Winter can be a wonderland; playing in the snow, making snowmen, and having snow fights. It can be such a dream. The extreme cold, on the other hand, is another story. Short days, miserable weather and if you don’t have the best car battery for cold weather then you can find yourself stranded in the absolute worst time. To prevent this, you should buy a car battery that can operate despite the tough climate. Thankfully, this article has vetted the market for the best car options for the freezing cold. We also explain the useful metrics to decide on the right option for your car and give some advice on how to keep it alive in the winter. Read on to find out more.
What is CCA?
Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) is a standard across the motor industry to establish a battery’s ability to start an engine in the freezing cold. It is the current that a 12-volt battery can deliver for 30 seconds at -18°C (0°F) as it maintains a terminal voltage of at least 1.20 volts per cell. CCAs show how well a battery will perform in the icy winter. As a battery ages, its starting power depreciates and so choosing a battery with higher starting power should assure you of its long use. Be wary though, too many CCAs in warm climates is not a good idea and will adversely affect the battery’s performance.
Best Car Battery for Cold Weather Reviews
Odyssey 65-PC1750T: Overall Best Performer
If there was ever an overachieving battery, it would be this battery. The 65-PC1750T has an incredible 950 cold cranking amps and you’ll be hard pressed to find a better rating on the market. On top of this, it is a military grade deep cycle battery that can resist a lot of mechanical wear, intense vibrations, and extreme temperatures. Its leak-proof design coupled with its low maintenance, give you multiple options to mount the battery except one. You cannot invert it.
According to Odyssey, this battery lasts 70% longer than other deep cycle batteries. You can have a stable voltage across it for a long time and yet it will have a longer cycle life than its competitors. Odyssey’s battery is also the most efficient recharge lead batteries with a charge time of 4-6 hours. But all these superlatives, come with a hefty price tag to match. Excellence doesn’t come cheap. Put in another way, this is the best cold weather car battery if you have the money for it.
- High-performance cranking
- Long battery life
- Mountable in most positions
- Quick recharging
- 2-4 year warranty
- Very expensive
- Cannot be inverted when you mount it
- Not for those who need low CCA rating
ACDelco 94RAGM: Good Rating but a Short Lifespan
This option from ACDelco is an excellent car battery for winter with a remarkable 850 cranking amps, 80 amp-hours, and 140 minutes of reserve capacity. It is an excellent product for consistent starting power for a range of applications including automotive, recreational, and heavy-duty. Rest assured that the battery has been extensively tested to meet ACDelco’s high standards. This model utilizes the best technologies and materials to ensure its performance, battery cycle, and durability. It has an Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) to ensure there are no leaks. It is engineered with a silver calcium alloy to enhance its battery cycle performance. Plus, the calcium lead plates minimize resistance and improve conductivity. This battery can also resist extreme shock.
At 51lbs, the 94RAGM is by no means a light battery. Its weight can make mounting cumbersome. A bigger concern is that the battery also doesn’t have a long life. There have been several reports that this battery’s lifespan doesn’t exceed two years of use. This is quite discerning but an important thing to consider before buying one.
- High cranking rating
- Very expensive
- Short lifespan
- Heavy battery
- Can only be used on vehicles that need AGM batteries
ACDelco ACDB24R: Good Cranking Amps at an Affordable Price
This is a sophisticated battery at a moderate price. The cold weather car battery incorporates two different technologies to be a great choice. First, it uses Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) technology to guarantee no harmful spills with this battery. The ACDB24R also uses valve regulated-gas recombinant technology which gives it up to 3 times the cycle life of typical batteries. When you compare these batteries with others that use flooded calcium technology, these ACDelco batteries are engineered with full frame power path grids that give them higher cranking power and decrease its self-discharge rate for off-season storage.
Tested for rigidity to assure its usage in extreme conditions and backed by some of the industry’s best battery warranties, the ADCB24R is an incredible deal. This battery series has a wide range of models to fit different car models and makes. It can be daunting to pick the right model but do your research to get the right battery for you.
- Good CCA rating
- Longer cycle life
- 18-month warranty
- May not match certain car models, especially heavy-duty vehicles
Optima Batteries 8025-160: Reliable With Minimal Maintenance
Optima’s RedTop is a cold weather battery that uses ultra-high AGM technology that delivers powerful and reliable start-up. It offers 720 CCAs and a reserve capacity of 90 minutes which enough to even be used on heavy-duty vehicles. The spill-proof AGM design makes it mountable in multiple positions especially since the battery can also withstand intense vibrations and has a high tolerance for severe temperatures.
