One of the most important parts in a car is the car battery. 12 volt car batteries come in many different sizes and CCA ratings (cold cranking amps) vary. Standard lead-acid car batteries are largely all the same.
The main differences are maintenance free which are sealed, and the more common type is capped, which allows you to add distilled water. The other differences are top or side mount battery posts.
Another car battery gaining popularity (which is more expensive) is an Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM). AGMs can cost from 40 to 100% more than a regular lead-acid car battery. With the added cost comes a benefit over lead-acid. They can better tolerate a deep discharge, and are more likely to fully recover if it is accidentally drained.
For cars not driven regularly, this battery may be a good choice. Retailers that sell these state that they have three times longer life than a lead-acid car battery.
Brands of Car Batteries
For the most part, there are only three US car battery manufacturers. They are Johnson Controls, Exide Technologies and East Penn. These three manufacturers make all of the popular brands you see like DieHard, Interstate, Optima, Duralast, Everstart as well as other retailer’s brands. All are built to those retailer’s specifications.
Car batteries typically last from three to five years. According to AAA, they span from fifty-eight months or more in the furthest northern regions of the U.S., down to less than forty-one months in the most southern regions.
When purchasing your replacement battery, you should read the battery type which is on your car’s battery label to match the size and CCA rating. Match either side or top terminals and then consider what the warranty of your new battery is.
When shopping for a new battery it’s probably the best to do your online research and then buy it local due to its weight. Many retailers like Advance Auto Parts, will install your battery free of charge.
For those on a tight budget, or for do-it-yourselfers, you may want to read our post on car battery reconditioning.