 725 Reserve capacity – 120 minutes

Best car battery

Outclassing all other batteries in its size group in a leading test, the DieHard Gold 58023 starts readily on frigid days, yet survives well at hot temperatures. Its reserve capacity allows it to soldier on for roughly two hours if you forget to turn off your headlights. Customers at Sears.com are pleased with its reliability and solid warranty, which gives you a free replacement if it can't hold a charge within 36 months of purchase.

Deep-cycle car battery
Runners Up
Specs that Matter Group size – 51R Cold cranking amps -- 450 Reserve capacity – 66 minutes

Deep-cycle car battery

The Optima Yellow Top D51R is a dual-purpose battery, offering both the cranking power to start your car reliably and deep cycling capabilities to run power-hungry systems like high-end sound equipment even when the car is off. It's also designed to stand up well to vibration. In professional tests, it gets top marks for starting well in cold weather and holding up through repeated cycles of charging and discharging at high temperatures. It comes with a 36-month replacement warranty.

Buy for $237.99
Best cheap car battery
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Group size – 24/24F Cold cranking amps -- 750 Reserve capacity – NA

Best cheap car battery

Walmart's EverStart MAXX-24F finishes just behind the top batteries in expert tests, holding up well to repeated cycling and starting reliably in cold temperatures. It's also popular with owners, who praise its low price, high CCA, and great warranty. Walmart will replace the battery if it fails to hold a charge within the first three years, and offers a prorated replacement for two years after that. The chain will also install a new battery at for free.

Car batteries aren't one size fits all

When looking at the engine in your car, truck or SUV, it can be easy to overlook the plain little box that sits quietly in the corner: your car's battery. Mechanics on Angie's List say car batteries generally last between three and six years, so unless you plan on buying a new car every year or two, chances are you will need to buy a new battery at some point.

There are more than a dozen car battery brands, and most of them are sold exclusively at certain retail chains. For instance, Autocraft batteries are available only at Advance Auto Parts stores, Bosch at Pep Boys, DieHard batteries at Sears and Kmart, Duralast at AutoZone, and EverStart at Walmart.

Unfortunately, you can't just shop by brand to find the best car battery. In ConsumerReports.org's latest car battery test, every chart-topping brand had some mediocre batteries, too. One reason is that brands may use different manufacturers for different lines and even sizes. On top of that, brands periodically switch manufacturers, so top-rated brands and models change from year to year. You can find more information on who, currently, makes which battery at Bill Darden's excellent BatteryFAQ.org website.

Types of Car Batteries

Passenger Car Batteries

The most basic car batteries are for starting your car only. Sometimes labeled as SLI batteries (for "starting, lights, ignition"), these batteries can produce a quick burst of power to get your engine started, but after that they need to be recharged by your car's alternator. A good SLI battery should start right up -- year after year -- whether it's blisteringly hot or blustery cold outside. It should also have enough juice to spare for those times when you accidentally leave your lights on.

Deep-Cycle Batteries

Unlike SLI batteries, deep-cycle batteries can deliver a steady current over a long period. You can discharge them and recharge them repeatedly without damaging them or shortening their lifespan. This makes deep-cycle batteries a good choice if you have a custom sound system or other accessories (like winches) that draw a lot of power, or if your kids like to watch your car's DVD system while the engine is off. However, it's important to make sure you choose a deep-cycle battery that also has enough juice (measured in CCA, for "cold-cranking amps") to start your engine. Batteries that can do both are sometimes labeled as dual-purpose batteries.

Cheap Car Batteries

In general, cheaper car batteries (priced at $110 or less) tend to fall a step or two behind pricier choices in professional tests. However, many of them are still quite acceptable performers. If cost is important to you, and if your car isn't loaded down with gear, one of these cheap car batteries could meet your needs just fine. Just take care to buy from a reputable dealer, and pay attention to user feedback regarding performance and value.

Size matters … and so does climate

In addition to the basic categories noted above, batteries are also sorted by size. There are nine size groups: 65, 75, 24/24F, 34/78, 35, 51R, 47 (H5), 48 (H6), and 49 (H8). Each one of these battery sizes fits different car makes and models. Thus, when you shop for a car battery, you can't just look for the one with the best overall rating; you have to choose one that's sized to fit your specific vehicle.

On top of that, some batteries are rated for use in a particular climate. Hot-weather car batteries -- often labeled "South" or "S" -- are designed to survive longer in high temperatures. By contrast, cold-weather car batteries -- often labeled "North" or "N" -- have higher CCA ratings, enabling them to start more easily in cold temperatures.

Finding The Best Car Batteries
Our Sources
"Car Batteries"
"Beware: The Best and Worst Replacement Car Batteries Can Be From the Same Brand"
3. Amazon
"Car Batteries"

When it comes to car batteries, there isn't a ton of reputable, comparative testing available. However, ConsumerReports.org is an exception. Editors there stress-test dozens of car batteries to judge their performance in three areas: cold cranking, heat endurance, and reserve capacity (the oops-I-left-my-lights-on test).

To fill in the rest of the picture, we then looked to owner-written reviews to figure out how well batteries perform in real-world use and how well they hold up over time. Retail sites such as AdvanceAutoParts.com, Amazon.com, Sears.com, and PepBoys.com offer dozens or even hundreds of reviews on their most popular battery brands. We also checked out feedback from owners and car enthusiasts about their favorite brands in discussion threads, such as those at CarTalk.com. Then we put it all together to find the batteries that offer the best combination of performance, reliability, and bang for your buck.

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Car Batteries buying guide

What every best Car Batteries has:

  • A strong warranty.
  • Good reserve capacity.
  • Ample cold-cranking amps.

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