Car batteries: Why they die in hot weather

xar battery has died due to hot weather

Dead car batteries are more often linked to winter conditions, when colder temperatures inhibit the chemical reaction necessary to make a battery work. Extreme cold also increases the thickness of the engine oil, meaning your battery has to work harder to crank the engine.

Under such conditions we also tend to use energy consuming features more often, such as the heater, windscreen wipers and lights.

Most drivers know that car batteries don’t like extreme cold weather and have turned the ignition key on a cold winter’s morning only to find the battery has died.

But, did you know that high temperatures can be worse for your car battery and often the battery problems we experience during the winter actually started back in the summer?

Batteries contain a liquid being a mixture of acid and water. It also generates heat and along with gaseous venting causes the liquid to slowly evaporate. When the fluid level gets too low, the internal plates of the battery are not adequately protected and damage can occur.

Damaged cells means a battery produces less voltage. However, you can sometimes repair damaged cells by applying an equalizing charge to give an extra boost – although this boost over-charges the healthy cells as well and can damage them. With standard acid flood car batteries it is possible to top up the liquid, extending the battery’s life.

Car battery designs have improved dramatically over the decades. As a consequence, whether or not you need to check electrolyte levels and top it up periodically depends on the battery/type of your vehicle.

Most modern cars are fitted with sealed, zero maintenance batteries which do not require topping up with distilled water.

However, the older type of car battery with screw caps is still used by some today and do need checking and topping up from time to time.

Tap water contains dissolved metallic solids which can cause short circuiting within the battery’s cells ultimately causing the battery to run warm, therefore reducing its capacity. For this reason it is essential to use only deionised and demineralised (distilled) water when topping up.

The problem with under topping (distilled water) is that it upsets the electrolyte balance – it increases the acid strength in the battery which accelerates the corrosion rate on the internal plates/elements. This is known as sulphation.

Overtopping distilled water dilutes the strength of the acid, also affecting the balance of the electrolyte, which also adversely affects the performance of the battery.
Charging a dead car battery will often do the trick – but not always!

A battery that has been irreparably damaged will continue to give problems and should be changed. It may be that your dead battery will accept a charge, at least enough to get you mobile again, but it will prove unreliable.

Also, it is important to note that you must use the correct type of charger for your battery – using a traditional battery charger designed for wet (non-sealed) batteries may cause irreversible damage to a sealed battery.

Whichever battery you have, make sure you use the right charger. Choose the correct charger for your battery by clicking on the link, or if you would prefer to speak with one of our advisors regarding the appropriate battery or charger for your vehicle, then give us a call on 0800 8620676. We are here to help.

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