What do you picture when you think of fall? If you’re like most people, you probably envision school supplies, changing leaves and college football. But what about your car battery? As temperatures cool down in the fall and heat up again the following spring, your battery’s needs begin to change too.
Does Heat Affect Your Car Battery
Extreme heat zaps your battery’s charge faster than you can say “Two snow cones, please.” The chemical reaction that unleashes electricity within a car battery is fueled by heat. When the temperature rises — or, more specifically, when the temperature under the hood rises — your battery discharges. The more prolonged your vehicle’s heat exposure, the more months you’ll see melt off your battery’s life span.
Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to stop summer temperatures from draining your car battery. The most important of these is regular battery testing. Most experts suggest getting your battery tested once a year. As your car battery nears the end of its life, you may choose to test more frequently. Most modern car batteries are expected to last for three to five years on average.
If you live in a warm climate, however, that is just one of several factors that affect your battery’s lifespan and can cause it to deviate from the norm. How often you drive and how far you drive can also have a big influence on battery life. If you only drive your car for short distances, for example, your battery may never have the opportunity to fully recharge. If a dead battery is a frequent concern, consider investing in a battery charger for car or truck batteries.
Regular testing and a portable battery charger are the two best ways to keep your battery power from running out during the summer months. Other ways to help conserve battery life in hot conditions include:
- Keeping your battery free from grime and dirt, which act as insulation
- Parking in the shade
- Plugging in fewer accessories, such as cell phones and GPS units
- Ensuring that the fan belt is working properly
- Using a car cover
It’s also imperative that you use the right battery for your make and model of vehicle. Your local auto shop can do a quick VIN lookup for you to verify your engine type and help you choose the ideal battery for your ride.
Does Cold Affect Your Car Battery
While most auto experts agree that heat is harder on your car battery than cold, when temperatures take a nose-dive, it can wreak havoc on your battery as well. For starters, it can take double the normal amount of current from your battery to start your car in the winter. When the temperature dips to 32 degrees, your battery loses more than one-third of its power. If that thermostat free-falls down to 0 degrees, your battery loses almost two-thirds of its juice. For these reasons, it’s important to test your battery before the bitter cold sets in.
With regular maintenance, you can extend your car battery’s life. Test it annually, preferably at the start of the winter, to maximize your battery’s operating power.