Vehicle maintenance in the summer heat – Pt 1

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car battery

The battery of your car is an especially sensitive area when it comes to summer heat damage. Image: AndyArmstrong/Flickr/CC BY-SA

The first half of this year has been the warmest on record for more than 100 U.S. cities, according to the National Climatic Data Center. The extreme summer heat is not only harmful to people and animals; it can also take a big toll on your car. Here are some tips on how you can keep your ride from getting heatstroke.

Summer heat shortens the life of batteries

Sears, a major retailer of auto batteries, is warning that the record summer heat can play havoc on your car’s battery. Joe Finney, president of Sears Automotive Group, said:

“Extreme heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, which then damages the internal structure of the battery, causing it to fail.”

Lifespan by region

According to PR Newswire, the average life of a battery in the northern states is five years. However, in the warmer southern states, they may last for only two.

Summer wear causes winter failures

Rich White, the executive director for the Car Care Council, said that summer wear may be the real culprit behind winter battery failures:

“When most motorists think of dead batteries that cause starting failure, they think of severe winter weather, but summer heat is the real culprit. Many battery problems start long before the temperatures drop. A few simple steps now can help you avoid the cost and inconvenience of a breakdown later.”

Battery tips

Testing your battery every year when the weather begins to heat up can help you know where you stand. If the battery is weak, you may want to replace it now to avoid getting stranded somewhere.

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When you do replace a battery, however, be sure to replace it with one rated at least as highly as the manufacturer’s recommendation. Replacing a battery costs, on average, about $100.

Keep the top of the battery, its terminals and the terminal clamps clean. Dirt and corrosion can become a conductor, leeching power from your battery.

If your battery is the kind that needs to be topped off with water, keep an eye on that and always use distilled water.

Make sure your vehicle’s electric system is charging your battery at the proper rate. Overcharging a battery will damage it and may cause it to fail prematurely.


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PR Newswire
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