Can You Save Money With A Used Car Battery?
You won't be getting very far in your car if your battery is about to go kaput. Dead batteries are responsible for countless calls to roadside assistance programs, and endless driver frustration. Finding yourself stuck at a gas station or store parking lot is no fun, especially if there's no one nearby willing to provide a jump. Even worse, a completely dead battery will likely fail to hold a charge after you jump your car. Replacement is typically the only option once a battery reaches this state, but new batteries can cost anywhere from $50 to several hundred dollars depending on the make and model of your car.
Used batteries present a more cost-effective alternative, but are they a genuinely safe option? If you're weighing new versus used to get your car back on the road, be sure to ask the seller about these details.
Any used battery that you buy should be fully tested. If possible, ask the shop to test the battery in front of you. A battery in working condition should read around 12.5V when verified on a bench, although a range of a few tenths of a volt up or down is acceptable. A voltage significantly higher than this may indicate an overcharged battery, while a considerably lower voltage may indicate that the battery is old and no longer holding a full charge.
Note that car batteries fall into a category known as "starting batteries." Unlike deep-cycle batteries, they are not designed for full discharge. This design means that a car battery with little or not charge may no longer hold a full charge.
Every battery should have a label that indicates its manufacture date. The typical car battery lasts about five years, although some people manage to keep theirs for significantly longer. Any used battery that is four years old or less likely has a decent amount of life remaining. In general, expect older batteries to last for less time. If possible, ask how recently the battery was removed from the donor car to get a sense of the battery's service life. Note that an older battery may still be a good deal, especially if the price is significantly less than an equivalent new battery.
In addition to checking on the battery's age, it's worthwhile to ask about the history of the battery. Was it pulled from a totaled vehicle? The batteries in wrecked vehicles are often fine, and that means that moving one into your car can offer a significant discount. Likewise, many used car batteries have been refurbished, and these batteries can typically last well beyond what their age might indicate. Learning a bit more about the battery you're about to purchase can help to ensure that you make an informed decision and get a reliable battery for your vehicle at a deep discount.