The Best Car Batteries For 2021

Your car battery is the heart of your car’s engine. While the right battery can last you up to five years, the wrong battery will leave you stranded on the side of the road with an empty wallet. It’s safe to say that choosing the best car battery for your vehicle is an important decision. 

To help you make that decision, this buyer’s guide will help you to understand what types of car batteries are on the market in 2021 and how to choose the best car battery for your vehicle.

Battery TypeBrandWeightDimensionsPrice
SLIOptima (Red top)31.7 pounds9.3 x 6.8 x 7.6 inchesCheck Price
Odyssey
50 pounds9.5 x 7 x 7.6 inchesCheck Price
Optima (Yellow top)
59.8 pounds12.8 x 6.5 x 9.38 inchesCheck Price
Northstar58 pounds10.9 x 6.77 x 8.74 inchesCheck Price
Delphi38.5 pounds9.5 x 7.5 x 7 inchesCheck Price
Deep CycleMighty Max60 pounds7.68 x 7.13 x 6.5 inchesCheck Price
Weize22 pounds7.68 x 7.09 x 5.12 inchesCheck Price
VMAXTANKS25 pounds7.7 x 5 x 6.1 inchesCheck Price
Power Sonic24 pounds7.72 x 5.14 x 7.0 inchesCheck Price
ACDelco30.9 pounds18.5 x 11.4 x 9.5 inchesCheck Price
Optima (Blue top)43.5 pounds10 x 6.88 x 7.8 inchesCheck Price

The Best Car Batteries on the Market in 2021

In 2021, there are two types of car batteries on the market. These include SLI and Deep Cycle batteries.

SLI Batteries

SLI batteries are the batteries that give your vehicle the “jump-start” it needs to start the engine. ‘SLI’ stands for starting, lighting, and ignition – which is exactly what an SLI battery does. When you turn the engine key, your vehicle’s SLI battery releases several short bursts of energy, powering your entire vehicle instantly. While your car is on, the alternator charges up your SLI battery. For the majority of car owners, an SLI battery provides all the power and endurance your engine needs. In 2021, the majority of car batteries are SLI batteries.

Optima 8020-164 RedTop

Winner of ‘Best SLI Car Battery 2021’

Brand: Optima Batteries

Voltage: 12V

Price: $$$

Battery Form: AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat)

Maintenance Type: Maintenance Free

Warranty: 24 Months Free Replacement

Product Description: The Optima Batteries RedTop Starting Battery is TheCarXpert’s choice for the ‘Best SLI Car Battery 2021’ award. This product is lightweight, has a comprehensive warranty, and is great value for money. Suitable for a wide range of climates (including extremely hot and cold climates) this battery is incredibly durable and reliable. This battery is leak-proof and spill-proof and has a high reserve capacity that won’t leave you stranded on the side of the road. Optima Batteries RedTop Starting Battery is also suitable for a wide range of vehicles and sizes and needs replacing every 2-3 years. Reviewers have often complemented Optima Batteries for a quick turnaround from the manufacturer to the customer, so all Optima Batteries are fresh. 

Perfect for: This battery is perfect for over 13,9481 vehicle models and makes, including Acuras, Alfa Romeos, American Motors, BMW’s, Buicks, Chevrolet’s, Fords, Hondas, Hyundai, Mitsubishi’s, Nissans, Jeeps, Mazdas, Toyotas, Volkswagens, and Volvos’.


Odyssey 35-PC1400T

Runner Up To ‘Best SLI Car Battery 2021’

Brand: Odyssey

Voltage: 12V

Price: $$$$

Battery Form: AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat)

Maintenance Type: Maintenance Free

Warranty: 4 Year Warranty

Product Description: Odyssey’s Automotive and LTV Battery is a long-lasting, quickly rechargeable battery. Lasting for 3-10 years, this battery is a ‘set and forget’ option. With no maintenance required and a nominal capacity of 20 hours, this was a strong contender for the title of ‘Best SLI Car Battery 2021’. Although this battery is shock resistant, easy to mount, and spill and leak-proof, it is an expensive buy, between $250 – $300 (USD). However, it is corrosive resistant, flame retardant, and rustproof, making this a long term investment for your vehicle. 

