Living in Phoenix, Arizona we have to handle extreme temperatures in the summer months. These temperatures can have a negative impact on our car batteries. Hot temperatures can cause the fluids in your car’s battery to evaporate. When this happens, the internal structure of the battery is weakened. Because of the heat, car batteries usually only last up to three years here. We may not be able to do anything about the summer heat, but there are things we can do to help protect our car batteries and keep them going for as long as possible.
Here are seven tips to help you avoid being stranded with a dead battery this summer, and year round:
1. Keep it Clean and Free of Corrosion
A battery that is clean and free of corrosion works better than one that is dirty. Corrosion often builds up on the terminals, which blocks the current from passing from the battery to the cables. You should check for corrosion at least once a year before the hotter months. However, it isn’t a bad idea to give it a go over at each oil change. The corrosion can be scraped away with a wire brush or scouring pad. Be sure to brush the corrosion away from you. There are also various battery cleaners available to clean both the terminals and the battery case. There is also a chemical compound that neutralizes battery acid, a 50-50 mixture of baking soda and water. Once the acid is neutralized, rinse the battery with water. However, if it appears seriously corroded, you should probably call a professional to help. The top of the battery should be clean of oil and heavy dirt to reduce the risk of electrical transients between the positive and negative posts, which will result in a quicker discharge. After the battery is clean, tighten the clamps then start the ignition. You may find that your battery is performing better, or that a “dead” battery is not actually dead. You can take preventative measures by using corrosion preventative spray and terminal protectors.
2. Avoid Taking Multiple Short Trips
Starting the car continuously can be taxing on the battery. The less often you are starting the car, the less work the battery has to do. This is not saying to let your car sit, however. It does need to run on occasion in order to hold a charge. Try and wrap several short errands into one longer car trip to avoid restarting the car multiple times in a day. Or, weather permitting, walk or ride a bike.
3. Insulate the Battery
Your battery should be insulated from extreme temperatures with a car battery insulation kit. Insulation sleeves keep your battery warm in the winter and cool in the summer, which can help prolong its life. These insulation sleeves are usually an acid and thermal resistant material that insulates your battery but still allows it to vent. If you need to buy a new battery, consider getting a smaller size so that you can fit the insulation sleeve around it. Your battery will more than likely last longer this way than buying a larger battery that has nothing protecting it.
4. Turn Accessories Off
Avoid draining the battery. Don’t leave the A/C, radio, wipers, lights, etc. on when you shut off the vehicle. Leaving them on regularly could discharge the battery, which will then require a recharge. Constantly recharging the battery could shorten its life.
5. Make Sure It’s Secure
Make sure the battery doesn’t vibrate. A battery that shakes can become damaged and/or short circuit and possibly cause damage to your car. Inspect battery terminals regularly as loose connections can cause you to breakdown.
6. Don’t Let It Sit
Make sure you drive your vehicle on a regular basis. Leaving a car stationary for an extended amount of time affects your batteries charge. If your car is going to sit for a period of two or more weeks, it may be a good idea to invest in a battery tender/charger. These help your battery maintain an optimum charge level when it’s not in use.
7. Service Your Engine Regularly
When an engine is in poor condition it can overload the battery and reduce its life. Regular engine maintenance helps keep your battery running for longer.
Remember to always work safe when you are dealing with a car battery. You should have on protective eyewear and remove all jewelry. It is also good to wear long sleeves to protect your arms from an explosion of battery acid.
If you are ever uncertain about what is going on with your car’s battery, or have any other vehicle related concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact Virginia Auto Service at 602-266-0200. We are always happy to be of service.