The summer heat is tough on everyone. Luckily, we have nearby lakes and swimming pools to cool ourselves down on the hottest days.
Cars though, aren’t quite as lucky–especially their batteries.
Heat and car batteries don’t mix; on any given hot day your battery is stuck under the hood enduring the heat from the air, in addition to the heat rising from the asphalt, and the components working around it.
Hot temperatures affect the chemistry that is needed for power generation. Learn how the heat can affect the life of your car’s battery and how to avoid a dead battery in the middle of summer with our most frequently asked questions about batteries in the summer.
What is a lead acid battery?
A car battery is an electrochemical apparatus that is made up of electrodes that collect an electrical charge, an electrolyte mixture that provides water and sulfate to create the electrochemical reaction, and the casing that houses them.
Lead acid batteries are made of cells that contain pure lead on the positive side and lead dioxide electrodes on the negative side. When these metals are combined with the sulfuric acid, a reaction is created and measured in volts. The current created is what helps start your engine and power accessories in your car.
Does heat cause a car battery to die?
While the heat here in Texas and Nevada may weaken your car’s battery, the heat is not directly responsible for killing the battery.
In fact, batteries don’t do well in any sort of extreme temperature whether hot or cold, because extreme temperatures can interrupt the chemical reaction needed to operate the battery. Batteries do best in temperatures around 80 degrees.
How does heat affect a car battery?
Higher temperatures cause an increase in the chemical activity which can be a good thing, but the heat may be draining your battery. Higher temperatures increase the development of internal corrosion within cells which shorten battery life.
When batteries are constantly exposed to high internal temperatures the cells become damaged and are unable to recharge.
High temperatures cause:
High temperatures may force the voltage regulator or other components to inadvertently overcharge the system, which over time shortens the life of your battery.
In severe temperatures, the lead plates within the battery start to oxidize and weaken the battery.
The internal temperature of a car battery can reach temperatures of 140 degrees or more. At these temperatures, the fluid within the battery that contains water, can evaporate and damage the battery’s internal makeup.
How long do car batteries last in Texas and Nevada?
On average car batteries can last between two and four years, depending on the quality of battery, maintenance, and driving habits.
How can I make my battery last longer?
Though you can expect to replace your battery about every two years, there are some ways you can maintain your battery to get a few more miles out of it such as:
- Ensuring the battery and cables are clean and free from debris or corrosion.
- Avoiding multiple short trips.
- Insulate your battery to prevent evaporation.
- Ensure battery is tightly secured.
- Drive often or use a battery tender to maintain a charge when not in use for extended periods.
- Avoid using electrical accessories when engine is not in use.
- Have your charging system tested often.
What is the best battery for my car?
Batteries that are made for hotter climates have a higher electrolyte-to-lead ratio to better withstand higher temperatures.
When you’re shopping around for a new battery, look for batteries that have a higher Reserve Capacity (RC). RC is rated based on how long a battery will continue providing 25 amps at an 80F degree temperature. On extremely hot days there is a lot of demand on your vehicle to power everything from the air conditioning to the radiator’s fan, which can exhaust the alternator.
Having a powerful battery is likely to keep these accessories powered and prevent you from winding up on the side of the road with a dead battery.
Where can I get my battery tested?
Sun Auto Service is proud to offer a no-charge battery test and visual inspection with every oil change service and upon request in between oil changes.
Our technicians use a special tool to test the amps and voltage of your battery and provide a print out so you can see your battery’s health for yourself.
If the battery is low on charge and needs to be replaced, we offer superior quality batteries that are built to stand up to the demands of the severe temperatures in Nevada and Texas. Plus, every battery purchased through Sun Auto Service includes an incredible 5-year limited replacement warranty.
In most cases, your battery can be replaced the same day with little interruption to your schedule so that you can get back to your summer fun!