As we’ve been restoring my son’s Blazer, we’ve had to move it in and out of the garage a few times. A few weeks ago we went to move it into the garage; nothing happened when we turned the key.
The battery was dead. We jumped it and got it going, but it did it the next week. The battery wasn’t holding a charge and needed to be replaced (check out this article on how to test your battery if you want to know what we did).
When it comes to car repairs and replacing parts, it’s always a challenge to figure out how much money you will have to spend to get what your car needs.
The cost of replacing a dead battery is no exception as several factors determine how much it will cost to get a replacement battery for your car.
The cost to replace a car battery will be anywhere from $70 to $700 depending on the type of car, technology, type of battery and whether or not you can do it yourself or you need to take it to a mechanic or dealer. The average cost for most cars is closer to $150 or less.
Replacing a battery yourself is very easy and straightforward in most cases. You just need to determine if it’s bad and then follow some simple steps (included in the article linked earlier). Because you don’t want to replace a good one before it reaches the end of its battery life.
For those who drive electric vehicles or have a hybrid that has electric motors, you may not be surprised to learn that DIY options for replacing a battery (or your battery packs) are limited.
It’s not like you can just go down to Sam’s Club and buy an electric car battery off the shelf. We’ll look at writing a future article around the replacement of an electric car battery and your options.
Let’s dig into what factors affect the average prices of replacement car batteries.
DIY Method vs. Going To a Mechanic
First, if you plan on a DIY method, you should expect to spend between $100-$450, but these numbers can vary a lot depending on where you get the replacement parts and tools. If you go to most auto parts stores, you can find batteries for almost every application.
If you don’t plan on replacing the battery and instead intend to have a certified mechanic do the job, the prices will again differ depending on the mechanic you go to.
That being said, you can expect to pay roughly the same price as a DIY method with the additional $30-$50 cost of labor if you get a battery installation from a service center.
While a DIY method can save you money, I highly recommend taking the route of a mechanic if you are not familiar with cars because you can fry sensitive electronics if you do it wrong. The good news is that a full-blown mechanic or dealer isn’t always required. In a lot of cases, the Big Box store (like Sam’s Club) where you buy the battery can replace it for you in a few minutes.
However, regardless of which course you choose, you’ll still need to know the ins and outs of what determines a battery’s selling price.
The main things to consider are the type of battery, the brand, the manufacturing date, and the seller. All of these will play some role in the final price, so read on to learn about each of them in more detail!
Four Elements That Determine a Car Battery’s Price
Here are four of the key points you should consider when calculating battery replacement costs.
The Battery Type
There are numerous types of batteries that manufacturers put out for vehicles, and the number of different kinds continues to grow as technology improves. However, going over every type of battery is unnecessary for this article.
We’ll cover four of the most common batteries – all of which vary primarily in battery chemistries and not size:
- Lead-Acid Battery
- Lithium-Ion Batteries
- Absorbent Glass Mat Batteries
- Enhanced Flooded Battery
Some of the cheapest types are lead-acid. You can find Lead Acid Batteries in most cars prior to 2010. Of course, some older cars will take a more complex battery due to the amount of technology in them, but there are more “standard” batteries in cars before 2010.
When we say “complex” we mean that the battery is designed to have higher cold cranking amps and maintain power longer under heavy loads. These “complex” batteries are usually required for more modern cars that have multiple computers, sophisticated sound systems and lots of automation.
What are some of these more complex batteries?
You don’t need to become a car battery guru by any means. You only need to know that substantially different types of batteries exist and don’t all have the same price. Battery prices will fluctuate based on your car’s type of battery – which is usually dictated based on the car’s electrical needs, the battery capacity (and reserve capacity) and the cold cranking amps required.
Type of battery considerations will go a long way, as you’ll pick up on the fact that an enhanced flooded battery (EFB) costs less than an absorbent glass mat battery (AGM) and in most cases, lithium-ion batteries are usually more expensive than both due to their size and applications.