Perfect for: This product is perfect for over 1357 makes and models, including Acuras, Fords, Geos, Hondas, Infinitis, Kias, Lexus’s, Mazda’s, Nissan’s and Toyota’s.


Optima 8051-160 YellowTop

Brand: Optima Batteries

Voltage: 12V

Price: $$$$

Battery Form: AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat)

Maintenance Type: Maintenance Free

Warranty: 24 Months Free Replacement

Product Description: Optima Batteries YellowTop Dual Purpose Battery is a great choice for vehicle owners who want the durability and power of a dual cycle battery, with the starting power of an SLI battery. A hefty 59.8 pounds, this battery is durable in bad weather, making it suitable for hot and cold climates. Unlike the Optima Batteries BlueTop Battery, it is suitable for a wider range of vehicles. As this is an AGM battery, it is leak-proof and spill-proof, making it suitable for 4WD’s, backroad adventures, and seasonal vehicles. This battery holds charge long-term, so is a great choice for vehicles with a high power requirement that are only used seasonally.

Perfect for: This product is perfect for a wide range of vehicles, including Alfa Romeo’s, Checkers, Hillman’s, Land Rovers, Lincolns, Mercedes-Benz’s and Sunbeams.


NORTHSTAR NSB-AGM24F

Brand: NorthStar

Voltage: 12V

Price: $$$$

Battery Form: AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) 

Maintenance Type: Maintenance Free

Warranty: 3 Years Replacement, with a 90-day return and refund policy.

Product Description: This pure lead battery operates with the CCA of an SLA battery, with the durability of a  battery. At 58 pounds it’s a little heavy, but the pure lead inside makes this battery a powerful choice. Like the rest of the NorthStar range, this AGM battery is spill-proof, leak-proof, and suits extremely cold and hot climates. This battery requires no maintenance, and is extremely durable, with a warranty of three years. If you are looking for a long term option, this is a great choice for you. These batteries are also fully built in the United States.

Perfect For: Any vehicle with the group size 24F, Lexus’s and most Japanese made vehicles, including Acuras, Hondas, Mitsubishi’s and Toyotas.


Delphi MaxStart BU9047

Brand: Delphi

Voltage: 12V

Price: $$$

Battery Form: AGM (absorbed glass mat)

Maintenance Type: Maintenance Free

Warranty: 2 years warranty. 

Product Description: Delphi’s MaxStart Automotive Battery is designed for rough environments, as the battery is 20% more vibration-proof than other SLI batteries on the market. The battery also uses straps, welds, and fortified posts, making it a strong choice for those in extreme weather or rough environments. While this battery is spill and leak-proof, it is also resistant to corrosion, despite its pure lead contents. While this battery is more expensive than other budget options, it will give you years of maintenance-free power. The MaxStart Automotive battery is also lighter than its competition, at just 38.5 pounds. 

Perfect For: Electric vehicles, jeeps, 4WD’s and Japanese made vehicles, including Mazdas, Hondas and Toyotas. 


Batteries

Deep cycle batteries are a type of battery that provides power over a longer period of time. Like SLI batteries, they work with your vehicle’s alternator and voltage regulator. However,  batteries are far more powerful than SLI batteries. They provide a high amount of power over a long period of time, making them essential for electric vehicles, boats, and some 4WDs.

If you are looking for a powerful alternative to an SLI battery, a  battery is an excellent solution for you.

Mighty Max Battery ML35-12

Winner of ‘Best Car Battery 2021’

Brand: Mighty Max Battery

Voltage: 12v

Price: $

Battery Form: AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat)

Maintenance Type: Maintenance Free

Warranty: 1-year full warranty with a 30-day refund policy.

