Without a battery, your car is, quite literally, a non-starter. Turn the ignition key or press the start button and the car should, if the battery is charged, fire into life. If not, you’ll be left feeling just like your car battery: flat.
A quick fix is a jump starter, but the time may have come for a new battery.
How long can I expect from a car battery?
You probably don’t give the battery a second thought. Because it’s hidden away, either under the bonnet or in the boot, it’s out of sight and out of mind. However, with a lifespan of around five years, you’re likely to require a new battery at some point. Battery faults are the most common cause of breakdowns, so prevention is definitely better than cure.
If you are having battery troubles well before the expected expiry date of a car battery, it may just need reconditioning. Smart battery chargers are able to do this, which we explain in our smart battery charger guide.
If your car is struggling to turn over, there’s a warning light on the dashboard, or the battery goes flat after just a few days, it might be time to invest in a new battery. Your local tyre fitters will offer a free battery health check, so you’ll know if a replacement is required.
Car batteries: what you need to know
If your car has a start-stop system, make sure the battery is up to the task. Equally a bigger car with a larger engine will require a battery that’s fit for purpose, regardless of whether it features modern tech. That said, don’t go overboard. A mid-range or even budget brand battery could be suitable for an older car with a small engine.
It’s important to buy the right battery for your car. Fortunately, Amazon allows you to search for car batteries and other parts using your registration plate, so you can be sure that the battery will fit your car. Don’t just buy on price, you should consider the brand, and performance in cold weather.
Although we wouldn’t recommend stockpiling car batteries, you should plan ahead. Get your battery tested at regular intervals, ideally when the car is being serviced or having new tyres fitted. A good battery should last around five years, so start considering a new one after four years. If the car isn’t used for long periods, consider purchasing a conditioner/charger to preserve the battery’s health.
The best car batteries
Bosch S4 001 Car Battery
Best for small cars
12V; Lead-acid; 45Ah; 440A Bosch is one of the most trusted names in the world of car batteries. You might pay a little extra for a Bosch car battery, but they tend to last longer and provide better all-season performance than cheaper units. The Bosch S4 001 battery is designed for small cars, so itu2019s ideal if you drive a city car or supermini.
This battery is 100 percent maintenance-free, with Bosch claiming that it is two times more efficient than a standard battery. It’s not suitable for cars with a start-stop system, though.
|• Excellent battery for small cars||• Unsuitable for start-stop systems|
|• Trusted name|
Varta Blue Dynamic C22 Car Battery
Best for a small or medium car
12V; Lead-acid; 52Ah; 470A German company Varta has a history dating back more than 125 years, with its batteries chosen by many major car manufacturers. The likes of Audi, BMW, Ford, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and Volkswagen fit Varta batteries to some of their new cars. This means buying a Varta battery may maintain the OEM (original equipment manufacturer) spec of your car.
Blue Dynamic is the name of Varta’s mid-range car batteries, with the C22 designed for small and medium cars. It’s ideal for older cars without a start-stop system.
|• Good value||• Unsuitable for start-stop systems|
|• OSM quality|
Yuasa YBX9096 Car Battery
Best for start-stop system
12V; AGM; 70Ah; 760A In a modern car with an automatic start-stop system, the engine is switched off several times during the journey. If the car is waiting at traffic lights with the engine stopped, electrical consumers such as headlights, windscreen wipers, air-conditioning, the radio and infotainment display still require power. A conventional battery isnu2019t up to the challenge, so a battery designed for start-stop systems is required.
The Yuasa YBX9096 can handle up to 360,000 engine starts and is engineered for cars with start-stop technology. When you discover that the cheaper and smaller Yuasa YBX1000 battery can tackle 20,000 engine starts, you can see the importance of choosing a battery that’s fit for purpose.
|• Designed for start-stop systems||• Expensive, but big batteries are costly|
|• 360,000 engine starts|
Powerline 063 Car Battery
Best on a budget
12V; Wet; 32Ah; 250A The Powerline 063 car battery is a great option if youu2019re buying on a budget. Although itu2019s unlikely to last as long as an equivalent Bosch or Varta battery, you could save up to 50 percent by opting for a budget brand like Powerline.
It’s a relatively new brand, but the customer reviews are positive. Given the low prices, a Powerline car battery could make good financial sense if you don't do huge mileage.
|• Budget price||• Won’t last as long as the others herey|
Bosch S5 A08 Car Battery
Best for large cars
12V; AGM; 70Ah; 760A Bosch makes it easy to understand its range of batteries. The S3 range is designed for older cars with small engines, the S5 is for high-end premium vehicles, while the S4 should be perfect for most modern vehicles. The S5 A08 is more expensive than some mid-range and budget alternatives, but it comes from a trustworthy name.
It uses AGM or Absorbent Glass Mat technology, which allows larger quantities of energy to pass through. This provides superior power to support the electrical demands of modern vehicles. Bosch rates the performance during cold starts and resistance to deep cycles as ‘excellent’, which makes the S5 A08 superior to other Bosch batteries.
|• Latest battery technology||• Expensive|
|• Excellent battery performance||• Overkill for many cars|