Most people are lucky enough to get several years out of their car battery without having to replace it.
The car battery is one of those interesting car parts which essentially allows the car to function.
Without a car battery, you won’t be going anywhere.
When your car battery needs to be replaced, you may experience a bit of sticker shock.
The car battery can be quite expensive.
Here are the top reasons a car battery is so expensive.
Why Are Car Batteries So Expensive?
Have you ever been offered a warranty on a product that costs more than the product itself?
This is something we see happen all too often, especially with electronics.
You try to purchase a new TV only to find out that the warranty is extra, and it is going to double the price of the TV.
Any product that comes with its own free warranty certainly adds some excellent value.
The car battery almost always comes with a warranty.
Some car manufacturers are different than others.
For instance, if you purchase a new Toyota or Ford, they may cover the battery as opposed to the battery manufacturer.
If you have a car already and replace the battery, then the warranty will very likely be with the battery manufacturer.
Many bumper to bumper warranties will cover the battery in addition to almost anything else that could go wrong with the car.
If your bumper to bumper warranty carries out more than 36 months, it’s possible the battery will no longer be covered at that point.
The reason this is done is car batteries traditionally only last for about five years.
Most companies are not going to carry a warranty for the full duration of the battery’s life.
From a business perspective, this would not make any sense as some car owners may not be taking care of their car batteries.
Sometimes batteries just need a jump start and do not need to be fully replaced.
If you find that you have a problem with your car battery and you have only had the car for a year or two, it may not be a warranty issue.
It could just need to be jump started.
Some manufactures will carry a warranty with a sliding scale.
This is usually relatively simple to figure out and should be laid out for you when you purchase the battery.
The way a sliding scale works is that, as a car battery gets older, the amount of the replacement value you will get goes down.
If your battery dies after the first year, you will likely get a full replacement.
If you have an issue with your battery after the third year, you may only get a 30 percent replacement.
Each company differs in how they handle this type of issue with a battery.
The credit you get to replace your battery is going to be applied toward the purchase of the new battery.
You won’t be handed the replacement money to spend in any way you wish.
The problem with a battery warranty is that it is not going to pay for the labor and installation.
It will simply pay for the new battery.
Regardless of these limitations, the warranty program on batteries is relatively strong, and it certainly increases the price you pay for batteries.
The warranty is built into the price of the battery itself.
2. Shelf Life
A car battery can only sit on a shelf for so long.
In fact, after about six months of waiting to be sold, the battery will start to lose some of its effectiveness.
This is a problem for consumers and for manufacturers.
Since not all batteries are sold before they begin to deteriorate, there is quite a bit of waste.
When waste is involved, the pricing of the batteries are going to go up.
When you purchase a battery, take a look at the date it was produced.
Try and choose one that was manufactured within the last six months.
If the battery is older than that, ask what can be done for you from a pricing standpoint.
3. Low Maintenance
When you put a battery into your car, you will not need to worry about it.
Some batteries need to be charged from time to time to ensure that they function properly.
Other batteries need to be filled with water just to be able to operate, but a car battery requires very little maintenance.
The fact that car owners can have a hands-off mentality when it comes to car batteries is part of what makes them more expensive.
You will have a very small part of your cart that essentially makes it function, but you won’t need to worry about taking care of it.
The engine needs to be fueled and tuned up, the car needs to be washed, the oil needs to be changed, but the battery can be left alone for the most part.
There are a few things you can do to make sure your battery lasts for quite some time.
In fact, if you are trying to keep the price of the battery down, you are better off making sure you will get plenty of years out of it before you replace it.
Once a year, you should probably check the acid level on your battery.
You will be able to tell a little bit about how much life the battery has left by checking on this.
Your mechanic will probably do this for you when you have your car serviced each year.
Another good thing to have your mechanic do is to conduct a battery load test.
The battery load test will make sure the battery is still capable of charging to its full potential.
This is especially important in those colder climates where freezing temperatures can affect your battery’s charge capacity.
Again, these are not really maintenance procedures, but they’re more like steps you should follow to make sure your battery lasts.
If you notice that your car battery is particularly dirty, you can use a mixture of baking soda and water to clean it.