Product Description: The Mighty Max Battery range offers a range of rechargeable, deep cycle batteries for an incredibly affordable price. All batteries in this range use AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries, making them leak and spill-proof. These batteries are maintenance-free, making them great for car owners who want to set and forget. This product is a great, affordable option for a wide range of car owners, from cold climates to hot climates. Mighty Max Batteries are available in a wide range of sizes and can be installed at home, or by an expert (for an additional fee, of course). The Mighty Max Battery range has been awarded the title of ‘Best Car Battery 2021’ for its affordability, wide product range, and a stellar reputation.


Weize Battery

Runner Up To ‘Best Car Battery 2021’

Brand: Weize

Voltage: 12V

Price: $

Battery Form: AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat)

Maintenance Type: Maintenance Free

Warranty: 1 Year Warranty with a 30-day return policy.

Product Description: Weize’s 12V Rechargeable Battery range suits a wide range of vehicles, from cars to golf carts. At 25 pounds, this battery is fairly lightweight and is maintenance-free. While this battery might not look special, it holds charge extremely well, making it perfect for vehicle owners of any type. This battery also uses AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) batteries, so the product is safe, spill-proof, and leak-proof. Relatively new on the market, this battery is affordable, reliable, and easy to install. For an additional fee, you can have this battery installed by an expert. For the versatility, affordability, and durability of this product, it was a very strong contender for the title of ‘Best Car Engine 2021’ but is this year’s runner up.


VMAXTANKS VMAX

Brand: VMAXTANKS

Voltage: 12V

Price: $$

Battery Form: AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat)

Maintenance Type: Maintenance Free

Warranty: 1 Year Warranty with a 30-day, money-back guarantee.

Product Description: VMAXTANKS VMAX AGM Battery is a versatile battery suitable for cars, boats, and a range of other vehicles. This battery weighs 25 pounds, and has a long life span, lasting you up to five years. When fully charged, this battery operates for 4-9 hours. However, it will operate longer in a car (where the Alternator recharges the battery as you drive). VMAXTANKS AGM Battery range is spill and leak proof and uses military-grade plates in their batteries. This makes them perfect for off-road vehicles, or even just for your average 4WD. This battery is maintenance-free and is quick to recharge. If you want to charge it while using it outside a car, VMAX also offers a 12V 3.3AMP charger. Expert Installation is not available for this product.


Power Sonic

Brand: Power Sonic

Voltage: 12V

Price: $

Battery Form: AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat)

Maintenance Type: Maintenance Free

Warranty: 1 Year Warranty.

Product Description: Power Sonic’s  AGM Solar Battery range is available in a wide range of sizes, and can be mounted in a number of positions. This battery is resistant to shocks and vibrations, as it is spill-proof and leak-proof. At 24 pounds, this battery is lightweight. This battery is great in motorcycles, cars, boats, and golf carts, and is easy to install. Power Sonic’s battery is expected to last between 3-4 years and works great in vintage vehicles. With a solid reputation and handles for easy transport, this is a great option for vehicle owners of any type, in any climate. Expert installation is also available for this product.


ACDelco ACDB24R

Brand: ACDelco

Voltage: 12V

Price: $$$

Battery Form: AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat)

Maintenance Type: Maintenance Free

Warranty: 24 Months Free Replacement

Product Description: ACDelco’s Advantage AGM Automotive Battery is a reliable, high power battery with a long warranty and professional levels of performance. Due to their durability, ACDelco’s Advantage Batteries are used in a wide range of vehicles with high power needs, including smart cars and police vehicles. These batteries are produced in collaboration with General Motors and are perfect for most GM vehicles. With no maintenance required and years of usage in each battery, this product is well worth your money.

Perfect for: If you own a 2011 – 2017 Lexus CT200h or Toyota Prius from 2011 onwards, this product is perfect for you, as it is used in most new vehicles in both ranges.


