Arizona is a unique state. How can we have summers in Phoenix with average temperatures of 115 degrees and Flagstaff winter temperatures fall as low as 7 degrees below zero? Maybe Mother Nature got to our state and decided to take a vacation. Either way, Arizonans are proud to live in such a unique state.
Because of our unique weather conditions, we need car batteries that can tolerate below freezing winters and insanely hot summers. There’s a running joke from AZ natives and long-time residents that in Arizona, you don’t buy batteries–you rent them.
So, how long do car batteries last in Arizona?
Depending on the type of battery you purchase, you might get lucky and get two to three years out of it. Good thing Sun Devil Auto provides top-quality batteries that are built to stand up to the demands of the severe climate, both hot and cold, in Arizona.
Car Batteries – What You Need to Know
Car batteries are electrochemical devices made up of electrodes, to collect an electrical charge, electrolyte mixture that provides water and sulfate for the electrochemical reaction, and the case to house the components. Lead acid batteries are made up of cells that contain both pure lead (positive) and lead dioxide electrodes (negative).
When these metals are mixed with sulfuric acid, it creates a reaction that is measured in volts. The current that is created helps get the engine to turn over and powers other devices in the vehicle such as lights, fans, the entertainment system, and more.
Car Battery Life In Arizona
Arizona is known for extreme temperatures. Because the battery’s operation relies on a chemical reaction, temperature can affect how it works. Batteries operate most efficiently at temperatures that equal a warm spring day in Arizona, about 80 degrees.
In the Heat:
During the summer the heat will cause chemical activity to increase significantly but it has its downsides.
Higher temperatures also increase the internal corrosion in the cells which shortens the battery’s life. Batteries that are constantly subjected to high internal temperatures become permanently damaged and cannot be restored, or recharged. High temperatures are more likely to shorten your battery’s life over the lows of winter.
Here’s what happens to your battery in the summer:
- Overcharging – High temperatures can cause the voltage regulator or other charging system components to unintentionally overcharge the system, slowly but surely killing your battery.
- Evaporation – Internal temperatures of a car’s battery can soar to 140 degrees or more. Because your battery fluid contains water, it can evaporate and damage the battery’s internal composition.
- Corrosion – Severe temperatures cause the lead plates within the battery to corrode and breakdown.
In the Cold:
Cold slows chemical activity down; though the charge may remain normal, due to the slow chemical activity, batteries may be less responsive or slow. In the winter, batteries may struggle to provide the power needed to start and help keep accessories in the vehicle running.
Many automotive batteries come with a Cold-Cranking Amperage rating that informs how well it can tolerate cold temperatures without dropping to a certain voltage.
The higher the rating, the better the battery will handle extreme conditions.
Contrary to popular belief, car batteries can freeze. A fully charged battery would need to be exposed to -58 degrees Fahrenheit, which isn’t likely to happen here in Arizona.
The lowest temperature ever reached in Flagstaff was -30 degrees Fahrenheit and that was in 1937! However, a battery that is already struggling to maintain a charge can fail at temperatures as low as 30 degrees.
While the summer may have weakened the battery, winter is surely the season that will put an end to your battery’s life. Here’s why car batteries struggle in the winter:
- Increase of Parasitic Draw – In the winter, you’re more likely to use the headlights, heater, defroster, windshield wipers, and seat warmers all at once, placing greater strain on the battery and making it more difficult for the battery to recharge.
- Decreased Recharge – As you drive, your battery is recharged to continue powering ancillary devices and prepare for the next time you start your engine. Unfortunately, in lower temperatures the recharge rate is much slower, which means you need to increase the distance of your drive to recharge the battery, in order to power up for your next start.
- Lower Output – Cold temperatures reduce the battery’s power productivity. At 32 degrees, power drops by about 20%, reducing its ability to start the engine.
- Thick Oil – Colder temperatures cause the oil in your engine to thicken, making it harder to start, forcing the battery to work even harder when it’s already in a vulnerable state.
Best Car Battery for Arizona
The best battery for your car may depend on where you live in Arizona. If you live in Flagstaff or any other of the other colder regions of our state, you’ll want to consider purchasing a battery that has higher cold cranking amps.
If you live in the Phoenix-Metro area, when searching for a battery, pay attention to the Reserve Capacity (RC).
RC is rated based on how many minutes a battery should continue to provide 25 amps at 80 degrees Fahrenheit. During the hottest part of the summer, running accessories such as the air conditioning, fans, power windows and locks, and even the radiator’s fan places a great strain on the alternator.
If it’s too much strain, it may even fail. In that case, having a battery that can keep these necessary functions powered may be enough to get you home or to an automotive repair center before your car dies.
In either case, review the battery manufacturer’s climate suggestions.
Like auto manufacturers, battery developers spend hours researching and testing how their product fares in several situations and climates.
Batteries better suited for hotter climates often have a higher electrolyte-to-lead ratio for better durability in severe heat, while batteries for colder temperatures have higher CCA and RC ratings.
Car Battery Replacement In Arizona
At Sun Devil Auto, we’re proud to offer a no-charge battery test and visual inspection. Your technician will test the amps and voltage readings of your battery and provide a print out so you can view your battery’s health. If yours is low on charge and needs to be replaced, we can help with that, too!
We provide top-quality batteries that are built to stand up to the demands of the severe climate, both hot and cold, in Arizona. Plus, each of our batteries come with our incredible 5-year limited replacement warranty. Now, that’s pretty unique! Find your Arizona location today and make an appointment or call us today!