Although you are not consciously aware of its impact every day, a car battery is one of the most important components of your car. It gives the vehicle enough energy to start and run flawlessly throughout the day.
The good news is, generally, car batteries are quite durable. Having said that, you will have to replace them a couple of times throughout the vehicle’s lifespan – and choosing the right fit is never easy.
This post is a full guide to choosing a car battery that will work like clockwork for years to come and is not too expensive.
Types of Car Batteries
Depending on your car and budget, there are several battery modifications that can fit your needs. Here are the most popular battery types among drivers:
• Lighting and ignition batteries
Whether you’re visiting a local car shop or shopping online, you’ll see that the majority of batteries on the shelves are the SLI ones (Starting, Lighting, and Ignition). Other than helping start your car, these batteries empower the work of the radio, in-vehicle lights, ignition, etc.
While being multi-functional, SLIs don’t come first in terms of battery life. Be ready to take the unit out regularly and charge it back up. Starting, lighting, and ignition batteries are a solid low-cost alternatives – and there’s only so much they can do.
• Deep cycle batteries
Compared to SLIs, deep cycle batteries have a longer battery life and work more consistently as a whole. This type of unit is commonly used to empower small recreational vehicles, golf carts, and marine carts.
• Valve-Regulated Batteries
If you’re looking for something low-maintenance to empower your vehicle with, a valve-regulated battery is the right fit. Choosing this modification, you don’t have to worry about spilling when tipping the battery over or inverting it – valve-regulated modifications are usually sealed.
Although its definitely more comfortable, the closed-off structure of this battery makes it impossible to repair any damage done to it. When valve-regulated batteries are dead, you will have no other options than buying a replacement.
Being one of the most popular types, valve-regulated batteries are divided into subtypes:
- AGM – Absorption Glass Mat. This modification offers a significant surge of power to the vehicle that will get weaker over time. The governing principle of AGM battery operation is an electric reaction between the electrolyte and a fiberglass mat, placed on the battery’s surface.
- Gell Cell Batteries. These batteries are known for a more consistent, deep-cycle operating mode. They function well in moderate climates but aren’t a recommended fit for vehicle owners who drive in extreme cold or hot environments.
• Flooded Batteries
Also known as Wet Cell batteries, this type of car battery has a liquid structure – usually composed of a water-sulfuric acid electrolyte. Flooded batteries are a low-cost solution – however, their life cycle is limited, especially compared to valve-regulated models. The modification will require thorough maintenance – every once in a while a driver will have to replace the electrolytes.
• Lithium-ion Batteries
Li-ion batteries are predominantly vehicle-specific – you might have to check-in with a support agent to ensure the compatibility with your car before ordering this unit online.
Li-ion batteries score high compared to other types in terms of energy storage and performance consistency. Having said that, the major challenge drivers have to deal with is the battery’s short life span. On average, you will have to replace a Li-ion unit once in three years.
Things to Watch Out For When Choosing Car Batteries
Since a car battery is an investment that’s going to last for approximately 3-5 years, you should be thorough when researching the selection and making buying decisions. Here are the things you should consider when reading listings or examining the models a local car store has to offer.
- Size. All batteries are grouped by length, width, and height. To know which size is the right one for your vehicle, dig out your car owner manual or consult a mechanic. You know that the unit size is right when a model fits tightly in the tray, doesn’t tilt from side to side and is immune to vibration-related damage.
- The date when the battery was manufactured. You can get this info at the back surface of the unit – there’s an alphanumeric code. The letter stands for the month when the model was manufactured, the number corresponds to the year. B/4, for one, would decipher as February 2014. When choosing batteries, don’t settle for anything that’s more than 6 months old.
- Reserve capacity. The term refers to the battery’s capability to run without needing a recharge. A high reserve capacity drastically simplifies the maintenance process. High-reserve batteries come in handy when a driver has to deal with in-vehicle emergencies – engine non-compliance, alternator failure, and others.
