We all know that winter can be hard on a car battery. The chemicals inside the cells which store power and feed it out when you need it don’t react together as efficiently when it is cold outside. The problem is made worse by the extra load of lights, demisters and wipers which are needed in the colder months.
But that doesn’t mean you can relax in summer. In fact, hot weather could actually cause more problems and cause permanent damage to your car’s battery if you don’t take care of it. The technicians at Eden will check your battery at every service, but if you have any concerns then don’t hesitate to get in touch with our aftersales department for advice or to make an appointment.
Although you are less likely to need wipers and demisters in hot weather, the chances are that your air con will be going at full blast. Add in the cooled seats which are fitted to cars such as the Hyundai Santa Fe, Hyundai Kona and the All-New Vauxhall Astra and you can see that your electrical system is going to need to work hard.
While sophisticated cars such as these will warn you if the battery is getting low, you might need to help it out by watching what you use when the engine isn’t running, if you are waiting outside a school or shop for example.
If you are going on a longer holiday trip, be careful with accessories such as powered cool boxes, camping lights and even the kids’ tablet chargers. If the engine isn’t running to keep the battery topped up, they’re going to take their toll on the charge level.
One of the main ingredients in a battery is water. When mixed with acid it allows the chemical reactions to happen which make a battery do its magic. In warmer weather - and if the battery gets hot through working hard – that water can evaporate and cause the cells to dry out. That will mean they don’t work as well and ultimately will cause the battery to fail.
Many modern batteries will be sealed so you might not be able to top up the water, but you can check the level make sure it covers the lead plates completely. If they look dry or the level looks low, then top it up using distilled water, which is available from any hardware shop.
If the battery is ‘maintenance free’ then you won’t be able to top up the water, but look at the indicators occasionally to check the levels. This might be a plastic window on the side or top of the battery. If it looks low, you should think about getting it tested before the winter sets in.
If you are buying an older used car, it may have had a battery change already. Some owners will just go for the cheapest option to keep the cost down but that doesn’t mean it is the best for your car, and may be designed for a smaller engine size or a petrol engine rather than a diesel. A simple online check will be able to tell you the correct size for your car, either as a part number or measurements. It might be fine in summer, but you could start to struggle when the colder months set in.
Chemical reactions are encouraged by warmth which helps your battery’s effectiveness, but unfortunately that also means external parts will corrode faster – especially in humid or salty conditions, such as by the sea. That means you might spot ‘furry’ deposits on your battery terminals and leads. This will eventually reduce the effectiveness on the contacts and lead to poor battery performance and overheating. To protect them, brush off any corrosion with a stiff brush and protect the terminals and leads with a smear of grease or even Vaseline.