The Best New Car Batteries Reviewed
On a charge to find the best car battery from 8 top buys
Cars are bursting with hi-tech gadgets, and there’s never been so much strain on a battery. Alarms, immobilisers and other kit take a continual load from the power supply, meaning new units can go flat if the car’s not used for a while.
The most important factor when battery shopping is the physical dimensions – expressed as a three-digit code. Here, we tested the 063 size, one of the most common. Other figures include cranking amps (CA) – the maximum current a battery can give out in one go – and amp hours (AH), the total amount of electricity a battery can hold.
Premium AGM (Absorbent Glass Mat) batteries are expensive but very powerful, and will still start an engine even if they’re considerably discharged. They also withstand low levels of charge for longer periods without degrading.
To gauge each battery’s true power reserve, we wired each one of them up to a high output headlamp bulb, and timed how long it took for the light to go out. After recharging, we then deliberately discharged the batteries by roughly the same amount that alarms – and other electrical systems – do in two to three weeks. We then checked the units would still deliver 200 amps – which starter motors typically require. After charging them up again, our final test involved all 8 of the challengers spending 24 hours at -18°C, to replicate the coldest of winter’s mornings.
Finally, we used the same testing equipment to take 200 amp loads for up to 30 seconds at a time. We noted how many ‘starts’ each battery managed.
The two AGMs perform best, but high prices make them more suited to specialist applications than normal motoring. Exide’s X-Tra Plus takes first place for solid performance at a great price. The Halfords units are second and third.
In this review
- 1Introduction - currently readingOn a charge to find the best car battery from 8 top buys
- 2UKBatteries ValueValue by name but not by price or performance, judging by our test
- 3UKBatteries Platinum PrestigeThis first offering from UKBatteries couldn’t be more different from its Value battery
- 4Odyssey PC 925Flat-plate AGM technology means stunning performance from a battery that’s actually smaller than the 063s in the group
- 5Lucas Premium 3Yuasa is no longer supplying batteries to Lucas, but this doesn’t seem to have been detrimental to their performance
- 6Exide ExcellOne of the few batteries tested here to be priced under the £40 barrier, which makes its average performance in the test rather more acceptable.
- 7Numax PremiumA commended performer in our last big battery test, but the Numax Premium couldn’t repeat that kind of result this time around
- 8Exide Maxxima 900DCOur first AGM battery boasts 900 amps of cranking power, despite not being much bigger than a standard 063 casing
- 9Exide X-Tra PlusThis wasn’t the outright best performer, but no other product here can beat this battery’s trade-off between output and price
- 10Halfords StandardA surprisingly good battery, considering it’s from Halfords’ standard range
- 11Halfords AdvancedThe advanced range of batteries from Halfords uses calcium technology, which bumps up the price, warranty, and, in theory, the overall performance