How Much is A Car Battery Replacement? DIY Vs. Mechanic?

Car maintenance can be pricey, but you'd be happy to know that replacing your car's battery is quite affordable. If anything, it's more affordable than the cost of replacing the rest of the parts. So with a dead battery, you're probably wondering, "How much is a car battery replacement at the auto parts store?" and whether you can just do it yourself.

On average, the cost of a dead battery replacement is roughly $100- 250, depending on the vehicle model and type. To replace a car battery in a standard vehicle, like the Toyota Corolla, you can expect a figure that's closer to $135.

The car battery lifespan is approximately going to run for 4-5 years, and over time, your car battery’s capacity to recharge and hold power is bound to diminish. So, several years in, you risk walking outside to a dead car that'll probably need a jumpstart. We'll all have to replace our batteries at some point.

Of course, there are some factors that might diminish this lifespan. These factors include; your vehicle type, weather degradation, and the car battery type you pick. All these factors all at play will determine how soon you'll be seeing your mechanic to replace your car battery. Car maintenance always works best if you 'can plan to either shop or know how much the estimated cost ahead should be.

DIY Vehicle Battery Replacement Vs. Mechanic Services

It's no surprise that DIY options to replace a car battery (or battery packs) are limited if you drive an electric vehicle or have a hybrid electric engine motor.

If you really know your way around car parts or have replaced it before, the cost will be roughly $100-$250, depending on the model, using the DIY method. However, this cost varies greatly depending on where you're getting the tools and replacement parts. Most auto parts stores have car batteries for almost every application.

If you'd rather not replace your car's battery yourself and would rather have a certified mechanic do the job, the prices and total cost will also vary depending on the mechanic services you choose.

That said, expect the costs to include an additional labor cost to the price if you get the battery replacement at a service center. The DIY method will save you some money, but it's still highly recommended that you let a certified mechanic do that, especially if you're not so familiar with cars. You could fry sensitive parts of the electric system if you do it wrong.

Fortunately, you won't always need a mechanic or dealer, since a lot of the times, the places where you buy your car battery can replace it for you in a couple of minutes.

Whatever course you choose, you’ll still need to know what determines a good car battery and car battery cost. The main things you'd to consider are the battery type, brand, seller and manufacturing date. All of these will determine the final price.

How Do You Replace A Car Battery?

If you're a confident DIYer and want to replace your vehicle battery, here's how to go about the maintenance replacement service yourself :

  • First, check your vehicle manual so that you can shop for the proper size, model and location of the battery of your vehicle
  • Find the positive terminal and negative plate. The positive post is in a red plastic cover, and check for a (+) cell sign that's stamped on the battery or label
  • Loosen the negative terminal bolt, then remove the cable. Don't touch the positive cell terminals post. Once you've loosened the bolt, use your terminal puller to remove its cable. Repeat the same with your positive post
  • After this, remove the retaining system or clamps that keep your vehicle battery in place
  • Now you can carefully lift out the old battery and look if there's any corrosion on the cables. If there's any, remove it using a wire brush or cleaning tool for terminals
  • Put in the new battery, check whether the positive terminal lines up with its red cable
  • Secure this with the battery retaining clamp that you removed earlier. If the battery comes with anti-corrosion washers, place them at this stage. Also, use a thin layer of anti-corrosion grease to prevent future buildup
  • Tighten the positive cable and repeat the same with the black negative (-) black
  • Make sure the battery is secure. Congratulations, you just replaced your vehicle battery!

What is the Right battery for Your Car?

There are several key elements that determine your car battery replacement. For example, most car batteries are 12 volts, so you’ll need to ensure that the size of the replacement car battery and the positive and negative plates match up to how the car is configured. Additionally, depending on your location, consider the replacement battery’s ability to perform in cold temperatures.

Also, if you're not going for a new car battery, look for a car battery that’s not more than 6 months old; otherwise, it'll be a dead battery before you know it. You should always consider the quality of the lead electrode and sulfuric acid electrolyte and the car battery case.

