Labor Day’s fast approach can only mean one thing to people who pay close attention to the seasons: autumn is on the doorstep. Whether you prefer to talk about autumn or fall, this time of year brings colder temperatures that only remind us how soon winter will arrive. Where your car is concerned, how your battery performs in the fall could be an indicator of its winter performance.
Battery technology has improved to the point that we don’t have to worry about our car batteries nearly as much as our parents and grandparents did. Still, car batteries are not perfect. Just like the smaller consumer batteries that power our electronic devices, car batteries can fail.
With all that in mind, here are four things to know about your car battery heading into fall:
1. Draining It Is Not Good
Fully draining your car battery is not good for it. A fully drained battery has to be charged one way or another, and regular discharge and charge cycles reduce its life. Therefore, it’s a wise idea to avoid doing things that could risk full discharge. What does this have to do with autumn? Colder temperatures encourage batteries to drain more quickly.
One way to drain your battery is to accidentally leave the lights on overnight. And yes, your interior cabin light can drain the battery just as easily as your headlights. It is also a bad idea to run any of your car’s electrical devices when the engine is not running.
2. Ambient Temperature Makes a Difference
Believe it or not, ambient temperature makes a difference in how well a car battery performs. It is not particularly different from how temperatures affect consumer batteries, according to Salt Lake City’s Pale Blue Earth. Just like Pale Blue Earth USB rechargeable batteries don’t perform as well under extreme temperatures, neither do car batteries.
Extremely cold temperatures make it more difficult for a car battery to deliver full power when starting the engine. And don’t fall for the myth that batteries with higher cold weather ratings solve the problem of difficult cold starts. They don’t.
Extremely hot temperatures can limit a battery’s ability to store a charge. The reason is simple: heat can cause the liquid components of a battery to evaporate. As that happens, the battery’s ability to hold a charge decreases.
3. Jump-Starting Is Safe
Next, you may find yourself in the position of having to jump-start your car this fall or winter. Despite what you may have heard, jump-starting is completely safe. You just have to do it the right way. Your car came with an owner’s manual (or at least it should have) that includes a section explaining how to properly jump-start the vehicle. Follow those instructions and you shouldn’t have any trouble.
4. It Doesn’t Belong in the Trash
Finally, every battery dies eventually. When that happens, don’t throw it in the trash. Doing so is illegal in most states. Moreover, the auto store will charge you a deposit on your new battery as a way to encourage you to recycle the old one. You can avoid the deposit by bringing your old battery with you when you buy a new one. They will take the old battery off your hands for you.
It is getting to be that time of year when temperatures start falling overnight. The closer we get to the end of the year, the more frequently people are going to wake up to dead batteries. Hopefully, what you’ve learned here will help you avoid car battery trouble.