Take charge of your dying car batteries

By: Sean K. Thompson
| Published 09/20/2023


THE WOODLANDS, TX – While the worst of the summer heat may be behind us, and fall hits this weekend, the problems associated with the high temps aren’t quite over yet. In particular, your car batteries might by gasping their dying breath from the heat.

Summer may be on its way out, but it’s not going down alone

In a perfect world, we’d park inside our cool garages or even under covered carports or – as a last resort – under the spread of many trees. Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case, and our modes of transportation tend to stay in the driveway for the mornings and evenings, and in parking lots during the majority of daylight hours. A lucky few get parking garages to keep their beloved autos out of the direct sunlight, but not all of the heat.

And it’s this heat that is causing a massive upsurge in dead batteries throughout The Woodlands area and beyond. Stereotypically, people are afeared of their cars dying in extreme cold; however, heat has a more debilitating effect on batteries than cold; on average, a battery lasts for up to 58 months in northern climates but only up to 41 months in places like Texas. Unbridled heat, especially on cars left out in the open, can kill a battery as sure as dunking it in a frozen lake.

According to AAA, there are approximately two million ‘dead battery’ calls during summer months. The car battery of today typically is ‘maintenance free,’ which means you don’t have to open the top every now and then to top off the electrolyte reservoirs with distilled water. The primary battery nowadays is a sealed affair, which means that the levels of fluids held within can’t be easily topped off or replaced. And heat just loves to slowly cook them down through their thick casings over time.

Not only are vital fluid levels depleted in the heat, but high temperatures also accelerate the corrosion process, significantly lowering the life expectancy of your battery. While it’s hard to know the condition of the inner workings of your battery, an east check is to ensure the posts on the outside of your battery remain tightly connected to their cables and that they are corrosion free.

To extend the life of your battery during the heat of the year (which – face it – in these parts lasting about 8 months out of 12), you can take some easy steps:

  • Ensure the battery is secure in its designated spot under the hood. A jostling battery will crack, slosh, and lose power exponentially faster than it would otherwise.

  • If your battery has electrolyte reservoirs, ensure they remain topped off with fresh distilled water on a semi-regular basis.

  • During the heat of the day, try to park your car in a garage the more underground the better. If there are trees, park under them. If near a building, see if you can contrive to have your car in shadow for the afternoon hours. If you must stay parked outside under a blazing sun, consider throwing a car cover over your hood. However, don’t use a cover at night; it will act like a blanket and trap heat under it.

  • Purchase a portable battery checker/charger. Not only are they handy for jumpstarting in an emergency, but most of the better models can actually show you how much life is left in your battery.

  • Batteries are susceptible to wear and tear in The Woodlands in particular because most of our trips throughout the Township are short. You want to try to drive for at least 20 minutes every trip possible – the longer you drive, the better the charge buildup.

  • Make a battery check part of your regular car maintenance; every time you go in for an oil change or fluid replacement, ask the mechanics on staff to check out your battery.

One Woodlands garage in particular that will help extend your battery life is Repair One Automotive Repair & Services. Trust them to make sure your battery – and the rest of your car – remain in tiptop condition.

Photo by Francisco Javier Martinez Navio on Scopio

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