Choose the right battery for your Jeep and the conditions in which you drive it.By Jeffrey Smith – November 16, 2015
This article applies to the Jeep Wrangler JK (2007-Present).
There are many different batteries on the market that can be used in your Jeep Wrangler. How to sort through the myriad of choices can be a daunting task. With as many choices come just as many opinions from any Wrangler owner. How do you know which is the right battery for you? You can certainly narrow the field by looking at the size of battery that is standard for your Jeep. If you do not want to go into the extra work of modifying your engine compartment to fit one particular model over any other, then your choices are reduced considerably. Another factor to consider is the cold cranking amps, or CCA rating of a particular battery. Generally, the higher the CCAs, the more expensive the battery is. Also, another factor is warranties. Just because a battery has a one year warranty does not necessarily mean that you will be going through this process again in a short year; however, if you want to have a long life battery, you will most certainly need to purchase one with a longer warranty. Again, the longer the warranty, the higher the cost.
If you are fairly handy under the hood and skilled with a wrench, you may consider modifying your Wrangler for a dual battery system. This certainly extends the life of each battery and virtually guarantees that you won’t be stranded and have that extra reserve to use to get yourself to a shop for replacement without being towed there. If that is not an option you need, then consider these main components of a replacement battery to help make the right choice for your application.
Cold Cranking Amps (CCA)
The CCA is predominantly listed on each battery. It is crucial that you get a battery with enough CCA for the environment in which you live. Wrangler owners in warmer climates, such as Texas or southern Florida, can get by with lower CCA values than those in Main or Canada. You don’t want to be left stranded in the dead of winter with a new battery that has too low CCAs to get your Jeep running. Batteries with very high CCAs are often referred to as deep cycle batteries, and you may have troubles finding such batteries that are the correct size for your Jeep. The CCA rating of a battery should be the most important aspect in choosing the battery for your Wrangler.
Figure 1. Capacity definitions of any given battery.
Figure 2. The need for higher CCA is crucial in very cold climates.
- Figure 3. Each battery’s CCA will be listed on a sticker.
Even among the same brand of battery comes a myriad of sizes. For Jeep JK Wranglers from 2007 to 2011, the OEM battery size was a group-34. From 2011 and on, they changed it to a group-91, which wouldn’t be so bad; however, they reversed the posts when they made the change for whatever reason. So while the size may fit, the cables will not reach without some significant modifications. Be sure to get the right size fitment, along with the correct terminal placements on the battery that you choose.
Unless you go to a specialty battery store, most auto stores will carry only one brand of battery because there are so many alone among a single brand. They will usually be racked by warranty periods, and then possibly sub-categorized by size as well as CCA rating. Most batteries will come with warranties ranging from one to three years; however, many top of the line brands will come with up to five years or longer. The warranties only guarantee the minimum life and you can usually expect to get many more happy miles out of them, but for piece of mind of not having to go shopping again, select the battery with the highest warranty period that fits with your budget.
Most batteries sold now are considered maintenance-free because of the sealed cores. To extend the life of your battery, the use of a trickle charger is recommended when your Wrangler will be sitting for very long periods of time, especially in the cold. Remember, when replacing your battery, be sure to take the old one with you to turn in as you will usually get a core credit that can reduce the sticker price of the new battery replacement.
What are the most popular replacement batteries for my Wrangler?
You will get just as many opinions for just about each person you ask. Most common replacement batteries seem to be in the line of Red or Yellow Top Optimas, Odysseys, or Die Hard. Price ranges differ widely, so be sure to choose the correct size and CCA for your needs.
Should I consider a dual battery setup?
These systems are not cheap; however, they offer the security of always being able to start and get you to where you need to go. This is highly recommended if you have a lot of add-on electrical components, such as fog lamps, air horn, winch and travel refrigerator on board. Most folks who have a dual battery system are those who take long off-road and camping excursions. They are not necessarily recommended for the daily driver.