Florida heat drains your car battery: Here’s what you can do to help

Reporter: Sara Girard
Published: Updated:
FILE: Car with jumper cables on the battery.

During this heat, you’re probably making sure to stay hydrated and re-applying your sunscreen. New residents like Linda McNamara are taking full advantage of the sunshine.

“It’s hard to beat it, you have the beach and you have the palm trees, I don’t care how hot it gets,” McNamara said.

But what are you doing to make sure your car stays running?

AAA reports more battery service calls when temperatures rise, and in hot, southern states like Florida, that means you could find yourself stranded if you are not careful.

“The ideal temperature of a battery is 80 degrees. Obviously in Southwest Florida we’re always over 90 it seems like,” said Alan Smith, general manager at Terry Wynter Auto in Fort Myers.

This summer, mechanics are especially busy because it is high time for our car batteries to literally run out of juice. Just last week, Smith said they replaced at least 20 batteries.

“The high heat of the temperature down here robs the battery of its liquids. They evaporate. It weakens the battery,” Smith said. “In the summer months it goes way up.”

So how can you make sure yours keeps running? Start by knowing just how old it is.

According to AAA, a car battery may last five years or longer up north, but down here the average lifespan is about three years, sometimes even less.

Smith says he has had to replace his own car battery twice in two years.

Don’t know how old yours is? Parts Manager Joel de Guzman said all of them should have a date code.

AC Delco battery with date code 049R

“On the AC Delco batteries there is a stamp on the battery,” de Guzman said. “0-4 that means that was the month that it was made, and nine is 19, the year it was made. So that was made in April 2019.”

However, not all codes are the same. Some involve letters to represent dates, so be sure to look up what is standard for the battery’s brand.

Next, regularly check for and clean corrosion around the battery terminal ends. For safety reasons, it may be best to have a mechanic do it.

“If it’s dirty, clean it up. You might get a little bit of extra time out of it depending on how bad the corrosion is,” Smith said.

Then if you hear a cranking or clicking sound, or your car starts slowly or doesn’t start at all, it’s probably time to replace it.

“We’re testing and changing batteries all day long. It’s almost crazy,” Smith said.

Some other tips on prolonging car battery life:

  • Park in the shade or in your garage as often as possible.
  • Try to avoid shorter trips. These do not give your car battery enough time to replenish to a full charge.
  • According to AAA, a new battery can cost on average around $150 or more depending on the car.

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