Summer’s Heat is On: How Do Temperatures Affect Your Car Batteries?

The summer months are here, and the heat is no joke. This is the time of year to hit the open road in your favorite car. The beach, lake or river is calling. Your car’s battery, however, may not agree with your plans. Take a look at how batteries react in hot weather and what you can do to avoid any power failures. Breakdowns shouldn’t be part of your summer plans.

The Evaporation Factor

Most people are familiar with the terms “flooded” and “sealed” batteries when it comes to car knowledge. Topping off a flooded battery with water is the traditional way to maintain a long-lasting unit. However, evaporation is still a concern as a hot weather condition continues throughout the summer.

Batteries in hot weather will diminish because evaporation of the internal fluids is a constant. As the liquid disappears, so does the conductivity and charging power of the battery.

Internal Damage Continues

The fluid within a battery insulates the internal parts from extreme temperature swings. As evaporation continues, batteries in hot weather succumb to component failures. They may not happen right away, but the damage continues as each day brings on additional heat.

Parts that might decline even in the best battery for hot weather include:

  • Positive and negative plates
  • Separators
  • Battery paste

Unless a driver diligently replaces the distilled water in the battery each week, this damage goes unnoticed until the battery ultimately fails.

Acid Leaks Leading to Corrosion

Battery components that decline within the battery will lead to acid leaks on the exterior surfaces. A corrosion free battery is healthy, but leaking acid will create constant corrosion. The terminals connecting to the electrical system hold most of the corrosion residue, which drains the battery even further. Couple the power drain with excessive temperatures, and you have a battery that’s bound to fail in the near future.

Charging System Influences

There are several components attached to the average vehicle battery that can impact its reserve capacity. The Car Care Council points out that the voltage regulator may be malfunctioning. An excessive rate of charge on the battery plus summer’s heat puts extraordinary pressure on the power cells. The result is a battery that fails prematurely.

The best battery for hot weather must have a properly operating charging system. Verifying all of these components will help you move gracefully through summer’s warmth.

Turning to AGM Technology

Currently, the best car battery for hot weather involves AGM or absorbed glass mat technology. These internal mats hold all of the battery’s components in a fixed position. There is no liquid to be lost to evaporation. For this reason alone, summer’s heat is often no match for an AGM battery.

Keep in mind that no battery is entirely immune from heat. AGM is a strong contender against extreme temperatures, but it will decline over time.

Testing the Load

Test your battery under a load if it’s more than two years old, explains Consumer Reports. Load tests put car batteries under real-life conditions so that you’ll know if they’ll work on that next road trip or not. If you expect to drive in excessive heat, and the battery is borderline bad, opt for a replacement. Your drive can be a worry-free trip as a result.

Electric-Car Drivers Beware

Electric cars have specialized batteries for their applications, but Jiffy Lube reminds you that they’re just as limited as standard batteries in the summer heat. You’ll notice that an electric car may not have as much mileage as it normally does during moderate weather. Pay close attention to the miles left on the charge to avoid any breakdowns.

When you understand the science behind batteries and heat, you can avoid most power problems. Welcome the open road today with a fully charged battery under the hood.

 

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