Why the car battery suffers in summer (and what you can do)

Most people know that cars have a harder time starting in winter. And it is that the car battery suffers with low winter temperatures. What is not so much in the public domain is that high summer temperatures also affect the performance of the vehicle's electrical system and the battery is always the main component damaged . Find more here: best car batteries

Two different studies, carried out in Spain by Maphre and the RACC coincide in pointing out that around half of the road assistance is due to failures in the electrical system . Of these, 30% are problems with the battery (discharged, defective ...). Accordingly, a good part of them are caused by driver missteps (the most common is to leave the lights on) but in the rest it is due to heat.Why does heat affect the battery? The ideal working temperature of the car battery, the heart of its electrical system, is around 25ºC. Any deviation that occurs in said temperature, either because the temperatures rise or fall, affects its performance and shortens its useful life (it can decrease up to 50% with temperatures above 50 degrees ). When your vehicle's battery is a few years old, during the summer it can be damaged or stop working.

The extreme temperatures accelerate the wear of the components since the sulfur molecules inside decompose more quickly and with this increases the deposit of plates on the battery. This accelerating its discharge, since gravity is gradually lost in the electrolytes.

To avoid a scare, it is best to properly maintain the battery, which helps extend its life . You should start worrying when your battery is over four years old . Then it doesn't hurt to check your condition before taking a long trip .

How to check the battery status?

  • Many of the batteries available on the market have a  plastic display with the functions of a hydrometer , the color of which makes it possible to know their status. It is not entirely reliable, since this viewer detects only the element where it has been embedded, so its reading can lead to errors ... but it is a first step.

  • Using a voltmeter , a very simple to use device that measures in volts the difference in electrical potential between two points in a routine. Before putting it on, look for rubber gloves (the battery contains lead-acid and this will avoid possible chemical burns). The ideal is to do it with the car stopped, after a few hours at rest.

  • As a general rule, any voltage lower than 12V indicates that the performance is no longer correct for the vehicle and it will be best to check the state of battery life. At this time it'd also be helpful to find out why the low state of charge. If it is not many years old, it may be a sign of alternator malfunction or a loose belt.

  • Using a hydrometer , which checks the state of charge of a battery cell. Measure the density of the electrolyte (the higher the concentration of sulfuric acid, the higher its density). The electrolytes in the battery are mostly made up of water (up to 65%) and sulfuric acid (maximum 35%).

If you are not clear how to use these devices, it is best that your trusted workshop check the condition of your battery. In the function that it's required to replace it, remember to read our tips for buying a battery beforehand and if it is too late and the battery is no longer capable of starting your car, learn how to start the car with tweezers … although at this point point and begins to give problems, in most cases you have to end up changing it