No matter how expensive your car, the battery is one of its primary, yet most neglected, components. It's important to know how to find cheap car batteries when it's time to replace this vital aspect of your vehicle. Prices vary wildly, and it pays to be a careful, cautious consumer.

However, a prospective buyer shouldn't make a battery purchase based solely on price. The fact of the matter is that not all batteries are created equal. Two batteries selling for the same retail price may be worlds apart in terms of amps and capacity. Don't save a few dollars today and end up with a battery that will need to be replaced twice as quickly as the battery beside it on the shelf, which happens to cost a few bucks more.

What to Look For in a Car Battery

1. A Large Battery Reserve Capacity. This measurement is typically expressed as the number of Amp hours (Ah) in the battery. This indicates how long the battery will retain its charge without being completely depleted by battery-reliant actions (such as leaving the headlights on, or playing the radio with the motor turned off). The more amp hours the battery contains, the longer it will last, and the less likely it will die on you at an inopportune time. (Of course, few people would argue there's ever an opportune time for a dead battery.)

2. A High Number of Cold Cranking Amps. How strong of a charge is the battery capable of generating from a cold start? The higher this figure, the less likely your battery will refuse to cooperate on exceptionally cold mornings.

3. Legibility of the Writing Around the Battery Terminals. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to jump start a car in the dead of night, in the middle of winter, with wind and snow whipping around your head, and not be able to read which battery terminal is positive and which is negative. On a ridiculously high number of batteries, the "+" and "-" symbols are printed so small as to be almost invisible except with the brightest of flashlights. A tip: learn which battery terminal is which before you leave the store! Trust me: you don't want to have to play battery terminal guessing games in the middle of a blizzard. (I know. I've done it.)