Who Has the Cheapest Car Battery?
DateJuly 7, 2020
So what does OPTIMA Batteries know about cheap car batteries? After all, in terms of the dollar amount needed to purchase a car battery, OPTIMA Batteries tend to be on the more expensive end of things. However, that doesn't mean we aren't familiar with other types of car batteries and places where they are bought and sold. Do a simple google search for who has the cheapest car battery and you might find a few different pages that cite specific prices at various chain and big box retailers, but there are far less expensive car batteries being sold out there.
Someone looking for the cheapest car battery probably doesn't care whether or not the car battery is new, so our immediate suggestion would be to visit your local junkyard. Many junkyard and salvage yards sell used car batteries at significantly lower prices than what someone might have to pay for a new car battery at a typical retailer. However, you should know that in doing this, the cost savings you may see in terms of the purchase price may come at the expense of not knowing much about the battery you are purchasing. Do you know how to identify the age of a battery? Even if you know how to figure out the age of a battery (and those little round inventory stickers with a month & year are just that- inventory stickers, not date codes and they can easily be moved from one battery to another), you have no idea what the service history of that battery might be.
A junkyard battery is probably there, because the car it was being used in was either involved in an accident or experienced some kind of catastrophic mechanical failure that was too expensive to repair. In either case, you're potentially looking at a battery that may have suffered significant damage from the impact of a car accident or from neglect by the previous owner. Was the car sitting in an impound lot or someone's backyard for weeks or months before it finally made it's way to the junkyard, with the battery sulfating in a discharged state?
We've found some salvage yards and junkyards will offer 30-day warranties with the batteries they sell. That's better than nothing, but what happens if your battery fails within that 30-day timeframe? Will you be trying to get to work or school when that happens? Will you be in a safe place when your vehicle doesn't start and how will you get help? Do you have a AAA membership? If not, it would probably be a good idea to spend the $38-$74 per year to become a member and factor that into the cost of finding the cheapest car battery possible.
Now any vehicle could have a failure that could leave someone stranded, which might make a roadside assistance plan a worthwhile for anyone, but we can tell you the chances of that happening will go up significantly when you buy a used car battery with an unknown service history. A used car battery, whether it is found at a junkyard, Craigslist, Offerup or anywhere else, really is a roll of the dice. It could last five years or it could last five days. It could make you late for work, miss your flight, dinner reservation or doctor's appointment.
So while the initial cost of purchasing a used car battery may make it seem like the cheapest car battery around, it could turn into the most expensive car battery ever. That could make someone take a second look at more traditional car battery retailers, who sell new car batteries with warranties. The cheapest of those batteries will typically come with the shortest warranties, but all of those warranties are likely to be far longer than the 30 days you *might* get from the higher-end junkyard sellers. The warranty may still only be 90 days, but again, they might come with the lowest initial cost, although if you don't have an old battery to turn in for recycling, the retailer may charge you a core fee of $20-$25.
Higher quality batteries will tend to carry multi-year warranties (all OPTIMA consumer REDTOP & YELLOWTOP batteries carry three-year, free replacement warranties), but not all car battery warranties are created equally. Some will be split between a period of free replacement coverage and a pro-rated period. That means after a certain point (maybe 12 months), you have to pay something for a warranty replacement battery. For instance, if you paid $120 for a battery with a two-year warranty that was pro-rated after the first 12 months, then starting in month 13, you have to pay $65 for a replacement ($120/24 months= $5/month) going up $5/month to nearly the price of a new battery in month 23 with only one month of warranty coverage remaining. At that point, you're probably better off paying the extra $5 for a brand-new battery with 24 months of warranty coverage.
As we've worked our way through these "cheapest" car battery options, if it's beginning to sound like you get what you pay for, it's because that's largely true with car batteries. OPTIMA Batteries may be a more expensive option in terms of initial cost, but if they can last up to three times as long as a traditional flooded lead-acid battery, they may just be the cheapest option of any in the long run. Find the OPTIMA battery that fits your car here.