When you step out to your car on a cold winter day, you want it to start. Heck, you want it to start even if it’s a nice day out. The truth of the matter is, when you need to go somewhere, the last thing you want is a car that can’t get the job done.
The good news is, often getting your car to start again is often just a matter of buy a car battery. But when the time comes to replace your car battery, you’ll find yourself asking where is the best place to buy a car battery?
The truth is that’s there are pros and cons to each place, so keep reading, and we’ll help you find out the best place to buy a car battery.
How Do You Know You Need a New Battery?
Before you go out and buy a car battery for your vehicle, make sure you actually need a new car battery. Just because your car keeps dying doesn’t mean that you need to replace your car’s battery and need to buy a car battery. There are a ton of other parts that could be keeping your car from starting.
The easiest way to test if you need a new battery is to take it to a place to get it tested. Autozone, Wal-Mart, O’Reilly’s, and Pep Boys will test your battery for free and leaves you with no obligation to buy a car battery one there.
You might think that you can just go test your battery with a voltmeter or multimeter to check the voltage. And while that will tell you whether or not you need a jumpstart, it won’t tell you if you need a new battery.
That’s because batteries use cold-cranking amps to start your car, not voltage. It’s possible to have a battery that puts out 12.6 volts, but still won’t start your car!
Different Kinds of Car Batteries
When it comes to batteries, there are two kinds you need to be aware of, standard batteries and AGM batteries.
Standard batteries, a.k.a. flooded batteries are what manufacturers have used in vehicles since the beginning. They’ve come out with some advancements that let some last longer than others, but they all use the same principle.
If you see a battery and labeled as anything other than AGM, it’s a standard battery. As long as your vehicle isn’t a stop-start car (it shuts off at stoplights, stop signs, and when you’re sitting in traffic) or you plan to take it off-road quite a bit, a standard battery will be sufficient for your vehicle.
It doesn’t matter if you disable your car’s stop-start features, you’ll still need an AGM battery, or else you’ll find yourself with a dead battery more often than you should.
When it comes to traditional batteries, we recommend Die Hard Batteries, but there are other great brands out there too!
AGM batteries are considered an upgrade to traditional batteries. Unless you drive a stop-start car or you plan to do a ton of off-roading, you don’t need an AGM battery.
With that being said, AGM batteries last two to three times longer, they don’t corrode as easily, and they don’t spill.
If your car currently has a traditional battery, you can always upgrade to an AGM battery. When it comes to AGM batteries, we recommend Optima brand batteries.
How Many Cold Cranking Amps Do I Need?
The official rule of thumb for cold cranking amps is one cubic inch of engine displacement means you need one cold cranking amp. However, unless you’ve done some engine modifications, there’s an easier way to find out. Just check your owner’s manual.
The manufacturer has a recommended minimum cold cranking amp for your vehicle, and this is what is best to use. Keep in mind you can always get more cold-cranking amps without and drawbacks. You don’t need to find a battery with the EXACT amount of cold-cranking amps that the manufacturer recommends.
You should also keep in mind the temperature of where you will be driving when deciding how many cold cranking amps you need. You’ve probably heard that it’s harder to start your car in the cold. There’s a ton of truth to this.
To help you out, you can get a battery that has more cold cranking amps. So, if you live up in Alaska or somewhere else it gets extremely cold, it won’t hurt to get 100 or 200 extra cold-cranking amps on your battery to make sure you can start your car on even the coldest winter nights.
Getting the Battery That You Need
Once you’ve determined that you need a new battery, you’ll need to find the best place to buy a car battery. The good news is that you have a ton of choices; the bad news is that there are pros and cons, no matter what you choose.
It’s where some people take their cars for everything. Whether you need an oil change or an engine rebuild, a dealership can get it done. When you take your vehicle to a dealership, they’ll do more than just swap out the battery for you.
They’ll start by checking to make sure you actually need to buy a car battery. They’ll typically test the alternator, starter, and battery. This means that when your car leaves the dealership, you get more peace of mind than if you bought the battery at Wal-Mart and replaced it yourself.
Even better, if your car is due for any routine preventative maintenance, like an oil change, the dealership will take care of it for you on the same trip.
The tradeoff to this is that sometimes the service center in dealerships get extremely busy, which means you might need an appointment. When you need a new battery for your car, that’s not always ideal. Plus, you’ll probably need to find a way to get your car there, and if you can’t get it started, that might be a problem.
But just because you’re at a dealership doesn’t mean that you’re not going to get a shady mechanic. Even dealerships will try to rip you off, so try to have someone that knows a thing or two about cars go with you.
- ASE certified technicians
- Will make sure that you actually need a battery
- Will check for other problems
- Can tie it in with your preventative maintenance
- Most expensive option
- Sometimes need an appointment
- Need to get your vehicle there
Your Local Mechanic Shop
The key to local mechanic shops is whether or not you can trust them. If you have a good relationship with your local shop, they are great options that are significantly cheaper than dealerships. However, they don’t always offer warranties and don’t always stand by their work.
This means that if you get unlucky and take it to a shady local shop, you might end up getting ripped off.
But if you do have a good local mechanic, they might be ASE certified, just like the mechanics at the dealership. They will usually do an entire system check for you, ensuring that your starter, alternator, and battery are all good to go.
And if your car is due for an oil change or any other kind of routine preventative maintenance, the local shop is usually more than happy to tie it into your battery replacement. But just like at a dealership, if your local shop gets too busy, they might not be able to fit you in right away.
That will leave you waiting until they have an opening until you can get your car back. Even worse, you’ll probably have to get your vehicle to the dealership, and if you can’t get it started because of a dead battery, this might just be one more headache you don’t want to deal with.
