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#1: Best Overall: Optima RedTop
Specifications (RedTop Group Size 35)
Weight: 31.7 lbs.
Dimensions LxWxH: 9.38 x 6.75 x 7.69 inches.
Reserve Capacity at 25 Amps: 90 minutes.
Warranty: Three years of personal use or one year of commercial use.
Why Optima RedTop?
Leading our list of best car batteries is the Optima RedTop because of its reputation for quality and durability. One thing we look for, especially with essential maintenance items like tires, brakes, belts, and batteries, is the longevity of a particular brand. Optima has been selling batteries for 40 years, which makes us more comfortable spending money on something like the RedTop.
Optima Batteries are known for their “Spiral Cell” design. In so many words, it’s a series of individual spiral-wound cells composed of two pure (99.99%) lead plates coated in lead oxide. Each of these spiral cells looks like a jelly roll when finished. The benefits include a spill-proof, maintenance-free battery with better vibration resistance and higher reserve capacity.
Although more than ideal for a standard sedan or crossover, the Optima RedTop is also great if you drive something like a Jeep. The RedTop is built like a brick house, so the durability is there for rugged terrain.
Specifications (DieHard Platinum AGM Group Size 35)
Weight: 40.4 lbs.
Dimensions LxWxH: 9.06 x 6.94 x 8.88 inches.
Reserve Capacity: 100 minutes.
Warranty: Three-year free replacement.
Why DieHard Platinum?
Like the Optima RedTop, we trust DieHard batteries because of the brand’s longevity and continually high customer reviews. However, our recommendation for DieHard batteries comes mainly from personal experience.
We ran a DieHard battery in our first compact truck, a higher mileage 2001 Ford Ranger with a 4.0 SOHC V6 we bought in the summer of 2003. Since the mileage was higher than average, we did some work on it that fall, anticipating a rough winter ahead in Sioux City, Iowa, where we were living at the time. We changed the oil, flushed the coolant, replaced the tires, and swapped out the factory battery for a DieHard one.
While it was cold that winter (like all Iowa winters), there were also some crazy temperature swings. One day there would be record high temperatures in the 60s, followed by below zero wind chills. At the time, we were working on a farm in Monona County near Onawa, Iowa. We spent most of that winter tending to old fences, cleaning and replacing parts on the equipment, and making a space in the Morton Building for our incoming shipment of Renze Hybrids.
We basically drove the wheels off that Ranger during that first winter and every season after that. We traded that truck in 2008 for another Ranger, with that DieHard battery from the summer of 2003 still under the hood.
The DieHard Platinum is an excellent battery for late model vehicles with electronic-intensive features, like heated seats, navigation, reverse cameras, advanced infotainment and connectivity systems, and start-stop technology.
Every DieHard battery comes with a three-year, free replacement warranty.
Specifications (Odyssey Performance Series ODP-AGM96R)
Weight: 40.3 lbs.
Dimensions LxWxH: 9.50 x 6.90 x 6.90 inches.
Reserve Capacity: 90 minutes.
Warranty: Three-year free replacement.
Why Odyssey Performance?
Odyssey batteries have an impressive spec sheet, which is why they make our list of the best car batteries (and our list of the best truck batteries). Although the spiral wound design like Optima uses is effective, Odyssey takes a different approach in how they construct their batteries.
Inside an Odyssey battery is a series of flat plates made of pure lead instead of lead alloy. This allows the plates to be much thinner than average, meaning more can fit inside the battery. More plates mean more surface area, which means more cranking power and reserve capacity for your car. The plates employ “intercell connectors” to help resist vibrations and eliminate internal sparking.
Odyssey batteries have tremendous temperature performance, functioning in conditions as low as negative 40º and as high as 140º (with even higher temperature resistance if your Odyssey battery has a metal jacket). Depending on the model, Odyssey batteries have a service life of as long as a decade.
Odyssey batteries have a long service life, high reliability, and deep cycle capability, making them an excellent choice for any truck, SUV, sedan, or crossover. Thanks to their internal design, Odyssey batteries deliver twice the power and triple the life of a conventional lead acid battery.
