Summer battery checks
You might think it strange to publish a battery blog in late summer and, while you would be right, there is sound reasoning for it. While most battery failures appear in winter, the cause can be what occurs to them before the cold weather arrives.
The electric cannibal
A conventional 12v car battery, literally, eats itself to death. This is because a plastic battery case contains lead-based materials and sulphuric acid. Over time, the sulphuric acid reacts with the lead and this reduces the battery’s capacity. This reduces the battery’s state-of-health, more about which can be read here.
The natural chemical reaction is the main cause of aging, which speeds-up as the battery becomes hotter. Exposing the battery to high temperatures, such as that experienced within the engine bay on a hot day, accelerates this aging process. However, it is unlikely that you will notice any issue, because the electrical demand that cars place on their batteries is fairly low during this time of year.
Yet, with the cold-start ability of a healthy battery dropping by at least 30% at 0 degrees Celsius, not helped by cold engines becoming harder to turn-over as ambient temperatures drop, it is unsurprising that any damage that has been wrought on the battery by wear and tear as well as corrosion over a long, hot summer is not revealed to the car owner until the first cold morning of autumn/winter.
Therefore, the best you can do is to consider that any protective shields that are placed around a battery, whether in the engine bay, or elsewhere in the car, may be intended to help keep it cool, so ensure that they are fitted. In the case of the Volkswagen van in our picture, note that the battery is kept very well insulated – all of this material should be retained and not discarded.
As autumn approaches, it will be beneficial to have your battery’s state-of-health checked so that you can be sure that your battery will not let you down on a cold morning start.