What Are the Best Car Batteries to Buy?

This is frustrating but a good battery does last a few years before they wear out so it is at least not usually a constant issue. In this article we are going to learn more about car batteries and which ones might be best for your needs.

What Does a Car Battery Do?

Car batteries are more than just a power source they are integral to all of the electronic components in our cars. When a battery fails to hold a charge our car is next to useless unless we get a jump start and then we may only be able to drive as long as the engine is running. As soon as we stop the engine again we are stranded without another jump start.

The battery stores and regulates the power needed to start your car, keep it running and allow electrical systems to do their jobs. As we drive the battery is recharged by the engine movement so it is constantly replenishing.

How Do You Know When You Need a New Battery?

New batteries are not cheap so if you are considering getting one you will probably want to be sure that the battery is in fact the issue. There is nothing more frustrating than changing the battery to discover it was another part causing the battery to not recharge.

This is why your first step when you have a flat battery should be to recharge it before you test its voltage. The reason for this is that you can not get an accurate reading from a unit that is not fully charged.

You could go to a parts store where they would test your battery but if it is not charged the result is not accurate and they may push you towards getting a new battery. It is in their interest as this is a sale for them.

So a good few pieces of equipment to have at home are a battery charger and battery tester. You may just need to charge the battery and then you can confirm it is holding a charge. If you then drive it and the battery loses charge then it is not being recharged for some reason and this may require an actual repair and not a new battery.

How to Choose a Good Battery

There is no shortage of batteries on the market so it is best to narrow the field a little bit to help you decide what to buy.

How Long Should Batteries Last?

There are a number of factors that can affect how long a battery will last ranging from the climate you live in to how much you actually drive the vehicle. As an example if you live in extreme temperature climates like Alaska or Arizona your batteries will likely have shorter lives perhaps 2 years on average.

If you drive rarely and only short distances this will also affect how long your battery may last. You might think delicate use will make it last longer but actually an underused battery can wear out more quickly.

The ideal average for a decent car battery is 3 – 5 years between changes although some batteries in the right conditions can last up to a decade. Generally speaking the more you spend the better quality battery you should get.

Battery Warranty

We are going to list several batteries later and all of them have some form of warranty. This is something to consider although batteries will usually outlast any warranty it is still nice to have.

The important thing to know about your warranty is who you actually go to to redeem that if you need it. Often it will not be the place you purchased the battery but actually an authorized service shop on the manufacturer's approved list.

You can find your nearest shop through the maker of the batteries and you can go to them for a recharge and battery test. If the battery is indeed dead your warranty will cover a new battery.

Does It Fit?

Not all batteries are uniform and certain batteries are designed for specific types of vehicle. You often want to search for one that fits your make and sometimes model of car. The last thing you want is to get a battery that is too big or too small for the space it is intended to be in.

A quick look at the old battery will tell you if you have a top post or side post system. You can also measure the battery's dimensions to tell you how big the replacement should be. The final thing to take note of is how the battery is held in place.

Cold Cranking Amps

You don’t often hear about these but they are very important to a car battery. Cold cranking amps are a case of too few is not enough and too much is definitely better. This rating refers to the battery's ability to start or crank an engine in cold weather conditions.

If you have high cold cranking amps you should have no difficulty starting your engine even in very cold conditions. The average car requires around 400 amps but as a rule of thumb you need at least 1 cold cranking amp for each square inch of engine displacement in a gas powered unit. In a diesel you will be looking to have two amps per square inch of displacement.

What Are the Best Car Batteries?

Now we come to our short list of some of the best battery options on the market. We have tried to find a balance between quality and value for money so hopefully we will have something for your needs in our list.

1. ACDelco Gold - $243.36

When we are looking for a new battery often our first criteria is value for money which the ACDelco Gold definitely is. This battery is good for cars and trucks and with a low sticker price it is just as high performance as many other higher priced models.

The warranty on this model is 36 months which means the company is confident that it will last at least three years, possibly more. If it does not outlast its warranty you get a free replacement.

Another great aspect of this battery is the high cold cranking amps which at 760 are more than enough for just about any vehicle it is going to be put in.

When it comes to shortcomings it is a little on the heavy side which may or may not be a factor to you. Also there is only a top post mounting so this will not work in side post vehicles. Side posts of course are not as common as top posts so this may not be an issue.

2. Deka Intimidator - $259.95

This impressively named car battery may not be a stand out but it is one of those batteries that ticks almost all the boxes and won't break the bank. This has the standard 36 month warranty but will likely far exceed that as long as you do not live in a very cold climate or don’t drive very often.

It is a durable battery which does great in off-roading although it can be a little limited if you have too many accessories running all at the same time. This again is a top post only battery bit and has a slight lower cold cranking amperage at just 600.

It is lighter than the ACDelco Gold by about half a pound so for those shaving weight to increase performance it might be a better option. Also if you are looking for a lower price and live in a warmer climate this may be the battery for you.

3. Optima Red Top – $249.99

A few dollars more than the ACDelco Gold this lightweight model is considered a premium option. Almost 1.4 pounds lighter it offers roughly the same cold cranking amperage but has the ability for both top and side post connections.

The company is well respected in the auto battery industry and makes excellent batteries for the everyday driver. Better in cold weather than other comparable batteries, the Red Top also fits in a wider range of vehicles.

It has a three year warranty and is likely to exceed this assuming you take care of it. Its lighter construction also makes it great in cars geared more toward performance.

4. Optima Blue Top - $329.99

Another offering from Optima, this time we have the Blue Top. A little more expensive this battery is not really for standard engine use. This is the kind of battery you might use for an RV as it is packed full of cold cranking power at 800 amps.

This is more ideal for maritime and RV uses as it is more resilient to being used infrequently so will not die just because it has sat a while. Your average road vehicle will not do great with this but it has its uses and deserves a mention for those alone.

The warranty on this is only 24 months although it may last longer. For its intended purposes it is great and well worth the money.

5. Optima Yellow Top - $309.99

Working our way through the Optima rainbow we come to the Yellow Top. This is the bigger brother of the Red Top and is designed for larger engines thanks to its higher cold cranking amperage. If you like the Red Top and want a little more then your next logical step is the Yellow Top.

This is slightly more expensive, definitely fitting into the premium battery bracket. It is also over 10 pounds heavier than little brother Red Top. When it comes to bigger cars with bigger engines however this extra weight tends not to make a huge difference.

Just as durable and long lasting as the Red Top you will not be disappointed in this battery and it also has both top and side posts. Given perfect conditions and reasonable use this battery can last as long as 10 years.

6. Interstate Batteries - $329.95

If you have not seen an Interstate battery then you have never been anywhere near any kind of auto store. These guys are literally everywhere with a massive distribution network. This network allows them to offer exceptional quality at more than reasonable prices.

Designed for larger vehicles their statistics reflect this with a heavier unit of 47 pounds and up to 800 cold cranking amps. These are for the big heavy duty trucks and their durable nature gives the company the confidence to give you a 48 month warranty.

Those cold cranking amps will start your powerful truck up fast and also make sure you have enough power to keep all those important accessories working at their best. As good as this is you may be tempted to try and shoe horn it into smaller vehicles but sadly this will just not work.

Conclusion

Car and truck batteries do not last forever in fact on average in 3 – 5 years you may be looking at getting a replacement. Not all batteries are the same however so you may need to do a little research. You need a battery that will fit your car, work with your engine size and also be durable.

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