Car battery brands are not all the same, and a poor-quality battery will not last as long as a higher-quality one. But, bottom-line, it’s more complicated than that. Most car batteries sold here in the USA come from only a handful of sources; most of them are private-labeled to an assortment of chain stores and auto parts stores. A few OEM-style batteries are imported from Europe and Asia, but are usually only available at your car’s dealer at inflated prices.
Construction details vary widely among batteries. The conventional flooded-cell battery, with removable caps and a thirst for distilled water on a regular basis is pretty much obsolete: virtually any battery you can buy today is what is referred to as a maintenance-free battery, and never needs to be filled.
Which car battery brand is best?
While large marketers like Sears and Interstate claim their product is vastly superior to all others, not so much. There are dozens of different batteries in any manufacturer’s product line, in various sizes and terminal styles. Ratings of batteries by organizations like Consumer Reports reveal that in any given size, any brand of comparable battery might be as good as any other. Clearly, a bargain-basement battery, bought solely on price, probably will not last as long as a premium battery.
The real product differentiation is in the warranty and service. Most auto parts stores and retailers have batteries with different warranties, ranging from a year to as much as five years. We suspect that much of the 30-40% extra cost of a premium battery goes to the warranty, rather than for improved construction.
So when shopping for a battery, be sure to read the fine print: warranties differ widely. A five-year warranty probably is pro-rated for the last three years. This means you’ll only get part credit for the remainder of the battery’s warranty period, rather than a straight-up replacement. If you travel extensively, you might want to choose a nationally-available brand so you won’t have to limp home with a failing battery or buy a new battery outright from a local source. Look for a shop that will test your battery and charging system and then install the battery for free, rather than simply picking one off the shelf and plunking it down on the counter.
If you’re not yet ready to replace your car’s battery, at least keep this guide handy, in case you’re faced with a dead battery: How to Jump a Car.
Need some assistance replacing your car battery? Check out Openbay and get instant quotes from local shops for car battery replacement.