Dr. Christian Rosenkranz, head of Power Solutions engineering Europe at Johnson Controls, explains why high temperatures can damage your battery and why, especially in summertime, battery testing is essential.
Avoid car breakdown during summer time
Summertime is travel time. Imagine, you are on the road to your holiday destination and suddenly your car does not start anymore because of a weak battery. According to the latest ADAC statistic, 39% of car breakdowns are caused by the battery. This can happen due to a number of factors. Due to hot outside temperatures, most drivers run their air conditioning on the highest level. Additional electricity-consuming functions like mobile GPS units, phone chargers, plug-in coolers and infotainment display screens represent additional work for your car battery. At low speeds, for example, like in a traffic jam, the engine is not generating much energy and the alternator cannot handle your vehicle’s electrical needs. It is then up to your battery to supply energy to power the vehicle and its accessories. To make sure your vehicle has all functionality, test your battery before heading off to your holiday destination at an independent workshop or a parts dealer. Most of the time, the tests are free.
The battery ages in summer and dies in winter
An ambient temperature during battery operation is important for its durability. An outside temperature of 68°F (+20°C) is optimal for your car battery. If the temperature is significantly warmer than that, electrochemical reactions and corrosion of the battery is accelerated. This means your battery could discharge more quickly and an already weak battery will not make it through the summer.
Do you drive a Start-Stop vehicle?
You need to pay special attention when you are driving a start-stop vehicle. Only two battery technologies are designed to handle the demands of a start-stop system. In start-stop vehicles the battery needs to be able to start the engine several times during one single trip. In case, your battery is already weakened, the battery management system will reduce the performance of individual energy consuming devices or even automatically switch some devices off such as the air conditioning to guarantee enough power supply for the start-stop function. So, the condition of a battery in a start-stop vehicle influences the way the vehicle and its functions are operating. Therefore, batteries should be checked frequently by a workshop. They have the correct diagnostic tools for testing and replacement. We strongly recommend to visit a workshop to avoid failures in the vehicle system.
Disconnecting the battery won’t preserve the life of the battery
You should not disconnect your battery, even if you don’t use your car during summer vacation.
As technology becomes more complex, so too does the integration of the battery into the electrical system of the car. If the electrical circuit between your battery and vehicle computer system is broken, it can lead to data loss in control units and infotainment electronics. Also, disconnecting the battery won’t preserve its life. The aging process does not stop. Remember, when you go on vacation, you should ensure that no external devices, like a GPS unit or phone charger, are connected during your absence as they could also drain your battery.