Optima OPT8016-103 BlueTop

Brand: Optima Batteries

Voltage: 12V

Price: $$$$

Battery Form: AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat)

Maintenance Type: Maintenance Free

Warranty: 24 Months Free Replacement

Product Description: Optima Batteries BlueTop battery is perfect for large cars, boats, and RV’s. It weighs a hefty 43.5 pounds but is mountable in any position. This battery is durable and can be used in harsh weather conditions, making it a perfect choice for extremely cold or hot climates. Although the battery is heavy, it has a long shelf life of 4-5 years and can handle harsh vibrations and jostling. As it is an AGM battery, it is spill-proof and leak-proof. This battery can operate for 55 hours without charge but is also suitable for many vehicles. This product is available with and without expert installation.

Perfect for: This product is perfect for Volkswagen Eurovans, boats and many 4WD’s.


Choosing The Best Car Battery For You 

Now that we have discussed the many options on the market today, it’s important to understand how to choose the best car battery for you. 

Size

When considering the best battery for your vehicle, it is essential to ensure the battery you choose is available in the correct size for your vehicle. Car battery sizes include two factors:

  1. The length, width, and height of the battery.
  2. The ‘polarity’ of the battery, denoting where the battery posts are located. 

The Battery Council International (BCI) gives car batteries are given an internationally recognized number to denote their group size. For example ‘59’ for a standard size battery, or ‘59F’ for a non-standard size. Your batteries group size can be found on your cars ‘owners manual’ or the battery label.

Power

Although purchasing a battery is straightforward, it is important to double-check you are selecting a battery with the right power level for your vehicle. Consulting your owner’s manual, you need to consider your vehicle requirements for two battery measurements. 

  1. Reserve Capacity Minutes (RCM). RCM is the measurement of how many minutes your battery can run for at minimum load. 
  2. Cold Cranking Amps (CCA). CCA is the measurement of your battery’s starting power. 

Maintenance Free or Maintenance Required

Choosing the best car battery for your vehicle is essential, your preferences as a car owner are important too. Maintenance Free batteries are more expensive but require no work (outside of being replaced). However, if you don’t mind putting some extra leg work into your engine, a Maintenance Required battery can save you money. With a Maintenance Required battery, you will need to regularly measure and maintain the battery’s electrolyte levels. 

Tip #1. Warranty: Although your car battery won’t last forever, you don’t want to have to replace it every six months. There are very few ways to assess the quality of a product before you purchase it, but thankfully, checking the warranty is one. The longer the warranty, the more faith the manufacturer has in the product. Car battery warranties are expressed with a battery code. For example, the code ‘24/36’, indicates that you will receive a free-replacement for 24 months, and a free repair for 36 months. 

How Car Batteries Work

Every day, your car battery provides your vehicle with the ‘jump start’ it needs to get you on the road. When you turn your car engine on, your battery uses an electrolyte solution and battery plates to produce a chemical reaction, producing electrons. These electrons generate AC (alternating current) electricity inside the battery, which flows out of the battery terminals. 

While your car battery gets all the credit, it is only one part of your vehicle’s automotive charging system. Vehicles today use a battery, an alternator, and a voltage regulator.

Alternators: Explained

The alternator takes the AC current from a car battery and turns it into DC (direct current) current. Every electrical system in your car uses a slightly different voltage of electricity, so the alternator (also called the Transmitter) accounts for this by adjusting the voltage.

Voltage Regulators: Explained

While the battery and alternator produce the electricity your car needs to function, the voltage regulator ensures that the DC electricity is kept between 12v and 14.5v. This prevents your vehicle’s electrical systems from being damaged from the wrong voltage of electricity. Without a voltage regulator, your battery would degrade faster.


Forms of Car Batteries

Although you can choose from an SLI or Deep-cycle battery, the physical makeup of your battery depends on their battery form. In 2021, your options include…

Wet Cell Batteries 

Wet Cell batteries are the most affordable type of car battery on the market. These batteries contain an electrolyte solution of water and liquid sulfuric acid. Although Wet Cell batteries are cheap, they may not be suitable for your vehicle. In dryer climates, Wet Cell batteries have a shorter life span, as the electrolyte solution that powers them evaporates. These batteries are also corrosive and require regular maintenance and care. 

