When summer heats up, Stay Hydrated!

My daddy used to work me to near death on his farm in rural Missouri.

Hot summers with 90% humidity and a high sun scalding the back of my neck would make me (literally) beg for an afternoon dip in the shallows of the Gasconade River. A couple of times, I can remember actually frying an egg on the asphalt of Highway AB (really route 66) at the end of the driveway, and thinking to myself, “What did they do to cool off in the 1800’s?”  There is no way I could have lasted in those days working a farm.

As I got older, my daddy would always ride me about checking the oil, checking my radiator, and checking the battery in my car during the summer months.

“Heat’s a killer,” he would say.  “Just like your body, you gotta keep your car hydrated.”  Okay, Dad, I would say under my breath as I ignored him.

I will never forget the smirk on his face as he pulled up to my overheated car on the shoulder of the highway and pulled two gallons of water for my radiator and a load tester from the back of his ’66 Chevy.  “You think now is a good time to check out everything,” he asked, “Or should we just get it running and ignore it some more?”

Summer heat is killer. Whether you’re talking about sun stroke, heat exhaustion or your car’s performance; summer roads that can get as hot as 140 degrees take a toll on your vehicle’s performance. This includes your battery, starter, and alternator.  All of which could leave you stranded.

Heat is the primary cause of battery failure where flooded lead acid batteries are concerned. It causes the water in the battery's electrolyte to evaporate, causing rapid corrosion to the positive plate grids. Since most automobile, truck, and commercial vehicle batteries sold in America are Flooded Lead Acid batteries, this tidbit of information could prove valuable to you.


If the flooded lead acid battery in your vehicle is more than 4 years old, there is a good chance you’re vehicle is working harder than it has to.

First of all, as a battery ages, it holds less of a charge, causing the alternator to work harder to charge it. It also means if you take short trips where your battery doesn’t receive a long charge from the alternator, but you use it more because of frequent cranking – you could be driving on borrowed time.

Second, if your battery is holding less of a charge, there is good probability that it is producing fewer cranking amps than it did when it was new.  Over time, this causes added stress on your starter which could mean a more costly repair down the road.

Lastly, a good number of Flooded Lead Acid Batteries are actually “low-maintenance” batteries. Low maintenance does not mean NO Maintenance. If you own a battery that has these words written anywhere on it, you might think about checking the water level.


If you have a LOW-Maintenance battery don’t think of checking your battery water level a bad thing.  Chances are, you’ve never done it so this one time in four years is actually pretty low-maintenance when you think about it… You do need to be careful, though!

Before you get started, make sure your battery isn’t maintenance-free, or isn’t inaccessible. Opening a Maintenance-Free battery will (in most cases) void your warranty.

1)  Put on gloves and eye protection. When working with a car battery, you always want to take the proper safety precautions. Remember TBG mantra: Safety First! Danger last – have a future, not a past!

2)  Remove the proper cap. At the top of the battery, there is going to be a removable vent cap that can be taken off to check water levels and replace the water.

3)  Check the water level in your battery. Can you see the lead plates inside your battery?  If you can, the water is low. If the water level is low, then you need to add water to it. If you have a hydrometer, you can use this to check if the electrolytes in the battery are low.

4)  Add distilled water to the car battery. Regular tap water is not ever used in a car battery. The minerals found in tap water will alter the electrolyte levels and reduce the battery capacity. Fill the battery with water ¼” over the top of the plates. Once you are finished, put the caps back on.

Make sure to check your cables and connections, too.  They should be snug, but not tight. Battery posts are made of lead, which is very soft.  Too tight, and you could snap a post off and then you’ll be in real trouble.

If you have a load tester, test your battery to make sure it’s performing well enough to start your car.  All Powerstride Battery locations offer free battery testing.

Now, if your battery is older than 5 years, it’s probably time to have that battery replaced.  The Battery Genius recommends spending a little more to replace your traditional flooded lead acid battery with an Odyssey or Optima maintenance-free AGM Battery.

When you upgrade your existing flooded lead acid battery to an AGM battery, the benefits are well worth the added expense.

Better warranty

Limited 2- and 4-year full replacement warranty – not pro rata.

Longer service life

With 3-10 years of service life

Longer cycle life

70% longer cycle life compared to conventional deep cycle batteries – up to 400 cycles at 80% depth of discharge – high stable voltage for longer periods of time.

Longer shelf life

Can be stored on open circuit (nothing connected to the terminals) without the need for recharging up to 2 years or down to 12.00V, whichever occurs first.

Faster recharge

The highest recharge efficiency of any sealed lead battery on the market – capable of 100% recharge in 4-6 hours.

Mounting flexibility

Non-spillable design – can be mounted on any side in any position except inverted.

Vibration resistance

Design protects against high impact shock and mechanical vibration — a common cause of premature battery failure.

Extreme temperature tolerant

Operating temperatures from -40°C (-40°F) to 80°C (176ºF)

Totally maintenance free

No need to add water, ever! Drycell design with resealable venting system.

Improved safety

US Department of Transportation classified as a ‘non-spillable’ battery. No acid spills, no escaping gases.

To find the battery that’s right for your vehicle, or to have your battery tested, contact Powerstride Battery Toll Free at 877-5-POWER-9 or visit www.powerstridebattery.com for more information.

Jul 12th 2010 The Battery Genius

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