Skip to main content

7 Best Car Batteries of 2024 Tested and Rated by Consumer Reports

The best car batteries recently rated by Consumer Reports and what you need to know before and after buying a new car battery to ensure that it lasts its longest.

According to a recent Consumer Reports newsletter, their team of automotive analysts personally charge car batteries thousands of times to find out how long they’ll last:

“The tests are tough by design. We charge and discharge the batteries thousands of times while in a 167º F water bath to simulate under-hood temperatures and find out how long they’ll last. We also 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 car’s headlights on, or the charging system fails.”

Does Paying More for a Battery Guarantee a Better Battery?

In short, paying more for a battery does not necessarily guarantee that it is the better battery for you and your car. In fact, in many cases you might not need to pay those higher prices. Rather than becoming too focused on pricing, it pays to look a little deeper into a battery’s value by focusing more on what kind of performance you are going to get for your hard-earned dollar.

In fact, according to CR’s recent newsletter:

Many of the highest-scoring are pricey absorbed glass mat (AGM) batteries. They’re known for having a long service life and being able to tolerate deep discharges—when the battery has been significantly drained to 10.5 volts or below, such as when the lights are left on overnight. But some top-rated lead-acid batteries cost less than many of their competitors, says Frank Spinelli, who oversees testing of car batteries at Consumer Reports.”

Price doesn’t necessarily mean better performance,” Spinelli says. “We’ve got some less expensive batteries in our ratings that score very well.”

What Should I Look For When Buying a Car Battery?

Choosing the best price and performance is only part of the equation toward your decision making. You also have to decide whether you can (or want to) DIY, or whether it makes more sense to let a qualified mechanic or trained technician do the battery replacement for you.

Depending on the make, model, and year of your car, it could be more involved than simply popping open the hood and loosening the battery terminal bolts before lifting the old battery out. Many models have their batteries installed in hard to access areas that require some removal of parts before installation that may be dangerous to handle―especially with Hybrid cars.

Related article: Toyota Hybrid Owner Experience with an Aftermarket Hybrid Battery

Furthermore, with a battery replacement, your vehicle may require reprogramming of systems that are dependent on a constant source of power at all times. To find out whether this applies to your vehicle you will need to consult your vehicle owner’s manual or ask a trusted mechanic.

How Do I Know What Battery To Buy For My Car?

At the very least, you need to know the Group Type of your vehicle’s battery due to the physical size, placement of the terminals (side or top), and mounting style that typically varies with each model.

Related article: Never Buy This Battery Type for Your Car

You can find out the Group Type by:

  • Checking your owner’s manual.
  • Go online and take advantage of battery company websites that have search engines to help you select the correct battery.
  • Visit an auto parts store where you will often find in-store guides in the battery department and/or ask the clerk to look it up for you. In fact, often they will offer free installation of most of the batteries they sell, saving you the hassle of doing it yourself or adding to the cost of a battery by having to hire someone else to install it.
  • If you have one, ask your local mechanic for his recommendation.
  • If you are the original owner of your vehicle, you could check the labeling on the original battery. Used car buyers need to be aware that ofttimes sellers will install a cheaper lower amp battery before selling a car and therefore it might not be the correct one rated for your car.

Related Article Warning: Auto Parts Store Free Service Leaves Customer Stranded

How Many Cold Cranking Amps Does My Car’s Battery Need?

Cold-cranking amps (CCA) are simply a measure of how well a battery can turn over an engine for starting during cold weather. Manufacturers typically simulate winter conditions, by cooling batteries to 0° F, and then rate their batteries CCA based on their performance.

However, not all manufacturers’ CCA values match those performed by independent testers. Which is why it pays to research batteries and their performance from sources such as Consumer Reports.

We feel that our CCA test is based on more realistic charging voltages and amperage demands than typical manufacturers’ tests, and our results show each battery’s relative cranking power, regardless of manufacturer’s claims,” stated CR analysts in an earlier newsletter and their Car Battery Buying Guide.

What Can I Do to Make My Battery Last Longer?

Just like maintaining your car engine, basic battery maintenance can help your car last longer. Here is a mini guide for car battery maintenance, testing, and replacement using simple inexpensive tools you should have in your garage:

Basic Car Battery Maintenance

Step 1: Inspect the battery cable connector-to-post fit―Try wiggling the battery cable connectors to the positive and negative posts. If they move slightly, tighten them up because a loose connection could interfere with the flow of electricity from the battery to the starter and be the source of your problem.

Step 2: Inspect the battery posts for corrosion―That bluish green or white gunk on your battery posts can cause a poor or nonexistent connection between the battery posts and the cables. Plus, too much of that gunk can also cause leaking of charge.

Remove the cables from the posts and use a paste-like slurry of baking soda and water with an old toothbrush or small wire brush to clean the surfaces of the posts and the cable connectors; Or get one of those handy wire battery terminal post brushes to scrape the outside of the posts and the inside of the connectors clean.

Step 3: Test the battery voltage with a multimeter―Once you’ve determined that your connections between the battery posts and cables are fine, now is the time to check the voltage of the battery. Simply set the multimeter to DC volts at a setting one click above 12 volts and apply the red test lead to the positive battery post and the black lead to the negative battery post and note the voltage reading.