We would not recommend doing this unless it seems as though there is a real issue with corrosion.
Cars that are not driven often will have a hard time holding their full battery charge.
This is a problem that is easy to fix.
All you will have to do is drive your car every so often.
It is as simple as that.
If you think you will be leaving your car parked for many months at a time, you may want to look into something like a trickle charger.
A trickle charger can periodically charge a battery to make sure it is capable of holding a full charge when you are ready to drive the car again.
Overall, you are not going to have to add battery maintenance to your list of chores each week.
This convenience for a product that essentially makes your car move is definitely going to raise the pricing on a car battery.
4. Essential Purchase
Did you know that a car that is worth $40,000 cannot operate without a battery?
When your battery in your car dies, you have no choice but to purchase another one.
When you replace a battery, keep in mind that the price is high, but it is essential.
Since your car can’t function without the battery, you are sort of locked in.
Of course, there are both inexpensive and expensive batteries.
You can choose which one you would like to put in your car, but most people will recommend that the more expensive battery is worth the extra money.
The expensive batteries are traditionally made with better materials and will last quite a bit longer than the cheaper batteries.
The price difference between the cheap and the expensive is not so much that it is worth skipping out on the expensive battery.
Your goal as a vehicle owner is going to be keeping the number of battery replacements to a minimum.
Another problem that comes up with battery replacement is that you usually don’t have much time to shop around for a deal.
Most people don’t ease into the battery replacement as you are often forced to purchase right away.
With tires on your car, you can start to see that they will need to be replaced.
You will watch the tread start to deteriorate, and you will know it’s time to start shopping for tires.
The process with tires allows you a little bit of research time, and you may even be able to work out a deal.
When you are looking to purchase a car battery, it is usually because your car is stranded somewhere and won’t start.
Clearly, the battery manufacturer has the advantage at this point in time.
They will be able to sell you the battery for whatever price they need to remain profitable.
You won’t have too much of a choice because you won’t be driving anywhere without the battery.
This, of course, gives the battery retailer or manufacturer the advantage, and you will be the one who ends up paying for this.
This is not to say that you are being ripped off.
The fact is you simply don’t have the upper hand when purchasing a battery.
5. EPA Regulations
EPA Regulations on batteries have been in place for quite some time.
However, in the last few years, they have gotten much stricter.
Adherence to these regulations is a major factor in the increase in the price of car battery.
The EPA’s Clean Air Act and the National Ambient Air Quality Standards are two of the regulations battery manufacturers have had to adjust to in recent years.
The idea behind these regulations is to make sure that public health and the environment are protected.
Car batteries are filled with hazardous materials which need to be regulated.
The number one ingredient in most car batteries is lead.
Lead is an expensive ingredient, but it also very dangerous for people and the environment.
To make sure that the lead is handled properly at facilities, many factories have had to change their procedures and protocols to ensure that everything is handled safely.
The problem with lead is that it can get into the air and become a major pollutant.
Special alarm systems had to be installed, and employees have been required to undergo additional training.
Although all of these things are good for our environment and our future, they cost quite a bit of money.
When a battery manufacturer has to absorb these additional costs, the price will end up back in the price of the battery.
There will be no way around keeping the battery’s price down with millions of dollars in spending to follow regulations.
In the long run, these are positive changes, but they have also put some companies out of business.
When battery companies go out of business, there is less competition in the market, and prices will rise yet again.
As you can see, this cycle is quite difficult and ends up causing the consumer to continually pay more money for their car battery.
How Can I Save Money on a Car Battery?
As we mentioned, if you get into a situation where your car battery needs immediate replacement, you are very likely going to pay top dollar.
When you can prepare a bit more for the battery replacement, you should be able to get the pricing down.
If your current battery is coming up on five years old and you see a sale on a new battery, it makes sense to purchase it.
You can even wait a month or two to install the battery if you want.
This allows you to get the most time out of your current battery but also not miss out on a sale price on a new battery.
If the cost of the new battery for your car is really concerning, make sure you keep your eye out for a deal.
Also, choose a battery that is priced in the middle of the range.
You will want something that is not terribly expensive, but stay away from the cheap batteries as well.
Cheap batteries won’t last, and you will be battery shopping again way too soon.