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Arizona is hot in the summer. Annually, Phoenix averages over 100 days where the temperature reaches over 100 degrees. This extreme heat makes many aspects of life difficult, and car maintenance is no exception.

While air conditioning issues are perhaps the most common questions Arizonans have about their vehicles in the summer, the battery is an easily forgotten component that can fall victim to the blazing temperatures we see here.

How Do Car Batteries Work?

Car batteries have six cells stored in a plastic case. Inside the cells are plates made of lead and lead dioxide, layered together and submerged in sulfuric acid. A chemical reaction occurs between the plates and the acid electrolyte, generating the electrons that flow from the battery and power your vehicle’s components.

cutaway of a car battery showing internals
Car Battery Cutaway

Your car battery primarily powers the starter motor, allowing the engine to start when you turn the key. It also powers lights, the radio, and other electrical components when the engine is off.

When the motor is on, the alternator is responsible for powering all electrical components in addition to keeping the battery charged.

Hot Weather Shortens Battery Life

It’s a common belief that cold weather has the most impact on battery life, but extreme heat can cause more problems.

When the temperature rises into the 90s and 100s (the temperature under the hood can be significantly higher), battery corrosion happens much faster. Depending on the battery type, high temperatures can result in the liquid electrolyte inside the battery evaporating.

When this happens, the battery has decreased capacity and a shorter life. With so many hot days in Arizona, you should plan on replacing your car battery more frequently.

How Long Will My Battery Last in Arizona?

Several factors determine how long your battery will last no matter where you live. Once you factor in the impact of Arizona heat, the lifespan can be reduced significantly. Normally, you can expect to get between three and five years out of a car battery.

Frequency of Use

The batteries in daily driven vehicles will generally last longer than those in a weekend or special use car. This is because the battery will be frequently recharged by the alternator while the car is running. Frequent recharges provide some protection against extreme heat.

Unfortunately, cars that sit a lot run the risk of battery discharge. Combine that with the damage caused by hot weather, and you have a recipe for a dead battery.

In general, you should expect your battery to last around three years if you live in a hot area like Phoenix, Tucson, or Mesa. For vehicles that sit, the life of the battery could be less.

Tips for Extending Battery Life

  1. Turn off your headlights when you park.
  2. Park your car in the shade or a garage to keep it cooler.
  3. Regularly check terminals and battery cables for corrosion and connection
  4. Get your battery tested at your local repair shop.
  5. If your car has a voltmeter on the dash, keep an eye on it.

Battery Services at Borst Automotive

A dead or weak battery is a drag and can leave you stranded. If the summer heat has gotten the best of your car battery, give Borst Automotive a call! With locations in Mesa, Phoenix, and Tucson, our teams have experience with the unique challenges of car ownership in the state of Arizona. Call or schedule an appointment online today!