If the reading is 12.4 to 12.6 volts, then the battery is fully charged. If the reading is significantly lower at 10.5 volts, then you might have a bad cell since with 6 cells―each providing 2.1 volts of power each―a bad cell would cause a reading of roughly 2 volts less than fully charged. While this is a good indication of a bad battery cell, it could just be a coincidence and the fault(s) lie elsewhere. In either case, a second multimeter test is needed if the multimeter shows the battery is not fully charged.

Step 4: A second voltage test with a multimeter and a battery charger―If the battery does have a bad cell, then there is no fixing it―even with a long recharge of the battery using a battery charger. It’s a physical and chemical impossibility.

To test this, connect a battery charger to your battery posts―red to positive, black to negative―and leave your multimeter on the battery posts as well during the charging. Let the battery recharge for two hours and note the voltage on both the multimeter and the meter on the charger if it has one.

After 2 hours, you might see that the voltage readings on both meter faces show a fully charged battery at 12.2-12.4 volts. However, this can be misleading since power is constantly applied to the battery. To find out if the previous voltage reading was low and hinting at a bad cell, turn off the charger and watch the multimeter reading. If the reading drops rather quickly back to the low voltage reading of 10.5 volts, then it is likely a bad cell problem with the battery. If the battery holds its charge however, then the battery is not likely the problem.

Caveats: However, there are caveats to step 4. Just because after charging the battery and observing a fully charged indication on your voltmeter, this does not guarantee a healthy battery. In fact, your car’s electrical system could be “holding” a temporary charge causing a false reading. Some automotive sites recommend waiting an hour before retesting your battery with a multimeter so as to get a measure of the battery’s true resting voltage.

But more to the point, you cannot really get an accurate battery voltage reading connecting a voltmeter directly to a battery. For more accuracy, the battery needs to be under an electrical load to test its actual health.

One way to do this is to put a load on the system by turning on the headlights or AC and seeing what happens on the voltage reading. The voltage should drop by a few tenths, but not much further. Next, turn off the accessories and see what happens to the voltage reading. If it goes back to showing fully charged, then your battery is probably good. However, if the voltage reading remains low after shutting off the accessories, then it’s likely a bad battery is your problem.

As a final test, have someone crank the engine while you watch the multimeter. If the voltage reading drops by 1 to 1.5 volts and then returns to fully charged after a brief cranking, then the battery is likely okay. If the reading drops to 8- or 9-volts during cranking, then the battery is likely bad.

Where To Go From Here

Here is a highly recommend video below in which you will learn not just some good techniques about how to remove a battery, choose a battery and install a new battery, but also how to diagnose whether your battery problems are due to a faulty alternator, a faulty connection between the battery and the alternator; or, if there is a hidden mystery electrical drain.

How to Test and Replace a Bad Car Battery (COMPLETE Ultimate Guide)


Consumer Reports’ Latest Car Battery Recommendations

That said and done, here is a summary of the best-performing batteries in each tested group recommended from CR test results.

1. Car Battery Group Size 24 and 24F (top terminal)

Recommended Battery: X2Power SLI24FAGMDP ($350)

Vehicle Application: Fits many Acura, Honda, Infiniti, Lexus, Nissan, and Toyota vehicles.

2. Car Battery Group Size 35 (top terminal)

Recommended Battery: Odyssey Extreme Series 35-PC1400T ($367.57)

Vehicle Application: Fits most Japanese nameplates, including many recent Honda vehicles, most Subaru vehicles, and most Mazda, Nissan, and Toyota vehicles.

Please Note: a less expensive, high-scoring alternative is the Duralast Platinum 35 AGM ($190).

3. Car Battery Group Size 47 (H5) (top terminal)

Recommended Battery: Duracell Platinum AGM 47 (H5) ($135)

Vehicle Application: Fits many Buick, Chevrolet, Fiat, and Volkswagen models.

4. Car Battery Group Size 48 (H6) (top terminal)

Recommended Battery: Odyssey Performance 48-720 ($286.00 - $330.23)

Vehicle Application: Fits many vehicles from Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, GMC, Jeep, Mercedes-Benz, Mini, Volkswagen, and Volvo.

5. Car Battery Group Size 49 (H8) (top terminal)

Recommended Battery: ACDelco 49 AGM ($220.86 - $223.08)

Vehicle Application: Fits many vehicles from Audi, BMW, Hyundai, and Mercedes-Benz.

6. Car Battery Group Size 51R (top terminal)

Recommended Battery: Duracell 51R ($105)

Vehicle Application: Fits many vehicles from Honda and Nissan.

7. Car Battery Group Size 65 (top terminal)

Recommended Battery: Super Start Platinum AGM 65PLT ($190)

Vehicle Application: Fits large cars, trucks, and sport-utility vehicles from Ford and Mercury.

For a more detailed breakdown of each battery chosen as well as alternative choices, please visit the Consumer Reports website. Note that while access to some information requires a CR membership, the potential savings make it negligible in comparison when looking for the latest information to aid your car buying research.

For additional articles related to car batteries, here are two for your consideration:

Timothy Boyer is an automotive reporter based in Cincinnati. Experienced with early car restorations, he regularly restores older vehicles with engine modifications for improved performance. Follow Tim on Twitter at @TimBoyerWrites  and Facebook for daily news and topics related to new and used cars and trucks.

COMING UP NEXT: What Adding Boost Can Do To Your Engine Oil

Image source: Deposit Photos