CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — If Southern Utah’s recent blazing-hot summer temperatures are already wearing you down, it’s possible your vehicles are probably feeling the drain too.
Alan Rands, owner of Interstate Batteries of Southern Utah, told St. George News that nothing will ruin a day of fun more than having battery issues, and while some people think that “winter kills batteries,” in actuality, it is heat.
“We always say, ‘The heat kills it, the cold reveals it.'”
Batteries work because of a chemical reaction, he said. When it’s hot outside, the reaction speeds up, and a battery that may be only working at 50% capacity will appear to be working fine. The lights are bright, the vehicle will fire right up, but when the first cold snap hits and the chemical reaction slows, that same half-charged battery suddenly doesn’t have the power to crank the starter.
Rands said environments like St.George and Las Vegas, with extreme temperature swings, are particularly rough and basically “just chew through batteries.”
With advancements in technology over the last decade, batteries are ultra-low maintenance and almost never need to have water added to them like back in the old days, he said, and now the main thing owners need to worry about is ensuring the terminals are always clean.
Also, if drivers leave their lights on and run down the battery, make sure and charge the battery back to 100% – don’t just rely on the alternator to do it for them.
Rands suggests that owners have their drained batteries topped off before leaving on any trip or adventure because alternators are only meant to maintain a vehicle’s operation, not charge a fully discharged battery. Because of televisions, phone chargers, navigation and other modern necessities, the systems are already taxed to their limit.
“Alternators only have a couple amps left over to charge the battery. I always tell people, ‘If you run your battery down and you expect your alternator to charge it, you might as well drive all the way to Salt Lake and back to charge your battery because that’s how long it’s gonna take, especially in the heat,'” he said.
On a brighter note, approximately 20% of the people who come into Interstate Batteries believe they have a bad battery, but in reality, most are only discharged from some sort of draw or poor connection. He said aftermarket stereo installations and DVD systems are infamous for having minor electrical draws that can drain the battery.
He said those problems are frustrating, because unlike an oil leak, there is no puddle of electricity to direct you to the problem. It is important to root out the cause of a drain before just assuming it’s the battery. He tells people all the time, “We will sell you a new battery if you want, but we’d rather tell you what your problem might be.”
“If we sell you a battery and you haven’t fixed the underlying problem, then you’re going to be back in three months, six months or eight months with a discharged battery thinking the battery’s gone bad again.”
He advises people with campers, motorcycles, ATVs and boats to make sure they put their batteries on a charger for a full 24 hours before heading out to the mountains or for a cruise on the lake. To do anything less in this heat could be a disaster in the making, “like leaving on a road trip with a quarter tank of gas.”
What are the warning signs?
If you pull up to a traffic light and notice the lights in your car get a little dim, Rands said that is usually a sign that you either have an alternator problem or a battery problem, and you should come in and get them tested. Also, if owners hear and feel their car stuttering when they first attempt to start it instead of having a nice, clean “fire right up” sound, that is usually a sign something may be wrong.
“Usually when they start to give you warning signs like that, definitely get it checked. If you pop the hood and you notice a bunch of white corrosion on your terminals that looks like cottage cheese or mushroom growth, you can bring it to us. We can clean it off and test your battery, and we don’t charge anything,” he said. “Sadly, batteries usually don’t give you a lot of notice. They can test great today, and tomorrow ‘boom,’ they leave you stranded.”
Rands, who has been serving the Southern Utah and eastern Nevada areas for 15 years – since he took over the location from his father, Steve Rands – said they provide “outrageously dependable” service to all their customers, and a great thing about Interstate Batteries is that stores can be located in every county across the nation by calling 1-800-Crank-It or by visiting their website.
“The best thing is when you buy a battery from us, and you break down in places like Beaver or Cedar City or West Valley or Las Vegas or Phoenix, there’s an Interstate Batteries dealer there,” he said. “We’re very upfront with our prices, and we sell a good product that lasts and you can depend on.”
Written by ANDREW PINCKNEY, St. George News.
• S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T •
- Interstate Batteries of Southern Utah | Address: 615 N. 1300 East, St. George | Telephone: 435-673-6736 | Hours: Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. | Website.
Email: [email protected]
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