Even the best 12-volt battery won’t last forever. Most drivers have to replace the battery at least once in the lifespan of their car. When that time comes, it can be tricky to figure out which battery is right for your engine.
We’ve picked out our favorite 12-volt batteries on the current market and reviewed them below. We’ll also share some helpful tips about picking the best replacement and how to make sure you’re getting the best value for your money. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll be able to buy your next battery with the confidence of a professional!
- 1 Top 12V Car Battery Comparison Table
- 2 Buying Guide
- 3 Product Reviews
- 3.1 Odyssey PC680 12V Battery
- 3.2 Optima Batteries 8025-160 25 RedTop Starting Battery
- 3.3 Optima Batteries 8004-003 34/78 RedTop Starting Battery
- 3.4 XS Power D3400 XS Series 12V High Output Battery
- 3.5 Optima Batteries 8002-002 34 RedTop Starting Battery
- 3.6 Optima Batteries 8022-091 75/25 RedTop Starting Battery
- 3.7 Optima Batteries 8020-164 35 RedTop Starting Battery
- 3.8 Odyssey PC925 Automotive and LTV 12V Battery
- 3.9 Optima Batteries 8040-218 D35 YellowTop Dual Purpose Battery
- 3.10 Optima Batteries 8003-151 34R RedTop Starting Battery
- 3.11 The Bottom Line
- 4 FAQs
- 4.1 How much does a car battery cost?
- 4.2 Can my car battery charge another battery by itself?
- 4.3 How long does it take to recharge a car battery?
- 4.4 How can you tell when it’s time to replace a car battery?
- 4.5 Can a damaged battery be repaired?
- 4.6 What is the difference between an AGM and a lead-acid battery?
- 4.7 Do you have to charge the battery before installing it?
- 4.8 What charge should a 12V battery register?
Top 12V Car Battery Comparison Table
Here is a table that compares the top 10 12v car battery on the market today:
Odyssey PC680 Battery
Optima Batteries 8004-003 34/78
Optima Batteries 8040-218 D35
|Dimensions||7.2 x 3.1 x 7.5 inches||10 x 6.9 x 7.8 inches||9.4 x 6.8 x 7.7 inches
|Reserve Capacity (Minutes)||100||100||98|
|Cold Cranking Power||170||800||620|
I understand that the table above has given you some ideas of what every battery involves. But that’s not enough and that’s why I have reviewed these car batteries in details below.
Why Do You Need a 12V Battery?
While there are a variety of potential uses for a 12-volt battery, the vast majority of those purchased are for use in vehicle engines. Most road vehicles use a 12-volt battery. This includes common vehicles like cars, trucks, and SUVs, along with smaller vehicles like motorcycles and even vehicles as large as RVs.
Most 12-volt battery purchases are replacements for dead batteries in cars and trucks. Even in ideal conditions, the maximum lifespan of a battery is much less than that of a modern car.
There are other reasons you might want to buy a new 12V battery, too. The most common include:
- More power. If your current battery is struggling to run all of your vehicle’s electronic components, you’ll be better off using one with a larger capacity.
- Better cold weather performance. It’s harder to start a car in cold weather. Upgrading to a battery with more cold cranking amps gives you more reliable starts when temperatures drop below freezing.
- Longer shelf life. While it’s a good idea to keep any car battery at full charge, some hold their charge better in storage than others. A battery with a low self-discharge rate will be more reliable for occasional drivers, holding the charge better when the car isn’t in use.
- Safety. Battery acid is highly corrosive. Fully-sealed batteries are leak-proof and can be installed in any position without the risk of chemical burns.
What to Look For in a 12V Battery
The first thing you need to pay attention to is the size and fit. Don’t assume that any battery you see will fit inside your engine. While most 12-volt batteries are roughly the same size, some manufacturers use a smaller battery than others.
Your vehicle’s repair manual is the best place to find out what size of battery you need. If that’s not an option, check the dimensions of the current battery and find a replacement that matches it.
Next, think about how the vehicle will be used. Do you mostly drive on city or suburban roads, or do you do a lot of off-roading? The vibration from rough roads can damage some batteries, which makes durability more of a concern for rural drivers.
Also consider how often you drive the vehicle. If the car will regularly be sitting unused for multiple days a time, a battery with a low self-discharge rate will hold its charge better when the car isn’t in use.
