Why Does Heat Hurt My Car Battery?

The report today from That Car Lady at Beckwith’s Car Care is on car batteries and why they die and how we can keep them lasting longer. Almost all of us have climbed into our car to find that it simply won’t start, and the most common problem is that the car battery is dead.  Oddly enough, most batteries here in Humble, Atascocita, Kingwood, Houston, Texas only last for about 33 months.

While battery life varies for a lot of reasons, the biggest is how hot it gets here in Humble, Atascocita, Kingwood, Houston.  It seems like cold weather is hard on batteries because that is frequently when we actually see them fail as it takes a lot more power to turn over a cold engine, but the damage is actually done by the heat.

The heat in Texas has been so extreme this year that I have seen more vehicles towed in for battery failures than I have ever seen before – and we all know I am old and have been here a really long time!

 Here are some reasons that batteries fail, especially during the hot Texas summer:

“It’s Hot In Texas”

As a rule batteries in very cold climates last about 60 percent longer than they do here in the South.  It falls down to simple physics as batteries rely on chemical reactions that are accelerated in the heat.  It takes less than a day for a car battery to start to discharge in the heat. When a battery is left partially discharged the portion that is discharged quits working – it dies. To make matters worse the “dead” part of the battery plate will not recharge, so the battery is just never the same.


“I Just Don’t Drive Very Much”

Those short trips to the grocery store and to drop off the kids at school can greatly accelerate the death of your battery. By driving short distances the alternator does not have enough time to completely recharge your battery.  Chances are when you pull back into your driveway after a short trip your battery is not fully charged yet.


“My Vehicle Multi-tasks Almost As Good As I Do”

So many vehicles have everything from navigation systems and MP3 players to heated seats and steering wheels.  Then we plug in our cell phones, power adapters and curling irons!  Gee, somehow I am not surprised that our batteries become partially discharged.


How To Extend Your Car Battery Life:

Some experts will suggest that you use a trickle charger that tops off your battery.  Charging a battery successfully is a little trickier than one would first assume.  If you choose to do this, it is worth buying an automatic version that will stop charging when your battery is fully changed or you may do more harm than good.


Simpler Suggestions:

  • Have your battery checked regularly so that you can avoid it failing in a bad place.  It is a simple free check that can save you a tow bill and a lot of frustration.


  • Keep your battery clean. Grease can hold heat and corrosion on the terminals can add to electrical problems in your vehicle.


  •  Keep your battery cool.  Well, this is next to impossible to do, but if you are able to park in the shade or inside of a cool garage your car will be a little cooler when you climb in and a little easier on your battery too.


  • Always purchase a quality battery that meets factory specifications on your vehicle. While they will be more expensive they will last longer than a battery that does not fit correctly or does not carry enough amperage to start your vehicle.


  • Always use caution with your car battery.  If we can help, just give us a call or stop by anytime.


In the meantime, happy driving from all of us at Beckwith’s Car Care.


Lynn Beckwith

That Car Lady




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