Having problems starting your car or have you stayed a while before replacing your car battery? It's time you shopped for a new one. This guide takes you through the nitty-gritty of purchasing a long-lasting car battery. You’ll learn how car batteries work, what to look for when shopping for one, what types of batteries exist and their differentiating features. We’ll also cover the TOP 5 Best Car Batteries on the market.

What You Will Learn from This Guide:

Auto parts purchases can be intimidating for the average buyer who has little or no knowledge about vehicles. It is even more daunting when you need to purchase sensitive auto parts like car batteries. It is a significant investment and a critical part of a vehicle hence, the need to make an informed decision.

How it Works

Automotive batteries supply electrical current to a number of components to enable them to start the car, play music, and light up, among other functions. They achieve this by converting chemical energy into electrical energy. The electrolyte or acid reacts with the lead plates in the battery to generate electricity that powers up the engine when driving and result in the carrying out of other functions. The cells have a predetermined useful life hence, the need to be replaced at some point. Here are some types of car batteries you will find in automotive shops.

Types of Car Batteries

SLI Car Batteries

Most car batteries feature this construction- the start, lighting and ignition batteries. It means that they are designed to power the lights, ignition, radio, and other functions. SLIs usually have a short charging cycle and can only provide power in short bursts of time.

Valve-Regulated Lead Acid Batteries

They are commonly referred to as VRLA batteries and are ideal for car owners looking for low maintenance batteries. This is because VLRA batteries have sealed safety valves that prevent any loss of fluid.

They come in two designs- Gel and AGM (absorbent glass) batteries.

Gel cells use silicon plates to form a thick putty-like gel thus, also known as silicone batteries.

AGM batteries, on the other hand, have fiberglass mesh between the plates that acts as the electrolyte.

VRLA batteries are used in large mobile electrical devices and off-grid power systems where a large amount of power is required at a low cost.

Flooded Batteries

They are also called wet cell batteries as the plates remain suspended in an electrolyte that contains water, lead, and sulfuric acid.

Flooded batteries are more affordable than other types of batteries, but they don't last as long as VLRA batteries.

The electrolyte in the cell lasts until the battery expires, so the user does not need to keep on topping it up.

Deep Cycle Batteries

This kind generates power for a long time hence, ideal for small boats, golf carts, and electric vehicles.

They have thicker plates than their counterparts, which increases their capacity.

Deep cycle batteries are not the best for cars because of the high discharge rate.

Lithium-Ion Battery

The battery is specially designed for electric and hybrid vehicles as it is light and stores more energy.

Porsche 911 2010 model is an example of a car that uses the lithium-ion battery.

The main drawback of this battery is that it has a short lifespan.

What to Look for when Buying

  • Reserve Capacity

It is the amount of time the battery can continuously supply the minimum voltage required to run the vehicle when the fan belt or car alternator fails. A cell with a good RC rating should enable the car to run on the battery alone when the alternator is not working. It acts as the vehicle's emergency mode that helps you to continue driving the car instead of getting stuck. The RC is displayed in the form of minutes on the product information.

  • Sealed vs. Non-Sealed Batteries

Sealed batteries don't require lots of maintenance compared to non-sealed batteries. However, they are not the best for warm climates as it is difficult to add water to cool them. Non-sealed batteries have caps that allow motorists to add water hence, ideal for places that experience high temperatures.

  • The Power Requirement

It is measured in Cranking Amps (CA) and Cold Cranking Amps (CCA). Cranking Amps refers to the amount of energy needed to start a car at 32 degrees Fahrenheit while Cold Cranking Amps is the battery's ability to start a vehicle at zero degrees. As such, CCA batteries are ideal for cold climates and CA for hot places.

  • The Age of the Battery

It is displayed in the form of a code that has a number and a letter. The figure represents the year of manufacture, and the letter represents the month.

As such, if the battery is labeled C/17, it was manufactured on March 2017.

Avoid buying batteries that are older than six months from the date of manufacture.

  • The Warranty

Choose a battery with the longest replacement period. The warranty period is labeled on a prorated basis and a free replacement period.

For example, if the battery has a 24/48 code, it means that the free replacement period is 24 months and the prorated warranty lasts 84 months.

The further discussion address the TOP 5 Best Car Batteries to make choosing one less of a hassle.

