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Money, time-saving tips before changing your battery

It’s November, which means that no matter where you live, chilly weather is likely headed your way. That drop in temperature can spell trouble for your car battery. Although warm weather actually takes a bigger toll on car batteries, that damage often [1] shows up in winter, when colder temperatures can make it harder for a battery to crank.

A dead battery can leave you in a panic, needing to get the problem fixed as soon as possible to get you back on the road. But making an impulse decision about where to replace your battery can cost you big. Costs of replacing a battery can vary widely, so being informed ahead of time can result in significant savings. Plan ahead and read these money- and time-saving tips that will make your life a bit easier if your battery dies this winter.

Make sure you really need a new battery. If your battery is dead, the first step is to try to bring it back to life. The easiest way to do this is to try jumping the car. If it takes a charge, great. If not, try checking the water levels [2] of the battery. If they’re low, filling the battery with distilled water (never tap water) might buy you some extra time before you have to purchase a new battery. Unfortunately, many batteries are now sealed for life, which means you might not be able to try this trick in your car.

Get a fresh battery. Batteries lose life over time, even if they’re just sitting on a shelf. If you’re buying a new battery, check [3] the bottom to see the shipment date. Some batteries are labeled with a straight forward date. Others use letters for the month (starting with A for January) and a number for the year (for example, a 7 for 2017). You want to choose a battery that is less than six months old.

Call AAA. If you’re a AAA member having a dead battery is no big deal. The roadside assistance company will come to you at home or work, saving you the time of getting to a shop (and as we all know, time is money). You’ll be charged for the battery, but not for installation, which will save you about $70. Finally, all AAA batteries come with a three-year warranty, and they’ll recycle your old battery for free.

Shop Wholesale. Another way to save is by shopping at a wholesale club like Costco. That way you’re getting a great price on a new battery and usually saving on installation costs as well. Before you head to your local wholesale club, make sure that they have an auto department and call ahead to see if they have the correct battery in stock.

Visit your local auto parts store. Your local auto parts store is a great place to buy a battery. Although they aren’t the cheapest option, many auto parts stores will install a battery for free if you buy it from them. Most auto parts stores can also test the charge of a battery. That means you can make sure that you really do need a new one, and that you’re getting a replacement that will last a long time.

Avoid the dealership. In a pinch you might be tempted to bring your car to the dealership to have the battery replaced. After all, you trust them and know that they’ll get the job done well. However, you’ll pay a premium, both for the battery and for the cost of labor to install it. Installing a battery is a simple procedure, so there’s no need to splurge on dealership pricing. This winter, don’t be caught off guard if your battery dies. Taking an extra minute to consider your options can save you lots.

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