Gone is the summer heat and the fear of a dead battery on a hot day. Well, almost. Just because summer has become a distant memory and you’re no longer blasting your air conditioning, doesn’t mean your battery is immune to losing its charge. No matter the time of year, your battery is at risk of draining and failing to power your vehicle. Learn what drains a car battery and what you can do to prevent it from happening to you.
How Car Batteries Work
Most vehicles today rely on lead-acid, SLI batteries to create a chemical reaction to get the car going. SLI, or starting, lighting, and ignition provides a quick blast of energy to supply power to headlights, accessories, and most importantly, the engine. Once the battery aids in getting the engine started, the alternator takes over by supplying power while the vehicle drives.
What Drains A Car Battery
- Failing Alternator – Your battery is used to help get your car started, but your alternator is what keeps your car going and provide power to electrical components such as the lights, power windows and door locks, air conditioning and the radio. An alternator that is struggling to stay powered on its own will most definitely have difficultly supplying power to the battery, causing it to drain. The diodes, as part of your alternator, convert AC power to DC. If the alternator has a bad diode, it can cause the circuit to charge even if the engine is not running, resulting in a no-start situation.
- Poor Charging – Ordinarily, as you drive, your battery is charged by the alternator. However, if the charging system is faulty, your car’s battery can drain even while you’re driving. A minor charging problem can actually be worsened by driving. This is because many vehicles rely on the alternator to maintain power to the radio, lights, and other electrical devices. Troubles within the alternator such as loose belts or faulty tensioners prevent it from providing the charge need to prevent the battery from draining.
- Parasitic Drain – Can you imagine having to reset your clock every time you got in your car? Or having to reprogram your favorite radio stations for each trip? Luckily, you don’t have to. Your vehicle is made to power the clock, radio presets, and even the alarm system even after the vehicle is shut off. While some parasitic drain is normal to keep these systems going, if an electrical problem is present due to poor wiring, faulty fuses, or poor connections, a parasitic drain can rise depleting the battery’s charge.
- Extreme Weather – Here in Arizona you’re not likely to experience temperatures 10 degrees below zero Fahrenheit unless you’re traveling that is. However, prolonged exposure to severe temperatures over 100 degrees can cause sulfation, the build-up of lead sulfate crystals within the battery. This makes recharging a difficult task, especially if the vehicle is only traveling short distances. The buildup of sulfate crystals can shorten your battery’s life in no time.
- Weak Battery – There’s a reason Phoenicians say, “in Arizona, you don’t buy batteries, you rent them.” It’s simply because they don’t last very long. If you can get two to three years out of your battery, that’s an accomplishment in itself! Still, an old, weak battery won’t be able to hold a charge. If your car consistently struggles to start, this could be an indication that your battery is in failure territory.
- Too Many Short Trips – Your car likes to move; the more it moves, the more it gains power and continues to charge. If you’re only driving to the market once a week or just taking the kids to school a mile away, it could cause the battery to wear out prematurely. The battery exudes the most power at startup. Shutting off your vehicle before the alternator has the chance to recharge the battery can cut your battery’s life short.
- Battery Cable Troubles – How does the power get from the alternator to the battery? Through battery cables. If the cables in question are damaged, corroded, or loose, they’ll be hard-pressed to do their job. Loose battery cables make starting the engine difficult as the vehicle struggles to transfer the electrical current effectively. Check your to make sure your battery connections are tight and are free from dirt or corrosion. Minor tarnishes can be wiped away with a soft cloth or scrubbed with a toothbrush.
We know batteries at Sun Devil Auto. We know that they don’t last long here in Arizona and that life can be interrupted when your car’s battery dies. We also know the anxiety experienced with a dead battery, as it never happens at a good time. That’s why we have many batteries in stock and can replace it for you to get you back on the road quickly. Plus, we offer an incredible limited 5-year replacement warranty with each battery sold! That means we’ll replace your battery at no charge to you if it fails in under five years. If you suspect that your battery may be losing its charge, stop by your neighborhood Sun Devil Auto. We offer a free battery test that can be completed in just minutes to let you know how much life is left in your battery. Don’t let a drained battery drain your happiness, head over to Sun Devil Auto.