Best Battery Upgrades For Subarus Of All Types
We frequently receive inquiries from owners looking to upgrade their Subaru's battery setup. Whether they own a fully prepped stage rally car, a weekend track car, or a regular daily driver, individuals of all types have expressed interest in upgrading their Subaru's battery. Unfortunately, information regarding performance batteries suitable for various Subaru models can be hard to come by.
As much as we love Subaru, it’s no secret that the OEM batteries they provide from the factory are not the most robust part of the cars. Even under regular daily driving conditions, many people find themselves having to return to the dealer within the first year for a battery replacement. If you are planning to perform any upgrades to your Subaru, ensuring that your battery has enough headroom is essential. In this article, we will provide a brief overview of some excellent battery options for your Subaru - no matter what your end goal is. Let’s jump in and we’ll cover everything you need to know as you begin the shopping process.
Initial Battery Shopping Considerations:
When starting your battery search, it's crucial to consider the long-term plans for your vehicle. Even if your car is currently in stock condition, it may undergo modifications in the future that may require additional battery capacity. In such cases, it's wise to select a battery with sufficient margin (I.E. Ah and reserve capacity) to accommodate these potential upgrades. This proactive approach not only saves money in the long run but also ensures your battery can meet future power demands as your build progresses.
Another important consideration is whether you want to maintain your battery's current location or opt for an alternative placement. If you prefer a stock setup, most Subaru models come with a factory battery size (Group 35) that you can retain even if you want more reliable power.
Reasons To Upgrade Your Battery For Everyday Use:
The battery in your car is one of the most critical components. Without a reliable battery, your vehicle won't operate properly. Low-quality batteries might allow your car to function initially, but they can lead to unexpected breakdowns or mysterious electrical issues, resulting in expensive diagnostic bills at the mechanic. With modern cars featuring numerous onboard electrical components, it's essential to ensure that your battery can handle the electrical load seamlessly.
Here are some reasons why people opt for premium batteries for their daily drivers:
- Reliability: premium batteries reduce the risk of unexpected breakdowns.
- Extreme Temperature Resistance: they perform exceptionally well in both hot and cold climates, outperforming generic wet-cell batteries. This means less time wasted trying to start a vehicle on cold mornings in the winter.
- Headroom for Additional Accessories: premium batteries can power advanced sound systems and accommodate future performance upgrades that you may want to add to the vehicle.
- Less Starter Wear: a powerful battery results in quicker starts and less wear on the starter, especially in high-temperature conditions.
- Extended Lifespan & Long-Term Savings: premium batteries offer a longer lifespan at a reasonable price. In many cases, a performance battery will last two or three times longer than a cheap parts store battery but only cost 50% more.
Reasons To Upgrade For Racing Applications:
Investing in premium parts can accumulate costs quickly, so it's essential to justify these expenses, especially for racing enthusiasts. While high-quality batteries benefit all Subaru owners, those with performance-oriented vehicles require adequate power for various reasons such as the following:
- Bigger Fuel Pumps: racing enthusiasts often use fuel pumps that demand more power and require a battery capable of delivering consistent voltage.
- Higher Compression Engines: these engines need more starting power, especially for quick and reliable ignition.
- Performance Ignition Systems: they demand a steady power supply for consistent performance.
- High Heat Conditions: racing can subject the battery to extreme heat, which can affect its life and performance.
- Physical Force: high speeds and aggressive cornering can exert physical stress on the battery.
- Weight Distribution: racing enthusiasts often seek to shift weight away from the front end of their vehicles to enhance handling and acceleration. An aftermarket battery, combined with strategic placement, can assist in achieving this goal.
Reasons To Upgrade For Off-Road Use:
With the growing popularity of lifted Subaru builds, many owners are finding the need for more power and a reliable battery while navigating secluded roads. The demands of off-road driving can damage traditional "parts store" batteries and create a need for an upgraded battery option.
- Reliability: off-road conditions can be harsh and unpredictable. A high quality battery ensures reliable engine starts, reducing the risk of getting stranded in remote locations.
- Accessory Power: off-road enthusiasts often equip their vehicles with extra lighting, navigation systems, winches, and sometimes even refrigeration. A robust battery can support these accessories without issue.
- Winching: as previously mentioned, if you use a winch for recovery or other purposes it can draw a significant amount of power. Upgrading to a high-capacity battery ensures your winch operates effectively without overtaxing your electrical system.
