Best Car Batteries for the Money
Consumer Reports' tests highlight the batteries that balance performance and price
Car batteries are essential—and expensive. The average price in our latest car battery ratings is $156, with one model costing more than $300. Taking the time to research the best car battery for the money can truly pay off.
We recently posted our ranking of the best car batteries, highlighting the top-rated choice in each size we test. With this list, we’re looking at value—factoring performance and price—for our CR Best Buys. (See our complete car battery ratings.)
“The best value may be on choosing a strong performer that can be had for much less than the cost of the top battery,” says John Galeotafiore, who oversees testing of car batteries at Consumer Reports.
Identifying the CR Best Buys highlighted in our ratings starts with our test results. Each year, we purchase 150 individual batteries and put them through a grueling series of tests, measuring how they perform in extreme cold and heat and how long they will last if you leave your headlights on.
Our testers go to great lengths to evaluate the batteries. For example, battery life is measured by repeatedly discharging and recharging each battery about 3,000 times at a test temperature of about 167° F for 15 weeks or until performance drops to unacceptable levels. This simulates the hot under-hood conditions a battery can face during the summer, the toughest time of year for batteries because of the heat.
In our list of select car batteries, we show ratings for:
CCA, aka cold-cranking amps: How well the battery starts an engine during extreme cold weather.
Life: How the battery performs through repeated draining and recharging.
Reserve capacity: How long it can supply energy if the car’s charging system fails.