Heat is worse for car batteries than cold

Heat is the leading cause of car battery failure, as high temperatures can vaporize your battery’s vital fluids and weaken their charge.

According to the AAA, cold weather can wreak havoc on car batteries, but what about the heat?

VERIFY viewers Mia and Julia texted our team asking if they should be more worried about their car batteries dying in summer due to hot temperatures than cold weather in winter.

THE QUESTION

Is hot weather worse for car batteries than cold weather?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, heat is worse for car batteries than cold. Heat is the leading cause of car battery failure, as high temperatures can vaporize your battery’s vital fluids and weaken their charge.

WHAT WE FOUND

David Bennett, the manager of AAA Repair Systems, told VERIFY that it’s true that heat is worse for batteries than cold weather. Southern California-based Jiffy Lube and Firestone Complete Auto Care agree.

“Life feels more demanding when it’s hot outside. After a quick lap around the block you suddenly need a glass of water! It turns out that your car battery can also “dry out” in the summer. High temperatures can vaporize your battery’s vital fluids and drain its charge,” Firestone wrote in a 2018 blog post.

Firestone and Jiffy Lube both say heat is particularly harsh on batteries because it can cause battery fluid to evaporate, which can reduce their ability to hold a charge over time. Structural damage caused by evaporating battery fluid can also result in acid leaks that can corrode battery posts and connectors. According to Jiffy Lube, if left untreated, the corrosion can lead to ignition problems.

“As the temperature drops and the engine oil thickens, initial battery damage from the summer heat prevents the engine from starting,” says Jiffy Lube.

Where you live can affect the life of your car battery. Bennett and Jiffy Lube say a car battery typically lasts three to six years under normal weather conditions. A map published on the AAA website estimates that car batteries in the warmest areas of the United States need to be replaced after about three and a half years. Meanwhile, drivers in colder regions of the country typically need to replace their car batteries after around four to five years.

According to Firestone and Jiffy Lube, there are several ways to tell if your car battery might be failing:

  • The engine turns slower than normal when you start your car.
  • The check engine light or battery light comes on on the dashboard.
  • There is a grinding, clicking or buzzing noise when the ignition is switched on.
  • If you look at your battery you will see that the fluid level is low.
  • The battery case looks swollen or distended.
  • The battery posts (where the cables connect) are corroded.
  • Your headlights or interior lights are dim but get brighter as you rev ​​the engine.
  • Your battery is more than three years old.

According to Firestone, to extend the life of your battery, it’s important to limit short car journeys, check that you have turned off interior and exterior lights when you get out of the car, and keep your battery and battery terminals clean. They also warn against using electronic devices such as the radio when the engine is off. Also make sure to park in the shade or in a garage to protect your car from direct sunlight.

According to Firestone, the best defense against a sluggish car battery is a new car battery. On its website, AAA also gives tips on what to do if your car needs a new battery.

“When your car needs a new battery, always buy one from a wholesaler with fresh stock. You don’t want a battery that has already lost a good chunk of its life sitting on the shelf. Also look for a battery with an extended full replacement warranty. Quality batteries offer free replacement for three or more years if a problem occurs within that period,” says AAA.

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Alley Einstein

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