Winter Electric Car Maintenance Tips for the First Time EV Owner

2020/01/16

Electric vehicles (EVs) are far more prevalent today than they were just a few years ago. Car makers have jumped on the trend, and EVs are now a common sight on the roads. Winter electric car maintenance is a whole new realm for DIY mechanics. What’s involved in driving an electric car in cold weather? Here’s a quick look at what to be mindful of come winter.

Bundle Up

The biggest difference between an ordinary gas-powered vehicle and an electric one is the batteries. Batteries are sensitive to temperature and need to be kept warm. Many cars come with thermal management systems that help prevent their batteries from freezing; keeping your car in the garage or at least insulating the batteries will also help them last longer and take a better charge.

More Power Than Grip

When comparing a gas engine to an electric motor, one of the biggest differences is the immediate delivery of torque from an electric power plant. This instant burst of power can get your e-car rolling right away. On snow or ice, however, it translates to complete wheel spin. Many cars feature torque-limiting “power-save” modes that can limit wheel slip, but adding a set of snow tires and keeping your tire pressure lower than usual can also help increase cold-weather traction.

Limited Range

Cold weather can affect the chemical reactivity inside the battery bank, resulting in lower charging and output levels. Even if you charge your EV out of the elements in a garage or shelter, the batteries may get cold while you’re driving, making insulation even more important. If you run out of power while you’re out on the road, remember that towing an electric-powered car often requires a flatbed tow, as the motor won’t disengage like it does in a gas-powered vehicle.

Winterize

The biggest hurdles to operating EVs in cold weather are power and battery output. But it’s important to pay attention to other components as well. For example, your windshield washer fluid might need an additional winter-appropriate mixture. Keep a good ice scraper on hand to help clear that icy windshield; that way, you won’t have to use up electricity by running the defroster.

Electric-powered cars can be a rewarding and economical means of transportation. Make sure you’re aware of their unique cold-weather requirements before hitting the road in your EV this winter.

By Erich Reichert

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