Battery Fatigue: Stranded On A Midsummer’s Night

Published on August 07, 2019 08:48 PM in Before You Go
Battery Fatigue: Stranded On A Midsummer’s Night

For your car battery, summer is an endurance test. Will yours pass the daily grind of searing temperatures and slow-and-go driving?

Regular inspection, clean terminals and routine testing of a battery’s charge level make all the difference, he added. Maintenance is especially important in summer, when high temperatures accelerate corrosion and can evaporate the water inside the battery.

On top of hostile summer heat, batteries must also contend with the fact that they’re being asked to do more work than ever before, like operating infotainment systems and charging smartphones.

Traditionally, a dead battery could be chalked up to something as simple as leaving an interior light on overnight, Kimbrough said. Modern vehicles are more complex and could require more sleuthing to discover the source of the power drain.

Ask your service advisor to run a battery check before your next road trip or weekend outing.

Battery tips and reminders:

  • Check fluid. Some batteries have removable battery caps. Others have a “magic eye” –a small, floating device on top of the electrolyte. Some batteries have a translucent case so you can check without opening the caps.
  • 'Maintenance-free' batteries do not require adding fluid. Look for user guidelines or a label that warns against opening battery caps. Although it may appear removable, the battery cap may be glued or locked in place.
  • 'Maintenance accessible' batteries may require adding water in hot climates or high heat. Look for a battery label and follow manufacturer guidelines.
  • Does your vehicle battery need fluid? Use a small amount of distilled water, not tap water. According to Battery Council, tap water may contain chlorine or other chemicals that can change electrolyte composition.
  • Inspect terminal connections. Are they snug? Free of corrosion. Corroded terminals can be cleaned with a brush (such as a discarded toothbrush) and a light paste of household baking soda and water.
  • Battery replacement. Batteries eventually fail even if properly maintained. Make sure it has enough “umph” to power your vehicle and accessories. Ask your service advisor for recommendations.
  • For quick reference write down battery brand and type in a mobile phone note or on the inside of your vehicle owner’s manual. 
  • Get your vehicle’s charging system checked. Problems in your vehicle electrical system can cause a battery to dry out and fail prematurely.