Capacity and Power: Do You Need the Best Performance?
Most compact cars require about 400-600 amps to start. Larger SUVs or trucks might need up to 1,000 amps, but for the most part you don’t need a super-sized battery just to start your car. Having extra power won’t cause any damage to your engine, but it doesn’t necessarily help, either. If you’re only concerned with starting your car, you don’t need a large battery capacity.
It used to be that the battery in a car was only there to start it. Now, though, more and more vehicles use electronic components that also require power. This isn’t a huge concern when your car is running but things like the radio, GPS, or other electronics can put a serious strain on the battery if you use them when the engine is off. Because of this, you may want to get a higher-capacity battery for vehicles with a lot of electronic extras.
Where you live is a factor in this decision, too. The colder your car’s engine is, the harder it will be to start. People who live in cold climates will need a battery with more starting power than those who live in places where it’s warm year-round.
Durability and Lifespan: What Should You Expect?
On average, a 12 volt car battery lasts 5-7 years. In ideal conditions that can be stretched up to 10 years or more. Conversely, especially harsh conditions can cause a battery to die in as little as 2-3 years.
Construction quality is one factor in the lifespan of the battery. A more secure, durable housing will resist damage and wear, avoiding catastrophic failures, while better internal construction quality allows the battery to survive more recharges and limits the impact of deep discharges.
A lot of a battery’s lifespan is determined by what happens to it after it leaves the factory, though. Vibration, extreme temperatures, and deep discharges all reduce a battery’s useful life. While there’s not much you can do about the weather, you can protect your battery by keeping it fully charged as much as possible.
Odyssey PC680 12V Battery
One thing about the Odyssey PC680 is the ability to take the beating that comes with the terrain. Whether you use it on snow, sea, or land, it remains as good as new due to its rugged construction. Name your terrain and I am certain that this battery will handle it with ease.
- Comes fully charged.
- Assembling hardware is included.
- A nice battery and a great price.
What adds to this ability is the fact that the battery is non-spill. So, even if you but it under vibration or shock, you won’t get even a drop of the liquid spilled out. The reason for this is the tightly packed pure lead plates that are made using the AGM design.
Moreover, its power cannot be compared to most car batteries out there today. In fact, due to the pure lead plates, you get three times the power of a traditional battery. Hence, you can enjoy up to 400 cycles at just 80 percent depth of the discharge.
And if you stay in a salty area, you don’t need to worry about this car battery. It is corrosion-resistant; thanks to the tin-plated brass terminals and sealed design. As well, its high integrity terminal cover and robust intercell connections prevent any damage and corrosion.
- Comes fully charged
- All hardware for installation is included
- Great price for the performance
- Fits perfectly in most vehicles
- Retains power well long-term
- Some users report batteries arriving cracked or out of date
- Difficult to reach customer service representatives
Optima Batteries 8025-160 25 RedTop Starting Battery
The Optima Batteries 8025-160 is a highly rated battery in the line of optima products. Honestly, it’s a high performing battery, maybe because it’s part of the reputable AGM products which provides spiral cell tech. This tech makes other lead-acid batteries look like toys in this industry of vehicle batteries.
- Optimal igniting power at all temperatures.
- Strong and powerful 5 seconds ignition burst.
- Fast recharging capabilities.
To make it simple, I found Optima Batteries 8025-160 to be the best in its class range. I can attribute this argument to the notion that it is great at starting vehicles. Actually, it provides one of the strongest and fastest ignition powers in less than 5 seconds and it starts every time.
Besides, my brother owns this battery and I can state that it has outlived his previous model. That’s mean it is a battery that not only outperforms but also outlives traditional batteries in cracking application.
From what I have seen, I can say that the Optima Batteries 8025-160 battery is ideal for off-road use. You can install it in your luxury car, SUV, truck, and hot rod, and take it to any road. And you will be amazed to learn that not a single drop of acid will leak out.
- Optimal igniting power at all temperatures
- Powerful 5-second ignition burst
- Recharges quickly
- High capacity
- More expensive
- Not a great lifespan in storage
Optima Batteries 8004-003 34/78 RedTop Starting Battery
Another 12V car battery in this list is the Optima Batteries 34/78 RedTop. Just like its brother, the 25 RedTop, this battery provides starting burst within 5 seconds.
