We are aware of the concept that every mechanical and electric device uses to get energy. It is a fact that all mechanical and electrical gadgets rely on power supplied from a given source to function efficiently. These sources of energy can either be a battery, electricity, gasoline, geothermal energy, etc. But a car seems a bit complicated. It uses multiple sources of energy: petrol, CNG, diesel, electricity, etc. Despite running on all these sources of energy, it still requires a battery. But just like any other vehicle component, the battery eventually goes bad. But how much does a new battery cost for a car in case you need a replacement?
Well, probably this might be the burning question in your mind whenever your battery shows signs and symptoms of malfunction. Is it possible to ignore a bad battery since a car runs on fuel as an alternative source of energy?
Definitely not! A car battery is a very essential source of energy during the ignition process. It is the battery that helps to jam start the engine. After the car is ignited, it’s the rotation of the engine that drives the alternator, forcing electrical current into a battery where it is stored as chemical energy.
Besides the ignition of a car, a battery also performs different tasks that range from; turning on lights inside and outside the car, running a car’s music system, running the GPS navigation system, providing current for the headlamps, and powering the DVDs.
This makes the battery an essential car component that should not be given a wide berth whenever it portrays signs and symptoms of malfunction. Else it may end up causing more expensive damage to the car.
Contents of this article entail;
What Is A Car Battery?
All car batteries are rechargeable batteries. They are charged using a vehicle component referred to as the alternator. The role of the alternator is to convert physical energy from the engine into electrical energy that charges the car battery.
During the ignition of the engine, there is no electrical energy generated by the alternator mainly because the alternator is not in the movement to help produce the electrical energy. So in this situation, it’s the battery that provides electrical energy to get the engine started.
The battery is just a very simple vehicle component that comprises;
- A plastic casing that holds all the internal components of the battery.
- There are plates of lead or alloys that contain lead. It is these plates that form the positive and the negative terminals of the battery.
The battery plates are arranged in a grid-like formation and are covered using a paste of sulphuric, lead oxide powder, and water. These plates are always separated using a thin sheet of a porous material called separators which are meant to help to prevent short circuits.
The elements of a battery are always formed by pairing a positive and negative plate and a separator. This structure is what forms a cell that comprises several batteries. These cells are then connected by an electrical metal conductor of electricity.
The cells are then covered by a solution known as an electrolyte. This solution comprises water and sulphuric acid. It’s this solution that is referred to as the battery fluid. The car battery comprises two terminals; the positive (+) and the negative (-). The terminals enable the connection to electrical systems of the car through electrical circuits. A car battery can produce up to 12 volts of electricity.
How Much Does A New Battery Cost For A Car: The Battery And The Alternator
When talking about a car battery, there is one crucial component that we can’t fail to mention and that is the alternator. The battery and the alternator are like two inseparable conjoined twins. You can never mention one and ignore the other. The two work together as a unit to help provide power to the engine during ignition but perform different functions.
How Much Does A New Battery Cost For A Car: How A Car Battery Works
A standard car battery would store 12 volts and have a capacity of 200 to 225 amp hours Ah. This type of battery can be charged through driving your car but this does not guarantee full charge in case the battery is completely drained. The alternator that does this charging process will not be able to provide 100% output in charging the battery back up to 12 volts.
The alternator can only achieve a 15% of its usual charging capacity in this case. This is mainly because the alternator also helps to power other vehicle accessories. Many cars use batteries sealed using lead-acid while most modern cars have become popular with lithium-ion batteries. Batteries that have lead-acid consist of 6 cells that can emit 12 volts output.
Their capacity greatly depends on the energy, and the size required by your car. Car DC batteries have got a relatively low amp hour rating. This means that they don’t have a bigger reserve power to manage to provide electrical energy for a lot of electrical components for a very long time.
For a car battery to work and help in starting the engine, it will need additional circuits to convert the DC into AC. This is usually done by the AC converter. Over time, the efficacy of car batteries begins to deteriorate. One of the main causes is completely draining the battery. This eventually damages the cells of your battery.
How Much Does A New Battery Cost For A Car: How An Alternator Works
The alternator comprises a belt that enables several accessories to function and this includes the pulleys; one for the engine and the other for the alternator itself. The alternator will also provide power that is used to power other electrical accessories like headlamps, turn signals, vehicles stereos, and not just charging the battery alone.
The alternator usually produces AC output. This output is immediately converted into DC for use. Previously cars had DC generators that helped provide electrical power. However, these DC generators were later replaced by alternators because the electrical consumption in a car had significantly increased. The alternator was more efficient at charging and could easily produce high output even at low RPM.
The alternator produces AC. Since the AC is rarely used in electronic gadgets in the car, it has to be converted to DC. Hence there are full-bridge rectifiers installed within the alternator that use four diodes to help convert AC to DC. The converted DC is then sent into the battery for storage.
