Today we are going to cover a product that can turn into a nightmare the lives of many drivers who fail to make the right decision upon a purchase. Car batteries are essential to make vehicles work properly in so many different ways that a poor choice can be as ineffective as an malfunction motor.
Marcus B. Thompson from Milwaukee, Oregon, has undergone the burden of a poor battery that lasted for less than 8 months with two mid-sized, pickup alike cars and he asked us how much a good car battery cost, as the product he purchased, besides being a best seller model, provided a poor performance.
We compiled a very complete and extensive guide to cover all the details and features one must note and look for when purchasing battery cars and how you can make the right choice, based not only on the average fair price but also the compatibilities of the models available these days in the market.
How Car Batteries Work? Avoiding Unpleasant Surprises
Let’s start with the basics to understand specially what possibly went wrong Marcus’ purchased battery. He purchased an Odyssey PC925, a regular lead-acid battery, for his GM pickup. While we can’t assess whether the battery was really dead or not after 8 months, some very adversary scenarios here imply that the battery was weak for the kind of engine it was being used.
This model of battery is ideal for mid-sized cars, but a pickup may be a bit too much for it to provide an ideal performance, even though the battery did fit in the vehicle.
Following, we will see how the battery might have failed based on how car battery work:
Exchanging Electrons: All batteries, regardless of their specific type, provide energy through a chemical reaction that creates and exchange of electrons. In the case of Marcus battery, a regular lead-acid battery, a lead plate and a lead dioxide plate react to provide energy.
This is the standard and most basic type of battery – and we will see further about it in a minute – because the lead acid chemical reaction happens throughout compartments of the battery box that are flooded with an acid electrolyte, a liquid that transits between the two lead compounds allowing them to react and change electrons.
The organization here for this continuous exchange of electrons happens through a structure that is very simple, in other words, not richly constructed and well-thought-out, which is mostly expressed by the occurrence of resistance: the electrons here find some obstacles in their race from one compound to another.
This makes the reaction less powerful and dynamic because it is slower. This “not perfect performance” of the Odyssey battery is enough for many regular and mid-sized cars to work, but is not for a more sturdy vehicle like a pickup due to this resistance that bars it from providing a greater amount of power necessary for the engine to start working, specially when it comes to starting.
Ignition: This last scenario, the ignition of the engine, is what makes Marcus situation more complicated. There is a very important element on car batteries that is essential for a car to work properly in a place like where Marcus lives. in the often chilly Oregon: a high cold cranking amperage.
Cold climates require car batteries that can provide a high amperage spike upon igniting, because the cold creates another obstacle increasing resistance. Without a proper amount of power during ignition, a car won’t start the engines.
The cold cranking amps, or CCA, is the measure of the amperage provided by a car battery to make it ignite. Upon cold weather, this amperage must be higher than a standard number because of the extra resistance.
The bottom line here is, the Odyssey battery Marcus purchased also offered a poor CCA, only 330. The ideal CCA for cold climates must be higher than 750. Perhaps Marcus has mistaken the PC925 for the Odyssey 25-PC1400T, which has a 850 CCA number.
Sizes: Speaking on numbers, did you note that both batteries have the 25 number on their name? That is an indication of the size of battery. While they both have the same size, a 25, the specifications and performance are different for both models, as the latter is a new generation Odyssey 25 battery. One way to batteries are commercialized and manufactured in the industry is according to their size, which indicates what kind of vehicles they ideally fit, and thus, these batteries are built with a performance strong enough for their corresponding cars. But for last, but really not least, Odyssey batteries, despite its popularity, are not largely covered by industry certifications on reliability, meaning the battery may have an unstable lifespan that was probably shortened much more when working with a more demanding vehicle, specially because the Size 25 is not ideal for pickups. Furthermore, we will see in detail how batteries are categorized, their specifications and types and finally, some models of reference for you to purchase with safety.
What are the current types of car batteries in the industry?
