AAA Colorado: Summer heat kills more car batteries than winter cold

This week’s predicted 90-degree-plus temperatures will take a toll on automobile batteries. Many motorists are aware that cold weather is rough on auto batteries, but few realize that heat is the number one cause of battery failure and shortened battery life.

“Any time temperatures reach over 90 degrees for a few consecutive days, we see a noticeable increase in motorists needing assistance, “says Scott Soper, AAA Colorado’s manager of battery services. “Summer heat accelerates the rate of fluid loss and resulting oxidation of battery components, which can leave a motorist stranded without warning.”

Fortunately, basic battery care can help prevent unexpected battery problems on the road. AAA Colorado offers the following tips:

• Ensure the battery cables have a clean and tight connection to battery terminals. Dirty, loose connections constrict the flow of current and are a common cause of battery troubles.
Have a qualified technician check the battery fluid level. Most batteries are maintenance-free, but battery fluid level can still run low, leading to oxidation and a dead battery.

• Have the electrical charging system tested at the same time as the battery. A faulty alternator is one of the most common causes of battery failure.

• If you go weeks without driving your vehicle, get a trickle charger to keep the battery in good shape while it’s garaged. Most vehicles have electronic components such as security systems and clock and radio settings that drain a small amount of energy even when the car is turned off, often as much as 1% to 2% per day in optimal temperatures. In time, that small amount of constant drain on the battery adds up and can lead to a dead battery.

Even with proper maintenance, most batteries have a three to five year service life. If your battery is nearing the end of its lifecycle, have it tested at a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility or by AAA Mobile Battery Service to determine if it is time for a replacement. AAA Mobile Battery Service is available in many areas to test AAA members’ vehicle batteries and provide on-site replacement, if needed.

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