- Cranking Amps. Basically, this term is the amount of energy needed for the battery to start the car at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. There’s a Cold Cranking Amp value that refers to the amount of energy needed to start the vehicle at zero Ferehnheit degrees. When choosing a car, make sure to go for batteries with high CCA value – this is especially relevant if you live in colder areas.
- Maintenance simplicity. Most batteries are either low-maintenance or maintenance-free altogether. The latter are usually fully sealed batteries, filled with liquid electrolytes. The former ones can and need to be opened occasionally to add some distilled water to the electrolyte solution.
- Warranties. You won’t regret paying attention to unit warranties and choosing models that offer a free replacement for over a year. This way, drivers have more confidence in getting a reimbursement should something happen to the battery. The brand’s willingness to refund the purchase in case the unit died early is considerable proof of quality as well.
- The placement of terminals. This variable has a massive impact on the polarity of the vehicle and the risks of shortages in case the terminal gets in contact with the car shell. Before settling for a particular model, check if you need the terminal to be located to the left and to the right – it is crucial for your own and your family’s safety on the road.
Choosing the Right Car Battery: Reviewing 10 Popular Models
There are many variables to come into play when it comes to choosing car batteries. That’s why it’s easy to get confused as you do shopping. To make the selection process easier for you, we reviewed the top ten models that are currently trending on the market. Get ready to take notes and pointers.
Optima Batteries are well-known for versatility and a solid power reserve. The model offers a 720 CCA rate and works almost impeccably under extreme temperatures. Optima batteries are common among car, SUV, or truck drivers.
The unit is equipped with vibration-damage protection. There’s a spiral cell that increases the sturdiness of the batteries tremendously and makes Optima a solid fit for rough countryside terrains.
As for the downsides, the actual size of the battery is a little smaller than the one mentioned by the seller. When thinking about getting Optima Top Red Batteries, the best thing you can do is to test if they fit your car well before making a decision. The good news is, the seller offers a warranty – you can return the model in case it didn’t fit your vehicle like a glove.
|• High reserved capacity|
• Spiral-cell protection
• 3-year warranty
• High CCA value
• 12-Volt charge
|• Size discrepancies|
Odyssey is another popular battery alternative among drivers. For one thing, it comes with a two-year purchase – giving the model a try is essentially risk-free. The average lifespan of Odyssey batteries ranges from 3 to 10 years.
The model is not a recommended fit for cars since its low 170 CCA will not allow the vehicle to start effortlessly under low temperatures. For bikes and motorcycles, it does its job splendidly.
The sturdy design of the model guarantees a high level of damage protection. The battery life is up to 400 cycles.
|• Fully sealed and ready to use|
• 2-year warranty
• Sturdy design, equipped with lead plates
• Comes with l-terminal adapters.
|• low CCA value makes the unit unfit for people who live in colder areas|
The unit is designed for Toyota Prius – if you drive a different vehicle, the battery might not be compatible with your car. The model has a corrosion-resistant surface, strong positive and negative power units that prevent possible acid leaks protecting the car from damage.
ACDelco has a high cycle capacity. It’s a good fit for drivers who take long trips frequently. Due to the high reserve capacity, the model is low-maintenance.
If you’re reluctant to switch to the model that may not be compatible with your vehicle, knowing about a 2-year warranty might change your mind. According to the seller, they are ready to replace the model for free if it is not the right fit for you.
|• 325 CCA;|
• 2-year warranty;
• High battery life;
• Calcium plate protection .
|• Fits only Toyota Prius vehicles|
This unit is known for its high durability and has impressive starting power to work like clockwork even under bad weather. The case is not the most resistant one since it’s made from Polypropylene – however, the battery life makes up for the drawback.