According to Power Source :
There is basically two largely commercialized types of car batteries these days according to their power source cycles.
Regular Lead-Acid: The first and most common and popular is the regular lead-acid battery that we just talked about. It is a standard for automotive batteries because their method of energy sourcing is a cycle more simple. Once again, it comprises cells where there is one plate made of lead and one plate made of lead dioxide and both are immersed in a strong sulfuric acid electrolyte. The two plates will react releasing electrons in a very stable and long lasting reaction.
However, the biggest con of this kind of battery is the resistance, as we have seen before. Such resistance will also bar the battery from holding a charge for too long, as well as they are less resilient to deep discharges (when the battery must work in a heavy duty demand, consuming most of its energy and then regenerating back without compromising its lifespan). In conclusion, it has not a too long life span, up to 3 or 4 years, compared to the other kind of battery we will see soon.
And this is for the lead acid batteries that are considered low-maintenance models. For most of the 21st century, the regular lead acid batteries in the market were considered heavy maintenance, because they required the user to top off the water in the electrolyte solution quite often, at least once a month.
These days, low-maintenance require that topping every 6 months or so. The electrolyte solution is the liquid solution inside the battery, so this would require also the user to understand and know how to open the battery box, which could be dangerous in many situations in which the cells where the acid is stored were as well exposed.
Most modern models take precaution on the build of the battery boxes to avoid that kind of scenario, but this type of battery is still prone to leaking.
Absorbed Glass Mat(AGM): Today the regular lead acid has the competition of the Absorbed Glass Mat battery, or the AGM battery. They also make use of the lead-acid chemical reaction, but they happen in a much more efficient way. The sulfuric acid is actually absorbed by a fiberglass mat that is quite fine. This makes the AGM spill-proof, which is the first pro in comparison with the possibly dangerous regular lead acid battery.
This new kind of sectioned and isolated internal system makes the AGM a very low internal resistance type of battery. The benefits are high currents delivered on demand and the ability to work in deep cycle (the ability to provide deep charges and not lose its life span). With all those features, the AGM can last up to 5 years in a standard scenario and up to 8 years when the maintenance is performed accurately. Maintenance here must be said, is much lower, some models don’t need any fix for up to 1 year.
Also, this battery is lighter than the regular lead acid battery because it is not flooded. This type of battery can sit in storage also for a a long while before it require a charge. For last, people who live in very cold climates will benefit much more of AGM batteries because of the very low internal resistance and consequently, higher and stronger CCA..
According to Connection System
The industry developed three different ways to connect the battery to the electrical grid of a vehicle and you will find batteries with either of these three configurations. All them work like regular batteries, with a positive and a negative edge, but the car batteries differ when it comes to the positioning of these edges.
Top Terminal Batteries: Here the positive/negative edges are posts places on top of the box. This is a designed approved and recommended by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) because the compatibility of the clamps here is universal to this type of battery. Positive terminal is larger than negative to avoid accidents where the clamps are connected on different charges.
Side Terminal Batteries: The edges are placed on the sides of the battery box. This makes these batteries often shorter, smaller, but their connection require the battery to be attached through bolts that have to be torque-wrench adjusted. Too tight adjustments can damage the side terminal connections so this connection requires more skills and knowledge.
Dual Terminal Batteries: These are a combination of the previous categories. It is an ultimate SAE standard for better compatibility, so one can purchase a car battery that is fit for many different electrical grids and vehicle models.
According to the Size and Vehicle
For the size and finality of use (the type of vehicle) the batteries can be largely classified in different categories, but most of the time the difference In sizes do not offer differences in technical features, so there are basically three types of batteries by finality: Regular sized vehicles, mid-sized vehicles and heavy duty sized vehicles. Each of these categories can comprise several different sizes, but they all offer sort of the same output, lifespan and other technicalities with very few differences.
Batteries for Regular Sized Vehicles: The H Series
This set of batteries is mostly comprised and represented by the H Series. Most compact and popular cars are fit for this series, and this makes this type of batteries the most commonly purchased because they cover the most commonly commercialized cars and brands. As the H value increases, the build, size and potency of correspondent cars increase as well.
