Why Are Car Batteries So Expensive?

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Car-Battery

When your battery is busted and you’re looking for a replacement, you might be in for a surprise. It’s hard to believe that car batteries are so expensive. After all, you’re doing your own repairs to save money.

It’s so unbelievable, in fact, that the first thing you did was ask Google why they’re so expensive. We wondered the same thing, so we did some digging. This article is all about why car batteries are so expensive and why the price varies so much.

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What’s the Average Cost of a Battery?

The average cost of a battery ranges from about $65 to $250. We grabbed these prices from AutoZone’s online store (the figures are for their new batteries).

What Factors Play into the Price?

One of the biggest factors is the predicted lifespan of the battery. As you’re shopping, you’ll see different options within the same brand of battery. For example, Duralast has a Standard, Gold, and Platinum battery.

These three batteries are very different. The more expensive versions have more lead plates which makes them better at resisting vibration. They also have more battery power. The warranty is better because the manufacturer expects them to last longer.

The same is true for any battery brand you look at. When you’re spending more money, it’s usually for a good reason.

Different Types of Batteries

Each type of battery has a different cost and effectiveness.

  • The cheapest type is just a traditional acid battery with lead.
  • More expensive than that is the calcium-calcium battery.
  • The most expensive option is a battery with advanced, valve-regulated fluid and acid.

As you might expect, the more expensive technology usually lasts longer, works better, and is a more reliable setup. More durable batteries are called “deep-cycle”, and they last longer than a standard option.

For electric vehicles, you might find a lithium-ion battery in your car. Buying a new one can cost upwards of $1,000.

Car-Battery-Replacing.

Why Are Car Batteries So Expensive?

There are a number of factors that make car batteries so expensive. COVID-19 created a surge in demand that production is still having a hard time catching up with. The increase in manufacturing costs due to inflation, shortages, and stiff trade embargos is also not helping.

Lastly, with newer vehicles requiring good steady voltage at all times due to all the computer modules and latest technology like navigation screens, there’s been a shift in consumer choice. With the arrival of AGM (Aborbant Glass Mat) premium batteries, more vehicle owners are going with better batteries. These factors have played a role in the recent increase in car battery prices.

The Job of a Battery

The battery needs to be a workhorse. It has to survive for years and keep pumping out power. A car battery has to go through thousands of charge and discharge cycles while still providing up to thousands of Amps reliably.

The Engineering Design

This is no easy feat as far as engineering is concerned. That alone is why car batteries are so expensive – they need to be designed to be robust, reliable, and hard-working. They have to stand up to the stresses of everyday driving and still be ready to go when you turn your key the next morning.

A Strong Container

Inside, a battery has dangerous materials like acid and lead. If that spills out on your driveway or on your car, you’ll be in a lot of trouble. Another part of a battery’s cost involves keeping all the lethal internals inside the battery.

Car-Battery-Cells-open
Inside a Car Battery

The container needs to stay strong enough to keep the acid and lead contained over time.

Exposure to the Elements

On top of that, a car’s battery will go through a wide range of elements. You don’t change your battery from season to season like winter tires. This means that it needs to work when it’s hot, cold, rainy, dusty, or snowy outside.

How Long Does a Car Battery Last?

According to AAA, a typical car battery will last between 3 and 5 years. It depends on the quality of the battery you install, how electric-intensive your car is, and how you use your car.

Conclusion

Now, you should be a battery expert. You just learned the different types, what makes them special, and why car batteries are so expensive. If you try to overspend in this category, you’ll just wind up replacing your battery more often. If you want your battery and car to last longer, take a look at our ultimate list of tools and accessories you need.

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Ernest Martynyuk

An automotive enthusiast who's been tinkering with vehicles since I was 15-years old. Repairing automotive electronics has been my main job for over a decade now and have a passion for everything technical regarding cars.

6 thoughts on “Why Are Car Batteries So Expensive?”

    • Thanks for visiting the site and checking out the article! There are several possible factors. First, what price you’re comparing it to? If you purchased a battery almost a decade ago, keep inflation under consideration as manufacturing costs, new methods of operation, and environmental factors can reflect on the prices you see car batteries selling for lately.

      Also, at the production end of things, smelters can be affected based on seasonal factors such as cooler summers, warmer winters which affect supply and demand and disrupts how many batteries are being recycled. Lastly, the quality of automotive batteries can be argued, are improving throughout the decades which can also be reflected in the current market prices.

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  1. This is all BS. Everything you have listed as a cause for the increase in the cost of batteries are things that have been in play for the past 20 years or more. I was looking for an explanation to why the battery I purchased at Walmart for $40 last year cost $100 this year. Same battery. How do you explain this increase? I suggest you dump your stock answer and dig a little deeper into the actual cause.

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    • I appreciate the feedback. I’ve updated the response in the article to reflect the current price increase of car batteries.

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  2. As someone who works at a battery manufacturer, I can tell you that it is indeed BS. 1st factor is it was deemed “essential” as a car cannot go anywhere without a battery and there is price fixing going on. 2nd Greed, Covid is a good excuse to raise prices, 3rd, is component prices go up 10c the manufacturing price goes up to 99c and the retail price goes up to 999c, 4th there are always people looking into ways to make it more profitable with gimmicks, like glass mats, etc.

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    • Those are valid points. Even with newer battery technology, there is still a good profit margin to be had with batteries which can be tempting for manufacturers not to take advantage of.

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