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What Can Cause a Car Battery to Overheat?

Updated February 21, 2017

Finding out what has gone wrong with your car can be frustrating if you are not mechanically inclined. However, an overheating car battery is common, and there are many reasons why it may occur. It will result in your car stalling, not starting or a white smoke coming out of the engine compartment -- so it is important to understand what could have caused it.

Insufficient Coolant

The coolant in your vehicle is responsible for removing excess heat from the engine compartment so that other components under the hood, such as the battery, can function properly. Coolant is usually green in colour and is poured into the car's radiator then circulated throughout the system. The level of coolant should not fall below the minimum level mark inside the radiator. If the coolant level is insufficient, the battery can overheat.

Circulation Problems

If the coolant or water is not circulated properly throughout the system, this can cause the car battery to overheat. Poor circulation can be caused by a clogged radiator, a defective drive belt on the water pump or a broken thermostat. Each of these problems can affect the health of the battery. When this happens, the battery's temperature rises, and the car stalls due to the battery's failure.

Insufficient Air Flow

An overheating battery is a heat transfer problem since heat is not being directed away from it. This issue can traced back to a lack of air flow to the radiator which, in turn, affects the car's battery. This symptom can be identified by checking the air fan and by looking for excessive debris build-up on the radiator or air conditioning unit.

Leakages

Leakages can cause the car's battery to overheat because the system is not being cooled and lubricated properly. Checking for oil, water or coolant droplets on the car's engine parts and on the ground beneath the car will show you if potential leaks. A build-up of yellow gunk around the oil cap or white cloudy exhaust fumes are indicative of coolant or oil leaks that can cause a battery to overheat.

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About the Author

Based in Bristol, Philippa Jones has been a music journalist and script writer since 2007, working across a range of radio programs in the U.K. and Australia. Her articles have appeared in "Impact Magazine," "The Mic" and in local newspapers. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in politics from the University of Nottingham.