H5 (Size 47)
Ideal for most Fiat and Volkswagen models and includes as well many Buick and Chevy models, but not all them.
H6 (Size 48)
Covers most American car models in comparison with the H5, but includes as well many European brands. Some general brand examples are Audi, Cadillac, BMW, GMC, Jeep, Mini, Mercedes as well as some Volkswagen models again and Volvo cars.
H8 (Size 49)
This set can work as well for many European brands, but as a differential it covers most Asian brand models, like most Hyundai cars.
Batteries for Mid-Sized Vehicles
The 75 Series
This series is designed for some GM models that are mid-sized and compact, but mostly they work like all mid-sized vehicles when it comes to CCA provided and life span for mid-sized duty cars. It also covers a few Chrysler vehicles.
The 78 Series and The 34 Series
These two different size measures actually have the same kind of build for mid-sized vehicles. They work in the same way but the Size 34 fits mostly Chrysler sturdy models and mid-sized and large sedans, while the 78 is fit for large vehicles like GM pickups and most SUVs.
The Japanese 35/51 Series
This series, like the previous, comprises more than one size but shows the same build that is common for these different models of cars. Size 35, 51 and 51R all have in common the fact they are designed for Japanese automotive engineering. Honda, Subaru, Nissan,Toyota and Mazda models are largely covered either by the 35 or the 51 sizes.
The Japanese 24 Series
This comprehend both Size 24 and 24F batteries. They are different than the build of the 35/51 series, but they are as well designed for Japanese vehicles, including many models by Acura, Infiniti, Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Lexus vehicles.
Heavy build Vehicles
The 65 Series
The 65 are the only standard for trucks, but they also cover other kind of large vehicles, like sport-utility vehicles and some strong build large cars.
Now that you know better the ABC of car batteries, we will show you our reference models, but before, let us tell you HOW we got to them and why you should follow this criteria in case you want to wander out of our list and do your own personal research.
How we did our research ?
We part from the reasoning that popular and renowned models of batteries enjoy their name for some reason, which translates in quality of some nature. We selected the best selling products in the market these days and ended up with a top 10 list of what we consider the best models.
To get to that conclusion, we evaluated the number of certifications each model include, long term customer reviews – those that are written and expressed over at least one year of use or more – testing certifications these models were submitted and overall approval by the industry.
In this research and selection process, we discarded many models that are top sellers with high ratings, specially in online stores like Amazon.
The reason is most of those models were not tested or certified with reliable certifications and the popular reviews didn’t include long term assessments by customers (and Odyssey models are among the discarded ones, just to let you know).
This process was also enlightening to conclude what online stores are good or not for the purchase of car batteries and we will furthermore here clarify likewise the best places were you can purchase a car battery.
Why you should trust us ?
We are very draconian when it comes to find out and state a product as a best choice, so our criteria for selection was all in concordance with the most reliable and respected certifications and testing in the industry. First, we selected only models that are in accordance and/or have the approval of the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) in the United States of America or have been tested under certifications that are recognized as reliable by the SAE.
All the models we included here have been also tested by the recognized procedures of the Consumer Reports , which tests the car batteries in several different aspects, including the durability of the voltage and amperage limits offered in several cycles, the reserve-capacity test for assessment of the auto battery reserve lifespan in events were charging systems fail or electric parts of the car are left running by accident, like headlights, radio and such and, for last, the cold-cranking amps test that is very important to determine whether the battery is assessed on its resilience against cold climates.
This last testing is quite essential because it certifies the battery to work under cold circumstances when the current is often compromised by the low temperatures. The batteries assessed here went under testings in a 0ºF (-17º C) which is an excellent measurement for harsh climate conditions.
What are the Best Car Battery Brands?
