When the makers of car batteries run TV commercials, they almost always show a motorist stranded on the side of the road on a cold, snowy day.
Obviously that could happen, and it’s not something any of us wants to experience. But in reality, a more likely scenario is that hot weather will drain your car battery.
And even when a car battery dies during frigid weather, it’s very possible that most of the damage to the battery occurred during the previous summer.
Just ask Car Care Council Executive Director Rich White. “Summer heat is the real culprit,” he said. “Many battery problems start long before the temperatures drop. Heat, more than cold, shortens battery life.”
John Munsell, ACDelco product specialist for batteries, concurs. “Hot summers usually prepare the battery for failure in the winter,” he said.
How it happen
How does heat cause car battery drainage? Batteries contain liquid, and heat causes some of that liquid to evaporate. Those low fluid levels then damage the battery’s internal structure.
Of course, cold weather can cause battery problems as well. The cold increases the engine oil’s thickness. That makes the engine more difficult to turn over, causing the battery to work harder and wear out more quickly.
But heat is the bigger problem. That explains why batteries in cold climates have an average life expectancy of 51 months, while those in hot climates are expected to last for only 30 months.
Older cars may be more prone to battery problems, but having a newer model vehicle should not make a person overly confident about their battery. Newer cars have more electronics built into them, which can drain the battery.
Car battery tips
ConsumerAffairs.com offers these tips for getting the most out of your car battery:
- Make sure it is charging at the correct rate. A mechanic can check your car’s electrical system next time you have it in for service. AAA says more than two-thirds of American drivers have never proactively had their car battery tested.
- Keep the top of the battery clean. Dirt and engine grease can build up, which can drain battery power as they serve as a conductor.
- Watch for corrosion accumulating on battery terminals. Corrosion is frequently blue in color, and it can serve as an insulator that reduces the flow of the current.
- When you eventually replace your car battery, make sure the new one is rated at least as high as the one being replaced.
Now, no matter how well you take care of your car battery, problems will crop up that could cause you to become stranded with a drained battery.
Fortunately, there’s a way for you to quickly take care of this potentially dangerous situation. The Patriot Power Hub is a compact, portable backup-power supply which can be stored in your glove box, trunk, or center console.