The unit is lightweight and easy to transport. This Optima model is not sealed – you will have to replace the electrolytes every once in a while.
|• High reserve capacity;|
• Anti-vibration protection;
• 2-year warranty.
|• The case lacks sturdiness |
and can impact the overall durability
By technical characteristics alone, XSPower D3400 is a powerhouse. The unit has a 12-volt charge and a sturdy case. The electrolyte solution is fully sealed and will not spill under shock or vibration waves.
On the flip side, the dimensions of the model may vary unit for unit. XSPower is yet another battery that’s better to pre-test before buying for yourself.
|• High CA of 1000|
• Fully sealed, does not spill
• Low internal resistance
|• Packaging varies by sizes|
Kinetik KHC is a soli deep-cycle battery that employs the AGM technology. If you want to dig into the technicalities, you’re likely to appreciate the unit’s low ESR, high Ah and CA. The model is known for strong heat nd vibration resistance – it’s a good fit for vehicles that run on rough terrains – SUVs, trucks, and others.
Kinetik KHC is sealed and requires no maintenance. The unit is equipped with plates for increased durability.
|• Low ESR|
• Sealed and protected from spilling
• Strong energy density
|• No way to repair the unit once it’s dead since the unit is sealed completely|
DieHard is a solid unit for truck drivers and start-stop vehicle owners. It’s an excellent unit for off-road trips thanks to its superior vibration protection.
DieHard boasts impressive specs – here goes the 650 CCA, a high reserve capacity, and the power of 50 Amp/h. The downside of the unit is how lousily it fits into the tray. According to online reviews, the unit drains faster than advertised – you might have to replace it regularly. The good news is, the seller offers a 3-year warranty on the unit.
|• CCA – 650|
• High reserved capacity
• 3-year warranty
|• Doesn’t fit well into the battery box|
• Needs to be recharged frequently
The sleek design and thought-through damage protection have many drivers in love with Optima. RedTop 8022 batteries aren’t much different from other models a seller produces. An 8022 unit comes with 720 CCA, 1,5 reserved capacity, and high-level vibration and shock protection.
Optima batteries fit well into the tray and don’t spill. There’s a three-year warranty as well:
• 720 CCA
|• Not compatible with some vehicles – be sure to check for yourself before getting the unit|
The battery uses an absorbed glass mat to produce energy, ensuring the vehicle’s safety. The model is quite small – it might not fit larger SUV and truck models. The unit has a high CCA – 800, is covered with a film of corrosion-resistant material. The seller claims to offer superior vibration resistance as well. An average life cycle of Delphi BU9094R batteries spans five to seven years.
|• Absorbed glass mat for advanced protection|
• High CCA
• Vibration resistance
• Corrosion resistance
|• Will be too small for the battery trays of larger |
Mighty Max battery is a common fit among drivers for its outstanding battery life. It’s a deep-cycle unit that requires little-to-no maintenance and can be mounted in any position. A gell cell modification is much safer for a driver than an acid-based one.
When a driver charges MightyMax batteries, he will not have to worry about hazardous fumes spreading from the case inside the vehicle. The unit offers inside gas absorption, protecting car owners from potential health issues.
|• Low-cost, low-maintenance unit|
• Safer than acid-based models
• 35 amp amperage
|• Shorter battery life|
• Low CCA and CA values
Car Battery Comparison Table
|CCA||Vibration protection||Battery life||Warranty|
|Optima Batteries 8034-04||720||High||2 hours||2 years|
|ACDelco||325||High||190 minutes||2 years|
|XSPower D3400||1000||Medium||Up to 90 minutes||1 year|
Choosing a car battery is a responsible task since the investment has a long-lasting impact and the car’s safety heavily depends on it. The good news is, there’s no lack of alternatives on the market -as long as you don’t’ rush the purchase and take time for research, finding the right fit should be relatively easy.
Keep in mind that responsible battery maintenance can increase the overall life span of the unit by 2-3 times. Treat a chosen unit with consideration and care to make the most out of it.