Motorists are conditioned to think that their batteries suffer damage only during winter (colder) months! It has, however, been proved that summer temperatures are equally, if not more, detrimental to the life of your battery. It must be noted that the ambient (outside) temperature coupled with the intense engine heat in summer creates an abnormal condition for the battery under normal use. Also the damage the battery suffers in summer will affect its performance during the colder months.
Published tests around summer (heat) show that each 8 degree Celsius rise in temperature cuts the life of a sealed lead-acid battery, the most common type used in cars/trucks/bikes, in half! Once heat damage has occurred, the operating capacity of the battery cannot be restored.
Therefore, it is advisable to take some care with regard to the maintenance of your battery, even though most batteries, these days, are certified Sealed Maintenance Free (SMF)!
Why summer heat can damage your car/truck battery
- In general, working outdoors, in summer, is taxing and the same applies to your battery. A significant increase in temperature makes batteries work harder.
- High temperatures cause metal to expand and this applies to your battery and could lead to loose battery connections.
- Your battery is likely to lose water/moisture in abnormal heat conditions, especially if you’re using a lot of electronics. The raised temperatures causes the water to evaporate faster than usual and low levels of water can result in your battery cells being damaged.
- Hot weather affects the charging time of a battery, as it generally takes longer to charge in summer.
What can you do to minimise damage
- Have your battery inspected and tested by a qualified service technician. Ask the technician to also check your charging system. An undercharging or overcharging alternator can severely damage your battery in a relatively short space of time and will, possibly, nullify your battery warrantee!
- Always conduct a visual inspection of your battery before and after a long trip. Check for leaks, cracks in the casing and bulges to the sides of the battery.
- Keep your battery clean. Grease and dirt build-up can drain your battery power. Ensure that corrosive build-up, especial around battery posts, is cleaned on a regular basis.
- Always check your battery clamps to ensure that it is properly fastened to your posts/terminals. Do not, however, overtighten the clamps as it will result in damage or even snapping of the posts!
- If the vehicle is likely to be inoperative for 2 weeks or longer, consider removing the battery and putting it on a trickle charger. This charger is an intelligent charger, which should ensure optimal charging, whilst ensuring that the battery is not over/undercharged.
- It is advisable to replace your battery if it is 5 years old or older, even if it is still functioning/performing. With each passing year, the chances of battery failure increases.
Battery Clinic Randburg