The battery also lasts longer than a traditional lead-acid battery – great for deep cycle use.
- 100% maintenance free.
- Completely sealed to avoid a spill.
- Easy to mount in any position.
I pumped into my neighbor the other day and saw him start his car. When I asked about the battery he uses, he confidently responded Optima Batteries 34/78. The point is his car fired up instantly after he turned the car key.
I made it my project that day to research more about this battery and found that it is loaded with tightly coiled pure lead. You all know what this means; an unbeatable output that won’t let you down. In addition, this design comes in handy to allow maximum vibration resistance.
Leave the vibration resistance aside, the battery is fully sealed and is 100% maintenance-free. Therefore, no drop dripping arises from the battery when you hit the rough road or turn a full 180-degree.
- 100% maintenance free
- Completely sealed to avoid spilling
- Easy to mount in any position
- High output
- Starts cars instantly
- High self-discharge rate
- Doesn’t fit all cars
XS Power D3400 XS Series 12V High Output Battery
By the time I finish reviewing the SX power D3400, you will notice it is a great 12V car battery. Its overall attributes are astonishing and it provides 12V when wholly charged, not like some batteries which don’t reach that level. The construction is also perfect when compared to some cheap models out there.
- Easily adjustable size casing.
- Runs all electronic devices in a car.
- High cold cranking power.
One feature that I must inform you of the battery is its effectiveness. Most car owners use 2 separate batteries: one for electronic devices and the other for normal car use. With the XS Power D3400, you don’t need a second battery since its power is enough to power everything.
And its durable design and average size casing ensure that you use the battery ion cold or bad weather. What is more, the battery is vibration resistant, no frets for bumps or rough driving. With low resistance comes to a continuous power supply no matter where you are – always dependable.
- Easily adjustable casing
- High cold cranking power
- Excellent long-term durability
- Works in all vehicles
- Lightweight build
- More expensive
- Doesn’t last as long in heavy-use situations
Optima Batteries 8002-002 34 RedTop Starting Battery
The Optima 34 RedTop delivers superb cranking power even when the weather is harsh. Truly, it is a heavy duty use battery thanks to its high starting ability, leak-proof design, and high power. This battery is able to withstand hard launches and extreme corners, making perfect for all types of roads.
- The battery provides longer life.
- Comes at a great price and high quality.
- Offers string starting burst.
In fact, I would say it’s the ultimate auto battery, heavy truck battery, and a battery for all other application. Another thing that I found very useful with this battery is the ability to resist common failures. So, you can always count on this battery to get the job done whenever you want.
And it is one of the few batteries that offer precision control due to the spiral-cell tech. This technology offers a series of spiral placed cells with 2 pure lead plates covered in the lead oxide. Thus, you can always depend on the 34 RedTop for power around the clock.
We all love batteries that tolerate temperature and humidity, don’t we? While you can rest assured of getting these great features in this battery and is always monitored.
- Longer maximum lifespan
- High quality at a great price
- Easy to install and connect
- Tolerates high heat and humidity
- High vibration resistance
- Not ideal for high electronic use
- Lower overall performance than other batteries
Optima Batteries 8022-091 75/25 RedTop Starting Battery
If you love Optima Batteries products you know that they deliver power under harsh weather. This still applies to the 75/25 RedTop. In fact, you can use it in both cold and hot climates to start your automobile with no issues.
- Outlasts all acid batteries.
- Gives a warning when about to die.
- Perfect for both cold and hot weather.
While the battery runs well in the heavy use of vehicles such as off-roaders and hot rods. Also, I love the fact that it is 100% leak-free battery which provides a great starting ability. But you might be wondering why all this power comes from.
That’s possible due to the spiral-cell design that offers a clean and strong power source, guaranteeing your safety. I also found this 12V car battery to be amazing because of the high reserve capacity it provides. Consequently, you will get the juice you require even when the battery seems to be running dead.
And things can only get better since the battery outlasts all acid batteries on the shelves today. If everything goes as planned, this battery is likely to last for years.