TOP 5 Best Car Batteries

ACDelco ACDB24R Advantage AGM Automotive BCI Group 51 Battery

ACDelco ACDB24R Battery: photo

This AGM-powered battery is entirely spill-free, and you don't need to add water. It uses a valve-regulated recombinant feature that ensures it lasts long, i.e., up to three times the life cycle of regular car batteries.

The ACDelco ACDB24R Car battery is also fitted with negative and positive fully framed power path plates that generate higher cranking amps and reduced self-discharge rates for convenient storage.

Its leaf-proof valve system prolongs life and enhances safety.

Things We Like: Things We Didn't Like:
  • It does not spill
  • Low maintenance
  • Lasts long
  • Calcium-lead positive and negative grid to enhance resistance
  • Not ideal for large-sized vehicles

ACDelco 94RAGM Professional AGM Automotive BCI Group 94R Battery

ACDelco 94RAGM Professional Battery: photo

The ACDelco 94RAGM Battery has a professional-grade build designed for advanced diesel engines.

It has a CCA rating of 800 to deliver high-quality performance irrespective of the weather. Its AGM sealed design gives it a durable outer structure that ensures sustainability while making it an efficient shield against vibration and shock.

The use of calcium lead plates maximizes conductivity while reducing resistance.

The ACDelco 94RAGM Battery is perfect for sports cars and heavy trucks.

Things We Like: Things We Didn't Like:
  • The silver/calcium alloy improves performance and life
  • Improved conductivity through its calcium lead grid
  • Fitted with a vent cap that prevents leakage
  • Only designed in vehicles that need AGM batteries
  • Difficult to switch to conventional batteries after using AGM batteries

DieHard 38217 Advanced Gold AGM Battery - Group 49

DieHard Advanced Gold AGM Battery: photo

DieHard AGM battery is ideal for trucks, RV, sea vehicles, and other recreational cars.

Its internal components are coated with a temperature-resistant cover and are heat-sealed. As such, the battery can survive extreme weather conditions and deliver optimal performance.

The cell also has a vibration protection feature that allows the owner to use it on a sports watercraft and off-road vehicles.

Compared to the previous model (50634), the 38217 Diehard battery delivers two times the cycle life.

And, with its fully coated positive and negative plates, you are less likely to experience electrical shorts.

Things We Like: Things We Didn't Like:
  • Delivers 20x vibration protection
  • Offers 2x lifecycle
  • Charges fast
  • Its 50 Ah rating makes it incompatible with some cars

Optima Batteries 8002-002 34 RedTop Starting Battery

Optima 8002-002 34 Battery: photo

Optima's red top designs are known to deliver exceptional cranking abilities in extreme weather conditions.

The Optima 8002-002 battery does not disappoint with its 800 amp rating, which provides optimal starting power in bad weather. It is fifteen times more resistant to vibration, and its SpiralCell technology enhances endurance.

The spiral technology feature ensures the battery is fitted with spiral wound cells that have lead plates layered with lead oxide. As a result, the plates have precision controlled batteries that tolerate extreme temperature and humidity.

Thing We Like: Things We Don't Like:
  • It is maintenance free
  • Lasts long
  • High CCA rating
  • Spill-proof
  • Exclusively designed for starting cars
  • Not ideal where high electric loads are required

Odyssey 34/78-PC1500DT Automotive and LTV Battery

Odyssey Automotive Battery: photo

The battery is designed to deliver optimal performance for the modern vehicle. With its deep cycling capability, up to 850 CCA, and 1500 PHCA, the Odyssey 34/78 battery can withstand any extreme weather.

The plates are made of pure lead hence, pack more resistance.

And, with up to 400 cycles, the battery delivers exceptional power compared to conventional batteries.