VRLA Batteries

VRLA batteries or ‘Valve-Regulated Lead-Acid’ batteries are a leak-proof type of battery. These are a great option for vehicle owners who do not want to do regular vehicle maintenance. However, once a VRLA battery breaks, it must be replaced. Gel Cell and AGM batteries are sub-types of VRLA batteries. 

AGM Batteries

Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM), or ‘regular’ batteries are a type of VRLA battery. These batteries use a glass mat between the electrolyte solution and battery plates. This protects the battery plates, so if the battery is jostled, the liquid will not spill. These batteries are suited for a wider range of climates than wet cell (or ‘flooded’) batteries. 

Gel Cell Batteries

Gel Cell batteries are extremely similar to wet cell (or ‘flooded’) batteries. However, instead of allowing the electrolyte solution to flow freely, silica dust is added – turning the electrolyte solution into a gel. This protects the battery from spilling. 

Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium-Ion batteries or ‘Li-ion’ batteries are the most uncommon type of car battery. Although these small, lightweight batteries are easily rechargeable, they are not compatible with most cars. As more hybrid and electric cars are released onto the road, Li-ion batteries will become more common.


How To Determine Your Vehicle’s Battery Size

Car battery sizes, called “group sizes” are determined using two types of measurements, including: 

  1. The physical size of your battery, including its height, width and length. 
  2. The polarity (also called “post”) of your battery, specifying where the positive and negative battery posts are positioned. 

You don’t need a tape measure to measure your vehicle’s group size. Instead, you can simply check the label of your vehicles current battery, or your owners manual. 

Standard Top Post Batteries

Sizes: 24, 24F, 34, 35, 51, 51R, 52, 58, 58R, 59 and 65. 

These battery sizes are extremely common for Japanese made cars (Toyota, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Subaru, Mazda, Nissan, Mitsubishi & Honda).

Recessed Top Post Batteries

Sizes: 41, 42, 47, 48 and 49. 

These battery sizes are most common among European vehicle manufacturers, including Audi, Mercedes Benz, BMW and Audi. 

Side Post Batteries

Sizes: 70, 74, 75 and 78. 

These battery sizes are generally used by General Motors. 

TIP #2 Before purchasing a battery, always double-check that you are purchasing the right battery size. Using a battery of the wrong size can cause lasting, expensive damage to your vehicle. 

When To Change Your Car Battery

Generally, batteries need replacing every three to five years, but this depends on your vehicle, your driving habits and your climate. However, You don’t have to wait until your car won’t start to diagnose a battery problem. There are many common warning signs that your battery needs replacing. These include:

  • A clicking sound from your battery or engine. 

If your battery is clicking when you turn your car on, your car battery is faulty and needs to be replaced. 

  • A Bloated, misshapen battery case

If you pop the hood of your car to discover your car battery case is swelling, it is time for a battery change. When the alternator overcharges the battery, heat and hydrogen gas build up inside the battery case, causing it to warp and bloat.

WARNING: A bloated battery can be dangerous and can injure you if not taken care of properly. Do not attempt to drive a vehicle with a swollen battery, or attempt to change the battery yourself. If you suspect you may have a swollen battery, always seek out assistance at an auto shop or with roadside assistance. 
  • Battery fluid leak, or a strong smell. 

Most car batteries on the market contain a mixture of water and sulfuric acid, which smells like rotten eggs when it leaks. If you notice an odd smell coming from your car battery, it is likely the fluid has leaked out of your battery. If you can’t see leaking fluid, check for corrosion around the battery posts and case. Leaky batteries cannot be fixed and must be instantly replaced. It is not safe to operate a car with a leaky battery. 

  • Your car is slow to start. 

If your vehicle is not immediately roaring to life when you turn the key, your battery is not producing enough electricity to get your vehicle going. Although this may seem like a minor inconvenience, it could mean that your battery posts are damaged, or your battery is not able to hold a charge. It’s always better to replace your battery early than to have a faulty battery leave you on the side of the road. 

