Here’s a hot tip about car batteries: Warm weather is the time for major car-battery problems. Heat, not cold, shortens battery life. The average life of a battery is three and a half years, and even shorter in warmer climates.
Excessive heat and overcharging are the two main reasons for shortened battery life. Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, which damages the internal structure of the battery. A malfunctioning component in the charging system, usually the voltage regulator, allows too high a charging rate. That can mean a slow death for a battery.
Statistics from the National Car Care Month inspection campaign show battery cables, clamps and terminals needed maintenance in 13 percent of the vehicles and seven percent of the batteries were not properly held down.
To get the most life out of a battery, the Car Care Council suggests the following:
- Be sure the electrical system is charging at the correct rate; overcharging can damage a battery as quickly as undercharging.
- If your battery is the type that needs to be topped off, check it regularly, especially in hot weather. Add distilled water when necessary.
- Always replace a battery with one that’s rated at least as high as the one originally specified.
- Keep the top of the battery clean. Dirt becomes a conductor, which drains battery power. Further, as corrosion accumulates on battery terminals it becomes an insulator, inhibiting current flow.