Among several automotive manufacturers, few really distinguish from the majority for outstanding reliability and quality, and most of them are luckily very popular just like the many other popular brands that are not in this list. The difference from brands like EverStart, Bosh and Interstate is their comprehensive number of certified models with outstanding quality and performance.
The first mentioned includes a vast number of different purpose models, for many different vehicles, almost always this model being a top reference for its type. Bosch is one of the most renowned brands in the world and a big name in the industry.
Their car batteries luckily are no different and they rank several models as well as referential, even though they develop batteries for more compact or mid-sized vehicles. Interstate includes a wide array of models fit for popular and mid-sized cars and include sophisticated manufacturing that can often result in more expensive – but top quality – products.
There are still brands like DieHard which has become very popular lately with several H series models. For last, but not least, Duracell, Duralast and AutoCraft are three other brands with a less variety of models, covering less different types of car batteries, but with excellent products as well. You will see in our lists only models from these brands.
Top 10 Best Car Batteries Comparison Chart
|Interstate MT7-48/H6||AGM||730||130||48 Months|
|DieHard Gold 50848||Lead-Acid (Maintenance Free)||730||115||48 Months|
|Autocraft Gold 49H8||Lead-Acid (Maintenance Free)||900||160||36 Months|
|EverStart MAXX-H8||Lead-Acid||900||140||36 Months|
|Duracell 49 H8||Lead-Acid||900||185||36 Months|
|Bosch 35-640B||Lead-Acid640||640||100||36 to 96 Months|
|EverStart MAXX-24FN/2||Lead-Acid||750||130||36 Months|
|Bosch H6-760B||Lead-Acid (Maintenance Free)||760||120||36 to 96 Months|
|Duralast Platinum 65-AGM||AGM||750||120||36 Months|
|EverStart Maxx-65S/65N||Lead-Acid||700/850||150||36 Months|
Purchase and Usage Tips
Here we will review what we have just learned so you can avoid doing the same mistake Marcus did when purchasing your car battery and also learning one or two new things that are important when closing the deal – and getting rid of the old battery. Let’s put this knowledge in favor to make a good purchase.
What the Best Car Batteries Must Feature?
Compatibility is, in the first place, always imperative to get started. As we have seen, car batteries can be categorized by several different features, so you have to check your actual car battery maintenance guide to see what you have in hands. You will need something with the same profile:
- Check first the size and type of battery (regular lead-acid or AGM)
- Check the maintenance type (do not purchase low maintenance batteries if you are currently using a maintenance free battery, it may result in leaking from the clamps or bolts)
- Check additional details, like default voltage, amperage and the very important CCA number. Do not purchase a replacement that provides a lower CCA you are currently using.
- Check the specification either for North or South. This is related to the CCA. You have to be careful here because one same model of battery, lets say, the EverStart Maxx-65 we mentioned in our list, has two versions for the different zones, they differ by the presence of the N or S after the size number. If the battery doesn’t have an specification, just check the CCA, that must be higher than 750 to work as a North car battery.
- Check the nomination for the reserve capacity. This is not imperative if you are a responsible person immune to let headlights on or the radio playing, among other misteps that all mortals did at least once in a lifetime. The reserve capacity is a separate charge for emergencies, when your battery goes dead and you have to wait for it to “resurrect”. Jokes aside, this is not really imperative but is always good to have a battery that includes this feature, even though you can bet it has extra cost and increases the price of a given battery.
- Be sure the car battery has a generous warranty policy. Three years is the least a good warranty policy must offer, this ensures as well that the battery can outlast that and you can’t expect from a battery a lifespan shorter than that. The ideal though is a 5 year warranty and outstanding top notch car batteries are supposed to last for 7 to 8 years – 10 in the best case scenarios.
Manufacture Date: Be sure as well before you finish the purchase and get it installed in your vehicle that the manufacture date of the battery is 4 months old max, 6 at the worst case scenario. Batteries should not sit for too long, even when they are AGM ones, is better avoid car batteries that have been sitting for too long.
