Hot Weather: The Culprit Behind Car Battery Woes

Summer is the season for major car battery problems.

Heat, not cold, shortens battery life, says the Car Care Council. The average life of a battery is three and a half years, and even shorter in warmer climates.

Excessive heat and overcharging are the two main reasons for shortened battery life. Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, which damages the internal structure of the battery. A malfunctioning component in the charging system, usually the voltage regulator, allows too high a charging rate. That’s slow death for a battery.

Statistics from the 2005 National Car Care Month inspection campaign show battery cables, clamps and terminals were found to need maintenance in 13 percent of vehicles, and 7 percent of batteries were not properly held down.

To get the most life out of a battery, the Car Care Council suggests the following:

* Be sure the electrical system is charging at the correct rate; overcharging can damage a battery as easily as 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.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the Be Car Care Aware consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle maintenance and repair to consumers.


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