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Best Car Batteries

By: Amy Livingston on September 28, 2017

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Best car battery

DieHard Gold 50823

Best all-purpose car batteries

There aren't many car batteries with strong recommendations from more than one source. Of the hundreds of batteries on the market, fewer than 75 have been covered in professional tests – and the ones that score highest in those tests aren't always the ones that rate highest on the retail sites where they're sold. One of the few that gets excellent reviews in both places is the DieHard Gold 50823 (Est. $125). In professional tests, this battery gets top scores in every category: endurance in hot climates, cold-cranking performance at 0 degrees Fahrenheit, and reserve capacity (how long it can maintain power if the charging system fails).

The DieHard Gold 50823 is a "North" battery, which means it's designed to perform particularly well in cold climates. It packs a solid 725 cold-cranking amps (CCA) and 120 minutes of reserve capacity for reliable, long-lasting starting power. It's also backed by a solid 36-month replacement warranty. If the battery fails at any time within its first three years, you can bring it and the receipt to any Sears or Kmart store in the U.S. If the store's tests confirm it can no longer hold a charge, Sears will replace it.

Owners at Sears.com give this DieHard Battery high marks. In roughly 35 reviews, 92 percent of all owners say they would recommend it, and nearly 75 percent give it a perfect 5-star rating. Owners generally say this battery is very reliable, with plenty of cold-cranking power and a long overall lifespan. The main complaint we saw is that Sears stores won't always match the online price for the battery.

The DieHard Gold 50823 is a Group 24/24F battery that fits many Japanese car models, including Acura, Honda, Infiniti, Lexus, Nissan, and Toyota vehicles. There are also several other DieHard batteries from various size groups that do very well in professional tests but have fewer owner-written reviews to back up these results. These include the Group 65 DieHard Gold 50865 (Est. $150), the Group 24/24F DieHard Gold 50923 (Est. $115), the Group 47 DieHard Gold 50947 (Est. $150), and the Group 48 DieHard Gold 50948 (Est. $145).

While the regular DieHard Gold batteries are standard lead-acid batteries, the DieHard Advanced Gold line uses an absorbed glass mat (AGM) technology, which is designed to be better at surviving repeated draining and recharging cycles. However, this technology doesn't always deliver better performance. The Group 65 DieHard Advanced Gold 50765 (Est. $175) performs very well in tests, but overall, Advanced Gold batteries don't score as well as the regular DieHard line – though they do tend to get high ratings from owners at Sears.com.

The Bosch 35-640B (Est. $140) also fares very well in both professional tests and user reviews. This Group 35 battery has 640 CCA and 100 minutes of reserve capacity, just a bit less than the top-rated DieHard Gold 50823, and its hot-weather lifespan in professional tests is just as good. It's a favorite with users at PepBoys.com, where Bosch batteries are sold, earning an overall rating of 4.6 stars out of 5 in roughly 150 reviews. Owners give it high marks for its value and reliability in both high and low temperatures. However, while some owners say this Bosch battery lasted 5 years or longer, others complain that they lost their ability to hold a charge after anywhere from 2 weeks to 19 months. Fortunately, the battery comes with a 3-year replacement warranty. Another Bosch battery, the Group 48 Bosch H6-760B (Est. $125), gets similar feedback from both professionals and owners.

Finally, there are several Autocraft batteries (sold at Advanced Auto Parts) that get reasonably good ratings from ConsumerReports.org and are very popular with users. The best overall performer of these is the Autocraft Gold 49H8 (Est. $160), a Group 49 battery. Although Autocraft claims this battery has an impressive 900 CCA and 160 minutes of reserve capacity, its actual scores on both factors in testing are very good but not outstanding. However, it's a top performer in the ConsumerReports.org's hot-weather longevity test, and users at Advanced Auto Parts describe it as powerful, easy to install, and safe to handle. The Group 47 Autocraft Gold 47H5 (Est. $195) and the Group 51R Autocraft Gold 51R-2 (Est. $145) get similar reviews.

Optima batteries are ideal for deep cycling

If your car is loaded up with accessories that use a lot of juice, such as a powerful stereo system, a DVD player, or sliding doors, then it's important to choose a deep-cycle battery that can stand up to being discharged and recharged repeatedly. A DieHard or Bosch battery might be able to meet your needs, but auto enthusiasts say the real gold standard in this area is the Optima YellowTop line. The manufacturer calls these AGM batteries "one of the few true dual-purpose automotive batteries available," with both the oomph required to start a car's engine and the deep-cycling power to keep all its systems running. In addition, Optima YellowTop batteries contain a series of individual spiral-wound cells that the manufacturer claims can stand up better to vibration than the plates found in most batteries.

However, all these special features also increase the price. Prices for Optima YellowTop batteries at Amazon.com start around $165, and many models cost over $200. All the batteries in this line are backed by a three-year replacement warranty.

The Optima YellowTop D51R (Est. $165) scores pretty well in professional testing and also gets good feedback from users at Amazon.com. Its reserve capacity of 66 minutes and its claimed CCA of 450 aren't terribly impressive, but it nonetheless scores very well in cold-starting tests. It also gets top-notch scores for lasting through repeated charging and discharging cycles – this brand's strong suit.

Most users are impressed with the YellowTop's reliability, saying it starts well in both hot and cold weather. They're also pleased with its light weight and good warranty. Unfortunately, some say they had to take advantage of that warranty, as their batteries had trouble holding a charge within the first three years – sometimes after as little as two weeks. Still, it garners a score of 4.5 stars at Amazon.com, based on reviews from more than 165 owners.

We found similar feedback – both positive and negative – about the OptimaYellowTop D34/78 (Est. $215). It's not covered in the latest round of testing at ConsumerReports.org, but it did well in an earlier round, and most owners describe it as long-lived and reliable in both heat and cold. However, like the D51R, it gets some complaints from owners about failures within its first year, as well as from a couple who say it can't start in extreme cold (below -5°F).

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