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Which Is the Best Car Battery for 2021 According to Consumer Reports

Car maintenance is a big deal. Your car’s maintenance needs should not be overlooked, from keeping your tires in good shape to having the best car battery. Consumer Reports tests 150 batteries each year to determine the best of the bunch. Of that 150, only a few make the cut to be recommended by Consumer Reports.

upclose photo of a car battery
Car battery charging process | Michal Fludra/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Testing for the best car battery is not for the faint of heart

Consumer Reports states that these tests are meant to be as grueling as possible. They charge and discharge the batteries thousands of times to test their longevity. They also test them for extreme temperatures, how long you can leave your headlights on, and what happens when your changing system fails. 

Does temperature affect car batteries? 

As a matter of fact, Consumer Reports found that temperatures affect the life span of your car’s battery more than most factors. Although freezing temperatures can present issues, warmer temperatures actually make a car battery die much fast than cold temperatures. This is why CR tested hot and cold temperatures to determine the best car battery. 

RELATED: Easy Ways to Extend the Life of Your Car Battery

The Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) batteries tend to be the most expensive and performed the best in CR’s testing. This particular type of car battery is known for having longer life spans and continuing even on a very low charge, like leaving your headlights on all night. 

Although these AGM batteries can be very good, John Banta, CR’s test engineer for batteries, points out that price isn’t always everything. “Price doesn’t necessarily mean better performance,” Banta says. “We’ve got some batteries that are relatively cheap that score very well.”

Consumer Reports tested seven different battery types

Before replacing your car’s battery, you need to make sure you know exactly which type of battery you need. This requires knowing your group number your vehicle needs. Consumer Reports explains that batteries are defined by their size, type, placement of the terminals, and mounting style. Your car’s current battery should give this information. Just inspect the outgoing battery for this information before going to buy a replacement. 

Group 24/24F

Napa Legend Premium 8424F $130  (CR rating: 90/100)

Group 35

Odyssey Extreme Series 35-PC1400T $470 (CR rating: 99/100)

Group 47

Duracell Platinum AGM 47 (H5) $135 (CR rating: 91/100)

Group 48

Odyssey Performance 48-720 $259 (CR rating: 91/100)

Group 49

ACDelco 49 AGM $227 (CR rating: 90/100)

Group 51R

Duracell 51R $105 (CR rating: 81/100)

Group 65

Delphi BU9065 MaxStart AGM Premium 65 $207 (CR rating: 91/100)

Tips for buying the best car battery 

Year after year, Consumer Reports says that buying car batteries from dealerships or mechanics is typically not the smartest way to go. Most of the highest recommended brands can be hard to find at the dealership. Instead, a local hardware store or even Walmart will likely have a wider selection with higher quality batteries. For instance, three different Everstart batteries got CR’s Best Buy designation, and they can only be found at Walmart. 

Replacing your car battery is typically a pretty straightforward job, although some cars have them hidden. In most cases, figuring out which battery you need and installing it is something anyone can learn in only a few minutes. That being said, some people aren’t comfortable with working under the hood, and that’s fine. You can still buy one of these recommended batteries and bring it to your local mechanic. 

Lastly, remember to avoid buying a battery online. There can be shipping restrictions and, because of this, high shipping prices. All it takes to figure out and buy the best car battery is by taking a quick look at which battery you need and a simple tutorial on how to replace it.