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Summer heat means it’s time to check the batteries

Have you noticed the temperatures creeping up the thermometer? Summer heat causes more stress on a vehicle battery than cold winter temperatures.

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Have you noticed the temperatures creeping up the thermometer? Summer heat causes more stress on a vehicle battery than cold winter temperatures.

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As engineering and technical services manager for Interstate Batteries for more than 25 years, Gale Kimbrough, also known as “Mr. Battery,” is the hot-weather expert with some helpful guidelines to follow when caring for heavy-duty commercial batteries during the hot summer months ahead.

“Extreme heat affects the battery’s internal corrosion factor and allows it to deteriorate prematurely,” Kimbrough said. “Battery temperatures in commercial vehicle batteries can reach 140 to 160 degrees F in extreme conditions. This is why it is important for motorists to take necessary precautions of having their vehicle batteries checked on a regular basis.”

Tool management

“We believe that every tool has its place and when not in use, it should be in that assigned space,” said Lee Long, of Southeastern Freight Lines, concerning proper tool management. “That tool should be cleaned, oiled if applicable and ready for the next technician.”

He added the company also does an annual calibration of torque wrenches, quarterly calibration of all tire gauges and continual monitoring of all tools.

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“One helpful tip is that we place a go/no-go gauge on our grinder,” Long said. ”If a tech uses the grinder, the last thing he has to do is use the gauge to place the grinder back to acceptable limits.”

Kimbrough offers the following summer battery care tips for the commercial vehicle segment:

• Safety First: Always wear protective eyewear, remove all jewelry and wear long sleeves to protect the skin from battery electrolyte.

• Inspect the battery case for signs of extreme bulging, cracks or leaking. If you see any of these signs, it’s time to replace your battery.

• Clean up the terminal connections by removing any corrosion. Also, clean the top of the battery with a soda wash solution to remove any electrolyte residue.

• Check the battery’s state of charge level. If at or below 12.50 volts, recharge.

• If the battery has removable filler caps, open the caps and check the water level in each cell.

• Make sure the plates are at least covered by a half-inch of water. This prevents sulfation and reduces the possibility of an internal battery explosion.

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• If the water level is low, add distilled water (avoid tap water) until the plates are covered.

• Avoid overfilling, especially in hot weather, because the heat can cause the solution inside to expand and overflow.

• Have the battery and electrical system professionally tested every three to six months.

 

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