Summer heat can wreak serious havoc on your car battery. Before you find yourself stranded in the hot sun, give some time and attention to summer car battery care.
When temperatures climb, the battery’s current conducting grids corrode faster, reducing its service life. The rate of sulfation (sulfate development on battery electrodes as the battery discharges) also increases with summer heat. Ultimately, unmanaged sulfation will lead to battery failure. If the battery is recharged right away, the lead sulfate is easily managed. When a vehicle battery is deprived of a full charge, sulfation becomes an problem. This often happens with cars driven mainly in the city, due to lower traveling speeds and frequent idling.
Today, most drivers connect GPS units and smart phones to their vehicles. These energy consuming devices can also contribute to a battery drain problem. Even the electronic features built into the vehicle can create loads that will drain the battery to discharge. These small currents, usually consisting of a few milliamps (mA) must be continuously delivered. While small, they can have a large cumulative effect. When the battery is slowly discharged without immediate recharge, sulfation is likely to shorten the life of the battery. In some cases, the battery does not actually fail until the first temperature drop of the winter season. Cold weather is blamed, but the problem is actually a battery weakened by the summer driving season.
For the best reliability and safety, it is important to use a high-quality battery, which is better designed to survive high temperatures. You can also follow these three simple tips for preventing sulfation and summer battery deterioration:
- Turn off the electronics before you turn off the engine. Get into the habit of turning off all electronics before getting out of your car, especially if the engine will remain inactive for long periods.
- Park in the shade whenever you can. Battery life can be extended by parking in shaded or covered areas like a garage. This will provide the added bonus of having a more comfortable car to get back into…especially if you have leather seats!
- Keep moving and stay charged. A vehicle that sits inactive discharges faster since it does not have the opportunity to recharge. Frequent driving will enable necessary charging and increase the service life of a battery. A battery charger can also be used as necessary. It is always best to follow the battery manufacturer’s charging recommendations to restore the battery to a full charge.
Have questions about summer battery care, or concerns about your car battery condition? Stop in and see the car battery experts at our shop!