“Car batteries work best when they’re used regularly, so when you park your car for an extended period, usually on weekends, that’s when problems are more likely to occur,” RACV’s manager of vehicle engineering, Michael Case, explains.
“In a two-car household for example, one vehicle may not be driven on the weekend, so on Monday morning a battery fault can occur.”
Michael also dispels the myth that winter’s chill is worse for car batteries, saying summer heat is the real battery killer.
“Like humans, your car battery can also become dehydrated over the hot summer months,” he says. “This is called heat deterioration. High temperatures can evaporate a battery’s vital liquids, or electrolytes, weakening its charge and reducing its life.”
He says higher temperatures also accelerate the internal chemistry of the battery, which degrades the plates more rapidly and, in turn, reduces the ability of the battery to start the vehicle.
If your battery is damaged or weakened over the summer, it will reduce its functionality when the cool weather hits.
“If a battery gets hot enough, its internal components corrode and weaken how much power the battery has,” Michael says. “Winter starting requires about double the energy of summer starting, so if your battery is damaged or weakened over the summer, it will reduce its functionality when the cool weather hits.”
Michael says motorists can do a few simple things to extend the life of their vehicle’s battery to avoid battery burnouts.
“Make sure your headlights and interior lights are off before leaving your car and ensure all the doors are closed properly,” he says.
“Most new vehicles come with sensors and warning devices to alert you if you leave the headlights on, some even turn off automatically.”
RACV recommends motorists check their car battery regularly. If unsure of your battery condition take your car to a licensed vehicle workshop for a safety check.
If you need RACV Emergency Roadside Assistance call 13 11 11. It’s available 24/7 Australia-wide.