On a cold winter day, you want your car to start when you get in it. Even if it’s a nice day, you want it to start. When you really need to get somewhere, the last thing you want is a car that can’t get you there.
The good news is that buying a new car battery is often all it takes to get your car started again. But when it’s time to replace your car’s battery, you’ll want to know where the best place is to buy one.
In reality, each place has its own pros and cons, so keep reading and we’ll help you figure out where to buy a car battery.
How Do You Know You Need a New Battery?
Before you go out and buy a new car battery, you should make sure you really need one. Even if your car keeps dying, that doesn’t mean you need to replace the battery and buy a new one. There are a lot of other parts that could be preventing your car from starting.
The best way to figure out if you need a new battery is to take it somewhere to be checked. Your battery can be checked for free at Autozone, Wal-Mart, O’Reilly’s, and Pep Boys, and you don’t have to buy a new one there.
You might think you can just use a voltmeter or multimeter to check the voltage of your battery. And that will tell you if you need a jumpstart or not, but not if you need a new battery.
That’s because cold-cranking amps, not voltage, are what start your car. Even if your battery has 12.6 volts, it might not be enough to start your car.
Different Kinds of Car Batteries
There are two types of batteries you should know about: standard batteries and AGM batteries.
Standard batteries, also called “flooded” batteries, have been used in cars since they were first made. They have made improvements that make some last longer than others, but they all work on the same idea.
If a battery doesn’t say “AGM” on the label, it’s a standard battery. As long as your car doesn’t shut off at stoplights, stop signs, and when you’re stuck in traffic, or if you don’t plan to take it off-road a lot, a standard battery will be enough.
Even if you turn off the stop-start features on your car, you’ll still need an AGM battery or your battery will die more often than it should.
When it comes to traditional batteries, we recommend Die Hard Batteries, but there are other great brands out there as well.
People think that AGM batteries are better than regular batteries. You don’t need an AGM battery unless you drive a stop-start car or plan to do a lot of off-roading.
Despite this, AGM batteries last two to three times longer, don’t corrode as quickly, and don’t leak.
You can always switch from a regular battery to an AGM battery if your car already has a regular battery. We recommend Optima batteries when it comes to AGM batteries.
How Many Cold Cranking Amps Do I Need?
The official rule of thumb for cold cranking amps is that you need one cold cranking amp for every cubic inch of engine displacement. But if you haven’t changed anything about the engine, there’s an easier way to find out. Just read the manual that came with it.
The car’s maker will tell you what the minimum cold-starting amp should be for your car, and this is what you should use. Keep in mind that you can always get more amps that can start up quickly without any problems. You don’t have to find a battery with the EXACT number of cold-cranking amps that the manufacturer recommends.
When deciding how many cold cranking amps you need, you should also think about the temperature where you will be driving. You’ve probably heard that starting your car when it’s cold is harder. This is true in a lot of ways.
You can get a battery with more cold cranking amps to help you out. So, if you live in Alaska or somewhere else where it gets very cold, it won’t hurt to add 100 or 200 extra cold-cranking amps to your battery to make sure you can start your car even on the coldest winter nights.
Getting the Battery That You Need
Once you know you need a new car battery, you’ll need to find the best place to buy one. The good news is that you have a lot of options, but the bad news is that no matter what you choose, there are pros and cons to it.
Some people bring their cars there for everything. A dealership can do anything, from changing the oil to rebuilding the engine. When you take your car to a dealership, they will do more than just change the battery for you.
First, they’ll make sure that you really do need a new car battery. Most of the time, they’ll check the battery, starter, and alternator. This means that when your car leaves the dealership, you have more peace of mind than if you bought the battery at Wal-Mart and put it in yourself.
Even better, if your car needs regular maintenance, like an oil change, the dealership will take care of it while you are there.
The trade-off is that service centres at dealerships can get very busy, so you might need to make an appointment. When your car needs a new battery, that’s not always the best thing. Also, you may need to find a way to get your car there, which could be a problem if you can’t start it.
But just because you’re at a dealership doesn’t mean you won’t get a shady mechanic. Even dealerships will try to take advantage of you, so bring along someone who knows something about cars.
Will check to see if you really need a battery.
Will see if there are any more problems
You can link it to your regular maintenance
Most expensive option
Need an appointment sometimes
Do you need to get your car there?
Your Local Mechanic Shop
The most important thing about local repair shops is whether you can trust them or not. If you know and trust the people at your local shop, they can be a great option that is much cheaper than dealerships. But they don’t always give guarantees and stand behind their work.
This means that if you take it to a sketchy local shop and are unlucky, you might get ripped off.
But if you have a good mechanic near you, they might be ASE certified, just like the mechanics at the dealership. Most of the time, they will check your whole system, making sure that your starter, alternator, and battery are all good to go.
And if your car needs an oil change or other routine maintenance, the local shop is usually happy to do it at the same time as the battery replacement. But if your local shop gets too busy, just like a dealership, they might not be able to get you in right away.
That means you won’t be able to get your car back until they have a free spot. Even worse, you’ll probably have to take your car to the dealer, which could be a hassle if the battery is dead.