- Outlasts lead-acid batteries
- Gives a warning when it’s close to failure
- Works well in both hot and cold weather
- High reserve capacity
- Powerful performance
- Not designed for all vehicles
- Suffers deep discharges easily
Optima Batteries 8020-164 35 RedTop Starting Battery
The Optima Batteries 8020-164 35 RedTop is the best 12V car battery for old engines that are hard to start. It is that’s powerful when it comes to ignition of your car all the time. All its power comes from the spiral-cell tech which is simply a spiral wound cell that is comprised of 99% lead plates.
- Outperforms traditional batteries.
- 15x more vibration-resistance.
- 90 minutes of reserve capacity.
I love the fact that it comes with a negative coated lead plate and a positive coated one. Hence, you cannot confuse which plate goes where or even lead to a short circuit. When you think everything has been said, you realize that the battery provides a reliable cranking power.
Precisely, it serves the most challenging cranking ignition applications to ensure you don’t get stuck. This applies even when there is cold weather. And it’s 90 minutes reserve capacity comes in handy to assure of continued operation even when the battery is dead.
Besides, I can confidently state that the battery is 15x more vibration-resistance, making it a durable 12-volt car battery. And it not only outperforms but also outlasts most traditional batteries.
- Better performance than traditional batteries
- Resists damage from vibrations
- Perfect for older cars that are hard to start
- 90-minute reserve capacity
- Easy to identify positive and negative terminals
- Can take a while to install
- Higher price
Odyssey PC925 Automotive and LTV 12V Battery
I love batteries that are resistant to vibration and durable, and this is all Odyssey PC925 is about. In addition, the battery has a long life of at least four years. This means that you can buy your battery today, install it, and forget about it for the next four years.
- Can be installed in any position.
- Perfect for use on rough roads.
- A great choice for cold weather.
Although its capacity is rated at only 28 Amps, which isn’t the best for a 12V battery, it still provides sufficient power for your car. Furthermore, the battery has little issues powering your car during the rainy or cold days. Moreover, it takes only 4 hours to get its juice back to the full capacity.
But the best feature of Odyssey PC925 is the tightly sealed design. What this means is that your battery won’t leak regardless of how you install it or where you drive on. So, you get the freedom to mount it in any position and still enjoy effective service.
And one more thing, although not a feature, the battery comes with a 4 years replacement warranty. Where can you really get a replacement when your battery dies before four years?
- Can be installed in any position
- Ideal for use on rough roads
- Excellent cold-weather option
- Recharges quickly
- 4-year replacement warranty
- Low capacity
- Higher cost
Optima Batteries 8040-218 D35 YellowTop Dual Purpose Battery
Like the RedTop sisters from Optima Batteries, the D35 YellowTop is also a powerful 12V car battery. It offers tremendous durability when you compare it to other customary batteries. Additionally, like the RedTop series, the battery can be mounted in different positions and not leak even a single drop of acid.
- 15x vibration resistance.
- Withstands deep discharge.
- Lasts 3x longer than most batteries.
Also, it features 15x greater vibration-resistance than most batteries on the market today. Actually, when you combine the resistance and the seal, you get a battery that you can take to any road. So, whether you have a car, SUV, or truck, you can use this battery to provide the ignition power you want.
What that means is that the D35 YelloTop is able to withstand deep discharge and still recover within a short time. You might be tempted to think that it will die faster than most batteries due to the ability to offer deep discharge. On the contrary, it outlasts most batteries by three years.
Thus, if you are looking for a durable, versatile, and safe battery, the D35 YelloTop might be what you need.
- High vibration resistance
- Withstands deep discharges
- Lasts 3x longer than most batteries
- Supports all electric devices
- Versatile with multiple applications
- Larger than normal batteries
- More difficult to install
- May be more power than you need in a small engine
Optima Batteries 8003-151 34R RedTop Starting Battery
A good number of Optima Batteries were designed to provide power even in harsh weather. The same principle applies to the 34R RedTop starting battery. But this specific battery has an edge over others since you can use it for off-roaders and hot rods.
- Easy to install in a car.
- Maintains a decent charge even after years of use.
- Fits in most cars.
Another great feature of this battery is the leak-proof design which prevents the liquid from spilling around. It does all this while providing the ultimate power to run your car throughout the year. And thanks to the 100% sealed construction; the battery is safe for both the environment and your family.
I also love its longer shelf-life due to its huge reserve capacity that gives out power all the time. My friend bought this battery a couple of years ago and from what I have seen, it still maintains a charge of about 10.5 volts today. It might not be sufficient for some uses but that a decent charge after having been an operation of 5 years.
