Besides getting new tires and changing the oil in your car, one of the few other things you'll need to remember to do is to buy a new car battery every 4 to 5 years. A quality battery is essential to your car starting every time and keeping a charge. Sometimes batteries get old and need to be replaced and there's always the possibility that you drained the "juice" or charge from the battery by leaving your lights on. A dead battery is the worst thing since you then have to call someone like AAA to get a jump start or perhaps even have the battery replaced if it can't hold a charge anymore. I live in the Portland Oregon area where Les Schwab Tires will actually come out to your house and fix the battery or replace it - that's convenience. I recently had to replace the battery on my 1997 Mercedes and I came across many options for new car batteries.
The good news is that auto batteries are pretty cheap with most running from $70 to $150 and they don't have to be replaced all that often. Which one is best for your car. Their are 5 groups/sizes in auto batteries. There are both top and side terminal models. In group 65, which are top terminals, they fit almost all trucks and cars from Ford along with Lincoln and Mercury automobiles. The 75 group fits Chrysler cars, GM compact and subcompact, and GM cars that date back 10 years or more. The 24/24F group is another top terminal design for Acura CL and TL sedans, Honda Accords (post 1998) and Odyssey minivans. They are also good for 92-97 Nissan pickups and Toyota Sienna minivans. The 34/78 group is best for GM pickups from 1996-2000 along with sedans, and SUV's. The 35 size (top terminal again), fit Subarus, Hondas, Nissan, and Toyotas. The store you buy the battery at can guide you to the best one for your make and model of vehicle. The latest technology in car batteries are the AGM (absorbed glass-mat) variety. These AGM batteries give you more durability, a longer life, and even improved safety over the regular batteries. They tend to be expensive ($150+) but they are maintenance free and safer to handle. Unfortunately, the way car manufacturers are producing new cars, they are placing the batteries in hard to reach areas which makes working on them or changing them rather difficult for the average car owner. Therefore, these AGM style batteries are the preferred choice since they are maintenance free and technically don't need to be looked at. Before you run out to buy a new battery have your local repair shop take a look at your current battery, they should be able to tell you if you need a new one. The other issue that comes into play is what type of climate you live in. Warm weather climates are harsher on batteries than cold weather places. Stores that carry batteries include Wal-Mart, Costco, Sears, Kmart, AutoZone, and Advance Auto Parts. The big name brands are NAPA, AutoCraft, EverStart, Interstate, Sears Diehard, Duralast, Optima, Deka, and Orbital. The best reviews we could find were done by Consumer Reports in which they tested for battery life, reserve capacity, and cold cranking amps (ability to start in cold weather). Most auto batteries come with decent warranties which include free battery replacement during the first 2 or 3 years. See the entire list of top selling car batteries at Amazon
Best Car Battery:
Since there are 5 different types of batteries for various makes and models of cars, it's hard to say which battery performs the best. Group 65 size is fairly common and the NAPA Performance Select 8465 ($80) was the clear winner due to long life and an excellent cold cranking amps (CCA) score. The NAPA battery is maintenance free and the warranty is 24 months free replacement 84 months prorated. The reserve capacity is not as good as the AutoCraft Titanium 65-2 ($80) which was excellent. If you live in moderate climate, the Duralast 65-DL ($70) is worth looking at. You give up some CCA but still get plenty of reserve capacity.
Best Value Car Battery:
Other top picks include the NAPA Legend 7535 ($60) in the 35 size along with the Duralast 35 DL ($70). The side terminal design batteries in the 75 group have 2 top picks - the Everstart MAXX 75N ($68) and the NAPA 84 Select 8475 ($75). The battery group size 24 shows the Interstate Mega-Tron Plus MTP 24 ($90) as the best of the lot.
Top Rated Battery for Cold Weather:
For size 34/78 & 78 batteries, the NAPA Select 8434/78 ($85) has good cold cranking ability and is much cheaper than the top rated Diehard Platinum 50090 ($180) which has the AGM technology in it. The Diehard battery scores well in life, reserve capacity and CCA but at a price that is double the NAPA it's hard to justify the difference. You could purchase a brand new NAPA battery every 4 years and still come out on top.
Car Battery for Warm Weather:
Those living in a warm weather climate should consider buying the Diehard 39990 ($100) or it's equivalent since it's rated well for life and reserve capacity. The Interstate batteries are more expensive than a lot of the other brands but their performance is no better so it makes no sense to go with them unless you find a deal.