Picture this: you’re running late to work and suddenly your car sputters and dies on the side of the road. There are few things more inconvenient and frustrating than a busted car battery.
Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent battery failure and maximise the life of your car battery. These steps vary based on the climate of the region that you live in.
The many different Asian climate zones play a huge role in battery maintenance and selection. In this guide, we’ll go over car battery maintenance tips for conditions unique to Asia and cover how to select the best car battery for your climate.
Battery Maintenance in Tropical Climates
Tropical weather conditions affect the lifespan of your battery in unique ways. Studies show that car batteries are more likely to fail in extreme heat than they are in extreme cold. This is because the excess heat increases the amount of active sulphates in the battery.
Battery tests indicate that for every ten degrees Celsius that the ambient temperature rises, the lifespan of a typical car battery is cut in half. For example, a battery that might last up to five years at 25 degrees might only last for two years at 33 degrees.
Consider the average temperatures of the region that you live in when thinking about car battery replacement. If you have summers with temperatures over 35 degrees Celsius, you should look into replacing your car battery after three and a half to four years.
You can work towards preventing battery drain caused by extreme heat by storing your car in a cool location and keeping the battery charged. Try to park your car in a carport, garage, or in shade. This protects your car from direct sunlight that can heat things up under the hood.
Another consideration for car owners living in tropical climates is excess moisture. If you live in a rainy or humid area, check periodically for moisture accumulating on top of your battery. This can cause a leakage of current between the terminals of the cells and discharge the battery.
Take time to wipe off all moisture from the battery. You can also go over the tops of the cell connectors and terminals with a rag soaked in ammonia or a solution of baking soda. This neutralises any acid present in the moisture.
Battery Maintenance in Desert Climates
If you live in a semiarid or desert area, there are special considerations to take into account when thinking about the lifespan of your battery. Much like in tropical climates, extreme heat can drastically shorten the lifespan of your battery.
High temperatures drive up the heat under the hood of your car and accelerate the onset of battery failure. In addition to parking your car in cooler areas, routine battery maintenance can help preserve its lifespan.
In a hot climate, Consumer Reports recommends having your car battery load tested annually after it is two years old. During an inspection, a mechanic should check your battery’s charge, the condition of the terminals, and how securely it is mounted in the engine bay. Excessive vibration can also shorten your battery’s life.
Another important thing to check for if you live in a desert climate is keeping your battery clean of excess dirt and dust. Dirt acts as a conductor and corrosion acts as an insulator. This can affect your car’s electrical system as your battery both leaks energy and works harder to do its job.
Should you find a greyish or greenish substance on your battery terminals, handles, or cell connectors, you should scrape the excess off and wash the parts with a hot solution of baking soda. This substance is the result of corrosion.
After washing the parts, dry and cover them with Dielectric grease or at minimum, Vaseline. This aids in protecting battery terminals and preventing further corrosive growth.
Battery Maintenance in Cold Climates
Colder climates can also seriously impact the lifespan of your battery. Cold temperatures slow down the chemical reactions happening inside the battery. This impacts the battery’s ability to provide sufficient power to start and run a vehicle.
One way to combat this is to ensure your battery is getting properly charged every time you drive your car. If you regularly take long drives, you probably don’t have much to worry about. However, if you use your car infrequently or take short trips, you should consider taking intentional drives during the coldest months to charge your battery.
If your car is not going to be used for a long period, start the engine at least every two weeks. Drive for five to ten kilometres to help fully charge the battery.
When its not possible for you to drive, start the engine while parked. Turn off any electrical loads such as your car’s lights, stereo, or air conditioning. This will help your car charge faster.
Once the engine is started, press the gas pedal up to 2000 RPM. This is the RPM at which most alternators will start charging the battery. Maintain 2000 RPM for five minutes and then leave the engine idle for another ten minutes.
Taking these extra measures helps maintain your battery’s life in colder climates.
Choosing the Right Battery for Your Climate
The best way to ensure that your battery lasts as long as possible is to choose the right car battery for your climate. If you live in a colder climate, check a battery’s CCA before you decide to purchase it.
CCA stands for cold cranking amps. This is a rating used to describe your battery’s ability to start the engine in extremely cold conditions. The rating is measured at -18 degrees Celsius and determines how many amps the battery can provide for 30 seconds.
For cold climate dwellers, select a battery with a high CCA rating. This will make new car battery care significantly easier.
Another important rating is the battery’s reserve capacity or RC. RC is rated by how many minutes a battery can continue to produce 25 amps at 27 degrees Celsius.
In extreme heat, accessories like air conditioning, fans, power windows, and radiator-fan usage all put a heavier strain on your vehicle’s alternator, which can in some cases, cause it to fail. In this situation, you need a battery that can provide enough power to keep your car’s most important functions going until you can make it home or to a repair shop.
Whether you live in a hot or cold climate, make sure to look at the battery manufacturer’s climate recommendations. Choosing the right battery for your climate makes battery maintenance significantly easier throughout its lifespan.
Keep Your Car Rolling
Don’t let yourself be blind sided by unexpected car battery problems. Engaging in routine battery maintenance helps prevent common problems and maximises the lifespan of your battery.
There are specific steps you can take to ensure the health of your car battery based on the climate you live in. If your car batter if over two years old, start looking into what you can do for it today.