How much does it cost to replace a car battery?
Put your key in the ignition. Turn. It’s the car’s battery that jolts your vehicle to life. This essential car part acts as the power bank of your car, starting your engine with an electrical current and allowing you to hit the road.
When it comes to vehicle upkeep, replacing your car battery is a routine but essential task for the safety and longevity of your vehicle. Having a quality car battery running at full or close to full capacity also helps you get the best possible price for your vehicle when it’s time to sell.
Regardless of whether you’re working with a professional mechanic or trying your hand at replacing your battery yourself, replacement costs vary. Let’s explore the key considerations associated with replacing a car battery in the UK.
- Importance of car battery replacement
- Signs your battery needs replacing
- Replacement costs
- Purchasing replacement batteries
- DIY car battery replacement
- How long does it take to replace a car battery?
- Extending car battery life
- Battery recycling and disposal options
Importance of car battery replacement
Your car’s optimal performance hinges on its battery. Over time, batteries experience wear, decreasing their ability to hold a charge. Regular replacement is crucial to ensure reliable starts, avoid unexpected breakdowns, and power the other essential parts that keep your car working properly.
Battery replacement also contributes to the longevity and efficiency of your vehicle, a small investment for sustained peace of mind while driving. More so, battery health is factored into MOT inspections and can impact your car’s value if and when you decide to sell.
Car batteries are hugely important in any vehicle, but especially in the case of battery-electric vehicles (EVs) – their high performance is crucial to getting the car started and experiencing your full range.
Signs your battery needs replacing
Dim headlights and interior lights
Dim lights often signal a weakening car battery. Dying batteries reduce your vehicle’s power supply, compromising the electricity sent to your lighting system and reducing both visibility and safety behind the wheel. If your headlights, high-beams, or interior lighting appear dimmed, check your battery health as soon as possible.
Difficulty starting the engine
Trouble starting your engine is a classic sign of a failing battery. As batteries age, their ability to deliver the robust starting power needed to turn your car on diminishes, no matter your fuel type. Regular checks and timely replacement can prevent the headache of a stalled engine.
From malfunctioning power windows to flickering lights, electrical issues can indicate an unstable power supply.
The age of your car battery significantly impacts its performance. Over the years, battery capacity diminishes, affecting crucial functions like starting the engine and powering electronic components.
Four main factors impact the cost of replacing your car battery:
1. Car model and make – Different cars have different battery specifications. Luxury or high-performance vehicles may require specialised (and usually more expensive) batteries to run properly.
2. Battery type – From £50 to £150, standard lead-acid batteries are generally the most affordable replacement option. Advanced options like Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM) or gel batteries come in at slightly higher price range – usually between £100 to £300 – but offer additional power. Consult a mechanic on what’s right for your vehicle.
3. Battery brand – Reputable battery brands may have higher upfront costs but offer reliability and performance.
4. Installation – Qualified UK mechanic battery installation fees typically run between £30 to £100, although pricing varies. If you’re handy, you could opt for DIY replacement to save your wallet, but remember that installation errors could further damage your vehicle and impact its resale value.
Purchasing replacement batteries
Car dealerships offer new and refurbished batteries, as well as professional installation services. While dealers’ prices may be higher, mechanics’ brand-specific knowledge, extended warranties, and technical expertise make them a go-to vehicle battery replacement.
Car parts retailers
Car parts shops and retailers provide a diverse selection of batteries at competitive prices. They offer convenience, although staff expertise can vary. Warranties associated with batteries bought across retailers may vary, so check you’re buying a battery with good cover.
Online retailers provide an extensive range of new battery choices with competitive prices and the convenience of shopping from home. Just be sure to do your research on battery make and model before ordering for DIY installation.
DIY car battery replacement
If you’re an amateur mechanic, replacing the average car battery is typically a doable at-home task. See below for basic replacement steps. However, as with any car repair task, take precautions, wear safety gear, and, if in doubt, contact your mechanic to prevent accidental additional damage to your vehicle.
- Battery terminal cleaner
- Corrosion protection spray
- Safety gear (gloves and safety glasses)
- Battery terminal brush
- Battery charger
Step-by-step DIY replacement
1. Preparation – Make sure you have all necessary tools listed above. Park your car in a safe, flat area, turn off the engine, and engage the parking brake. Put on your gloves and safety glasses.
2. Locate the battery – Under the hood of your car, find the battery, which is usually the rectangular box with two cables attached to it. It’s often located near the front of the engine bay.
3. Identify positive and negative terminals – Terminals are respectively marked with a red cap or (+) sign and a black cap or (-) sign.
4. Remove cables – Using a wrench or a socket, loosen the nut or bolt on the negative terminal before removing the cable from the terminal. Do not touch the positive terminal with the wrench or the cable. Repeat the same process for the positive terminal.
5. Remove old battery – Remove any clamps, brackets, or holders securing your old battery. Lift the battery straight out of its tray. Caution: car batteries can be heavy!
