There are a lot of good battery manufacturers out there. Any battery is going to fail due to the lead flaking off the plates and collecting in the bottom of the case where it builds up until it shorts the plates and kills that cell. As that happens, the reduced amount of lead on the plates reduces the amount of energy the battery can store so while it will still crank the engine, it won't be able to crank it as long as when it was new. Manufacturers know how quickly that lead will flake off and they provide the longest warranty possible up to that point.
More important than the brand of battery is how it is installed. Many newer vehicles, General Motors and Volkswagens in particular, have "got'chas" built in by the engineers to cost you money at the dealership after the battery is disconnected. Many Volkswagen models may not start, if they do start they won't come off idle and won't come out of park so the car has to dragged skidding onto a flatbed truck and hauled to the dealership to have them unlock various computers, and that's not cheap. There's no legitimate reason to design a car like that, at least not for the benefit of the owners.
Many other cars have radios that will go into anti-theft mode when the battery is disconnected. The simple days of replacing your own battery has turned into a major money making event for the manufacturers. Most battery shop people know to use some type of "memory saver" to maintain the memories in the dozens of computers.
As far as battery quality, the thinking used to be that most replacement batteries were at least as good as what originally came in the car because it didn't take much to beef them up. Most original batteries today are very good already.
I've had good luck with Carquest and Diehard batteries but lately I've been buying "reconditioned" batteries from a battery store. Basically that just means they were sitting on the shelf for more than a year but the price is about one third of normal. I use them in small construction equipment where vibration is a consideration. Light truck batteries are built to withstand more vibration than car batteries but they will have a shorter warranty as a trade-off. These reconditioned car batteries have been holding up just fine.
Thursday, June 14th, 2012 AT 7:17 PM