Summer heat can be surprisingly damaging to car batteries. When the temperature rises, their charge starts to fall. Global stored energy leader Exide Technologies explains why hot weather is so harmful to batteries, and what can be done about it.
It’s commonly thought that winter is the worst time of year for car batteries, when freezing temperatures affect their ability to start and power the vehicle. But in reality, car batteries face a worse enemy: the heat of summer. (Click here to download the full PDF document)
The self-discharge phenomenon
As temperatures increase, the electrochemical reaction inside a battery speeds up, accelerating the natural phenomenon of self-discharge. Automotive batteries exposed to hot conditions therefore require more frequent charging to maintain their optimum efficiency.
Advice for workshops to diagnose self-discharge:
1. Levels to look for
- A fully charged car battery voltage should be 12.7 V or above. A voltage of 12.5 V or below means that the battery has started to discharge
2. Choose a smart testing tool
- As demand for battery servicing increases in line with the higher power needs of today’s vehicles, an advanced battery tester can help workshops to stand out from the crowd. The EBT965P battery tester from Exide Technologies is one of the most innovative, future-proof tools available, offering a range of added-value features
- The tester is suitable for use with EFB (enhanced flooded batteries), AGM (absorbent glass mat), GEL and standard flooded batteries up to 3000A for light, commercial, marine and leisure vehicles
- The tool can also perform a system test and determine whether the alternator, regulator and overall charging system are working as they should
- Its Wi-Fi-enabled platform allows for future updates and includes a pioneering preventative maintenance feature: Conductance Profiling™ technology to assess the residual energy available in a battery to supply the vehicle’s electrical devices. It also allows workshops to advise how soon the client’s battery should be retested. Test results can be shared either via e-mail or with the built-in printer
The self-discharge and corrosion problems caused during summer may only be revealed in the cold of autumn or winter, when more energy is needed to start the engine.
There are some simple ways that car owners can avoid the headache of a self-discharging car battery when temperatures rise. To prevent battery failure, Exide is providing you with the following advices:
- Maintain the fluids: To prevent the engine from overheating, top up and change the engine oil regularly. Also, periodically check the radiator fluids. For lead-acid batteries with access to cells, check the electrolyte level in each cell and if any has evaporated, top up with distilled water
- Park in the shade: Ideally, park the car in a shady spot or in a garage. This will protect the battery from damaging heat build-up under the bonnet
- Keep the battery clean:If summer’s heat has caused any corrosion on the battery terminals, clean this off to keep current flowing well. Ensure the connections are also clean and tight
- Trickle charge it: Using a trickle charger during the summer months can help to offset self-discharge caused by high temperatures, especially if the car won’t be used for several days
- Test for problems: Ask your technician to test your battery regularly for signs that charge is draining. If the car is hard to start, also have the overall electrical system checked by your technician. If any component result is marginal, or the battery is physically damaged in any way, it's probably time to get it replaced.
Selecting the right battery
By following Exide’s preventative recommendations, the risk that a battery will self-discharge during the holidays can be significantly reduced. However, if battery failure does occur and a new replacement is needed, it is vital to choose an appropriate model and Exide’s online battery finder will help you in the selection of the right battery for your vehicle.
For more information, click here to check our battery finder.