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AAA: Summer Heat Takes a Toll on Car Batteries

AAA: Summer Heat Takes a Toll on Car Batteries

Bill Stephens

July 19th, 2019

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Club advises vehicle owners to practice some T.L.C. under the hood to avoid roadside breakdowns

With temperatures expected to soar as high as the triple digits this weekend, AAA East Central remind motorists that the heat has the potential to kill more batteries than the winter cold, and that preventative maintenance is needed to help prevent roadside breakdowns.

“Most people aren’t aware that the hot summer sun actually breaks down the internal components of a battery,” says Mike Hoshaw, vice president of automotive services.  “They may feel as though their battery is fine because they’ve made it through winter, but the difference in temperatures actually presents different challenges.”

When temperatures climb above 90 degrees for a few consecutive days, AAA experiences a sizable increase in drivers needing assistance for dead batteries.  Summer heat accelerates the rate of fluid loss and resulting oxidation of battery components, putting older batteries in danger of failing.  It’s for this reason that batteries in cooler northern climates tend to last a few years longer than in hot southern areas.  In Kentucky, vehicle batteries typically last three to five years.

Basic battery care can help prevent unexpected problems.  AAA advises vehicle owners to:

  • Consider having your battery and charging systems tested.  Having a battery tested can expose any weaknesses that may break down under extreme circumstances.  AAA offers its members on-site battery testing and, if need be, replacements.
  • Make sure the battery cables are clean and tight.  Dirty, loose connections to battery terminals limit the flow of current and are a common cause of issues.  Consider cleaning corrosion off of a battery terminal by using a small wire brush and cleaning it with a mix of one tablespoon of baking soda and a cup of water.
  • Make sure to drive.  For vehicle owners who don’t drive often or far, a vehicle should be taken out for a long drive once every week or two.  Shorter drives can drain a battery over time, given that it doesn’t have time to recharge properly.

Having a vehicle inspected in the summertime can help stave off breakdowns, especially ahead of long road trips.  Motorists can take their vehicles to a certified technician like those who participate in AAA’s Approved Auto Repair (AAR) program.  Garages that participate in the AAR program offer qualified technicians, a wide range of professional repair services, and guaranteed quality.  These shops meet AAA’s strict quality standards and display AAA’s logo.  AAR shops can be found at AAA.com/AutoRepair.   

AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 79 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members.  Past news releases are available at news.eastcentral.aaa.com.  Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

-AAA-

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