In general, the battery outperforms other batteries in demanding cranking and starting applications. This RedTop offers very fast recharging and the strongest 5-second starting burst in the industry. In general, the 8025-160 outperforms other batteries in demanding cranking and starting. But this model has its drawbacks. If your vehicle has a lot of electronic loads and accessories then this is not the best option, look at Optima’s YellowTop series for that purpose. If you need a battery for non-cycling applications then look at the brand’s BlueTop series because the 8025-160 just won’t cut it.
- High-performance battery
- Works in extreme climates
- Long-life battery
- Only works in certain applications
- Has a carry handle that can get in the way after mounting
Optima Batteries 8040-218 D35 YellowTop: Small but Powerful
The YellowTop series by Optima battery as designed for electrical loads that are larger than usual and machines without alternators, you could even use it as a truck battery for cold weather. This is one of the best car batteries for cold weather since it uses a unique SpiralCell technology to give 620 cold cranking amps. This battery can do multiple cycles of charging/recharging which is why it can handle several electrical loads like winches, hydraulics, and a high-end sound system.
Plates are made by the process of spiral winding pure lead. The SpiralCell is also the reason it can withstand extreme vibrations and offer a 98-minute reserve capacity. You can rest assured with this technology that there will be no forms of harm to yourself, people in the vehicle or the environment. This battery is durable, reliable, and it is supposed to last thrice as long as normal batteries. All this make the YellowTop ideal for off-road vehicles and racing cars. It is smaller than most batteries which can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, the battery is a good option when you have limited space, but on the other hand, further adjustment is required if you are changing your original battery.
- Good CCA rating and fast recharging
- Spill-proof and mountable in various positions
- Can be used by heavy equipment such as forklift and tractors
- Can be used by vehicles with high-demand electronics
- May need a custom spacer to fit in certain car models
- Has a low reserve capacity
How many cold cranking amps a battery have?
So now that you’ve decided on a battery you may be wondering to yourself, how many cold cranking amps should a battery have? Well, there are various factors that need to be taken into consideration to determine the right CCA to start an engine. Engine size, car make, auxiliary loads, just to name a few. The car manufacturer has taken all the necessary considerations so it is best to purchase a battery with at least the same CCA rating as the vehicle’s original battery. A lower CCA rating could result in unnecessary problems.
How to keep your car battery charged in the cold weather?
Imagine for a second, it’s cold like Polar bears are roaming cold, and you’re in a hurry. You urgently want to get to somewhere nice and warm, so you jump into your car, turn the key and then nothing. You do it again, but it won’t start. You pop the hood open and check only to find your battery is dead. You would want to prevent this by all means and here are some useful tips to keep your battery fully charged throughout the winter.
- Before the cold starts, check your battery
- Get a battery charger
- Keep your car out of the wind when you park
- Be conscious of accessories
- Keep it clean
It’s a good idea to schedule an auto care check-up prior to the blistering cold to know the status of your vehicle. When you know what your battery’s charge is then you can act more efficiently and choose the right interventions to prolong its charge.
A quality battery charger, sometimes called battery tenders, is a more affordable option than purchasing a new winter car battery every year. You should buy a battery charger with a float, storage, or maintenance charge mode otherwise it will be a waste of money.
Whenever you can, protect your car from the cold wind. Always park in a garage in the evening. You can even go the extra mile and buy an electric battery blanket. If you don’t have a garage, try at least to keep the front of your car out of the main direction of the wind.
Even if you bought the best car battery for cold weather, if you leave all your accessories on before turning off the vehicle, your battery won’t last that long. Make sure your AC, lights, and radio are off before you park. And when you start the car up again, wait a little bit to let your alternator charge the battery before turning all these loads on.
When the temperatures drop, the electrical resistance increases and the engine oil gets thicker. This already makes the battery work harder without dirt and debris on the battery terminals, that further increase the resistance. Any white powder around the battery terminals is corrosion that can be easily addressed with a damp cloth, a toothbrush, baking soda, and H20. Afterward, apply dielectric grease to prevent more corrosion from happening.