Feeling the Summer Heat? Vehicle Batteries Are, Too

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If the heat of summer is wearing you down, it is likely taking its toll on your customers’ vehicle batteries, too. Contrary to popular belief, summer highs rather than winter lows pose the greater threat to battery life.

Excessive heat and overcharging are the two main reasons for shortened battery life. Heat causes the water to evaporate out of the battery fluid, thus damaging the internal structure of the battery. A malfunctioning component in the charging system, usually the voltage regulator, allows too high of a charging rate, leading to slow death for a battery.

When most motorists think of dead batteries that cause starting failure, they think of severe winter weather, but summer heat is the real culprit. Many battery problems start in the summer months when the heat lowers the battery’s starting power, long before the temperatures drop. Weak batteries can struggle for months, but the real test comes when it’s cold outside. One reason dead batteries are often associated with winter weather is because colder temperatures increase the thickness of the engine oil, making the engine harder to turn over, so it has to work more. This often results in a dead battery.

To help your customers get the most life out of a battery, the Car Care Council suggests the following simple steps:

·         Be sure to check that the electrical system is charging at the correct rate; overcharging can damage a battery as quickly as undercharging.

·         Make sure the top of the battery is clean. Dirt and engine grease can build up, which can serve as a conductor and drain battery power. Further, look for corrosion that can accumulate on battery terminals and become an insulator, inhibiting current flow.

·         If the battery is the type that needs to be topped off, check it each time a vehicle comes in for service, especially in hot weather.

·         Always replace a battery with one that’s rated at least as high as the one originally specified.

As a way to get people thinking about battery maintenance during the summer months, consider offering free battery checks or running a battery sale or promotion. Not only can this increase your business potential, but it can also build loyalty with current customers as well as attract new ones.

When customers bring their vehicles in for service, take the opportunity to educate them on how their driving habits can contribute to shorter battery life, such as how frequent engine on/off cycles will cause more wear on the starter than a simple back and forth to work. Other factors include driving and weather conditions, mileage, vehicle age and excessive electrical draws like in-vehicle entertainment systems. They should have the battery checked if they notice the headlights and interior lights dim, accessories that fail to operate or if the “check engine” and/or battery light is illuminated.

The Car Care Council’s updated 80-page “Car Care Guide” is a valuable tool to use when discussing recommended maintenance and repairs with customers. It’s also a great giveaway for them to keep in their vehicles as a useful reference guide to better understand the when, why and how of caring for their vehicles. The digital version of the guide can be shared by using the www.carcare.org/car-care-guide link. Printed copies can be easily ordered by visiting the Car Care Council’s website. Custom printing with a company logo on the back cover is available in bulk quantities.

When it comes to long battery life, preventive maintenance and regular care are key. By making sure their batteries are clean and working properly during the summer months, you’ll be giving customers peace of mind knowing their engines will start when the temperature drops. 

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