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When You’re Looking For a New Car Battery, Here’s Where We Trust To Go

Get your vehicle’s next battery from one of our top picks.

With decades of combined experience covering the latest news, reviewing the greatest gear, and advising you on your next car purchase, The Drive is the leading authority on all things automotive.

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BYMark Webb/ LAST UPDATED ON March 3, 2022
When You’re Looking For a New Car Battery, Here’s Where We Trust To Go

Replacing a car battery was one of the first things I learned to do on a car. I’ve probably replaced a dozen batteries under various conditions — in my garage, outside in the snow, in a store parking lot in the pouring rain. The biggest lesson I learned is to replace the battery before winter. The cold is cruel to batteries and people without gloves who fumble with socket wrenches in a blizzard. 

The other lesson I learned is that there are many places to buy batteries. Many people leave it up to their mechanic, preferring not to do it themselves. A relationship with a trusted mechanic is second only to the one with your spouse. If you’ve got one, that’s great. If you don’t, we can’t help you with dating advice — or advice about dating your mechanic — but we can help you find the best place to buy a battery.

Here's How We Came Up With This List

In my experience, successful battery replacement comes down to the quality of the battery, its cost, and the convenience of replacing it. Most places sell good-quality batteries and offer different tiers of prices and warranties. The difference between those places comes down to convenience. With that in mind, I researched places that provide options for people who are comfortable replacing a car battery and people who barely know how to open their hood. I also focused on national chains that everyone knows. Finally, I read professional and individual reviews of those places and the brand they offer. The goal was to find the place with the best combination of product, price, and service. 

Check out The Drive's clear set of guidelines for reviewing and recommending products and services. 

Best Places to Buy a Car Battery Reviews & Recommendations

Advance Auto Parts

Specs

  • Brands: Autocraft, Die Hard, and Optima 
  • Delivery: In-store pickup
  • Core charge: $22, refundable

Pros

  • Online ordering 
  • Free in-store installation
  • Good replacement warranties

Cons

  • Higher prices
  • Limited selection

Advance Auto Parts provides the best mix of quality, price, and convenience. They carry Autocraft, Die Hard, and Optima batteries, name brands that consistently get high ratings. Most of their batteries come with a three-year replacement warranty, meaning if the battery fails during that time, you can replace it at no cost. While Advance Auto Parts is not as cheap as Walmart, you can save up to 30 percent if you order online from their website. 

Convenience separates Advance Auto Parts from the other stores. They offer free battery testing and installation. You also can replace the battery in their parking lot, and they will even let you borrow their tools. The company specializes in auto parts and caters to the DIY crowd. Many people who work there also wrench on their own cars and are knowledgeable about auto repair. In addition to batteries, they stock a wide variety of auto parts, including parts for older vehicles. 

Their website gave me the option to shop for batteries by brand or a specific make and model of car. I tried several vehicles, including some weird stuff like a 1956 Studebaker Flight Hawk and a 1981 DeLorean. Even in those cases, Advance Auto Parts had several options available for pickup at my local store.

Walmart

Specs

  • Brands: EverStart and Optima 
  • Delivery: In-store pickup
  • Core charge: $12, refundable

Pros

  • Lowest prices 
  • Many locations
  • Long replacement warranties

Cons

  • Limited selection
  • Not all stores offer installation

Walmart is hands down the cheapest place to buy a car battery. They carry EverStart batteries, their in-store brand manufactured by Clarios, which also makes Optima batteries. In addition to EverStart, some Walmart stores carry other brands such as Bosch and Optima. Most of their batteries carry two or three-year replacement warranties. 

As with Advance Auto Parts, Walmart lets you order batteries online for pickup at their store. They also offer free installation and battery testing, but only at a store with an automotive center. You can also change the battery yourself in the parking lot, but Walmart won’t loan you the tools. 

Walmart’s website also lets you shop for a battery by brand or by a specific make and model of car. I tried the same group of cars, including the Studebaker and DeLorean. Each time, the website showed a battery was available at my local Walmart Auto Care Center, but my choices were limited to their store brand. That pretty much sums up Walmart when it comes to auto parts: They cover the basics and offer the best prices, but don’t expect much variety.

Amazon

Specs

  • Brands: Nearly every brand 
  • Delivery: Home delivery
  • Core charge: None 

Pros

  • Fast shipping 
  • Impressive selection
  • Good return policy and warranty replacement 

Cons

  • Easy to get lost on website
  • Limited installation options 

Is there anything Amazon doesn’t sell? While they don’t always have the lowest prices, they do have the most impressive selection. Nearly every major brand of automobile battery is available and ships directly to your door. 

Unlike Advance Auto Parts and Walmart, Amazon does not offer free battery testing or installation. They will recommend and sell you a battery tester and a book on how to change your battery, but they won’t come to your house. Amazon does offer a “ship to store” option, but it’s not available in many areas. 

No matter what car I used in my search, Amazon had many batteries available. The search process, however, was frustrating. When I searched for a car battery, the results included battery chargers, car battery jump-starters, and half a dozen other products in addition to car batteries. Searching by a specific make and model yielded similar results and included items such as alternators and floor mats.