Odyssey batteries come with a three-year warranty through Advance Auto Parts.
Although the other batteries here will provide your GM vehicle with plenty of juice, we recommend ACDelco exclusively if you drive a Chevy, Buick, GMC, or Cadillac. ACDelco has been involved with General Motors since 1908 and is considered “GM Original Equipment,” meaning it’s a factory-grade battery. Thanks to their precision engineering, enhanced testing, and exact fitting, ACDelco parts are installed on millions of GM vehicles yearly.
ACDelco AGM batteries feature full-frame, stamped grids (for durability), thicker positive plates (improved cyclability), negative cell clearance with compression to improve vibration resistance, and a cover designed to protect against self-discharge.
ACDelco batteries are internally pressurized to increase vibration resistance and maximize overall service life. As a Genuine GM Part, ACDelco batteries can handle the higher electrical demands of luxury vehicles, such as Cadillacs and Buicks. Similarly, if you own a GM truck or SUV, an ACDelco battery is your best option.
Every ACDelco battery comes with a three-year warranty.
EverStart is a signature of every Walmart Auto Car Center, similar to how DieHard was synonymous with Sears for many years. The EverStart Maxx Lead Acid Battery is the least expensive option on our list of the best car batteries, with solid ratings on the Walmart’s website. Walmart will also install EverStart batteries for free after purchase.
The only potential drawback is how the EverStart Maxx is a lead-acid battery versus an AGM battery. Lead-acid batteries may not last as long as their AGM counterparts and may be at a disadvantage if your vehicle has a number of electrical accessories. AGM batteries often fare better in cold and hot weather when compared to lead-acid batteries too.
However, the price is right, and if you are sticking to a strict budget for car repairs, then opt for the EverStart Maxx Lead Acid Battery.
EverStart batteries are compatible with a range of makes and models, including sedans and SUVs. These lead-acid automotive batteries deliver 850 cold cranking amps for reliable starts, regardless of the weather conditions.
EverStart batteries can be installed and tested at any Walmart Auto Care Center.
When to buy: Make sure to replace your battery as soon as possible, especially if you cannot remember the last time you had it changed. The links above for each battery will take you directly to where you can purchase it.
Buy the correct group size: Group size requirements will vary by automaker, but the best way to see what your vehicle requires is to consult your owner’s manual.
Remember the warranty: Just as you would do with any other auto part, make sure to read over the warranty when purchasing a new battery.
Ask a trusted mechanic for advice: Qualified automotive technicians have the education, certifications, and experience to help you pick the right battery for your car.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Are AGM Batteries?
There are many types of car batteries, but there are two general classifications: Flooded battery (wet cell) and Valve Regulated Lead Acid or VRLA battery.
Except for the EverStart, all the batteries on this list are AGM batteries or “Absorbent Glass Mat.” AGM batteries have fiberglass separators or glass mats that “absorb” the electrolyte solution inside the battery. Based on their design, AGM batteries perform better than traditional batteries. Compared to standard batteries, AGM batteries can charge five times faster, last three times longer, and cycle down to 80 percent of their DoD or Depth of Discharge (a percentage of the battery that can be drained without damaging the cells).
What is Battery Reserve Capacity?
This is the amount of time a battery will last with the headlights on, under a 25 amp draw (or load), until it’s completely discharged. Having a battery with a high reserve capacity is a bonus, especially if you drive a vehicle with auto start/stop or one with additional accessories that require extra power.
What Are Cold Cranking Amps?
Like reserve capacity, cold cranking amps (CCA) is another important term you will see when shopping for a battery. In so many words, it’s the number of amps that can be harnessed from a 12-volt battery at 0°F for 30 seconds, while maintaining a voltage of at least 7.2 volts (or 1.2 volts per cell). The higher the number of cold cranking amps, the stronger the “starting power” of the battery.
Though cold cranking amps are essential, they are not the “end-all, be-all.” With the increased amount of electronics in vehicles today, reserve capacity is just as important. While a battery with a high CCA rating has its benefits, your vehicle might not necessitate such a battery. When selecting a battery, it’s more important to have one that best matches the requirements and specifications of your vehicle instead of one with just a high CCA rating.