I’ve been thinking a lot about past purchases over the past few months, looking at things that I’ve bought that perhaps weren’t the best choice for me. After all my car trouble last week, I’ve been thinking about my current car battery.
As I mentioned I am an AAA member, and in the summer of 2007, while I was studying for the bar exam, I left bar review courses to find my car dead in the parking lot. I called AAA and they showed up to jump my car.
A quick diagnostic test showed my battery was dead. My options were then to go get a battery and install it myself (after first learning how to install a battery), find someone who could install it for me, have the car towed to a shop and get a battery there, or have AAA install a battery right there.
AAA clearly wins for the convenience factor, but what about the price?
The Price of AAA Car Batteries
AAA car batteries cost upwards of $115.
Yes. $115. I believe car batteries run in the $50-$75 range, with some outliers.
This battery did come with a three year free replacement warranty, and then replacement at a discounted price for the three years after that. So really, I paid $115 for a three year battery. But really, what I paid for was the convenience.
At that time, I was under enough stress with studying for the bar exam and focusing on moving to the D.C. area and everything else going on in my life. I didn’t need any more stress. So paying the extra money for the quick fix was worth it.
Would I Do It Again
Would I make the same choice today? It would depend on where I was when the battery died.
If my car wouldn’t start in my parking lot, then maybe not. If I were out running errands, the answer might be different. Part of it depends on whether or not I can find someone to help me change the battery. If I have to get it towed, that price has to be factored in.
Of course, if my battery dies in the next few years, I’m calling AAA simply because of the warranty. I paid for the service and I am absolutely going to be sure I get it.
So this past purchase? More expensive than it could have been, but probably worth the extra price. If only I could say that about all of my past purchases!
Have you ever bought a AAA car battery before? How’d that go for you?
Megan is a 40-something government employee in the Washington, DC area. She got interested in Personal Finance when she got out of college and realized that her paycheck wasn’t going to go as far as she had hoped. Since starting this blog, she has managed to buy a house and make a solid start on her retirement goals, and hopes to help others do the same. Here is her story:
In 2007, I was a gainfully employed 20-something with no debt but not a lot of knowledge about personal finance. It was a co-worker’s comment about Roth IRAs that sent me to the internet, searching for information. It was then that I realized that I really didn’t know a whole lot about personal finance and that my current financial situation was due a lot to inherent frugal tendencies, generous family members, a fear of debt, and good luck. While that was working for me, clearly I needed a better plan.
While I had no debt, I was also pretty much living paycheck to paycheck and not worrying about going over budget (I say this as if I had a real budget) because I had an emergency fund set aside to cover any overages.
Except that’s not what an emergency fund is for.
So I did a lot of research, read a lot of blogs, and decided that I needed a plan. I needed to budget. I needed to know what I was spending my money on. I needed to prepare for the future.
I decided to create a blog not only to make myself accountable to others but also to share the knowledge that I gained along the way. I’ve learned so much from my fellow bloggers, and I hope that my readers can find something useful in what I have to share as well.
I recently had to purchase a new battery for my car. My cost $170. I had the dealer’s shop do it. Originally I thought it may be the alternator but thankfully it wasn’t. I could’ve saved some money buy doing this myself but the car was already there, I would have had to pay for the diagnostics done on it and in the end it would have cost me close to the same amount when you add in the time of running around to comparison shop batteries and the aggravation of trying to do it myself. So the $170 was worth it to me.
My old car had the worst luck with batteries: I replaced three within three years. But, if I were you, I would have had the on the spot replacement, too. If you couldn’t jump the battery, then you would have to get a tow, which can easily run a hundred bucks by itself.
It happen to me on black friday.
The battery was dead and I parked in a shopping
mall parking lot with young 2 kids.
My options is buy AAA battery and change it at the spot for $115 or jump start it. Then, I drive to a dealer to change it. It would cost about the same.
My concern is if the battery from AAA is as good as the battery from the honda dealer. Since I have 2 kids with me, the option is very limited.
I guess I will find out in 3 years.
If it can last 3 years withOUT any problem, I am very happy.
Robert Sparkman says
I just had an AAA repair guy replace my battery, and it was about $115 as well.
He told me that the AAA batteries are basically fresh batteries, and haven’t been sitting on the shelves like some auto parts batteries. In fact, after 3 months at the AAA storage place, they are sent back to the factory and the labels are stripped, and new labels for Autozone are placed on them, and they are sold to Auto Zone.
In addition, the $115 cost included installation. The last battery I bought was 2 years ago from Advance Auto. The guy who sold it to me for $70 told me he would install it, but once he looked at my car, and found it was in a difficult place to reach, he said I’d have to take it to a mechanic. I then paid a mechanic $75 labor to install a battery that he wasn’t making a profit on.
I think AAA offers a good service in regards to the battery replacement. And, you can pretty well be assured the battery will be good, because they aren’t going to want to be running out there and boosting you every so often from a bad battery. Buying from a cheaper source is what I’d call “penny wise and pound foolish”.
Get Paid To Drive Cars says
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Tucker Garage Door Opener Repair says
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Victoria Gorman says
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Had my Toyota Rav4 battery replaced by AAA this morning. It is a 2007 car that I bought in 2010. After spending the money, I did a quick Google search and here I am.
Now, here is the rub…I paid the same amount $115 ($123 with tax) as you did in 2007! So, 4 years later, it is still the same amount of money! I second others here who say it would have cost more if I went to a dealer.
I have a guarantee for 3 years and after that it would be $50 for the next two years. So, we shall see. Please let me know if your 2007 battery is still holding out.
Mark, my 2007 battery is still going strong. I’ve never even needed a jump, and it’s been over four years.
I went for the AAA battery choice mostly for convenience and the guarantee of a good battery with free recharge. The only caveat is that when the battery dies, you cannot simply get a jump and drive the car to charge it up. Wherever you are, the car will have to be towed to an authorized AAA auto repair to test the battery for 4-6 hours to ensure it is still good.
Well, we are still stressed out, the car was not driven so the battery died again. The car was towed to the local AAA auto repair and now I wait to get the report, whether the battery is still good. I asked why the battery would not be good since it was a brand new one last August? I was put on terminal hold and came here..
My question is can a newly installed battery, not driven much, ‘die’ and have to be replaced? I asked if that made sense and they repeated that they have to test it to find out it’s status. I smell a ‘looking for an alternator problem’ for a local mechanic to make money on, or am I being paranoid? Any advice is appreciated. ~Clueless