How Much Does A New Battery Cost For A Car: Symptoms Of A Bad Battery
Some several signs and symptoms should be enough to bring to your attention that your car battery is not working optimally as it should and needs an immediate check-up, repair, or even replacement. These symptoms include:
1. Slow Engine Crank
This can be easily noticed when you attempt to ignite your car and the cranking of the engine becomes very sluggish and takes longer than normal to start. This moment could better be described as a “rur rur rur” starting noise sound.
2. Check Engine Lights
Check engine lights will often illuminate when your battery power is too weak. These alarming system indicator lights like the check engine light and the coolant light could mean there is a problem with your battery or may point out a coolant that is malfunctioning making the battery run hot.
3. Low Battery Fluid Levels
Car batteries always have a translucent casing. This is so because you are supposed to keep an eye on your batteries’ fluid levels. Fluid levels can also be inspected by opening the red and black caps if they are not permanently sealed, just in case your battery casing isn’t translucent. However, modern vehicles come with caps permanently sealed.
4. Bottom Line
If you notice that the fluid level is below the lead plates which are usually the energy conductors inside your battery, you need to have the battery and the charging system tested. A drop in fluid levels is a sign of overcharging or overheating.
5. Swelling Or Bloating Of Battery Case
Quite often you will see the casing of your battery bloated or swollen like it just taken some heavy meal. When you notice this with your battery, it is a clear sign that your battery isn’t in good shape. The main culprit contributing to deforming the attractive look of your battery casing is excessive heat that makes the battery casing bloat hence decreasing its efficiency and time.
6. Stinky Rotten Egg Smell
You may notice that your battery begins to emit a pungent rotten egg smell that is normally associated with sulfur odor around your battery. This pungent rotten egg smell is usually caused by a battery leak. When not addressed immediately it often leads to corrosion of the terminals where the (+) positive and the (–) negative connections are located. The battery may need to be replaced else the car may not even start.
7. 3+ Years Battery Age
Ideally, your battery can last way beyond three years. However, this will mainly depend on your day-to-day driving habits, the weather conditions and the frequent short trips of less than 20 minutes can drastically shorten the lifespan of your car battery. When your battery goes beyond three years, at the very least you should have its condition inspected yearly to determine if it still has the potential to perform efficiently.
How Much Does A New Battery Cost For A Car: Is Battery Too Old?
To determine if you’re your battery is too old, you can have a glimpse of the four or five digits date code on the cover of your battery casing. The first part of the code is very vital: look for the letter and digit.
A letter is assigned to each month like A may represent January, B for February and the sequence goes on. The number that follows refers to the year e.g. 9 for 2009 and 11 for 2011. The dates can help you decipher when the battery was shipped from the factory to the distributor.
The extra digits will tell where the battery was made. On the average car, batteries can last three to five years. Mind you, there are several weak battery signals that you can always look up to like a slow engine crank because of low fluid levels, a bloated or swollen casing of your battery, smelly rotten egg pungent that emanates from your battery, and your check engine lights illuminate.
If your battery has lived beyond three years and these signs begin unfolding, then it’s high time to arrange for a replacement.
How Much Does A New Battery Cost For A Car: Is Alternator Giving Battery Less Power?
As we had discussed early, a car battery plays an important role in providing power to the starter to help it ignite the engine. The battery also has to be charged constantly. This is done by an onboard alternator within the car. How will you know if your car’s alternator isn’t providing enough charging power to the battery?
- The electrical system becomes “possessed”. In this case, the alarming flickering warning lights such as the check engine light begin to illuminate in a flashing manner. These symptoms of malfunction often start unfolding as a sign that the battery is completely drained and is struggling to provide the required amount of power. If the alternator becomes faulty, your battery will no longer receive power and your electrical system is just moments away from a total breakdown.
- The slow crank; in this case, you try to start your car, and it keeps turning endlessly. This may eventually end in the car starting but after a very long time or not starting at all. This means that your alternator is faulty and isn’t properly charging your battery. When you begin to experience this, take a moment to visit your mechanic because it may mean you are not far from losing your battery and alternator.
The above symptoms are likely to start unfolding when the battery isn’t receiving enough power because the alternator has become faulty. The battery will keep on draining until when the battery drains completely the car will stall. The sooner you will have your car inspected the better and the less likely you can face the driver’s biggest fear of the car failing to start.
Can A Bad Battery Harm The Charging System And The Starter?
The answer to this is a yes. When your battery becomes weak either through prolonged wear and tear or physical damage, your car will end up putting a lot of unnecessary stress on healthy parts. This will greatly affect the charging system, starter motor, or starter solenoid.
