The hot summer months mean an extreme load on the starter battery, and high temperatures do much more damage than frost. However, with a little attention, we can prevent him from saying goodbye to us just when we need it the least.
The annual statistics of failures of the German car club ADAC have had the same sad winner since its foundation in 1967 – in almost half of the cases, the starter battery is responsible for an unplanned picnic on the curb.
As ÚAMK spokesman Igor Sirota confirms, in the Czech Republic, yellow angels have a similar job: “In terms of the frequency of trips, a discharged battery shares first place with a flat tire. However, the batteries clearly lead in the summer.”
The fact that the battery suddenly terminates service in the summer is not just related to increased holiday traffic. In warm weather, the motorist has a much smaller chance of revealing the condition.
“If the flashlight has only half of its original capacity due to degradation, we will start with it without any problems in the summer. But the frost will cut another half of this value, and that may not be enough to start,” explains Top Battery CEO Jan Urban.
According to Urban, summer temperatures are more insidious in that the motorist does not observe any signs of imminent failure until the last moment. “The car will start without any problems even with a small current, but standing at high temperatures all day will deprive it of energy residues.” With 30-degree heat, the battery discharges twice as fast as when the outside temperature is around 20 ° C.
Even more annoying is the scenario where the battery terminates service in a short time. It also happened to Jan Urban, who otherwise has been dealing with batteries all his professional life.
“I stopped at a gas station, refueled, and didn’t leave,” says the expert, adding that this condition is usually preceded by some abnormal treatment. For example, prolonged operation in a near-discharge state where the battery sulfates. And this is an irreversible process in which lead sulphates settle on its plates, which in turn leads to a loss of capacity.
“A lot of people have a figure of 12 volts. It has a battery on the label, but in fact it must have a voltage of 12.6 to 12.8 volts. No matter how old it is,” explains Jan Urban, adding that if we measure 12.3 Volts on the battery, it is already in a state just before discharging.
A voltmeter worth a few hundred crowns should be in the equipment of every motorist, the expert thinks. According to him, measuring the voltage on the battery is also the only easy way to detect in time that the battery is not working properly. “If we charge the battery and in a few hours the voltage drops below the prescribed level again, it is a clear indicator of the approaching end.” We can check the battery status without first using the charger, but not before five hours have elapsed since the car’s engine was running.
Battery voltage should be monitored mainly by holiday drivers, who lose energy not only due to natural loss, but also due to the consumption of the car itself. Especially models with many comfort functions can show critical charge values after a week of standing. But even a home-mounted alarm can drain the battery in four or five days.
At the same time, regular recharging of the battery may not be as demanding as it might seem at first glance. Modern pulse chargers have a voltage limited to a maximum of 14.4 volts, so it is not necessary to disconnect the battery from the car cables. In the same way, it is possible to proceed in the case of using the so-called maintenance program, when the charger is permanently connected to the battery and automatically recharges it continuously when the voltage drops.
“The life of current batteries ranges from three to five years,” says Jan Urban. “Previously, the batteries usually lasted ten years, the record holder used to be the Japanese GS Yuasa flashlights, which lived to be fifteen,” he adds.
According to a specialist, there are no simple guarantees for a quiet holiday without a battery defect. In most cases, however, it is said that even an empty battery in a generally bad condition can be revived at least for a short time. Quality starting cables and a willing driver with another car will help.
A relatively new option is to acquire a power bank, with which you do not have to wait for the help of others. However, this is not a device with which mobile phones are normally charged. “The starting power bank must give much higher currents than the usual ones, and it must also have properly dimensioned cables,” Jan Urban points out, adding that such an energy storage costs from two thousand crowns upwards and has a universal use.