6. Clean battery tray – Use a wire brush to clean any corrosion or dirt from the battery tray to help ensure a good connection for the new battery.
7. Install new battery – Carefully place the new battery into the tray, making sure it’s positioned correctly. Attach and tighten any clamps, brackets, or holders to secure in place.
8. Connect cables – Attach the positive cable to the positive terminal on the new battery, and tighten the nut or bolt. Repeat with the negative cable.
9. Double-check connections – Ensure both cables are securely attached to the correct terminals and that there’s no movement or looseness.
10. Test – Firmly close your hood. Start your car to make sure the new battery is working properly. If the engine starts smoothly, you’re good to go!
Remember, if you’re unsure or uncomfortable with any step, it’s always a good idea to seek help from a professional mechanic. Safety is the top priority when working with car batteries.
How long does it take to replace a car battery?
On average, replacing a dead car battery takes approximately 15 to 30 minutes with the right tools and precautions. However, your vehicle’s design, battery accessibility, and whether you encounter any issues while installing the new car battery can add additional time.
Unlike the ‘normal’ batteries in most cars, which are primarily used to power things like the radio and start the engine, the battery in electric cars runs everything, including the motor. Instead of filling up with traditional fuel, EV drivers simply charge their batteries and get going.
Most EVs operate from a high-voltage lithium-ion battery, while hybrid electric cars often use nickel-metal hydride.
These batteries are designed to have a long lifespan and usually come with extended warranties. Most manufacturers offer a warranty that covers EV batteries for 100,000 miles or 7-8 years, whichever comes first. Here’s a reference guide of recent current manufacturer warranties for popular UK models (as of July 2021):
|Tesla Model 3
|8 years/ 100,000 miles
|Kia e-Niro ‘2’
|7 years/ 100,000 miles
|Mini Electric (2020)
|8 years/ 100,000 miles
|Smart EQ ForTwo (2018)
|8 years/ 62,500 miles
Plus, when EV batteries are no longer quite as good at holding their charge, getting a replacement is relatively straightforward, and there are plenty of ways to recycle the batteries (even with limited capacity) in your home, such as connecting them to solar power systems.
Read our electric vehicle guide for more.
Extending car battery life
Routine maintenance and cleaning are essential to prolong your battery’s lifespan and performance. Periodically pop open your car hood and:
- Inspect the battery terminals for corrosion, a common issue that can hinder electrical conductivity. If terminals appear dirty, use a mixture of baking soda and water and gently scrub with a brush to clean.
- Ensure that your replacement battery is securely in place by tightening any loose connections.
- Check the electrolyte levels in non-sealed batteries. If low, top up with distilled water.
- Explore additional battery maintenance tips here.
Turn lights off
Leaving your internal and external car lights on for extended periods of time can drain your car’s battery by using excess electricity. Make sure all lights are turned off once you’ve parked.
If you’re not using your vehicle for an extended period of time, park in a cool, dry place to minimise the impact of temperature extremes on your battery. While EV battery owners only really need to be worried about extreme heat corroding their batteries, indoor storage is an easy way to defend against all types of weather-related damage. EV owners are also advised to not store their cars in direct sunshine on hot days.
Consider also disconnecting the battery’s negative terminal to prevent slow discharge. If possible, use a battery maintainer or trickle charger to keep the battery at an optimal charge level.
To recharge your battery after a long period of inactivity, begin with periodic short drives before moving onto longer routes.
Battery recycling and disposal options
Legal requirements for battery disposal
In the UK, the Waste Batteries and Accumulators Regulations governs legal requirements for car battery disposal. These regulations mandate proper disposal tactics to minimise environmental impact.
Used batteries can be returned to dedicated collection points, retailers, and recycling facilities. Follow guidelines provided by local authorities.
Certified recycling centres
Certified UK recycling centres play a crucial role in environmentally responsible battery disposal.
These facilities adhere to strict recycling processes, ensuring the safe extraction of battery materials and minimising environmental harm.
Be a sustainable waste management hero and dispose of your old car batteries at a certified recycling centre.
Will any car battery work with my vehicle?
No, not all batteries are compatible. Your new battery must match your vehicle’s specifications in terms of size, type, and power.
I think my battery is damaged, and low on fluid, can I just top it up?
No, topping up is not a solution! Attempting to add fluid to a damaged vehicle’s battery is unsafe and ineffective. Damaged batteries should be replaced.
How can I extend the life of my car battery?
Regular maintenance, keeping your battery charged, avoiding deep discharges, and storing the vehicle in a cool, dry place during inactivity help prolong a car battery’s lifespan.
Need to sell your car?
- Sell my car
- Track your car value
- What are the most expensive parts of a car to replace?
- Car anatomy: what are the parts of a car?
- How much does it cost to replace a gearbox?
- How much does it cost to replace a car engine?
- How much does it cost to replace a car suspension?
- How much does it cost to replace brake pads?
- How much does it cost to replace a windscreen?
- How much does it cost to replace a head gasket?
- How much does it cost to replace a cambelt?