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Best Car Batteries of 2018

We tested 150 of them this year to separate the positives from negatives

Unless you’re stranded with a car that won’t start, you might not think too much about your car’s battery. But car batteries are always on our minds at Consumer Reports, and you can rely on our recommendations to help you pick the best, most affordable one.

We test 150 batteries every year in our lab, charging and discharging them thousands of times to find out how long they’ll last. We put them in a freezer to see how they’ll perform at 0º F and we track how long they’ll last if you leave your headlights on.

Our top-rated batteries score well in our tests and some of them cost less than many of their competitors, says John Banta, CR's test engineer for batteries.

“Price doesn’t necessarily mean better performance,” Banta says. “We’ve got some batteries that are relatively cheap that score very well.”

How We Test

Each year we test two batches of 15 models over six months. For each model, we anonymously buy five examples through a variety of retailers, meaning that we test 150 batteries annually.

CR now has 64 car battery models in our ratings, including some brand-new models that join the ranks and some we retested. We retest newer versions of some models because we've found that performance can vary over time as the construction and formulation of the batteries are tweaked, even when the model name remains the same. This underscores the importance of checking the latest ratings rather than buying based on past experience or word-of-mouth reputation.

We evaluate batteries in three ways:

More on Car Batteries

Cold-cranking amps (CCA) is a measure of how well the battery starts an engine during extreme cold weather. We use a freezer to simulate winter conditions, cooling batteries to 0° F, and rate batteries based on their performance.

Reserve capacity indicates how long a battery can run a vehicle if the charging system—the alternator, stator, and rotor—fails. It’s also a measure of how long you can accidentally leave the headlights on and still get the car started without needing a jump-start. To test reserve capacity, our engineers measure how long it takes a fully charged battery to be discharged down to 10.5 volts, which is considered to be fully discharged. At that level, the car will be unable to start without a jump-start.

Battery life is measured by repeatedly discharging and recharging at a test temperature of about 167° F for 15 weeks or until performance drops to unacceptable levels. This simulates the hot underhood conditions a battery can face during the summer, the hardest time of year for batteries because of the heat. The higher the score, the longer the battery will be reliable.

Best Car Batteries

Here you'll find the top-performing battery in each category we test: Group 24 & 24F; Group 35; Group 47 (H5); Group 48; Group 49 (H8); Group 51R; and Group 65 car batteries. They are ranked by Overall Score. And we've got advice on the best places to buy a replacement battery.

You'll find information on how to choose the right replacement battery and what group sizes typically fit below the highlighted models.

Top Picks

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