Why the Car Battery Suffers in Summer (and what you can do)
Most people know that cars have a harder time starting in winter. And is that the car battery suffers from low winter temperatures. What is not so much in the public domain is that high summer temperatures also affect the performance of the vehicle's electrical system and the battery is always the main component damaged. Two different studies carried out in Spain by Maphre and the RACC coincide in pointing out that around half of the road assistance is due to failures in the electrical system. Of these, 30% are problems with the battery (discharged, defective ...). Accordingly, a good part of them is caused by driver missteps (the most common is to leave the lights on) but in the rest, it is due to heat. Why does heat affect the battery? The ideal working temperature of the car battery, the heart of its electrical system, is around 25ºC. Any deviation that occurs in said temperature, either because the temperatures rise or fall, affects its performance and shortens its useful life (it can decrease up to 50% with temperatures above 50 degrees ). When your vehicle's battery is a few years old, during the summer it can be damaged or stop working. The extreme temperatures accelerate the wear of the components since the sulfur molecules inside decompose more quickly and with this increases the deposit of plates on the battery. This accelerating its discharge since gravity is gradually lost in the electrolytes. To avoid a scare, it is best to properly maintain the battery, which helps extend its life. You should start worrying when your battery is over four years old. So it doesn't hurt to check your condition before taking a long trip.
How to Check the Battery Status?
- Many of the batteries available in the market have a plastic display with the functions of a hydrometer, the color of which allows them to know its state. It is not entirely reliable, since this viewer detects only the element where it has been embedded, so its reading can lead to errors ... but it is the first step.
- Using a voltmeter, a very simple to use a device that measures the difference in electrical potential between two points in a circuit in volts. Before putting it on, look for rubber gloves (the battery contains lead-acid to avoid possible chemical burns). The ideal is to do it with the car stopped, after a few hours at rest.
- As a general rule, any voltage lower than 12V indicates that the performance is no longer correct for the vehicle and it will be best to check the state of battery life. At this point, it would also be useful to find out why the low state of charge. If it is not many years old, it may indicate an alternator malfunction or a loose belt.
- Using a hydrometer, which checks the state of charge of a battery cell. Measure the density of the electrolyte (the higher the concentration of sulfuric acid, the higher its density). The electrolytes in the battery are mostly made up of water (up to 65%) and sulfuric acid (maximum 35%).
If you are not clear how to use these devices, it is best that your trusted workshop check the condition of your battery. In the event that it is necessary to replace it, remember to read our tips for buying a battery beforehand and if it is too late and the battery is no longer capable of starting your car, learn how to start the car with tweezers … although at this point point and begins to give problems, in most cases you have to end up changing it