Because extreme temperatures can destroy a vehicle’s battery, it’s a cool idea to have your car’s battery tested periodically and replaced, if necessary, to avoid being stranded.
How it happens
Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, which then damages the internal structure of the battery. A malfunctioning component in the charging system, usually the voltage regulator, allows too high a charging rate, which will eventually destroy a battery.
What to do
To get the most life out of your car battery:
• Be sure the electrical system is charging at the correct rate; overcharging can damage a battery as quickly as can undercharging.
• If your battery is the type that needs to be topped off, check it regularly, especially in hot weather. Add distilled water when necessary.
• Always replace a battery with one that’s rated at least as high as the one originally specified.
• Keep the top of the battery clean. Dirt becomes a conductor, which drains battery power. Further, as corrosion accumulates on battery terminals, it becomes an insulator, inhibiting current flow.
An expert explains
According to Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council: “When most motorists think of dead batteries that cause starting failure, they think of severe winter weather, but heat is the real culprit. Many battery problems start long before the temperatures drop. A few simple steps now can help you avoid the cost and inconvenience of a breakdown later.”
The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign, promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers.
For a copy of the council’s “Car Care Guide” or for more information, visit www.carcare.org. North American Precis Syndicate