By Mike Thayer
You know it's probably time to replace the battery in your vehicle when...
Cold weather hits, you turn the key, and the engine turns over noticeably slower.
I drive a 2015 Ford F150. Temps went below zero with wind chill in my neck of the woods recently and the battery in her no longer wanted to crank. I'll say this, Ford makes a good battery. Original to the vehicle it lasted 7 years.
Needing a battery with at least 610 cold cranking amps (CCA), I did some online shopping. I don't need a premium battery for my vehicle, my truck is an XL model which doesn't have a lot of bells and whistles and my driving habit isn't just short trips. Here's what I found, listed in order of lowest price and by retailer:
- Super Start Economy (O'Reilly Auto Parts): $119.99. CCA 615; CA 755; Reserve Capacity 95 minutes; 1 year free replacement.
- Interstate M48/H6 (Interstate Batteries): $139.99. Their website did not list cranking amps or reserve capacity. 18 month free replacement
- EverStart (Walmart): $149.84. CCA 730; CA 900; Reserve Capacity 115 minutes; 3 Year free replacement.
- Diehard Silver (Advanced Auto Parts): $179.99. CCA 615; CA 765; Reserve Capacity 95 Minutes; 2 year free replacement
- Duracell Ultra (Batteries Plus): $182.99. CCA 680; CA 835; Reserve Capacity not listed; 2 year free replacement.
- Dealership/Shop: $225 and up, plus install.
Let's start with the Super Start Economy battery sold at O'Reilly Auto Parts. The online reviews were mixed, with most reviews recommending the Super Start Premium battery over their Economy model which seems to have some inconsistent performance issues. There were a lot of negative reviews regarding the return/replacement policy of O'Reilly Auto Parts the exclusive retailer for Super Start. One example was of a customer wanting to replace a leaky battery and the store saying that wasn't covered under the warranty. Another example was a denial of replacement during the warranty period because the battery wasn't professionally installed. A 1 year free replacement isn't good either. How long a company is willing to provide a free replacement is an indicator to how much quality life a battery is going to have. Most batteries will give you between 3-5 years, so the Super Start replacement for their economy battery isn't very encouraging.
I didn't spend much time on the Interstate Batteries website. They have a store here in town and Interstate is a brand that's been around since 1952. But why they don't list the cold cranking amps or reserve capacity numbers for their batteries is a bit puzzling. They lost a potential buyer as a result. Perhaps they don't list the numbers because they're not as good as the competition? Their 18 month replacement offer was also discouraging.
Everstart, sold by Walmart is a brand I'm familiar with. When I needed to replace the battery for my 1992 Ford F150, Everstart was the brand I went with. It has the best CCA, longest reserve and longest free replacement of the batteries I researched. It's a budget brand that provides premium performance. Cold cranking amps are important for those times when temps hit below zero, especially when traveling to my home state of Iowa. The higher reserve number (how long the battery will operate your vehicle's electrical system without being recharged) like the free replacement time, is also an indicator of a higher quality battery. Needless to say, this is the battery I purchased.
Diehard, available at Advanced Auto Parts is a solid brand, but it costs $30 more than the EverStart and the numbers for the Silver model just aren't as good.
Duracell, sold at Batteries Plus is also a solid brand and the Ultra model has the second best CCA number (680) of the batteries I did homework on. I'm OK with the 2 year free replacement, but the price doesn't compete with EverStart. If I wanted a Duracell battery with 725 cold cranking amps (5 fewer than Everstart), that would cost $202.99.
Having a battery replaced by a dealership or shop is cost prohibitive at $225 and that's the starting point. On top of the battery purchase there's the core charge and the labor to install it.
All retailers/shops will charge you a core fee, an additional charge on top of the listed price for the battery. The typical charge for the auto parts and battery specialty stores was $22. Walmart's was $12, another win for EverStart. I don't know what a dealership/shop would charge because I didn't stay on the phone long enough after I heard the price they were going to charge me for a battery.
I was able to install the EverStart battery in about 10 minutes, no issues. The average time to do this type of job is about 20 minutes on most vehicles. Cold weather might sway you to go the dealer/shop route if you don't have the luxury of a home garage and if you have a vehicle with a complicated or tight battery placement, that too might convince you to let somebody else do it... like for a 2001 Buick LeSabre where the battery is located under the rear seat and requires both standard and metric sockets to do.
Costing me $149.84 (if you bring the old battery in at the time of purchase, Walmart won't charge you the additional $12 core fee. Otherwise, they'll refund it after installation and the same should hold true for the other retailers). I'm giving the EverStart Maxx 5 out of 5 Bachelor on the Cheap stars. Reasonably priced, you get the best charge for the battery buck... see what I did there... with 'charge'...
$pend Wisely My Friends...
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