Costco

Specs

  • Brand: Interstate
  • Delivery: In-store pickup 
  • Core charge: $15, refundable 

Pros

  • Lowest cost
  • Batteries get good reviews 
  • Three-year limited warranty 

Cons

  • No installation service
  • Not available for some makes and models 

If you have a membership, Costco is the least-expensive place to buy a car battery. In fact, with some of their prices, you can purchase a one-year membership and get a battery, and it’s still cheaper than going to another store. 

Costco only carries Interstate batteries, a good name brand, but it’s your only option. They also do not offer free battery testing or installation, and they will not ship a battery to your home. Additionally, they do not install batteries. As with Amazon, you’re on your own there. And with Costo, you also have to pick up your battery. 

In addition to only carrying Interstate batteries, Costco’s selection is limited. My search turned up a battery for a Studebaker but nothing for a DeLorean. No big deal, but I also couldn’t find batteries for a 2000 Mercedes CLK 430 or a 2004 Mini Cooper,  two cars in my fleet. Unless you have a common make and model vehicle, you might have to look elsewhere.

AAA Mobile Battery Service

Specs

  • Brand: AAA/Duracell
  • Delivery: Roadside service
  • Core charge: None 

Pros

  • Technician comes to you
  • For members and non-members 
  • Six-year warranty with a three-year replacement

Cons

  • Little or no selection 
  • Not available for some makes and models 

If your car battery died in your driveway, at the office, or on the road, AAA will come to you. They will jump-start your car, test your battery, and even replace it while you wait. This service is available to members and non-members, but you’ll pay about $30 more if you’re not a member. Prices are comparable to Advance Auto Parts but not as cheap as Costco or Walmart. 

To request AAA Battery Service, call them or go online. They are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and will jump-start your car and test your battery before recommending a replacement. The process usually takes less than 30 minutes once the technician arrives. The batteries are made by East Penn Manufacturing, which also makes Duracell car batteries, and they have a great warranty: three-year free replacement and up to a six-year limited warranty. 

As with Costco, you’re limited on selection — in this case, to whatever is on the truck. You don’t have to use that battery, but you’ll still pay for the service call. I was able to find a battery for a Studebaker but no DeLorean. I was able to find a battery for my Mercedes CLK and Mini Cooper.

What to Consider When Buying a Car Battery 

There are several other things to consider in addition to where you buy your car battery. Car batteries vary by type and size. So, before you walk in and buy the first battery on the shelf, check your owner’s manual or look up your car’s battery online. 

Types 

Car batteries generate electricity through a lead-acid chemical reaction. Lead-acid batteries have been around for a long time, but there are several different types for your car:

  • Flooded or wet cell batteries. These are the cheapest, most commonly used batteries. They use a liquid solution of water and sulfuric acid to generate electricity. 
  • Gel batteries. Similar to flooded batteries, gel batteries use sulfuric acid but mix it with a silica compound to turn the liquid into a gel. 
  • AGM batteries. Absorbed glass matte batteries use a fiberglass matte to hold the sulfuric acid solution instead of a gel. 

Most cars still use flooded batteries, which are fine for most applications. However, many premium brands such as Mercedes and BMW highly recommend AGM batteries. AGMs provide higher outputs, require shorter charging times, and are less affected by cold or vibration. But they also cost more than the equivalent flooded or gel battery. Check with your owner’s manual or an online tool to determine which type is recommended for your vehicle. 

Warranties

There are two types of battery warranties: limited warranties and replacement warranties. The limited warranty will reimburse you for a prorated percentage of the battery’s original price if it fails during the warranty period. For example, if a battery has a five-year limited warranty, and it dies after two years, you’d get 60 percent of your money refunded. 

A replacement warranty covers the entire replacement cost of the battery. If you have a five-year replacement warranty, and the battery dies within that five-year window, you can replace it with another battery from the same manufacturer. Some batteries offer a replacement warranty for a short time period and a limited warranty for a longer period. Also, unless you plan to sell your car in less than two years, it’s a good idea to buy a battery with a longer warranty. It will cost more upfront but will save you in the long run. 

Specifications 

When shopping for a battery, you’ll want to know about battery specifications. These specs include the group size, cold-cranking amps, and reserve capacity. The group size provides the physical dimensions of the battery. Not all car batteries are the same size, so make sure you get one that fits. The group sizes are printed on the battery, and an H8 Interstate battery will be the same as an H8 EverStart. 

Cold-cranking amps show the battery's ability to start your engine in cold temperatures. The number indicates how much power a battery can deliver for 30 seconds at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. The higher the number, the more cold-cranking amps. Reserve capacity measures the number of minutes of reserve power the battery has at a specific load. The higher the number, the longer the reserve. This info is helpful if you run your battery with your engine shut off. 

FAQs about Car Batteries

You’ve got questions. The Drive has answers.

Q: What is the average lifespan of a car battery?

A: Three years, but there are several factors such as climate and usage that impact that average. 

Q: How can I tell if my battery is dying? 

A: The most common symptoms are dim headlights or the starter cranks slowly or makes a clicking noise. 

Q: How do you revive a dead car battery? 

A: Dead car batteries can be revived with a jump-start. However, if a battery is fully depleted, it will need to be replaced. 

Q: How do you extend the life of a car battery? 

A: Drive your car regularly — at least once a week — and keep the battery terminals clean. 

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