These components can malfunction because they are drawing excessive voltage to compensate for the lack of battery power. Leaving this problem unsolved can lead to blowing up of these components and you will have to face the expensive replacement or repair costs involved. Don’t leave your car’s power faults to chance, you may end up paying dearly for it.
How Much Does A New Battery Cost For A Car: Benefits Of Car Battery Replacement
As mentioned earlier, a car battery is very essential in helping to ignite the engine. It also helps in providing power that is used to run electrical components of the car such as the lights, the stereo, the power window motor for those cars that have them, powered seats, the computer, and any other component that may require electrical power.
You won’t be able to start the car or run the electrical components of the car in case the battery is malfunctioning. If your battery fails to start the car, it does not always mean that the car battery is bad. Sometimes when the battery has completely drained, this can lead to your failure to start.
When your battery drains completely and cannot start your car, then you will have to charge the battery using the battery charger or giving the car a jump to enable start the engine and the alternator.
A jump start is where electricity from another car is used to start a different car’s engine. This enables the alternator to start running and thereafter start providing electricity for your car and also charge the drained battery.
If the battery gets worn out, that means it has outlived its operational time limit, and it needs a replacement. Just like any other vehicle component, batteries do wear out because of frequent use. The benefit of replacing your worn-out battery in time is that it saves you the inconveniences that can be caused by your car failing to start because of a bad battery.
When Do You Need To Have Your Car Battery Replaced?
When to replace your car battery is very obvious. You need to replace your battery anytime its performance reduces significantly compared to the way the performance was when it was still new. For instance, if the battery could hold power for a long time but it currently ceases to do the same: maybe it can only hold the power for a very short time or even fail to charge at all, then it is high time to have it replaced immediately.
With time batteries corrode and stop functioning as they used to. If you try to ignite the car, and the engine will either won’t start, or it shows some signs of struggle during the starting process, then chances are high that your battery is the main culprit.
These signs will become much clearer if the electrical systems like the lights fail to work normally when trying to start the engine. This means there is not enough power available, and it is time to have your battery inspected and if possible a replacement should be done.
A battery can be damaged through normal wear and tear where it has just outlived its operational time. It can also be damaged through physical damages such as accidents. Any damage to the battery should compel you to replace it. If you drive modern computerized cars, then expect that the warning light will illuminate to signal to you that there is a problem with the battery.
This can also mean a malfunction within the electrical system. Such signals should not be ignored and immediate action should be taken to have the car inspected and if possible the battery replaced. A mechanic will run a test using specialized equipment and give recommendations that should be strictly adhered to.
What Happens During Battery Replacement?
Usually, car batteries are located in the hood of the car. But this is not the case for all vehicles. Sometimes you will get the battery placed at different places within your car such as the boot, under the floor, behind the seats, this will vary depending on the type of car, the model, and the design.
So the first assignment will be to identify the location of the battery. This can easily be done using guidance from the owner’s manual. The following seven simple steps are followed to replace the battery;
- Securing the vehicle
- Locating the battery
- Removing the covering over the battery
- Labeling the battery terminals
- Disconnecting the negative terminals first
- Then disconnect the positive terminal next
- Releasing of the battery from the housing
- The battery is removed
- A new battery is placed
- The positive terminal is connected first
- The negative terminal is connected last
How Much Does A New Battery Cost For A Car?
Normal car batteries can cost between $50 and $120 while specialty batteries can cost between $90 and $200. There is a wide range of batteries available in the market to choose from. Several factors contribute to this disparity in prices including the battery type for your car.
Lead-acid batteries are always the most common. They cost between $125 and $135. Another type of battery available is the Absorbent Glass Mat which costs as high as $200 because they are more sophisticated and can be used to power more sophisticated electronics in luxurious cars. Batteries with an extended warranty are also likely to cost more.
The labor cost to replace a battery will be between $10 and $100 depending on the complexity of the labor involved. However, car part dealers can install the battery for free if you buy the battery from them.
How Much Does A New Battery Cost For A Car: Conclusion
Modern vehicles cars comprise various operating systems that work in harmony with each other. You cannot eliminate one part from these operating systems and still expect optimal efficiency. These can even lead to a total breakdown of the entire system and the car won’t even move an inch.
We may say that a car’s electrical system is one of the greatest things it has. This is because modern gear technology is quickly shifting to a hybrid and electric future.
The term electricity refers to the movement of electrons through a circuit with both positive and negative terminals. To provide power to things like motors, manufacturers have invented chemical cells which have got a high electric capability that is used in cars.
Car batteries can be charged, and this helps to provide electrical flow to an engine vehicle. The role of a battery in a car is to supply the starter with electricity to enable it to ignite the motor. After the motor has been ignited, control of the vehicle’s electrical system is now provided by the alternator.