Can request system checks
Will give you a battery test
can look for more issues
You can link it to your regular maintenance
Not all mechanics are the best.
Usually, it still costs more.
Need an appointment sometimes
If you want the cheapest battery, you don’t need to look any further. Wal-Mart is known for having low prices, and the same is true for car batteries. They have a lot of choices, and they will put the battery in for free.
Even better, they will test your battery for free and charge it for free if it’s just dead. The trade-off is that most “automotive technicians” at Wal-Mart don’t really know much about cars. That means they’re only as good as the battery tester they’re using. They probably won’t notice if the results don’t make sense.
Also, they won’t be able to give you good advice about what battery is best for your car at that point. Also, there have been more than a few complaints that Wal-Mart batteries aren’t as good as batteries from other stores and don’t last as long.
But if you need a car battery quickly and you don’t have much money, Wal-Mart is a cheap way to get the job done the same day. Even if you can’t drive your car to Wal-Mart, you can still bring in your old battery and they will test it, charge it, and replace it for you.
The cheapest choice
The test is free.
No cost to install
Poor batteries are a source of complaints
No system check
Amazon is the king of online shopping, and they will even bring a car battery right to your door. You might think that the price for this convenience would be out of this world, but it’s actually not that expensive.
Amazon batteries are usually a little more expensive than Wal-Mart batteries, but they are still cheaper than dealerships and most local auto shops. They are also usually cheaper than Autozone or your local parts store.
What’s the worst thing about buying batteries on Amazon? To fix your car, you’ll have to wait for it to come. Even if it takes two days to get the part, that’s two days you can’t drive your car without worrying that it will break down.
Also, if you don’t have a battery tester at home, which is unlikely, you won’t be able to check your battery before you order a new one. You can take the battery to a local auto parts store or Wal-Mart and have them test it for you, but it’s easier to just buy a new one there.
Even worse, if the problem isn’t the battery, you’re now stuck with a battery you don’t need and you still don’t know how to fix your car. When the battery arrives, you’ll have to put it in yourself. Most shops will pay you for your old battery, but if you buy a new one from them, you’ll usually lose this money.
But when it comes to convenience, it’s hard to beat having a part sent right to your door. Also, changing a battery isn’t hard and can usually be done in less than 10 minutes.
Directly sent to your door
Need to wait for delivery
No system check
Need to put it in yourself
Autozone, O’Reillys Automotive, PepBoys, etc.…
Parts stores are really easy to find. There are a lot of them. All of the policies are the same, and all of the prices are the same. The only difference is which brand of batteries they sell. For example, you can buy DieHard batteries at CarQuest and Advanced Auto Parts, but you won’t be able to find them at other auto parts stores.
But almost any store that sells parts will test your battery for free and charge it for you if that’s what it needs. Also, most parts stores will change your battery for you as long as it is under the hood.
You might think that people who work at part stores would be better at these tests than those who work at Wal-Mart, but the truth is that they all have the same qualifications, which are none. That means you’re putting your faith in their battery tester and not the person who is using it.
Also, the batteries they sell are more expensive than the ones you’d find at Wal-Mart, but they have a bigger selection, and customers rarely complain about getting bad batteries.
The test is free.
Will help you put in your new battery.
Lots of different brands
Costs more than at Walmart or mazon
The Best Standard Battery
The Die Hard Platinum – $199.99
Die Hard is the best choice for standard batteries. They have a whole line of great products, but the Die Hard Platinum is the best of the bunch.
It comes with a 3-year replacement guarantee, so you’re good to go no matter what. It can start even the biggest car engines in cold weather and has 850 amps when it’s cold. The only thing you’ll need to check is if it will fit in your car.
It’s about the size of a regular car battery, but not all batteries are the same size, and some cars use smaller batteries. But this battery will work for most cars and last for years. You can get them at Sears, CarQuest, and Advanced Auto Parts.
The Best AGM Battery
The OPTIMA REDTOP – $199.99
OPTIMA is the leader when it comes to AGM batteries. They have different battery options for cars, RVs, and other vehicles, but if you want a great battery for your car, the OPTIMA REDTOP is what you need.
It’s the least expensive model they have, but that’s only because it’s made for use in cars. It can start up in cold weather and has 720 cold-cranking amps. It will last up to three times longer than a regular battery.
It’s almost impossible to spill, so if you need a batter for your off-road vehicle, this is the way to go. If you’re tired of buying new batteries, why not get one that will last up to 15 years? If you just get an OPTIMA REDTOP, you might have to replace your car before you have to replace your battery.
The Final Charge
As long as you’re sure a new battery will fix the problem and you need to buy a car battery to get your car running again, there’s no wrong place to buy it. If you don’t know much about cars and want to make sure the job is done right, go to a dealership or a local repair shop.
And if you’re tired of buying new batteries, tell them you want to switch to an AGM battery. Even though they cost more at first, they save you a lot of money over time and can last up to 15 years.
Go to a parts store or Amazon if you know a little bit and don’t mind picking out the battery yourself. Of course, Wal-Mart is the place to go if all you want is the cheapest battery you can find. So, where is the best place to get a car battery? That’s up to you alone.
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