Most motorists know that cold temperatures can be rough on auto batteries, but heat is the No.1 culprit behind battery failure, warns the AAA Colorado.

Extreme heat puts additional strain on car batteries and shortens their lives, increasing the likelihood of a vehicle breakdowns.

“Whenever temperatures verge on 90 degrees for several consecutive days, we’re flooded with requests for roadside assistance,” said AAA Colorado spokesman Skyler McKinley. “Summer heat wears down batteries — fast. Plain and simple: If you want to keep moving this summer, you’ll need to take a few easy steps to take care of your battery when it needs it most.”

AAA Colorado offers the following tips to prevent your battery from dying in extreme conditions:

  • Car batteries last the longest when maintained at or near a fully charged state. Repeated or significant discharging will cause your battery to fail sooner than it should. Try not to let your car sit idle for more than a few days. Most vehicles have electronic components that drain a small amount of energy even when the car is turned off, often as much as 1% to 2% per day in optimal temperatures. In time, that small amount of constant drain on the battery adds up and can lead to a dead battery. If you must leave your car unused for a couple of weeks, be sure to invest in a battery tender to keep it fully charged.
  • Driving habits also factor in to a car’s battery life. Frequently turning the engine on and off will wear down your battery.
  • Accessories can eviscerate your battery. Make it a habit to turn off any add-ons such as radios, navigation systems, media players, and other electrical devices before you turn off the engine.
  • Battery longevity can be extended considerably by consistent care and cleaning. As part of your routine maintenance, have a technician clean any corrosion from your battery terminals, case, brackets, and the tray that holds the battery. Also, ask that the technician tighten loose cables and brackets, and replace worn or damaged alternator drive belts that reduce the system’s ability to recharge the battery.
  • Know the warning signs. A battery will tell you all about its impending death, if you know what to look for. Does the starter motor crank the engine more slowly than usual? Do you hear a grinding, clicking, or buzzing when you turn on the ignition? Do your headlights dim when idling but brighten when you rev the engine? If the answer to any of these is “YES,” it’s time to get your battery checked.

Even with proper maintenance, most batteries have a three- to five-year service life, according to the AAA.