Nothing’s more frustrating than hopping in your car with a destination in mind, turning the ignition and nothing happens. You’re not a mechanic, so you have no idea what could be wrong. Besides, the car was operating just fine the last time you drove it.
Chances are your battery died. And unlike your trusty cell phone, which lets you know the percentage of power you have, people usually ignore the warning signs of a failing battery. Weeks before your battery completely dies, you might find it takes a couple of more cranks than usual to get your engine to start or when stopping at a traffic light your headlights might not be as bright as before. We all ignore the warnings because we know that fixing this type of problem is going to take several hours at some repair shop. So we hope nothing goes wrong because we just don’t have the time to stop our lives, and hey…the car is working so let’s go with it until it the inevitable happens, it fails!!
There are several things that contribute to your car battery wearing down. One of them is the weather. Your car battery takes a beating in both the sizzling summer and chilly winter seasons.
The good news is there are preventative measures you can use to take care of your battery in extreme conditions. Here are some simple maintenance tips to ensure you won’t get stranded, no matter the weather.
Keeping Your Car Battery Strong in Summer Heat
While you probably think cold weather is harder on your car, your battery is more likely to fail in the summer than the winter, according to the Car Care Council.
Warmer temperatures increase your battery’s capacity, which makes it easier to turn over the engine. However, the heat also zaps your battery’s strength as hot weather combines with high temperatures under the hood to accelerate battery corrosion, which reduces the life of your battery.
So how do you prevent your battery from ruining your summer?
Keep your battery cool:
Just like you need to retreat to the shade on a scorching summer day, so does your car. Park your vehicle in a shaded area or a garage so the sun doesn’t beat down on the hood.
Keep your battery clean:
Humidity and heat cause dust, grime, corrosion and rust to build up on your battery. This creates a layer of moisture that causes a short-circuit between the poles.
Clean the battery and terminals with a scouring pad or brass brush. For heavy corrosion, make a mixture of 1 cup of water and a tablespoon of baking soda to scrub away the grime. Then wipe down with distilled water.
Check battery water level:
Did you know there’s water in your battery? It helps prevent sulfation, which is lead sulfate buildup on your battery’s electrodes. Hot weather causes the water to evaporate. 80% OF THE MODERN BATTERIES ARE SEALED SO THERE IS NOT ACCESS TO THE CELLS.
If your battery has removable filler caps, check the water level to make sure it covers the plates inside. If the water level is low, add distilled water until it covers the plates.
Helping Your Battery Brave the Winter Weather
Your car’s battery takes a beating from the summer heat. Though it may make it through the season with no discernable problems, it’s weakened. And when cold weather arrives, it can strike a fatal blow to your battery.
Cold weather reduces a battery’s starting power, causing increased draw from starter motors. Here’s how to power your battery through colder conditions.
Turn off car electronics:
You might not think your radio, GPS, phone charger, or other electronic accessories make much of a difference, but they can drain your battery’s power.
When you get into your car on a cold day, wait a few minutes before cranking up the heat and turning on the radio. This gives your vehicle’s alternator time to charge the battery before placing other demands on it. Also, shut off those electronics before leaving your car.
Clean the battery:
It’s important to keep your battery clean in the winter. Low temperatures increase electrical resistance and thicken oil, which makes the battery work harder. Clean your battery of any corrosion or oil, then smear petroleum jelly on the terminals, which helps prevent corrosion.
Get battery checked and charged:
The best preventive measure for making sure your battery doesn’t die in the cold is getting it checked and charged before the winter. Have a mechanic test your charging system and charge the battery if needed.
You can also purchase a multimeter and check the battery’s voltage yourself. Anything lower than 12.45 volts means the battery needs to be recharged and tested.
More Helpful Hints for Battery Maintenance
In addition to specific maintenance actions you can take during extreme weather conditions, here are some other rules of thumb to keep your battery healthy.
Avoid short trips:
Starting your car takes a lot out of your battery, and if you only take short trips, your car’s alternator may not have enough time to replace the capacity lost at startup.
Longer trips give the alternator more time to charge the battery.
Keep the battery bolted down:
You’re bound to hit potholes and bumps on the road as you drive, and that impacts your battery. Excessive vibration can sever internal connections and lead to battery failure. Make sure the battery is secured firmly.
If Your Car Battery Dies
Batteries don’t last forever. Most of them have a life of three years. If your battery dies while you’re out, make sure you’re in a safe place, and if you’re not, get to one where you can make a phone call.
Speaking of your phone, make sure it’s charged so you can make a call. Finally, instead of calling a towing service that can be time-consuming and expensive, call a service like Batteries911 that will come to you to replace your battery on the spot.
Your car is essential to your quality of life, and the battery is essential to your car running properly. Batteries only last a few years before they need to be replaced, and extreme weather can shorten that lifespan. By following the above tips, you can extend your car battery’s life.
But if you’re battery does die, there’s a simple and reliable solution. Batteries911 will come to you in less than an hour, diagnose your battery and replace it—quick and easy.