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Why Car Batteries Die in the Summer: Mechanic Insight

The summer heat can be brutal on the components inside your car battery. The heat under the hood (or trunk, for some) significantly rises in temperature, which increases the risk of battery failure. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence during the hotter months, and over the summer, many North Carolina drivers find themselves stuck on the side of the road due to battery failure from the heat.

As you prepare for your road trips this summer, here are a few things to keep in mind so you get the most use out of your car battery

How Does Extreme Heat Affect a Car Battery?

When summer comes around, we tend to move at a slower pace because the heat makes us sluggish, and we’re looking to conserve energy. The sun makes us sweat, leaving us thirsty and searching for water to replace what we’ve lost. Your car battery has a similar experience, with the heat impacting it in several ways that harm its performance. Some of the main effects heat has on car batteries include: 

  • Heat evaporates the battery’s vital fluids: As your hood or trunk gets warmer, the heat will evaporate the battery’s fluids. Without these fluids, your battery will send a weaker charge to other parts of the car. Eventually, the charge will grow so weak that your battery won’t be able to hold it.
  • Heat speeds up the corrosion process: Besides impacting your battery’s charge, heat can increase the speed of corrosion on your battery. Once the internal components become corroded, the damage is irreversible. It’s even worse when the vital fluids have been drained from the battery, as evaporated battery fluid can corrode battery terminals and cause structural damage.
  • Heat weakens the battery’s overall function: Heat damage will leave the battery weakened, which may cause your battery to fail in the summer. However, it can also make it so your battery can’t perform well once the seasons change and your battery starts to experience freezing temperatures. If your battery’s overall function is impacted during the summer, cold weather will likely kill the car battery and cause it to die much faster in the winter.

How Does Extreme Heat Affect Electric Vehicle Batteries?

Electric car owners aren’t free from the problems caused by high temperatures. Although electric vehicle (EV) batteries can keep running strong for up to 20 years, extreme heat can reduce their lifespan. Some of the primary effects heat has on EV batteries include: 

  • An electric car battery may lose up to 20% of its range: When the temperature is above 95 degrees, EVs that normally make it 100 miles will only go 80 miles under these weather conditions.
  • The battery needs to be charged more often: Since distances in hot weather are reduced, EVs can’t make as many trips on one charge. As a result, you’ll find yourself charging your EV’s battery more often in the summer.

How to Protect Your Car Battery In Hot Temperatures

Though heat can be brutal to your car’s battery, there’s plenty you can do to protect your battery and avoid an early car battery replacement. If you want to keep your battery running well all summer long, follow the below tips for how to protect your car battery from heat:

  • Clean the battery: If you notice dirt, debris, or greasy buildup on the battery, remove it right away. Examine the battery regularly for these issues to ensure it remains in peak condition.
  • Watch for corrosion: Hotter temperatures outside mean even hotter temperatures inside the vehicle’s engine. This can cause corrosion that will restrict the electrical current flow. If you notice any corrosion, a mechanic can use a copper brush or scouring pad to remove it from the battery.
  • Drive the car regularly: Since heat drains the battery, it’s important to take a trip of 20 minutes or longer each day to ensure the battery replenishes and doesn’t discharge. If the car will be parked for an extended period, look into using a battery minder or smart charger.
  • Park in a shaded area: Just sitting in the hot sun can cause problems for your car’s battery. Whenever possible, park in a shaded area, under a car park, or in a garage to shield it from heat.
  • Check the water level: Lead-acid batteries must maintain a certain water level. If it’s low, use distilled water to replenish what was lost.
  • Take your vehicle in for an inspection: One of the best ways to protect your car’s battery from heat is to bring it in for an inspection at the start of summer. If the inspection reveals your battery has corroded or is close to running out of power, the mechanic can clean your battery, fix any issues, and potentially provide a car battery replacement service if the battery is past the point of repair. 

How Can EV Owners Protect Their Vehicle’s Battery?

Alongside following the tips above, EV owners can protect their battery by charging it to the midpoint, or 50% to 60% of its total capacity. Since fully charging an EV battery can cause it to degrade faster, not charging it to its full capacity will ensure the combination of heat and a full charge won’t cause your battery to degrade even faster. You’ll also want to avoid using fast-charging stations over the summer, as fast charging can cause a battery to degrade faster.

Choose Chapel Hill Tire for Car Battery Service In the Triangle

If you need car battery services near you in Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill, or the surrounding areas, Chapel Hill Tire can help. Whether you need a new car battery or an inspection, our team will ensure your vehicle’s battery works at its best before you hit the road again. You can also review our coupons to ensure you get a great deal on our services.

Learn more about our car battery services today. If you’re ready to bring your car in for an inspection or car battery replacement service, please find a location close to you and make an appointment.

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