Did you know that summer heat can increase in the rate at which your battery deteriorates? As the temperature rises, the current conducting grids corrode faster, reducing battery life. Summer heat also increase the rate of sulfation, which refers to the lead sulfate that develops on both electrodes as the battery discharges. Sulfation can eventually lead to battery failure if it is not managed. If recharge begins immediately, the lead sulfate is easily managed. Sulfation occurs when a battery is deprived of a full charge, which often happens with batteries in vehicles that are driven mostly in the city. An idling motor or one that is driven at low speed cannot sufficiently charge the battery.
Use of energy consuming accessories can also contribute to a battery drain problem. Many of the electronic features and systems in vehicles create loads that will drain the battery to discharge. These loads are small currents, typically of a few milliamps (mA) that the battery must deliver continuously. Even though they are small, they have a large impact. As the battery is slowly discharged without immediate recharge, sulfation is likely to occur, and in turn shorten the life of the battery. What often happens is that a battery will fail during the first temperature drop of the winter season, and the cold weather will get the blame. It is more likely, however, that the high temperatures of summer led to the deterioration of the battery, making starting difficult the first time it has to work a little harder.
The following are a few simple tips for preventing sulfation and summer battery deterioration:
- Use a premium quality battery. Using a high-quality battery is a way to make sure your vehicle starts and stays running reliably. Quality batteries tend to better survive high temperatures.
- Park in the shade when possible. Battery life can be prolonged by parking in shaded or covered areas like a garage. When a battery is kept in storage, be sure to follow the battery manufacturer’s recommended specifications for storage conditions and temperature.
- Before you turn off the engine, turn off the electronics. Electronics are serious offenders when it comes to draining a battery of its charge. Be sure to turn off all electronics before getting out of your car, especially if the engine will remain inactive for long periods.
- Keep moving and stay charged. An inactive vehicle discharges faster because it does not have the opportunity to recharge. Keeping a vehicle moving to enable necessary charging will increase the service life of a battery. A battery charger can also be used if needed – be sure to follow the battery manufacturer’s charging recommendations to restore the battery to a full charge.