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Top 6 Car Battery Maintenance Tips for Summer Weather

Power - by Bryan Veldboom - updated on 6/14/2023

Employee replacing a battery in a vehicle

Did you know that auto batteries are more likely to fail in hot weather than in cold? It's true. Intense summer heat can wreak havoc on your battery, shortening its lifespan significantly. If the battery in your car or truck is no longer viable, you'll find plenty of top-quality replacement auto batteries at Batteries Plus. Once you've replaced your battery, you'll want to get the longest life possible out of it. Here are six steps you can take to help protect your battery from summer heat.

Why Do Car Batteries Fail in Summer?

Excessive heat causes the water in your battery's electrolyte fluid to evaporate, weakening the battery's charge and causing plate corrosion. This eventually leads to sulfation (crystals forming on the battery's plates), which can make your battery unusable.

A corroded auto battery also becomes a big problem in winter. Your battery already has to work much harder to start your engine in cold temperatures, but if it's corroded, its overall capacity is lowered, making it even harder to start your vehicle.

How Do I Protect My Car Battery from Excessive Heat?

1. Park in the Shade

  • When you leave your car in direct sunlight, the hood quickly heats up and expedites heat damage.
  • Parking your vehicle in a garage or some sort of shade may only lower the temperature under the hood by a few degrees, but it can make a big difference in extending your battery's life.

2. Clean Your Battery Terminals

  • Be sure to wear proper safety gear before attempting to clean your terminals; this includes acid-resistant rubber or nitrile gloves, eye protection and long sleeves.
  • Make certain that your vehicle's engine is turned off before interacting with the battery.
  • Set the vehicle's parking brake.
  • Disconnect the battery cables. It's important to disconnect the negative battery cable first, then disconnect the positive battery cable.
  • Create a mixture of one tablespoon baking soda and one cup of distilled water and apply it to the corroded areas of the battery's terminals.
  • Scrub the terminals using a wire battery terminal brush.
  • Once you are finished cleaning them, wipe off the terminals using a rag or lint-free cloth.
  • Let the battery dry completely before reconnecting the battery cables. Connect the positive cable first, then the negative one.

3. Prevent Corrosion from Returning

4. Avoid Driving Short Distances

  • Why is it bad to drive short distances? Short trips put a greater strain on your car's battery.
  • Every time you start your engine, your battery expends a lot of energy.
  • Your vehicle's alternator requires time to recharge the battery.
  • If you are constantly starting and stopping your engine, you are running down the battery's charge without giving it the opportunity to charge back up again.
  • Ideally, you should drive your vehicle for 30 minutes at highway speeds every week to keep it fully charged.
  • Read more in our blog "How Far Do I Need to Drive to Charge My Car Battery?"

5. Keep Your Battery Charged Using a Battery Maintainer

  • If your vehicle will be sitting idle for longer than a month you should maintain its charge with a battery charger.
  • A battery maintainer is a kind of automatic charger that can remain connected without overcharging your battery.
  • Battery maintainers shut off automatically when your battery reaches its ideal voltage and start charging again once the voltage drops.
  • When selecting a battery maintainer, be sure that the model you choose matches the voltage (12-volts for car batteries) and chemistry of your vehicle battery (car batteries are either flooded or AGM).
  • In order to charge your battery properly, the maintainer should be a minimum of 10% of the battery's Ah rating (i.e. a 100Ah battery requires a 10 amp charger). A maintainer with a higher number of amps is fine, but don't use one with a lower than required number of amps.
  • Learn more in our blog "When Should You Use a Battery Maintainer?"

6. Choose a Better Battery

  • If you live in an area prone to high heat, you may want to invest in an AGM (Absorbed Glass Mat) battery.
  • Unlike flooded batteries, AGM batteries are completely sealed, which prevents water from evaporating from the battery's electrolyte.
  • AGM batteries provide a higher voltage output, making it easier to start your engine in any climate.
  • AGM batteries are also designed to last two-three times longer than a flooded battery.
  • Batteries Plus' X2Power Thin Plate Pure Lead batteries are some of the best auto batteries on the market, designed to last longer and perform better than both flooded & traditional AGM batteries.

Batteries Plus is Your Auto Battery Headquarters

If you have questions about the condition of the battery in your car or truck, stop by your local store for a free battery test. If you need a new battery, we carry an impressive selection of top-quality replacement batteries, plus we offer free installation with purchase (valid at participating locations, on most vehicle makes & models).

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