Elements That Determine Your Car Battery’s Quality and Price

No matter the type of battery, it's always best to test it out. Here are the key points to consider as you while replacing the current battery in your hood:

a) Battery Type

There are different types of batteries for vehicles, and this number continues to increase as technology improves. But, here are the 4 common types of batteries, which primarily vary in battery chemistry and not so much the size:

  • Lead-acid battery
  • Lithium-ion batteries
  • Enhanced flooded battery
  • Absorbent glass mat batteries

The most affordable of these types is the lead-acid battery. In fact, most car engines before 2010 used a lead-acid battery, but some older cars use more complex batteries. By 'complex,' the battery is built to produce more cold-cranking amps and maintain its power longer on heavy loads. 'Complex' batteries are usually used in more modern cars that come with multiple computers, sophisticated car sound systems and plenty of automation.

What Should You Know About the More Complex Batteries?

You don’t need to become a battery guru. You just need to know something about the different batteries that exist. The battery prices will vary depending on the type of battery that your car application works with.

As you search more about batteries, you’ll pick up on facts like:

  • An Enhanced Flooded Battery (EFB) actually costs less than an Absorbent Glass Mat battery (AGM)
  • In most cases, lithium-ion batteries are pricier than EFB and AGM batteries because of their size and range of applications
  • AGM batteries are Valve-regulated Lead-acid (VRLA) batteries that can handle modern vehicles that use the automatic Start-Stop technology. They can also handle the higher level of electric energy that most often require
  • An EFB battery is meant for vehicles that have a simple Start-Stop technology since it has lower cycling endurance compared to the AGM battery. This also makes it a more affordable alternative between the 2
  • A lithium-ion battery comes with a lot of technology, giving it a huge range of uses, ranging from portable electronic appliances to hybrid/ electric vehicles. Moreover, it provides ample and consistent power supply that lasts long. 
  • Lithium-ion battery packs are larger and much more complex than the 'standard' car batteries. This means that they can handle more charge/discharge cycles and perform better if used in extreme temperatures

b) Battery Brands- or Lack of Thereof

Once you have known what type of battery your vehicle will need or can handle, the brand is the next thing you should consider

The battery brand is just as important. There are plenty of car battery brands, but you'll need to research and seek advice to help you understand the differences in terms of function and prices. Unlike what most people think, brand names and cost are not always indicative of the level of quality, so the browser research is worth the effort.

c) Battery’s Manufacture Date

The manufacture date is equally as important as the type and brand of the battery. Therefore, the manufacture date is also important in the price equation.

Like with everything else, a new battery also means that it's more expensive regardless of the type of battery. Getting a new battery also means it has a higher chance of a longer lifespan.

Since batteries also 'self-discharge,' they experience a loss of power and eventually die out if not regularly recharged. Therefore always try to know the manufacturing date of your battery before you buy it by either asking the seller or checking on the sticker.

What Are the Signs of A Low Battery?

Fortunately for us, there are usually indications to show when the car battery is running down. These include:

  • Sluggishness on the car starter
  • Interior lights may appear a little dimmer than usual
  • Dim head lights
  • Backfiring
  • Clicking sound as you turn the key
  • Need to hard press on the gas pedal for it to start
  • Slow-cranking

It’s incredibly important to monitor these things, especially if you've had a battery for 3-4 years.

What Factors Affect the Car Battery's Life?

These are the several factors that reduce your car battery's lifespan:

  • The difference in temperatures can drain the battery much quicker than you'd think. This is because a high increase in temperature will cause the battery fluid to evaporate, which then damages the battery parts. Cold temperatures, on the other hand, cause the engine oil to thicken, causing hard starts as the electric current depletes the battery of your vehicle
  • Some drivers have experience corrosion around the positive and negative terminals of their battery. Even the mildest corrosion process around its connectors shows some electrical damage. However, you can remove corrosion from the terminals in some maintenance to extend the battery life. There are battery corrosion cleaners sold in the auto parts store. Alternatively, you can also use baking soda in water.

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