- Can request system checks
- Will test your battery for you
- Can check for other problems
- Can tie it in with your preventative maintenance
- Not always the best mechanics
- Usually still more expensive
- Sometimes need an appointment
If you’re looking for the cheapest battery, look no further. Wal-Mart is known for its low prices, and when it comes to automotive batteries, it’s no different. They have a wide range of options and will install the battery for you, free of charge.
Even better, they offer a free battery test and free battery charging if your battery is just dead. The tradeoff is that most Wal-Mart “automotive technicians” have no real automotive training. That means they’re only as good as the battery tester that they’re using. If the results don’t add up, they likely won’t notice.
On that point, they also won’t be able to give you reliable advice on what battery is best for your car. Furthermore, there have been more than a few complaints that Wal-Mart batteries are inferior and don’t last as long as the batteries other companies sell.
But when you’re in a pinch and need to buy a car battery, Wal-Mart provides an affordable option to get the job done the same day. Even if you can’t get your vehicle to Wal-Mart, if you just bring in your old battery, they will test it, charge it, and replace it for you.
- Cheapest option
- Free battery test*
- Free Installation
- Complaints about inferior batteries
- No system check
Amazon owns the E-Commerce world, and they’ll even deliver a car battery straight to your door. While you might think that the price for this convenience would be astronomical, the truth is that it’s reasonably priced.
While Amazon batteries tend to be a little more expensive than Wal-Mart ones, they are still cheaper than dealerships, most local automotive shops, and more often than not, less expensive than Autozone or your local parts store.
What’s the biggest downside to getting your batteries from Amazon? You’ll have to wait for it to arrive to fix your car. Even if it’s a two-day delivery time, that’s two days without being able to trust that your car won’t break down on you if you drive it anywhere.
Furthermore, if you don’t have a battery tester at home, and who does, you’ll have no way to test your battery before ordering a new one. Of course, you can take the battery to your local parts store or Wal-Mart and have them run the test for you, but then it’s convenient just to buy a car battery new one there.
Even worse, if your battery isn’t the problem, you’re now stuck with a battery that you don’t need, and you still don’t know how to fix your car. When the battery arrives, you will have to install it yourself, and since most shops will give you money for your old battery, if you buy a car battery new one from them, you’ll often lose this money outright.
But when it comes to convenience, it’s hard to beat a part being delivered straight to your door, and swapping out a battery isn’t hard, and it can usually be done in under 10 minutes.
- Delivered straight to your door
- Have to wait until delivery
- No system check
- Have to install it yourself
Autozone, O’Reillys Automotive, PepBoys, etc.…
When it comes to part stores, they really are a dime a dozen. They all have similar policies, and they all have similar prices. The only difference is the brand batteries they keep in stock. For instance, CarQuest and Advanced Auto Parts sell DieHard batteries, and you won’t be able to buy them at other part stores.
But just about any parts store will give you a free battery test and charge your dead battery for you if that’s what it needs. Furthermore, as long as your battery is under your hood, most parts stores will swap your battery for you too.
You might think that people that work at part stores would be better at conducting these tests than those at Wal-Mart, but the truth is they all have the same qualifications, which is none. That means you’re trusting their battery tester, not the person operating it.
Furthermore, the batteries they offer are more expensive then the ones you’d find at a Wal-Mart, but you do get a more comprehensive selection, and the complaints about getting dud batteries are few and far between.
- Free battery test*
- Will install your new battery for you
- Wide selection of brands
- More expensive than Wal-Mart or Amazon
The Best Standard Battery
The Die Hard Platinum – $199.99
When it comes to standard batteries, Die Hard is the way to go. They have a line of incredible products, but the best of them all is the Die Hard Platinum.
It comes with a 3-year replacement policy, so no matter what, you’re good to go. It has 850 cold-cranking amps and can handle even the biggest car engines and cold climates. The only thing you’ll need to check is whether or not it will fit in your car.
It’s the size of a regular automotive battery, but not all batteries are the same size, and some cars use smaller batteries. But this battery will work for most cars and will last for years to come. They are available at Advanced Auto Parts, Sears, and CarQuest.
The Best AGM Battery
The OPTIMA REDTOP – $199.99
When it comes to AGM batteries, OPTIMA leads the way. They have multiple battery options for anything from cars to RVs, but when you’re looking for an excellent batter for your vehicle, the OPTIMA REDTOP is what you’re after.
It’s actually the lowest model they offer, but that’s only because it’s specifically for automotive uses. It has 720 cold-cranking amps and will last up to three times longer than a standard battery.
It’s virtually spill-proof, so if you’re looking for a batter to throw in your off-road vehicle, this is the way to go. When you’re tired of replacing batteries, why not get one that will last for up to 15 years? Just get an OPTIMA REDTOP, and you might be replacing your car before your battery.
The Final Charge
The truth of the matter is that as long as you’re sure that a new battery will fix your problem and you must have to buy a car battery for making your car alive again, there really is no wrong choice on where to buy it. If you don’t know anything about cars and want to make sure that the job gets done right, hit up a dealership or your local repair shop.
And if you’re tired of replacing batteries, tell them you’re interested in upgrading to an AGM battery. Sure, they cost more upfront, but they’ll save you a ton of cash down the road and can last up to 15-years.
If you know a little bit and don’t mind picking out the battery yourself, hit up a parts store or Amazon. Of course, if you’re just looking for the cheapest battery available, Wal-Mart is where you need to go. So, where is the best place to buy a car battery? That’s entirely up to you.