SIMPLE BATTERY TECH TIPS
by Brian Yacino
According to the experts, the two most common causes for battery failure
are heat and vibration. Of course, we don’t have to worry about
with our smooth-riding Ramblers, but we do suffer doses of hot weather,
which, coupled with high underhood temperatures could equal battery
distress in less time than it takes to say, “Holy jumper cables,
How, you ask, can heat be a problem when it’s the cold weather that
robs batteries of up to 50% of their cranking power?
It’s true that extreme cold greatly reduces the speed at which chemical
reaction can occur, while increasing electrolyte resistance. The demands
on batteries are also greater, with cold engine parts soaking in cold
making it harder to turn an engine over. Also, a battery left out in
can freeze and be destroyed if it’s allowed to discharge too much for
long. The prevention is to be sure that the battery stays fully charged.
Also be sure that the generator or alternator and regulator are
properly, and that all connections are clean and tight.
Though hot weather and hot underhood conditions don’t actually rob
power, it’s the excessive heat that increases the rate of evaporation of
water from a battery’s electrolyte. Extreme heat also increases the
battery self-discharge and promotes the corrosion of the positive plate
grids, shortening battery life. A battery left low on “acid” will not
recover on a battery charger as easily as a battery run down during a
start. A battery suffering such “heat stroke” may even appear fully
charged when placed on a battery charger, but will show low voltage
when measured with a voltmeter. Since engines turn over more easily in
the summer, you may even miss the initial symptoms, such as the engine
turning over a little more slowly than it did a month ago.
What do you think prompted me to write about such a far-fetched
topic in the middle of summer?
On July 11th, Kathy’s ‘58 turned over a little more slowly than normal,
cleaned the terminals and also found that the voltage regulator needed
adjustment to put out a full 14+ volts. I took a short ride to NAPA,
off, and it never started again. The battery had reached end-of-life.
I noticed that the ’63 was turning over a little more slowly in August.
day, after not starting the car for a week or so, it was completely
voltmeter showed battery voltage down to 8 volts, yet when placed on a
charger, it drew almost no amperage. The charging and electrical system
checked out fine, so a new battery was installed.