Most of us love summer; the sun, the heat and hours and hours of bright daylight. Unfortunately, our batteries don't share that same sentiment. From common household alkaline to smartphone and laptop lithium-ion (li-ion) to car and truck SLI (Starting, Lighting, Ignition), heat is the number one killer of batteries. To explain how the warm temperatures affect all types of batteries, the most common customer issues related to heat, and some tips for prevention, we reached out to the manager of the Brookfield, WI Batteries Plus Bulbs location, Cory Geisler, for his thoughts.
"The batteries we see affected the most are your standard alkaline batteries and flooded car & truck batteries. Depending on where you live, or what time of the year it is, the performance or life of a flooded car battery can be drastically compromised. For example, in many southern states, where extremely high temperatures during the summer are normal, heat can wreak havoc on car batteries. The intense heat can speed up the chemical reaction inside the battery, causing an increase in self-discharge and plate corrosion, which eventually leads to sulfation (crystals forming on the battery plates) and then the battery will become unrecoverable even with normal charging."
"Heat is unavoidable, no matter what you try to do. We advise our customers to better maintain their batteries by taking simple measures such as parking their vehicle in a garage or an area where there is some sort of shade. This will help with the hood not heating up and essentially cooking the battery. Also, the use of a trickle charger can help to offset the drain from high temperatures, whether the battery is under the hood, in the trunk, or even under the back seat. When choosing a replacement battery, we recommend Absorbed Glass Mat (AGM) types, as they are better than flooded batteries at preventing the buildup of sulfation. They are less prone to this and can sit in storage for longer before a charge becomes necessary. As for alkaline and li-ion batteries, the big tip we stress is to store them in a cool, dry place. Sometimes people forget this and leave them in their garage, where they can experience extreme heat over time. Other than that, keeping the battery terminals clean is a great way to avoid corrosion which can further impede current flow."
"This is one of the major obstacles we face when installing new car batteries. Sometimes the corrosion is so bad that we have to replace the terminal and install a new one. Occasionally we are able to save the terminal by applying a simple mixture of baking soda and hot water, but many times it's not that easy. A good, clean connection is what we want, and corrosion will always inhibit this. Customers don't think twice about performing regular maintenance on their vehicles – oil changes, new belts, rotating tires, etc. – but rarely do they think about looking at the battery. We have seen instances where the corrosion limited the battery power to the point that the vehicle would not start. However, once the terminals were cleaned, the battery provided the power to turn over the engine easily again.
The best thing to do is regularly check the terminals on the battery and make sure no corrosion is taking place. If a customer notices corrosion, we encourage them to stop by and have us take a look. After all, clean terminals will ensure that the battery is always performing at the highest level without anything keeping it from being recharged by the charging system of the car and being able to send adequate power for starting. We also use terminal protectors and an anti-corrosion spray on both the negative and positive terminals when a battery installation is complete. This forms a coating over the terminals to protect them from corrosion. This spray is great for preventing corrosion-related problems. We strongly recommend it with all car and truck batteries."
We hope these tips help your batteries continue to perform at a high level regardless of the temperature this summer. If you have any questions about the condition of your car or truck battery, please visit a local store for a FREE battery test and systems check! Let our trained, knowledgeable staff members test your battery and diagnose the problem – no appointment necessary.