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Is My Car Battery Getting Heat Damage?

Many drivers mistakenly believe the cold weather is to blame for their car battery troubles; however, it is really the summer heat that damages your battery. Our local mechanics are here with 6 ways to tell if the summer heat is taking its toll on your battery. 

Why Do Car Batteries Die in the Summer?

Before we dive in, you might be wondering why car batteries suffer in the summer. Let’s take a closer look. 

When the temperatures start rising, your car battery will feel the heat. The standard car battery contains lead plates combined with other metals and materials, activated and maintained by an electrolyte-filled mixture of water and sulfuric acid. The high summer temps can begin to overheat the liquid mixture and throw off the chemical balance of your battery. Let’s take a closer look at what the heat does to hurt your car’s battery: 

  • Corrosion: High heat and moisture can create corrosion on your battery’s metal components. These corroded elements will not function as they should for your engine.
  • Internal evaporation: Your car battery is filled with liquid (typically the water and sulfuric acid mixture mentioned above). In the summer, the engine’s naturally high heat will be accelerated by the outside temperatures. This can cause internal evaporation—leaving your battery without the fluid it needs to operate.
  • Sulfation: As you drive your car, your alternator will recharge your battery. During this process, trivial amounts of lead sulfate will stick to your battery’s lead plates in a process known as sulfation. Sulfation leads to the gradual decline of most batteries (which is why you need a new one every few years). However, extreme temperatures can cause lead sulfur to accumulate rapidly on your battery’s lead plates, creating a lower battery life expectancy. 
  • Overcharged batteries: High temperatures can also lead to battery overcharging. While it might sound like a good thing, the overcharging process can cause overheating and other issues that lead to premature battery failure.

Now, let’s explore the 6 signs you can look for to determine if the summer heat is killing your car battery. 

1) Corrosion on Car Battery Terminal Ends

Heat, evaporation, and moisture together create a perfect storm for car batteries. Particularly, you will notice the metal terminal ends begin to corrode. If you catch this issue early, you might be able to get by with a cleaning or replacement service for your terminal ends—rather than a full battery replacement. 

2) Battery Dashboard Light

If you notice your battery dashboard light come on, it could indicate that your battery is overheating. However, it is important to note that several other issues could cause this light to come on. For example, it might be indicating an issue with your alternator. In other cases, the battery light might come on when you hit a routine suggested battery replacement service. You can have a mechanic read the dashboard light to diagnose the exact nature of your battery troubles. 

3) Warped, Bumpy, Swollen, or Bulging Battery

As mentioned above, high temps can bring your battery fluid to a boil. The heat can also make the components of your battery more malleable. As the boiling pressure begins to build, it can cause your battery to bulge, swell, or warp. This problem is even worse if your battery is overcharged from the heat. In these cases, you will likely need an immediate replacement service. 

4) Struggling to Start

Naturally, a battery that is struggling to start is on its way out. If you notice your car battery working well in certain temperatures but struggling slightly more in the heat, that is a sign the high temps are to blame. You can read our guide to the signs you need a new car battery here

5) How To Prevent Car Battery Damage in the Heat

Thankfully, there are some steps you can take to help protect your car battery from the heat. Look for a shady parking spot or try parking in a covered garage, when possible. If not an option, you can buy a car cover that will help reflect the heat away from your car. Not only will this help protect your battery and your engine, but it can also help keep your car feeling comfortable when you are ready to drive. 

6) Expert Insight

If you are still unsure about your car battery, bring it to a local mechanic. Your car care professional will be able to tell you if it is the heat causing your battery troubles or another issue. Once they uncover the underlying problem, a mechanic can deliver the repair, replacement, or service you need. 

Battery Replacement Near Me | Chapel Hill Tire

If you need a new car battery, the local mechanics at Chapel Hill Tire are here for you. We proudly offer industry-leading battery replacement services in the greater Triangle area with locations across Apex, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Carrboro, & Durham. Our professional mechanics also serve surrounding communities, including Knightdale, Cary, Pittsboro, Wake Forest, Hillsborough, Morrisville, and beyond. We invite you to make an appointment, browse our coupons, or give us a call to get started today!

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