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Published on Fri, Oct 8, 2010

By: The LACar Editorial Staff

The heart of the Optima Yellow Top battery - will it be the very next phase?

By John Grafman Any hack able to click out a few paragraphs on a keyboard can certainly titillate readers by describing the sexy body of the latest Maserati, or perhaps the sensuous styling of an Aston Martin. But when the talk turns to batteries it’s a little more difficult to get someone’s attention. No, batteries may not have the je ne sais quoi of a supercar, but standing in the rain on the side of a roadway with a car that can’t turn over to save its life (or yours) isn’t particularly sexy either. As far as batteries go, however, the smooth and curvy Optima does stand out from the pack in a number of ways including its rather unique appearance. The outward casing is really a construct of the interior. The six cylindrical pillars that form the body of the casing hint at how this battery functions. In a nutshell, most batteries are made up of flat rectangular plates, which lend to the boxy shape of the typical lead acid battery. Optima uses a spiral technology instead, with tightly compressed cells to provide vibration resistance, along with absorbed glass mat (AGM) separators that hold electrolyte like a sponge to eliminate acid spilling. It is a completely sealed and maintenance free unit as well.

The OEM battery

So what does this mean to you and me? The battery holds a charge better and can last up to twice as long, can handle running electronics in the car with the engine off longer, and can come back from the dead faster when recharged. Plus, as a result of its engineering, it can operate without being in a standard upright position. And for those that play hard with their ride, the Optima has 15 times the vibration resistance. Most people would be very surprised at just how many different types and sizes of batteries are required. As a result, not all battery makers have sizes to fit all cars. Optima batteries provide exact fitment to more than 171 million vehicles on the road in the United States. With recent new group size additions to the automotive product line, Optima batteries now fit 71 percent of all vehicles on the road. Optima has two models, a red top and a yellow top. Deep cycling (recharge ability) and cranking power are what sets the Yellow Top model apart from the more utilitarian Red Top model. The pricing is indeed more for the Yellow Top, and both run more than your typical OEM garden-variety batteries. The Yellow Top is designed to support demanding electrical loads - even with key off-and still provide engine-starting power. Audio/video system, built-in computer, GPS, cell phone/Bluetooth/MP3, inverter, winch, and other plug-ins and electronic performance upgrades suck the life from most batteries. The deep-cycle Yellow Top is a good option for those needing a battery that recovers quickly from deep power drains. It is also a good fit for commercial & heavy-duty applications.

The Optima Yellow Top replacement

As many people are keeping cars longer, having to replace the OEM equipment is looking all the more likely, as no battery lasts forever. The Optima battery comes with a number of useful attachments that allow for a much snugger fit in the box. As the Optima Yellow Top has a different top surface from most OEM products, the battery hold down strap doesn’t always fit exactly the same, and this may be an issue on cars where the hold down strap won’t fit back properly. An interesting compliment to the Optima line comes from the owner of a respectable tow truck service. His lack of familiarity with these batteries is indeed a backhanded compliment (think Maytag Man...). With all the focus on new battery technology these days, the lead acid battery might just become an endangered species. But, until that time, the AGM models from Optima are a good option, even taking the price difference into account. In this case, a little more “green” goes a long way. Find out more info at

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