Consumer Reports: New car batteries

Consumer Reports
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(CONSUMER REPORTS) — You may have already noticed, but car battery prices have been rising over the past decade. Consumer reports investigates some reasons for the price hike and suggests some ways to save.

You’re not wrong for thinking everything in your car is more complex these days! Even car batteries have gotten a high-tech upgrade! You probably grew up with a battery like this — lead, acid, or ‘flooded’ battery. But many new cars now come with AGM or ‘absorbed glass mat’ batteries.

CHYRON: Jennifer Stockburger, Consumer Report Auto Expert

“Some lead-acid batteries have been enhanced, with advanced materials and design, but the other type of batteries, AGMs, use a glass mat separator to allow the electrolyte solution to move between the thin battery plates, it makes them well-suited to repeated draining and recharging,” said Jennifer Stockburger, Consumer Report Auto Expert.

Why are car makers using these new, more expensive batteries? Simple — Today’s high-tech cars need more electrical power.

“As vehicle technology evolves, cars need more and more electric power to operate features like today’s stop-start technology, safety and convenience features, and all the additional power outlets that charge our devices!” she said.

Not surprisingly, these enhanced batteries also come with an enhanced price tag. AGM batteries can cost twice as much as traditional lead-acid batteries, between $200 and $300, so you want to make sure you’re buying one that will last. CR puts these batteries through a well — a battery of tests — simulating a
vehicle starting thousands of times, in standard and also cold weather. And remember, Consumer Reports says, you don’t have to buy a battery at a car dealership or especially shops. Buying from a big box store can save you money, and often auto parts stores will even install it for you. But it isn’t necessary to buy the most expensive replacement battery. CR tests show that some lead-acid batteries perform almost as well as AGMs for far less cost.

CR also says you should replace the battery in your car with the same size and type, but you can upgrade from a traditional battery to an AGM battery.

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