What Type of Battery is Right For My Car?
Power. Energy. Life. Your car’s battery is essential to making sure your vehicle starts every day. It ensures that the lights light up, the wipers wipe, the music plays…you get the idea. Your battery is charging whenever your car is running, but it only has so much life and will eventually need to be replaced. Our guide below will help you understand more about the various types of car batteries and identify the best fit for your vehicle.
Starting, Lighting and Ignition Batteries
The vast majority of automotive batteries are Starting, Lighting and Ignition (SLI) batteries. Like the name implies, these batteries not only help start your car, but also provide power to your ignition, lights, radio and more. SLIs have a shallow charge cycle (the time it takes to run down the battery and charge it back up) and can only deliver power in short bursts of time (e.g. the amount of time it takes to start your car).
Deep Cycle Batteries
Deep Cycle batteries provide sustained power over a longer period of time. Compared to SLIs, this makes them more ideal for marine vehicles, small recreational vehicles and golf carts.
Valve-Regulated Lead-Acid Batteries
Valve-Regulated Lead-Acid (VRLA) batteries are designed to be low-maintenance and do not require the regular addition of water to the battery cells. Because they don’t require regular maintenance, the batteries are sealed which means they will not spill if tipped over or inverted. This also means that in most cases, the batteries cannot be serviced, they just need to be replaced.
Two notable types of VRLA batteries are Absorption Glass Mat (AGM) and Gel Cell batteries. AGM batteries deliver a higher rate of power in short bursts compared to other sealed batteries thanks to a fast reaction between the electrolyte and the thin fiberglass surface mat. Gel Cell batteries—called so because of their silica-based electrolyte—typically work best for deep-cycle applications (like marine vehicles and golf carts), but are less effective in extreme cold or hot temperatures.
Wet Cell (or Flooded) Batteries
Wet Cell batteries are called so because they have liquid (most often a combination of lead, sulfuric acid and water) that creates the battery “electrolyte”. Wet Cell batteries are often less expensive than other solutions, but do not provide the same convenience and cycle life that VRLA batteries do. Some wet cell batteries may also require regular maintenance to replace lost electrolytes.
Lithium-Ion (Li-ion) Batteries
While incompatible with the majority of vehicles on the road, in recent years, there have been a number of automobiles, including hybrids and electric cars, that use Lithium-Ion batteries. Li-ion batteries are able to store significantly more energy and are a fraction of the weight compared to traditional lead-acid batteries. However, one of the major drawbacks of Li-Ion batteries is their short lifespans (the typical Li-ion lasts about three years regardless of use).
Battery Types At A Glance
We’ve compiled the information above into this chart. It’s critical to choose the right car battery for your specific needs.
Properly specifying and installing your battery is critical to ensuring your car starts every day and operates smoothly. To determine which battery is best for your car or truck, read up on car battery basics consult your vehicle manufacturers’ service guide or speak with any Sears Auto Center technician today for a complete battery evaluation.