A car battery provides the electric power for your vehicle and is part of its ignition system, along with the alternator and starter. Most batteries last two to five years.
Replacing one costs only the price of the battery if you install it yourself or if you buy it from an auto parts store that offers free installation. Most batteries cost between $50 and $120, with $100 being the average. More expensive, premium batteries tend to last longer and are more reliable.
Car owners have several factors to consider when buying batteries. For example, the weather where you live plays a part in your decision, with cold weather areas requiring a battery with a higher cold-cranking amp, or CCA, rating.
There are a few types of batteries to choose from. These include:
- Wet-cell batteries, which are generally cheaper than other battery types. A basic one will cost you about $50, while more popular brands tend to run in the hundreds of dollars.
- Calcium-calcium batteries cost around $100. You need to be careful not to overcharge a calcium-calcium battery.
- A valve-regulated lead acid battery, or VRLA, features safety valves to help stop fluid loss, a common problem with other battery types. This technology drives up the price. Many VRLA batteries range from $100 to $250.
- Deep-cycle batteries are more durable, so you need to replace them less often. This battery will run you about $200.
- Lithium-ion batteries are used in high-performance vehicles, such as hybrids and other electric vehicles. This battery is the most expensive, with prices starting at about $1,000.
Other factors that affect battery cost
- Battery size is determined by the make and model of your vehicle. Refer to your vehicle owner’s manual for more information.
- Reserve capacity represents the amount of time a battery can continue to supply voltage to the vehicle should the belt break or the alternator fail. The higher a battery’s reserve capacity rating, the more it costs. Consult your owner’s manual to find the reserve capacity rating you need when replacing the battery in your vehicle.
- Amp hour capacity, also known as C20, indicates how much energy a battery delivers over a time span of 20 hours at 80 degrees without falling below 10.5 volts. High amp hour ratings are usually found on deep-cycle batteries. The higher the amp hours, the more costly the battery.
- Cold cranking amps. The CCA rating of a battery determines how well the battery starts in cold weather. Higher cranking amps mean more power to the battery, which can really drain a battery’s starting power over time. Batteries with a higher CCA rating cost more, though you should look for a replacement battery with the same or a slightly higher CCA rating than what’s listed in your owner’s manual.
Making the correct choice
Finding the right battery for your vehicle is critical. You can find affordable batteries online or in your local auto parts store. Consult your vehicle owner’s manual or ask an associate at the auto parts store if you have questions about which battery to buy.
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