  • The ‘check engine’ light is on. 

The ‘check engine’ is your vehicle’s way of telling you it’s time for a trip to the auto shop. If it’s been a few years since your last battery change, or you notice a bad smell, swelling battery or your car starts slow, it’s probably time for a battery change. 

  • Your vehicle’s electric windows, lights or radio are slow, or not working at all.  

Your battery powers your engine, but also the electrical systems in your car. If you notice that these systems are not functioning as they should, it may be time for a new battery. 

TIP #3Always keep the product and warranty information provided when you purchase your car battery. Although it may be tempting to throw these away, they will contain:Your battery type, voltage and size. The date of manufacture, and the recommended replacement date. Warranty information, and contact details to claim your warranty. Your batteries batch number in case of a product recall. 

FAQ

What Can Damage A Car Battery?

Car batteries become damaged as a result of car accidents, extremely hot or cold weather and long term use. The most common form of car battery damage is leaking and spilling, which occur when a battery’s electrolyte fluid leaks into your vehicle’s engine. In hot weather, this fluid can also evaporate from ‘Maintenance Required’ batteries.

How Do I Know When My Car Battery Needs Replacing?

  • Your car battery needs replacing every 3-5 years, or when it becomes damaged. You can tell if your battery is damaged if:
  • Your battery swells. 
  • our battery spills or leaks electrolyte fluid. 
  • Your battery emits a foul smell (indicates leakage). 
  • Your battery rusts.

What Can Flatten A Car Battery?

A car battery becomes ‘flat’ when it runs out of charge. Car batteries are charged by your vehicle’s alternator while you drive. Even the best car battery will flatten when:

  • Your vehicle’s lights, heaters or radio are left on for a prolonged period of time (like overnight). 
  • Your battery is faulty, making it unable to hold a charge. 
  • Your vehicle’s alternator is faulty, stopping the battery from charging.

What Are Signs Of A Bad Battery?

Your car’s battery could be bad if you notice a lack of power in your vehicle, a clicking sound when you turn your vehicle on or your vehicle is slow to start. Your battery is faulty and needs immediate replacing if you notice leaking fluid, a swollen battery or a foul smell coming from your engine.

How Long Should I Run My Engine To Charge The Battery?

Your vehicle’s alternator will charge your battery whenever it is running at over 1,000 RPMs. 
Normally, it takes between 5-10 minutes to recharge the battery after starting your vehicle. If your battery is completely flat and you have had to jumpstart your vehicle, you may need to leave the vehicle running for 30-60 minutes to recharge the battery. You do not need to drive your vehicle in order to charge it.

Are Batteries With Higher CCA Ratings Better?

Although it may be tempting to buy a battery with a higher Cold Crank Amps (CCA) rating, a higher rating does not guarantee you more power. Your vehicle’s electrical system is designed to function with a set amount of electricity. Providing it with more electricity will simply result in your Alternator discarding the extra power. If your battery’s CCA rating is higher than your vehicle can handle, it may degrade your battery faster.


Conclusion

While buying the best car battery for your vehicle may seem complicated, you can make a thorough decision by taking three factors into account. These include:

  • Determine whether you want a maintenance-free or maintenance required battery, and decide on a budget for your battery. Many owners do this by dividing the cost of the battery by the number of years of warranty (giving you the cost per year of the battery). 
  • Consult your owners manual to find out if an SLI or deep cycle battery is best for your vehicle. 
  • Ensure the battery you have chosen is the right Group Size and has a sufficient warranty.

If you liked this buying guide, you might be interested in our Best Car Wax Buying Guide.

Karie is the happy owner of a funky 2018 Nissan Juke Ti-S AWD. After growing up around her family’s mechanics shop, she is passionate about bringing budget-friendly car care to every driver. Karie has a business degree and is a lifelong wakeboarder from the sticks.

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