- Easy to install
- Maintains charge well over entire battery lifespan
- Fits into most cars
- Provides great power in cold-weather environments
- Great value for the money
- Breaks easily from drops or impacts
- Prone to leaks after damage
- Lower power capacity
The Bottom Line
There isn’t one 12-volt battery that’s the best choice for every driver and vehicle. Start your search by figuring out what your engine needs in terms of fit and power. From there, it’s a matter of analyzing your driving habits and environment. Cold weather, rough roads, and in-car electronics are all factors to consider when shopping for a battery.
Whichever model you buy, these 10 12V batteries are among the best on the market in 2020. We hope this buying guide has helped you pick out the right one for you!
How much does a car battery cost?
You’ll find a wide price range represented when you’re shopping for 12-volt batteries. They can run anywhere from around $75 on the low end, to upwards of $1,500 for specialty models. The biggest factor in the price is the cranking power and capacity of the battery. If your engine is larger and more powerful, it’s likely you’ll spend more for a battery to start it.
Can my car battery charge another battery by itself?
Not effectively, no. Car batteries don’t put out enough volts to effectively re-charge another car battery. The most efficient way to recharge a car battery is allowing your engine to run, which will restore the charge in the battery through the alternator. For charging outside an engine, an external battery charger or battery maintainer is your best bet.
How long does it take to recharge a car battery?
That depends on the battery and the rate of charge. Using the alternator in your car’s engine can charge a battery in as little as 30-60 minutes. With an external charger, you should expect to charge it between 4 and 6 hours, depending on the size of the battery and how deeply it was discharged.
How can you tell when it’s time to replace a car battery?
The most obvious sign is if your car won’t start or hesitates to start. While this can also be caused by issues with the starter, in the majority of cases the battery is to blame.
Electrical issues are another common indicator that your battery is dying. If the interior lights or headlights are dimmer than usual, especially right after you start the car, this could be a sign your battery is dying. You may also notice sluggishness from other electronics, like window controls, or experience a loss of power to peripherals you have plugged into your car’s charging ports.
Finally, you should replace your battery if you notice any damage to the exterior. This includes leaks, punctures, cracks, or swelling in the battery case. Batteries with this kind of damage are a safety hazard and can even catch fire or explode if the problem isn’t addressed. You should replace the battery immediately if you see any of these signs.
Can a damaged battery be repaired?
When it comes to external damage, no. Once the integrity of the housing is compromised, replacing the battery is your only option.
Damage to the plates from deep discharges can sometimes be reversed. Some battery chargers come with recovery programs that can return even completely dead batteries nearly to their full original capacity.
Keep in mind that, even with these programs, no battery is going to last forever. If your battery is 6 years old or older, buying a new battery is likely more cost-effective than getting a battery charger to restore the old one.
What is the difference between an AGM and a lead-acid battery?
An AGM battery is a type of lead-acid battery, and both styles store and release energy in a similar way. In a traditional lead-acid battery, metal plates interact with battery acid when a charge goes through them, releasing energy in the process.
The same basic thing happens in an AGM battery but the process is more refined. AGM stands for “absorbed glass mat”, referring to the glass separators between the plates found in this style of battery. These mats are saturated with an electrolyte gel that interacts with the plates in the same way as the acid in traditional lead-acid batteries.
AGM batteries are maintenance-free and spill-proof, which are the primary advantages. While they have a longer lifespan on average, they’re also more sensitive to deep discharges, and are most reliable when kept at 50% capacity or higher.
Do you have to charge the battery before installing it?
Most 12V batteries ship with at least enough charge to start your car, so you shouldn’t need to charge them before installing them. Having said that, it’s a good idea to let your engine run for at least 30 minutes the first time you start it using the new battery. This will give the alternator time to fill the battery completely in case it lost some of its charge during storage or shipping.
What charge should a 12V battery register?
The name “12-volt battery” is a bit confusing when it comes to reading the capacity. When fully charged, a 12V battery should measure at least 12.6 volts when at rest, and between 13.7 and 14.7 volts when the engine is running. A half-charged battery will read around 12.4 volts at rest. By the time the battery reads at 12 volts exactly it’s already functionally dead and will not start a vehicle.