Car battery replacement costs: influencing factors
A car battery used to be a simple bit of kit. A big block of cells holding a charge, that was used to start your car and power its electrical components.
However, cars aren’t the simple A to B mechanical machines they once were.
With the implementation of hi-tech components and software-driven performance and features, many batteries have had to undergo just as much change to be able to manage the applications they’re expected to support in current vehicles.
They will still start your car, but now they’re expected to power your air conditioning, the wide range of lamps and lights inside and out, USB charging ports, entertainment consoles, digital control systems, airbags, sensors, mechanical control functions, on-board computers, navigation, cameras, displays and so much more.
There are a selection of battery types to choose from, each offering a level of operation, power and a price to match.
Then there’s the mass-market of different brands, each with their own price points for their ranges of varying types of battery.
Why is there such a difference in car battery price from dealer to dealer?
Without a doubt, anybody who has owned a car will understand the important role their car battery plays. Yet, as with so many of the components housed under the bonnet, it won’t last forever.
Your new car battery cost can vary by extreme amounts from dealership to dealership, and you’ll find just as much variation throughout independent garages and retailers.
So, I can already hear you asking: why is that?
What car battery do you need?
Your battery is rated according to
- Amp Hours
- Cold Cranking Amps
In simple English, Amp Hours are how long the battery can perform without a recharge, and Cold Cranking Amps is the power they hold to start your engine in cold conditions.
You’ll need the right battery to do the job for your make and model, and size, of car.
Larger engines and diesel models will need more cranking power than smaller engines.
There’s little point splashing out on a battery you don’t need, so knowing which size is the most appropriate for your vehicle is the first step towards finding your best option.
Car battery materials
- Lead acid batteries are common, durable and pretty cheap to replace. They’ll manage around 20,000 starts and are likely to come with around a 3-year guarantee
- Calcium batteries are a little more durable, with about 18% more starting power—ideal for cold weather operation. They’ll offer nearer 30,000 starts within an average lifespan.
- Silver calcium batteries will offer a much longer guarantee and provide not only somewhere in the region of 50,000 starts but at 30% more starting power than a standard lead acid option.
Advanced car batteries
If you own a car fitted with start/stop technology and other complex electrical features, it’s going to require a lot more by means of performance than a typical standard car battery.
The additional reliability supplied by these modern batteries will offer an incredible upgrade, offering as many as 360,000 starts.
There are 2 types available:
- Advanced Flooded Battery (AFB)
These batteries may also be known as EFB or ECM options and will offer the advanced performance levels as mentioned above.
- Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM)
AGM batteries are a truly heavy-duty option, and for that reason, they aren’t interchangeable with AFB or ECM batteries.They will often require a software reconfiguration when they’re replaced, to ensure the highest level of performance and continued functionality.
We’d definitely recommend seeking out a professional to take care of an AGM battery replacement, and with the additional levels of care required, you can expect this service to come with higher charges too.
If you’re buying a new car battery from a registered dealership, it pays to shop around
Auto Express revealed a vast variation between dealership prices for car batteries this month, after carrying out an investigation into just that.
The shocking news was that for some makes and models, there was around a 300% difference in price for replacing a battery that was essentially expected to carry out the same job.
There also seemed to be some confusion with some dealers at exactly what battery needed to be installed.
When contacting 3 separate dealerships for the UK’s 20 best-selling cars, Auto Express found good and bad news for drivers of different marques.
The dealerships contacted to fit a new battery for a Mercedes C-Class had variations from £315 to a mighty £1,098.
When Auto Express approached Mercedes about this price fluctuation, they were told that the difference was expected to be between the choice of a lithium-ion battery and a more standard 12v option.
If you’ve bought a car from new, then a wise move would be replace the battery like-for-like.
Failing that, find out the manufacturers recommendations for exactly which battery your car needs to operate at its designated performance levels.
If you really want to take the gamble out of replacement car battery prices, buy a Toyota!
Some of the car marques do their best to control the prices charged for parts by their dealerships—and Toyota has that one nailed down. Because of their UK-wide pricing policy, every Toyota dealership is tied to the same rate, so whichever one you choose, you’ll pay exactly the same price.
Having said that, that only covers dealerships. Pick an independent garage and you could save yourself a whole lot more.
How much should I be looking at to replace a failing car battery?
Well, if you’ve been quoted over £1k, we’d definitely suggest you shop around for a better deal!
On average, fitting a new car battery should cost you somewhere in the region of £100 and £300.
A battery has a limited lifespan and should last you up to 4 or 5 years (for a good quality battery).
So, if you’re having problems starting your car, your battery power is failing, or it’s struggling to recharge (which might be an alternator problem as opposed to your battery), then it’s time to do your homework.
Car battery recycling
All of our Fixter garages will recycle your old car battery as part of the exceptional service we offer.
If you choose to replace your battery DIY, then most outlets and retailers should offer a car battery recycling service. So do many of the supermarkets and most recycling centres.
To dispose of a car battery, you must follow the code set out for safe disposal. There are even a handful of places that offer a payment for your old one or some discount against a new purchase.