Where to Buy: There are some cons on purchasing car batteries online and this makes the variety of options a little bit more complicated to achieve them online. The delivery of products such as these, with acid components, danger of explosion, corrosion and leaking make the deliver tax for car batteries much more expensive than regular products.
Very renowned online stores like Amazon are not a very good place to find car batteries as not all retailers cope with this tax, since most retailers have to cover the tax price with insurance deals directly with the manufacturer or a third part company to save clients from getting scared away by this expense.
Amazon doesn’t comprise one singular retailer with financial power to have this kind of dealings, so you will struggle to find good deals there for really good, reliable batteries. On the other hand, Walmart, Sam’s Club and Sears are surprisingly offering good deals in the last years. You will find many of the models suggested here for good prices and safe deliveries – without the expensive tax. Another way to purchase online is via the official webstore of the brand, but not all manufacturers offer that accessibility as well.
What is often recommended also is to go old school here for some practical reasons:
- You can purchase a car battery at your favorite automotive workshop because this will automatically dismiss the expensive delivery tax and most auto workshops make offers including the price for installation with the purchase.
- Plugging a new battery is something that can go wrong in many ways if you are not experienced, specially if you are trying a new brand or type of battery. Do not risk damaging a brand new battery or causing a dangerous accident by doing it wrong. Also, professionals at an auto workshop will get the job done very fast while you may struggle reading instructions.
- You can perform a test with a specific battery before purchasing it at a local auto workshop. In that sense, test the starting and ignition and if you live in cold climates, even better, as this test will be essential do determine whether the purchase you are about to do is a good choice.
Safe Discarding: For last, auto workshops are another way to save you trouble when it comes to dispose of the old battery. As they include acid and lead, two chemicals that are toxic and harming, you cannot simply throw away it in the garbage bin. Upon replacing your car battery, the workshop will retain the battery and some can possibly offer discounts for retaining it. The other option is forwarding it to a recycling center that is able to receive such toxic materials.
Best Accessories for Car Batteries
Before you leave, check as well some very important accessories you should have in hand to manage and operate your battery at best.
Handle/Loop: Some batteries may not include this item because it is detachable, meaning the battery that comes originally with your car is supposed to include with the essential gear for your new car this subtle but important accessory.
Handles for car batteries are often made on strong plastic polymers, they have to be so to sustain the weight of battery boxes that can weight up to 60 pounds or more in the most sturdy cases. Just the fact you can have a heavy car battery is already a strong point to have one of these so, if you cannot find it with the original gear of your car, purchase one. It will be useful for several years.
Jump Starters: No more wiring one car to another to start a new battery. Jump starters are great gadget accessories that not only work as starters but often feature other useful functions, like potent lights for when you need to change tires, USB ports to charge your cellphone among others.
Float Chargers: This is specially useful for batteries that are going to sit for a while obsolete and you don’t want them to go dead. Float charges are gadgets with an inner circuit net that will keep the battery working discreetly, just the enough to do not let die for idleness.
Clamps: You can always have some extra clamps for the worst case scenarios where you end up loosing them for some terrible reason. This is not too much about the possibility of something like a discharge melt them or caught them on fire, but the fact that you can have the best battery in the world at your disposal but if you don’t have connectors, the battery is useless! Always have some in reserve, you never know what will happen.
Car Battery and Charging System Monitor: For last, this gadget is a great and very useful accessory to deal with batteries, specially to prevent surprises like it going dead on you out of the blue, or to “check their pulse” simply put, knowing if they are really charging, their performance, and so on.
Sometimes all you have to rely on the health of your battery is the engines starting and the car moving, but that is not good enough to access the details of performance and, once again, prevent a dead battery by surprise as you will be able to check beforehand when the battery is getting weak. This gadget works upon plugging into the cigarette lighting socket and display measurements in an LCD screen.
Ask Us A Question
Feel free to ask any other questions about any product you are currently looking for and would appreciate some help. We will be really glad to help you out in full with another comprehensive guide for you.
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