An AGM battery is a valve-regulated lead-acid (VRLA) battery capable of handling modern vehicles with automatic start-stop technology and the greater electric energy level they require. The charge comes as electrons interact within the individual cells within the battery.
An EFB battery is made for vehicles with simple start-stop technology. It also has less cycling endurance than an AGM battery, effectively making it a cheaper alternative.
A lithium-ion battery contains a lot of technology that gives it a wide range of uses from portable electronics to hybrid & electric vehicles. They provide a good, consistent power supply that usually lasts long.
Obviously, in hybrid or electric vehicle applications, you’re going to find lithium-ion battery packs that are much more complicated and larger than “standard” car batteries. They can often handle a wider range of charge/discharge cycles and often perform better in extreme temperatures.
So, if you ever find someone trying to sell you an EFB battery and they are charging you the price of an AGM battery, you’ll now know that that’s a red flag!
The Battery Brand (or Lack of Thereof)
Once you have an idea of what type of battery you want to buy, the brand is the next thing you’ll want to consider to determine the cost.
The brand of a battery is just as important as the brand of most products. For battery brands, Optima, Odyssey, NAPA, ACDelco, and Duracell are some of the ones that sit atop the rest of the competition.
Because they are different from generic car batteries and all specialize in their own areas, you will have to do a fair bit of research to understand the pricing differences between each of them. Brand names are not always indicative of quality, so if you’re serious about knowing what it is you’re paying for, then the research is worth the effort.
The Battery’s Manufacturing Date
As important as the type and brand of battery are, the manufacturing date is equally important in the price equation.
A battery made with higher quality parts will naturally cost more money. If it has been around for a while, then those parts will no longer have the same level of quality.
As with most products, a new battery means that it is better and more expensive regardless of the battery type. Whether you should opt for a new battery or not is entirely up to you, but getting a battery fresh out of the box means it has the highest chance of a long lifespan.
Batteries also experience a loss of power over time due to “self-discharge,” and they will eventually die if they do not receive regular charging.
Ensure that you always know a battery’s manufacturing date before buying it. Unfortunately, some sellers will try to pull a fast one on you, especially if they think you don’t know much about cars.
To avoid that situation, always ask any seller for the manufacturing date of a battery you intend to buy. Also, take the extra step of checking the sticker on the battery to see the manufacturing date yourself.
Where you Buy it
Speaking of sellers, the price of a battery will vary a lot depending on where you buy it.
We’ve mentioned in previous articles that most generic batteries are manufactured in the same facilities as the big name brands. The batteries sold at Walmart, Sam’s Club, Costco and many auto parts chains are just as good in most cases and come from the same handful of battery manufacturers that all batteries come from.
And sometimes better because of the great warranty and return policies at some of these big box stores.
You may ask yourself where is the cheapest place to buy car batteries. However, that will only help you so much because along with the previous points, there are always price differences due to battery size and cold cranking amps (CCA) ratings. CCA ratings are essentially what the battery industry uses to determine how well a battery can start a vehicle’s engine in cold temperatures.
When buying a battery, the core charge is something else to remember. You must pay a fee for a core charge upon purchasing a battery, as the core charge is a deposit that you can get back when a battery gets brought into the store for an exchange. So, don’t forget the core charge price when calculating the total cost.
Encouraging battery recycling is the primary purpose of core charges, and retailers can charge battery cores across all 50 states, while 30 states have laws that require retailers to do battery core charges. The laws differ from state to state, so be sure to check out the rules and regulations of whatever state you are in!
The fact that you should also put some time into researching what sellers you’re planning to purchase a battery from is a given, but a helpful reminder never hurts. As I briefly said, some sellers will always try to take advantage of you if you provide them with the opportunity.
And if you are not careful, you might pay way more than the new battery cost on average, and someone might sell you a faulty or old dead battery as a scam.
It’s best not to mess with a situation where someone might get charged due to illegal activities!