If your car battery goes out, you’ll usually notice because you can’t start the car.
The first few times it happens, you can try using jumper cables to start the vehicle anyway. But, if your vehicle’s battery is no longer storing enough power, you’ll eventually have to replace it.
Luckily, car batteries are easy to replace, and you can normally get back up and running with no help from a mechanic.
The average cost of replacing a car battery is $120. However, actual costs range between $40 and $250 depending on the group size, cold cranking amps, reserve capacity, etc. In addition, if you have a mechanic install the battery for you instead of doing the work yourself, you’ll pay around $30 in labor.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of car battery replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
How Much Does Car Battery Replacement Cost?*
Most car batteries can be purchased for a flat rate, usually with $40-$120 in costs for the battery.
If you want to pay to have a mechanic install the battery, that will usually cost you another $30-$99. That’s because most mechanics have a basic minimum rate that they work for.
However, some also offer to install your battery for free providing you buy the new one from them. And, others will give you a rebate on the total cost if you turn in your old battery.
In every case, your car will fit a range of batteries. However, it’s usually a good idea to follow manufacturer specifications exactly.
Therefore, the costs for a battery vary by car make and model, depending on battery group size, cold cranking amps, reserve capacity, etc.
The following chart details the average cost of replacing a car battery based on popular car models. We’ve left labor costs out, as this is always either a flat rate or included for free with the cost of your battery.
|Chevy Silverado 1500||$69-$325.99|
*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (February 2022). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.
Car Battery Replacement Pricing Factors
Car batteries are normally priced based on brand and capacity. This is expressed in different measurements, each of which impacts costs.
There are dozens of different car battery brands out there. Some of them are budget and some of them are “performance”. For example, brands like EverStart are budget battery brands.
You can normally buy them for as little as $26.99 for a basic battery. On the other hand, brands like Odyssey are performance batteries. Unlike EverStart, they come with 3 and even 4-year warranties. But, you’ll normally pay around $300 or more for an Odyssey battery.
Is this a case of “you get what you pay for”? Sometimes.
Sometimes, more expensive batteries are just intended for higher-end applications or for people who need to be absolutely certain their battery works. E.g., if you work in remote areas and a bad battery could mean being stranded.
Different vehicles require two primary types of batteries. The type you need is based on the type of demand your vehicle places on the battery.
Most vehicles use starter batterers. These are “Starting, Lighting, Ignition” batteries, also sold as “SLI” batteries.
SLI batteries provide a quick burst of power for a short time during engine startup. The battery is then recharged by the alternator during normal engine use.
Some vehicles require deep cycle batteries. These are designed to provide steady current over a longer period of time.
For example, if you have a vehicle with a dump bed or electric hydraulics, have numerous electronics and plug in electronics, or otherwise place high demands on the battery.
Deep cycle batteries are much more expensive than SLI batteries.
Group size refers to the battery dimensions, terminal locations, and terminal type.
The Battery Council International (also known as the BCI) provides a code per battery group size.
Matching the battery group size in the old and new battery is crucial to ensuring that your battery fits. You can normally find this code in your owner’s manual or on the existing battery.
Group size codes look like “H6/LN3” or “24F”. And, it’s important to note that even if the battery is the same size, terminal and post location is important.
For example, if your battery fits in the engine but the posts are too far away for your battery terminals to reach – you’ll have to change the terminals as well, which can be costly.
Here, a larger or rarer group size costs more money.
Reserve Capacity/Amp Hours
Reserve capacity or amp hours is important for your vehicle as well as for local weather. Here, RC refers to the number of minutes a fully charged battery delivers a current of 25 amps at 80 degrees.
In most cases, vehicles need a minimum of 1.75 volts per cell from the battery. Otherwise, the electronics will stop running. Therefore, your RC has to match or meet the specifications of your original battery.
C20 or Amp Hour capacity is also important. This refers to the energy that a battery can deliver over 20 hours without falling below 10.5 volts.
Higher reserve capacity and amp hours mean the battery costs more money.
Cold Cranking Amps (CCA)
The colder your environment, the more important cold cranking amps become. CCA refers to the number of amps the battery can deliver at 0 degrees.
In addition, to get a CCA rating, the battery has to deliver that for at least 30 seconds, or the time it takes most vehicles to start.
If you live somewhere with very cold winters, you have to pay special attention to the CCA. If your area has mild winters, it’s much less of a concern.
And, of course, a higher CCA means a more expensive battery.
Signs and Symptoms of a Bad Battery
If your battery is starting to fail, it’s always better to replace it before it fails completely. After all, a failed battery can leave you stranded.
