Why Do Car Batteries Cost So Much?

Having a car gives you the freedom to drive wherever you want. That is a great feeling to have, but you also use your car to get to work, school, doctor’s appointments, and much more. When your car battery dies and you need to purchase a new one, you can find that the prices seem a bit outrageous!

Buying a new car battery doesn’t sound like it should be a major purchase, but with high prices being the average right now, you might have to fork over a large sum of cash just for a simple car battery. But when did these relatively cheap batteries get to be so much more expensive?

Well, there have been some major issues within the last decade or so that have made the prices of these items soar. Though this is a complex issue that has a few different reasons that contribute to the problem, there are two major factors that have been consistently affecting the prices of car batteries. 

So, why do car batteries cost so much now? Due to new regulations being passed within the last few years that intend to make cars more energy-efficient, car batteries have had to be upgraded to ensure that they are up to par. This has made the prices rise and with the addition of warmer winters making it easier for batteries to last longer, and makes it harder for used batteries to be in circulation. 

Both of these issues are working together to keep the prices of car batteries abnormally high and making it difficult for customers on a budget to get something within their price range.

How Did This All Start 

Though this is still an issue that needs to be addressed today, the rising prices began years ago.

With the push for more environmentally safe practices in the manufacturing and production sector, many regulations have been put in place to curb the rise in harmful effects on the Earth.

With the passing of the Clean Air Act and subsequent air quality standards rising, there have been effects on companies that manufacture batteries. 

These clean air regulations are meant to help regulate the use of harmful chemicals in manufacturing to keep the air clean for a growing population and to reduce instances of illnesses due to contact with certain air pollutants. This was also done to lower the emissions of manufacturing facilities. 

There are over 180 different pollutants that are known to be harmful and have been closely regulated for safer use.

One of these pollutants is lead, which happens to be the top ingredient – and the most expensive one – needed for building a car battery.

This has caused the cost of production to rise to new heights, which companies are passing along to their customers. 

Reducing Emissions 

Many of these new regulations focus on lowering the effects of emissions on the environment and air quality. This means that reducing emissions or keeping them from leaving their manufacturing facility is the main goal.

With chemicals and pollutants that have been seen to cause serious health concerns or cancer, the regulations have become strict. This makes building new car batteries much more expensive to manufacture.

Especially with the use of lead, which can require the use of negative-pressure technology or upgraded alarm systems to stop emissions from getting through doorways of the facility into the open air, the price of production has skyrocketed.

The price of manufacturing a car battery now takes more for the company to produce. Because of this, the rising cost is recouped by raising the cost of a battery for their customers. The correlation between the regulations and the cost are closely related and affect the prices of the item on the market. 

These higher costs have made it more difficult for smaller manufacturers to stay in business and keep up with the changing regulations, and some have even had to go out of business.

If this is affecting businesses so much, it is no wonder that the prices are rising so high for consumers!

Rising Temperatures 

In the fight to lower emissions and reduce the effects of humanity on the Earth’s atmosphere, many regulations are put in place to help the environment.

However, due to centuries of damage done by multiple factors, we have recently seen a major rise in temperature as the global climate shifts.

News stories of polar ice caps melting, oceans rising, and animal’s natural habitats being destroyed have taken over the news.  

This rise in temperature affects several parts of our lives, and although the climate changes might make you think about earthquakes and hurricanes, weather is not the only thing affected.

The rising temperatures have also made it more difficult for secondary lead smelters to find the used batteries they need to make the lead. 

Secondary lead smelters are works in facilities that recycle used batteries in order to create lead or lead alloys. This lead is then used for new car batteries and serves as a raw material.

If the supply of used batteries is waning, then the prices of the currently available ones increase. This has been occurring recently because of the decreased need for new batteries in the cold winter months. 

How Weather Affects Car Battery Prices 

Now, you might be wondering why the weather has any effect on car battery prices. This doesn’t seem to make much sense at first. But, when you look into it, you will find that there is a huge cause and effect happening.

Global climate change has been causing the overall temperature of the Earth to rise consistently. This is the reason why the Antarctic region is seeing much of its ice and snow melting.

This warmer weather also affects the United States, as the areas that usually have colder winters are becoming unseasonably warm. 

The cold winter months tend to have a negative effect on car battery life and cause the need for many vehicle owners to purchase new batteries during the winter.

The harsh cold makes the battery work harder to start and run your vehicle, which makes it not last as long as in temperate weather. However, warmer areas don’t tend to see this spike in battery purchases.

Cost Passes To Customers 

So, as the temperatures of colder areas rise to moderate and mild winter months, the car batteries that would normally yield enough raw material for secondary smelters to make the lead needed for new batteries is seeing a dip.

This makes the available car batteries to recycle more expensive for the smelters to purchase. In turn, driving up the cost of manufacturing and causes stores to pay a higher price to stock their shelves with these new batteries.

A business is not going to pay more for an item without ensuring that its profits are intact, so the cost is passed on to customers.

This is one reason why you are seeing higher prices in car batteries. 

For recommendations on good batteries, I’d recommend taking a look at the video below.

Understanding Both Factors Together

Each of these two separate reasons plays a role in raising the cost of car batteries, but it is the problem of both factors working together that really causes the issue.

The warmer weather makes it more expensive for the secondary lead smelters to purchase the materials needed to make the lead, and the regulations that cause businesses to spend more on manufacturing the battery with the lead raises the price even more. 

One of these problems would still affect the pricing, but both together make a much larger impact.

And, although both of these factors don’t seem to be related to each other directly, they both work to raise the prices from different directions, which creates a higher price tag for every car battery you purchase. 

Will The Prices Continue to Increase? 

Looking toward the future, it can be a little disheartening to see that this problem doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. And, with the global climate still seeing effects from centuries of air pollution and environmentally harmful practices, it can look like this will never end.

However, that is not necessarily the case. 

Though the weather is not likely to see any significant drop with climate changes being a current issue, the fact that the temperature is rising may not hurt the lead-making industry as much in the future. This is because of the higher temperatures in the summer.

Just like batteries in the winter, high heat can make batteries work harder to power your vehicle. 

This might shift the car battery buying season switch to the summer months. The high heat will likely cause many vehicle owners to buy a new unit for their car and produces more available raw materials for secondary lead smelters.

This will increase the amount of lead produced, and at a lower price, and help bring down the cost of car batteries in the future.

Also, because many of the new regulations are taking time for companies to put in place, some are not bringing in as much money as they need. This can force them to produce fewer products while implementing new technologies and equipment.

However, with many businesses having their plants up to standards, they are getting back to their normal production schedules. This will help to make more batteries available and drive down the price a bit.

Conclusion on Car Battery Prices

Car batteries are needed to run your vehicle, and paying a higher price should not be an issue for such a small unit.

With the recent rise in costs, you will see the prices staying the same or possibly rising a bit more. However, the future ensures us that there may be some major changes ahead that could help keep costs lower.  

Hi, I'm the founder of VehicleAnswers.com! Having owned a wide variety of vehicles in my life, I was astounded at how hard it can be to find answers to common automotive questions. Rather than sit idly, I decided to create this website to help others!