By LOIS KINDLE
Our intense summer heat here in Florida shows no mercy to anyone or anything, including car, truck and golf cart batteries. Extremely high temperatures negatively impact a battery’s ability to generate power by altering its chemistry, causing irreversible damage and reducing its life expectancy.
“Cold negatively affects them, too,” said Don Novak, Batteries Plus store manager in Sun City Center. “But heat will do it quicker when the temperature’s above 90 degrees. Even as a vehicle sits idle, the temperature in the engine compartment can easily climb to 120.
“Over time, extreme heat causes corrosion to the plates inside a battery, which in turn degrades its capacity to work properly,” he said. “In extreme circumstances, it can cause a short and effect the vehicle’s electrical system, including its sensors and fuses.”
There are things you can do to minimize heat exposure to your vehicle’s battery/batteries.
• Park in the shade, wherever and whenever possible. Direct sunlight heats up the hood and accelerates battery damage.
• Keep your battery’s terminals clean. This prevents corrosion, which hinders your battery’s performance. You can do it yourself with a brush, baking soda and water, purchase terminal protectors or anti-corrosion spray, or request they be cleaned when you have your vehicle maintained.
• At least once a week, drive your vehicle for 20 minutes or more. Frequent short trips put more strain on your battery. The alternator requires time to recharge it after the engine starts.
• Don’t let your vehicle sit idle for long periods of time. Driving it once a week or less can be detrimental to the battery and engine’s health. If you’re going to be away for a while, a battery maintainer should be used.
• Choose a replacement wisely. When you need to get one, research possible upgrades. There are plenty of options on the market these days, including specialty batteries to meet the needs of all kinds of vehicles.
For example, AGM (absorbent glass mat) batteries provide greater power for higher electrical demands and start-stop applications. While they cost more initially, they last longer than conventional lead-acid batteries, can take high heat and vibration and are totally sealed, non-spillable and maintenance-free. They come standard on most new cars, Novak said.
“We carry both conventional and AGM batteries, and we provide full replacements if they die within the warranty period, when they are purchased here,” he added. “We offer free installation and can refresh the terminals, if needed.”
The effects of heat on batteries affects more than vehicles. It also damages small ones, including those used for hearing aids, flashlights, electronics and other battery-powered devices. Small batteries should be stored inside an air-conditioned home or office, Novak said.
Novak has managed the Batteries Plus store in Sun City Center since it opened last October. He recently received a corporate award for being No. 1 in customer satisfaction, based on customer reviews, and first in sales for stores the same age nationwide. His store also has a 4.9 reviews rating on Google.
For more information, visit BatteriesPlus734 on Facebook or call 813-819-2727.