In addition, failing batteries make your onboard electronics, like your headlights, less reliable.
The car battery powers the electronics systems in your vehicle. These include the interior electronics and lights as well as exterior lights like headlights.
If your headlights are failing, flicker on and off, or are dimming, it may be a battery issue. Of course, it might also be an issue with the wiring or the lamps themselves. You can and should check this.
However, if your battery isn’t providing enough power, the lights will dim. And, that’s especially true if it happens with interior lights as well.
E.g., if your headlights are dimmer than usual, try turning on the cabin light. If that’s also dim, it’s probably a battery issue.
Clicking Sounds on Ignition
If your ignition clicks rather than starting, it means the starter isn’t getting enough power to make a full turn. It starts up and then loses power and clicks to a stop.
Of course, this could also mean you have a bad starter. It might also mean you have a bad starter solenoid.
However, it almost always means the starter isn’t getting enough power. And, a failing battery is a good culprit for that.
Engine Revving Needed to Start
If your engine cranks slowly or needs gas to start, it probably means the battery is failing. Of course, it could also mean the starter is failing. In this case, it’s always a good idea to actually check.
A failing battery can cause a slow start. For example, if the starter starts and fails a few times and the engine starts to turn over a few times.
The fuel injectors will do their job and will start injecting fuel into the cylinders. Then, when the engine actually starts up, that fuel will combust very suddenly, causing backfiring.
Again, this issue might be from other causes. Here you can consider the starter, the solenoids, and even the fuel injectors. However, if you have backfiring alongside other issues, the battery may be the culprit.
If you have a voltmeter or multimeter on hand, you can easily check your battery. Here, you want to set the meter to 15-20 volts.
Turn the lights on the car off. Connect the multimeter to the positive and negative terminals.
If the battery is at less than 12.6, the battery might be going bad. Here, you can try to charge the car battery.
However, you can also leave the car running for a bit with the electronics off and then test again. If it’s not charging, it’s bad.
Replacing a Car Battery: 11 Steps
Replacing a car battery is very easy. In most cases, you can complete the job in less than half an hour, even with a thorough cleaning.
However, if you have a new car, you may want to have your battery changed at a mechanic’s shop.
Why? If you take your car battery out, you’ll lose your electronics settings and will have to completely reset them.
Car shops use a memory saver device to save those settings and then re-load them onto the vehicle afterwards.
If you don’t mind resetting your electronics, you can complete the job yourself.
Things You’ll Need:
- Wire brush OR battery terminal cleaner
- Cleaning solution
- Wrench set (most cars use a 10mm nut)
- Disposable gloves
- Replacement battery, matching your vehicles requirements
From there, you can easily change your car battery yourself.
- Park your vehicle and allow it to cool.
- Take the key out of the engine. This is extremely important as some vehicles will lock up when the power comes back on.
- Open the hood.
- Find the battery posts and use a 10mm wrench or socket to loosen the negative battery terminal. Take it off the post. If it’s stuck, give it a few taps with a hammer.
- Then repeat the process on the other side.
- Tuck both terminals out of the way.
- Then lift the battery out of the engine and place it on a flat surface.
- Use a wire brush and cleaner to scrub the terminals and the battery tray. This ensures your new battery is less likely to suffer from early corrosion.
- Allow the cleaned cable terminal ends to dry fully.
- Then put the new battery back into place. You should always use a wrench or socket to tighten the terminal ends to keep the terminals in place, or they will vibrate off.
- Close the hood and start your vehicle up. You’ll have to reset the clock and other settings.
Finally, it’s important that you always dispose of batteries safely. Most mechanics have a battery collection depot. Some will even offer you money for them.
However, it’s never safe to leave old batteries lying around. It’s also never safe to dispose of batteries in the garbage. Make sure you take your old battery to a safe disposal system.
If you take your vehicle to a Walmart or other battery seller, those retailers are often required by law to have battery disposal. Therefore, you can probably save a lot of time by simply replacing your battery on location. However, this isn’t always an option.
Changing the battery in your car is an easy task. Most people can do it themselves in just a few minutes.
If you have no corrosion or damage around the battery, you could be finished in as little as five minutes. However, it’s always a good idea to clean everything to protect the new battery.
Finally, disposing of the old battery is always important.
In addition, while you can replace a car battery yourself, many auto parts stores offer free installation.
For example, AutoZone and NAPA both advertise that they will install your battery for free if you purchase it with them. This could save you some hassle, especially as it means the auto repair will immediately dispose of the old battery for you.