- Cold Weather Performance: if you venture into cold or extreme climates, a high quality battery can maintain its performance even in low temperatures, reducing the risk of a dead battery when you need it the most.
- Vibration Resistance: off-road trails and forest roads can be rough, causing vibrations that may damage or shorten the life of a standard battery. Traditional wet-cell batteries have lead plates in them that are physically damaged by this kind of vibration. Upgraded batteries are designed to be more resistant to the jarring effects of off-road driving.
- Extended Lifespan: quality off-road batteries tend to have longer lifespans, reducing the frequency of replacements and saving you money in the long run.
- Low Maintenance: many performance batteries are maintenance-free, meaning they don't require regular topping off with distilled water, making them more convenient for lifted Subaru enthusiasts. In most cases, an occasional top off with the charger is all you’ll need to keep your battery healthy for years.
- Safety: a reliable battery is crucial for safety in off-road situations. It powers communication devices, lighting for nighttime navigation, and other safety-related equipment.
- Added Peace of Mind: knowing that you have a durable and reliable battery in your off-road vehicle adds peace of mind and allows you to focus on enjoying your adventure without worrying about electrical issues.
Different Battery Types You Need To Know About:
As you embark on your battery search, you'll encounter three primary battery types: traditional wet-cell batteries, AGM (absorbed glass mat) batteries, and lithium (lifepo4) batteries. Each type has its advantages and here's a brief overview of the main strengths of each option:
Wet-Cell Batteries: also known as "lead-acid" batteries, these are the most basic and cost-effective option. They come standard in most vehicles but are less efficient, making them less suitable for demanding conditions. They are more likely to fail when fully discharged and do not deliver sustainable power during spirited driving. Activities like off-roading, drifting, autocross, rallycross, or any other motorsport are very hard on lead-acid batteries.
Here is a lead-acid battery that began to corrode regularly before finally being replaced:
AGM Batteries: absorbed glass mat batteries are a step up from wet-cell units and are typically powerful enough for most motorsports. They feature a sealed construction and use an electrolyte-saturated fiber to efficiently transmit energy. AGM batteries are resistant to vibration and don't have free liquid that can slosh around during aggressive driving. They tend to be more reliable, have a longer lifespan, and don't cause corrosion which can lead to frame damage in your Subaru.
Here's an example of a popular compact AGM battery that we sell:
Lithium Batteries: lithium batteries are the top-tier option, offering superior performance, lighter weight, and an extended lifespan. They are ideal for those looking to maximize their Subaru's performance by delivering efficient power and reducing as much weight as possible. Lithium batteries are particularly beneficial for racing and high-performance applications, as they provide ample power and can weigh up to 70% less than their non-lithium counterparts.
Check out what Ron and Zach from Hoonigan have to say about the Antigravity ATX30 HD:
Should You Use An Aftermarket Battery Size In Your Subaru?
Nearly all Subaru models have come equipped with a factory battery size of Group 35 for many years. If you prefer a direct replacement that fits your stock battery location without modifications, sticking with your OEM size is a great choice. It suits the needs of the average enthusiast who uses their Subaru for daily driving and occasional spirited driving.
However, some enthusiasts opt to change the battery size and location for various reasons. Some do so to improve the engine bay's appearance, while others need to make room for performance parts like bigger turbo setups, or piping for front mount intercoolers. Additionally, shifting weight away from the front end is another common goal for track purposes. Installing an aftermarket battery and placing it in a non-stock location is an effective way to achieve any of these goals.
If you wish to install a battery that is either smaller or larger than the factory size, consider using appropriate battery mounts to ensure secure placement and safety. Each of the batteries in this article have a matching MeLe mount to safely and easily mount the unit anywhere in the vehicle where there is a flat metal surface.
Top Picks For Subaru Performance Batteries:
Now that we've covered the basics of battery selection, let's explore some of our favorite batteries suitable for Subaru vehicles. These options cater to a wide range of needs and preferences, ensuring you have the power and reliability you require for your Subaru, whether it's a daily driver or a high-performance machine.
The Odyssey ODP-AGM35 is a fantastic OEM replacement for nearly all Subaru models. This battery has much more power and is far more reliable than the stock units that our cars came with from the factory. We have yet to receive any complaints from customers who've purchased this battery and we don't expect that we will in the future.
With 765 cold cranking amps, the AGM35 is ready for virtually any conditions Subaru drivers may throw at it. The most current version of this battery also provides 117 minutes of reserve capacity. If you want to upgrade your Subaru's reliability and add a little more capacity for upgrades, this battery is a great place to start.
