Extreme Temperatures Are Your Car Battery’s Worst Nightmare
It’s a commonly held belief that high summer temperatures are to blame for lowered performance in car batteries or even a full battery drain with air conditioning units running at full throttle. That may not actually be the case, however, since lower winter temperatures are equally problematic for battery health. In this article we will explain why cold weather can affect your vehicle’s battery and what you can do to protect yourself from unnecessary battery drain and draw.
The Usual Suspects That Effect Car Batteries
You walk outside to your car, sit down with your coffee, turn the key in the ignition and… nothing. You’ve got a dead battery. We’ve all bee there, and although it’s not the end of the world, it can be highly inconvenient when you’re on your way to work hoping to beat the morning commute. There are many reasons why a battery can die, ranging from:
- A mouse chewing on an electrical wire
- Loose battery connections
- Corroded battery connections
- Excessive vibration that affects connectivity and current
- Lights left on
- Extreme or persistent heat
- Extreme or persistent cold.
Having your battery levels checked during routine maintenance, especially during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall is a good idea to prepare for the extreme temperature fluctuations of summer and winter. Such routine checks will also alert you to other potential battery issues. Maintaining battery health is essential to the overall functionality of your vehicle since it is your most important electrical element besides the alternator.
Lead Acid Battery Technology and Cold Weather
Lead acid car batteries are designed to provide your vehicle with a burst of high amperage in a short amount of time, giving you enough juice to kick engine systems into motion from a cold start. When a battery is fully charged and under normal temperature conditions, your car will start right up with no problems despite the high amount of amperage required to start your engine. An older battery will struggle more under colder conditions, with freezing temperatures capable of knocking out even a brand new, fully charged battery unit. Battery capacity is greatly compromised in freezing and extremely low temperatures – dropping 20% in capacity from normal operating conditions. In colder conditions, battery capacity is diminished while the draw from a vehicle’s starter and interior accessories is increased, taking away a battery’s overall functionality and effectiveness. According to Life Wire, in 0°F conditions, car batteries may lose up to 60% of their capacity, while at 32°F they may lose up to 35% of their strength as twice as much current is needed to start the engine as opposed to when operating under normal conditions.
Temperature Fluctuations Greatly Effect Battery Capacity
Car batteries are designed to accommodate a wide spectrum of temperatures, however, their performance is impacted when fluctuating between extremes. Extreme heat can cause a battery’s capacity to actually increase, while simultaneously decreasing its life. Extreme cold has a zapping and drawing effect, and in general, temperature swings place added stress on a battery as it’s capacity fluctuates.
The Bottom Line
Optimize the health of your battery, which in turn optimizes the health of your vehicle as a whole by making sure that your battery is securely fastened to avoid vibration, connection terminals are free of corrosion and are tightly affixed and by having your battery capacity tested as part of your regular preventative maintenance schedule. When a battery reaches roughly three years in age, it is a good idea to have it tested by a technician to assess its remaining capacity before finding yourself stranded with a dead battery. As a further precautionary measure, always include a set of jumper cables as part of your vehicle’s emergency preparedness kit.
Contact an SCL Consultant Today
In a wide range of industrial sectors, SCL is committed to being the number one logistics and solutions provider for the products that protect and optimize the machines that keep our country moving. We pride ourselves on remaining at the forefront of industry trends and technological innovations, and as the market continues to evolve, we are committed to providing extensive product and industry knowledge and total performance satisfaction for our customers. For information on how we can assist your fleet in choosing the optimal products at a competitive price, contact an SCL consultant today.