AAA: Heat Takes Toll on Vehicle Batteries

PORTLAND, Ore., – A record-breaking heat wave is bearing down on Oregon this week with temperatures soaring into the 90s and triple digits across much of the state. AAA Oregon/Idaho wants to remind drivers that hot weather can actually kill more vehicle batteries than cold winter weather. “Most drivers know that the cold is rough on car batteries, but most people don’t realize that heat is the number one cause of battery failure and reduced battery life,” says Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon/Idaho.

AAA expects a sizeable increase in drivers needing assistance when temperatures climb above 90 degrees for a few consecutive days. Dodds explains, “Summer heat accelerates the rate of fluid loss and resulting oxidation of battery components, which can leave you stranded without warning.”

Even with proper maintenance, most batteries have a three- to five-year service life. If your battery is nearing the end of its life cycle, have it tested by the AAA Mobile Battery Service. If you need a new battery, you can buy one and have it installed on the spot. We’ll even take away your old one. Visit  “Your older battery may work just fine in more moderate weather, but during a heat wave or cold snap, it may not turn over,” says Dodds.

Basic battery care can help prevent unexpected battery problems. AAA says follow these steps before you hit the road in the heat:

  • Check battery cables. Make sure the cables have a clean and tight connection to battery terminals. Dirty, loose connections limit the flow of current and are a common cause of battery issues.
  • Schedule a checkup. Take your vehicle to a trusted AAA repair facility to perform any needed maintenance before heading out. Oil changes, fluid level checks, battery tests and tire inspections go a long way toward reducing the chances of a breakdown. Get your electrical charging system tested at the same time as the battery. A faulty alternator is one of the most common causes of battery failure.
  • Pack an emergency kit. Every vehicle should be equipped with a well-stocked emergency kit that includes a mobile phone and car charger, flashlight with extra batteries, first-aid kit, a basic toolkit with tire pressure gauge and adjustable wrench, windshield washer solution, jumper cables and emergency flares or reflectors, drinking water, and snacks for travelers and pets.
  • AAA members needing help can call 1-800-AAA-Help (800-222-4357), or use the free AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. The app can also be used to map a route, find discounts, book a hotel and find the cheapest gas prices near you.

It’s really important to have that emergency kit in your car. “Even if you’re just running what you think will be a short errand, you’ll be glad to have water and a charged mobile phone on hand if you get stuck during a heat wave!” says Dodds.

Summer Emergency Car Kit

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2017, AAA expects to rescue more than seven million drivers nationwide and more than 102,000 in Oregon. Dead batteries, flat tires and vehicle lockouts are the top reasons that members call AAA during the summer.

ERS Summer Travel

“Make sure you and your vehicle are ready for those sizzling temperatures. When it’s boiling hot outside, you don’t want to discover that your car won’t start,” says Dodds.

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