The Full Throttle FT-410 batteries are purpose-built to keep up with the increasing demands of today's vehicles. With high-compression cells and a tough casing, they're resilient against shocks and vibrations. Utilizing pure-lead cells and thin-plate technology, these batteries deliver consistent and reliable power to meet high-performance needs.
The FT-410 comes in at 6.5 inches in length, 6.93 inches in width, and has a height of 4.92 inches, with a total height of 5.67 inches including terminals, and it weighs 23.2 pounds. This battery is substantially smaller and lighter than the stock batteries that came in our Subarus. But with a reliable 410 cold cranking amps, it still delivers a lot of power.
This battery pairs perfectly with our 900 Series Rally Spec mount. It can be mounted in the stock location, or anywhere else in the vehicle that may be necessary for your needs.
One of our customers recently sent us this photo of their FT410 that was fully discharged twice within a two week period. The battery charged right up each time with no issues and is still running perfectly.
If you want to step up from AGM and jump into a lithium (lifepo4) battery option, the Antigravity ATX30 HD is one of the most popular batteries that we stock. This battery is engineered to deliver significant power and capacity within a standardized case size of 6.5 x 5 x 6.8 inches. With an impressive 970 Cranking Amps and a 48 Amp Hours capacity, it offers premium performance while weighing just 7.81 lbs (yes, the ATX30 HD only weighs about as much as a small potted plant.) It also features a lighted voltage indicator to easily monitor the state of charge. As a testament to its safety and reliability, this battery incorporates the latest Battery Management System (BMS) technology and utilizes lifepo4 lithium chemistry.
This battery is great for folks looking to remove weight from the front of their car for track use without sacrificing performance. In addition to being lightweight, the battery is physically smaller than the OEM case size to allow for a cleaner engine bay and more room to route aftermarket accessories or performance parts. Many WRX, STI, and even BRZ owners run this battery with our matching rally spec mount to maintain high power output while shedding an insane amount of weight.
The Antigravity Group-35 is a groundbreaking addition to automotive power solutions. Since this battery comes in a group 35 case size, this makes it a direct replacement for your stock battery. Its dimensions measure in at 9 x 6.85 x 8.6 inches. With a 40 amp hour capacity, it delivers a high power output of 1500 Cranking Amps.
This battery also features Antigravity's exclusive RE-START technology; a wireless jump-starting system. You can effortlessly jump-start your vehicle with the press of a button on your key fob remote, eliminating the need for jump-starters or roadside assistance. The Antigravity Group 35 is not only a high-performance battery but is remarkably lightweight. The Group 35 sheds up to 40 lbs instantly, making it 70% lighter than the traditional lead-acid batteries that came in our Subarus. This weighs in at a mere 16.5 lbs. With this new lightweight battery, you'll be equipped with a powerful and intelligent solution, ensuring you'll never be left stranded in your Subie.
The Antigravity Group 35 is the right choice for those who want a lightweight battery that can do it all. This battery is a true workhorse.
Full Throttle FT750-35 (Best AGM Battery for Overland and Heavy Accessory Use)
The team over at Full Throttle takes their product development very seriously. But don't take our word for it. Ben Boxer over at Lifted Imports has purchased two of these batteries from us. One for his lifted Jeep XJ that has a 9500 lb winch on it and another for his 2011 Subaru Outback daily driver. He's subjected the one in his Jeep to severe discharge cycles while using the winch on the trails of Oregon and Washington. He also uses other Full Throttle batteries in his lifted Forester and Legacy wagon. Check out what he has to say about the installation and quality of the FT750-35 in the article "AGM Battery Upgrade For a Subaru Outback" where he shows the process of swapping to AGM using our group 35 battery tie down.
The FT750-35 is the most affordable battery for those who need a true powerhouse in their Subaru. To buy an FT750-35, click HERE and don't forget to grab a group 35 tie down for it HERE to securely fasten the battery in your engine bay.
A well-chosen battery is a crucial aspect of any vehicle, and it's especially important for those with performance oriented Subarus or those seeking to maximize their daily driving experience. Don't overlook the significance and safety of a reliable and powerful battery in achieving your automotive goals. If you have any questions or need assistance with your battery upgrade, don't hesitate to reach out to us. MeLe Design Firm offers free no-pressure battery consultations. We're here to provide guidance without any sales pitches or gimmicks. You can reserve a battery consultation HERE.