If you equate vehicle battery failure with frigid winter temperatures, you’re not alone. Many people believe if their car’s battery is going to fail, it will probably happen on an extremely cold winter day. Batteries certainly do fail in cold weather, but you may be surprised to learn more car batteries fail in summer than they do in winter.
Reasons Why Your Battery Is More Likely to Fail in the Heat of the Summer
According to the Car Care Council, a leading automotive repair shop trade group, batteries are particularly susceptible to extreme heat. Most batteries are designed for optimal performance at temperatures ranging between 68 and 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Both extreme cold and extreme heat cause problems, but heat-related problems are more serious because they damage the battery.
Vehicle batteries contain fluid. When a battery is exposed to extreme heat for a prolonged period, some of the fluid evaporates. If a battery’s fluid levels drop significantly, that can cause irreversible damage to your car battery. Additionally, as the mercury rises, a battery completes chemical reactions more quickly. That can boost performance because a battery will start up more quickly. However, these extreme chemical reactions also speed up loss of battery life. Some studies have concluded a battery’s discharge rate doubles with a 50-degree Fahrenheit temperature increase.
Other Reasons Batteries May Fail Prematurely
In addition to evaporation-related battery failures, batteries in summer also are subject to other causes of failure that can happen any time of year. If your vehicle’s voltage regulator fails, the battery may become overcharged, lose electrolytes and become damaged. If the battery installed in your vehicle is rated lower than what’s specified in your owner’s manual, it could fail prematurely. And if your battery becomes dirty and/or its terminals become corroded, that can drain power and inhibit current flow eventually leading to failure. Your mechanic should check your electrical system during regular service checkups to look for corrosion and check your battery’s charge. Driving habits also may contribute to battery failures. If you regularly drive short distances, turn your car off, then turn it back on (if you make deliveries, for instance), your battery may fail prematurely.
You Can Take Steps to Extend Your Battery’s Lifespan
To reduce the risks of battery failure, heed these tips to prolong the life of your battery:
- Some batteries need to be topped off with fluid occasionally. If your car has such a battery, check it often in hot weather. Keep a jug of distilled water in your trunk so you’ll be ready to replenish the fluid when necessary.
- Every week or two, after your engine has cooled down, pop the hood and visually inspect your battery for cracks or damage. Use a clean cloth to wipe away exterior dirt and any corrosion you detect on the battery terminals.
- Keep up with your car’s routine maintenance schedule. These appointments give a trained technician an opportunity to detect any battery problems.
- Don’t change your car’s battery yourself; there are several key reasons to have your car battery replaced by an expert.
Most batteries last between three and five years. If your battery is older than three years and hasn’t been checked in awhile, contact us at Swedish Motors. We’ll test it for you.