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Car batteries are the epitome of getting what you pay for.
Depending on what you’re looking for, the cost of a traditional battery ranges from around $60 for a battery with a shorter life, or upwards of $300 for one that delivers high performance. Because batteries have different life spans and their costs can vary, they can represent a regular portion of maintenance when calculating the total cost of owning a car.
Here’s a rundown on the average costs of traditional car batteries.
Types of batteries
Car batteries come in a wide range of prices. AutoZone’s online inventory shows traditional car batteries running from an economical $69.99 to a premium $339.99 for noncommercial vehicles. Depending on the brand and type of battery you purchase, you can expect a new car battery to last around three to five years, with gel batteries lasting up to seven years in some cases.
Here are a few factors that can affect the cost of a traditional car battery.
The standard battery group sizes are 24, 65 and 75. Batteries that are larger or a unique size are likely to cost more.
Traditional batteries can use different technology to give your car juice:
Lead-acid flooded batteries. Also known as wet cell batteries, these tend to be the cheapest option because they have a shorter life and do not perform as well in rough conditions, like extreme temperatures.
Absorbent glass mat batteries. Also known as dry cell batteries, these provide more power and tend to have longer battery life. They are also more stable and cost more.
Gel batteries. These are similar to absorbent glass mat batteries in performance and price. They don’t require maintenance and can survive rough conditions.
Performance in cold weather
Batteries often have a rating for how well they perform in cold weather, known as cold cranking amps. If you drive your car in colder temperatures, you’ll likely want a battery with a higher cold cranking amps rating, which will cost more.
Batteries come with warranties that are often a reflection of price. The more expensive the battery, the better the warranty. If you want a battery that offers free replacement within two or three years if yours dies, you’ll want to buy one that has a middle price point or above.
Discounted battery options
Rebuilt, refurbished and reconditioned batteries: Some companies will take old batteries and rebuild them or recondition them. This allows the batteries to be recharged and resold as a cheaper alternative to purchasing a new battery. While they might not last as long as a new battery, rebuilt or reconditioned batteries can sometimes offer one to three years of power for less than the price of a new battery.
Used batteries: A used battery offers a great deal of savings over a new battery, in some cases costing as little as half the new battery’s value. But used batteries can come with issues that can damage your car, such as leaking fluids. You also have no way of knowing how much life is left in a used battery.
If you have a mechanic or a roadside assistance company like AAA install a battery, you’re likely going to pay a labor fee that can range from $20 up to $100. But you can avoid this additional cost by installing the battery yourself or purchasing the battery from a car parts store that offers free installation with a battery purchase.