Things We Like: Things We Didn't Like:
  • Lasts long (3-10 years)
  • Spill-proof design
  • Resistant to vibration
  • Tolerates extreme temperature (-40-45 degrees Celsius)
  • The side terminal posts are fragile

Comparative Chart of Car Batteries

Name Features Price
ACDelco ACDB24R
ACDelco ACDB24R Battery min: photo
  • Leak proof
  • AGM technology
  • Valve regulated-gas recombinant feature
  • Fully framed power path plates
Check current price
ACDelco 94RAGM
ACDelco 94RAGM Professional Battery min: photo
  • High-density paste
  • Envelope separator
  • Silver/calcium alloy
  • Fitted with vented cap
Check current price
DieHard
DieHard Advanced Gold AGM Battery min: photo
  • Spill proof
  • CCA of 775
  • Vibration protection feature
  • Electrolyte suspension system for enhanced absorption of the electrolyte
Check current price
Optima
Optima 8002-002 34 Battery min: photo


  • Cranking amp of 800
  • SpiralCell technology
  • 2x longer life
  • 15X vibration resistance
  • Spill proof
Check current price
Odyssey
Odyssey Automotive Battery min: photo
  • Long life cycle (70%)
  • 400 cycles
  • 5 pounds
  • Recharges in 4-6 hours
  • Warranty of 3-4 years
Check current price

FAQs

How to Get the Right Fit?
It is imperative to choose the right size of car batteries as they have different sizes. The battery should fit securely while generating ample power for the vehicle. The manufacturer's manual should help you find the right size.

Between Lead Acid, AGM, and Gel car batteries, which is the best?
It depends on the application. Gel cell and AGM batteries do not degrade as hydrogen corrosion is reduced significantly. However, Gel batteries are ideal for deep cycles applications and tend to last long in hot weather while AGM batteries are great for long life cycles. Lead acid batteries comprise SLI and deep cycle batteries. The latter is perfect for long-term delivery of energy while the former is ideal for generating quick bursts of power for a short time.

How can I Diagnose a Dead Car Battery?
These signs show that your battery is dead:

  • The engine cranks without starting
  • Difficulty when cold cranking
  • Starts and stops unexpectedly
  • Low level of fluid
  • Bloated battery case and leaks


How do I Charge my Battery?

  • Look for a suitable battery charger. For example, if your car has an AGM battery, use a smart charger
  • Clean the terminals
  • Disconnect the battery (start with the negative terminal to avoid shock)
  • Place it on a flat surface and connect it to the charger (match the positive and negative terminal)
  • Connect the charger to the power outlet


Do Car Batteries Need Maintenance?
Yes, they do. Here are some maintenance tips:

  • Check the level of the fluid (should cover the plates)
  • Replace damaged terminals
  • Avoid under or over-charging the battery
  • Don't leave the lights on for extended period if the engine is not running
  • Clean the battery case
  • Do not jump-start the battery when it is flat


How Do I Recycle my Old Battery?
Your retailer should help you dispose of it appropriately. But, you can also use an old battery to get a refund when buying a new car battery.

Can a Car Battery be Overcharged?
Yes, when it is charged beyond the required charging time. Usually, it causes it to die, and in extreme scenarios, leads to a fire. Flammable hydrogen builds up in the sealed cells of the battery, which makes the casing to swell. An electrical spark can ignite the gas, leading to an explosion.

Can a Car Battery Recharge Itself?
No, it can't. However, the alternator can start the vehicle and generate ample power for the electric components in the car when the engine has been turned off.

Can a Car Battery Die while Driving?
A car battery may stop running when driving when your vehicle has a faulty alternator. Usually, the process is slow and progressive as the lights get dim, the fan runs slow, the spark plugs stop running, and the car eventually stops.

Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • They can be stored for prolonged periods
  • They are reliable

Cons:

  • Environmental concerns
  • Frequent corrosion if you are using lead acid batteries
  • Increased resistance can develop sulfation
  • Batteries emit acid fumes that are toxic to humans

Tips & Life Hacks

You can easily light a fire using the car battery terminals. You can use steel wool or a small piece of wood, connect it to the negative terminal and engage the positive terminal to create a fire. It is a great hack when lost and want to light a fire.

You can also use the car battery to light up a room using a headlight. Plug the headlight wires to the positive and negative car battery terminals to light it. The light is pretty bright and illuminates a room in the event of a power outage.

Conclusion

With this guide, you are confident to purchase the right car battery for your vehicle. Keep in mind that the type of vehicle affects the kind of battery you will buy. If you are looking for a battery that will help your car start, then the Optima Batteries 8002-002 34 RedTop Starting Battery is perfect. However, if you are looking for one with a long life cycle, AGM batteries are great alternatives.