Almost all of us have had the proverbial 'dead battery'. It's usually at the most inopportune time - when you are about to drive to the airport for a vacation - or something similar. The question is - Do you need a new battery? Or perhaps it just needs to be jump started. There are times when you know the battery is 'going' bad and other times when you turn the key and are totally surprised that the engine doesn't even turn over. Without a solid battery, your car is worthless since it won't start. We did research on new car battery brands and where the best place is to buy one. Locally, some of our auto shops will actually come right to your house and replace a dead battery (or at least troubleshoot for you). Often, you can jump start a dead battery and get it started to drive to a repair shop. The battery may not be in good condition, but at least you don't have to get the car towed someplace. Don't panic when your car won't start, most likely the problem will be solvable without too much of a hassle. See below for our buying guide and prices.
The majority of car batteries are created by 3 manufacturers - JCI, East Penn, Exide and Johnson Controls Industries (they bought out Delphi). Delphi makes some EverStart models sold in Walmart and ACDelco. Johnson Control Industries makes Duralast seen in Autozone stores, Diehard - sold in Sears, Kirkland - the Costco brand, Motorcraft - which Ford sells, some of the EverStarts, and Interstate. Exide makes Exide batteries, Champion, Napa and even a % of the EverStart batteries. A car battery is one of the few things that you will most likely have to replace if you own a car more than about 4 years. Most other parts and accessories will last longer, but the battery in a car needs replacing every 4 years or so. If you need to get a new battery installed, go to Goodyear, Sears, Firestone or Pep Boys. All these car stores carry large inventories and can install your battery onsite. Other retailers like Target, Kmart, and Walmart might offer cheaper prices for their batteries, but rarely do they install them. Built to handle the most extreme cold temperatures, the Exide 60 is an all-climate battery for hot or cold weather. Instead of shopping online for a battery (as we found out they are hard to buy), we recommend going down to your local automotive store (ours is Les Schwab Tire Center) and buy the battery from them. Most likely you are going to have the shop install the battery for you, so ordering online only makes sense if you want to install the battery yourself. You can browse the best selling car batteries here. We especially recommend the Optima Batteries which deliver consistent performance in all weather climates. Car batteries range in price from $100 to $175. We found plenty of online reviews for batteries and in magazines like Consumer Reports or Car and Driver. CR rates EverStart, DieHard, and even some Kirkland models the highest. Car batteries were rated on over all life, reserve capacity, and CCA performance.
How often do you need to change your car Battery:
Most car batteries will last 3-5 years depending on the quality and maintenance involved. It's really hard to know when your car battery needs replacing unless you have signs like "it doesn't start easily in the morning" or it cranks over slower than usual. You can take the car to a local shop and have them do a "load test" to determine how well it is holding a charge. At only $100 to buy and get a battery installed professionally, it's a very inexpensive portion of car maintenance. You can also buy a car battery charger that will get you that extra live from your battery even if it is not holding a charge very well. A car battery charger will cost about $30. See the entire list of top rated car battery chargers online.
How to Jumpstart your Battery:
More than likely you will have to jumpstart your car battery at some point. It's really pretty easy if you have jumper cables. We recommend to all car owners that they keep a pair of jumper cables in their automobiles trunk at all times. They can be a lifesaver if your battery ever goes dead. When you want to jumpstart your car battery, you need to pull a car with a good battery up next to your car. The cars should not be touching and both ignitions should be off. Put the positive (red cable) on the positive terminal of the dead battery. Then connect the other positive (+) terminal to the live batteries positive connection. Next, put the negative clamp (black) on the "live" batteries negative terminal. Put the other negative clamp on a metal surface (like the engine block). Once all the clamps are secure, start the car providing the jumpstart and wait a second before trying to start the car with the dead battery. Hopefully it will start with no problems, although you still need to get your battery check for bad connections or corrosion. If it doesn't start you will need to get a new battery. Buying a new battery and having it installed should cost about $85. A pair of jumper cables from Sears cost about $29.99. View the most popular jump starters here.