Electric Car Care For You
Look after your electric car this winter with these tips from Logbook Loans…
Winter is approaching and one of the things that car owners need to do is to ensure that their cars are prepared for the colder weather. Our article on Take Care of Your Car this Winter contains lots of useful information about this, and is well worth a read.
But for those with electric cars there are some additional things to consider.
You may well find that in winter your electric car has a shorter range. There are many aspects of driving in winter that can drain the battery faster; and the battery itself will not perform as well in colder weather.
So let’s look at some things that you can do to preserve your battery life this winter. Follow our Seven Steps below, and you could have extra miles of driving this winter:
- Clear your car
Before you set off on any journey, clear your car of any snow, ice, or other debris. It can be tempting to leave it, particularly if you are in a hurry, but all this adds weight to your car and demands more energy for it to run efficiently.
In extreme weather you may even find that your charging cord has frozen to your car, in which case you can use either a hairdryer or lukewarm water to melt the ice and get the charger clear.
- Warm up your battery
A cold battery is far less efficient than a warm one. So it pays to warm up your battery before setting out. Some electric cars have an automatic setting to do this while the battery is still plugged in, so check out your instruction manual and make use of this facility if it exists.
Otherwise do try and park your car in the sun so that there is at least some external warmth coming through to the battery. This can make a real difference to its performance.
- Defrost with care
When you first get into your car on a winter’s day, your windscreen may well need defrosting. But use your defrosters with care, as they can use up a lot of battery power. The best thing to do is use a short burst on the maximum defrost setting then turn it off, only turning on again if really needed. It can be easy just to leave it blasting away but is usually not necessary and will drain your power very quickly.
- Find ways to keep warm
Another thing that most of us do when we get into our cars is turn all the heaters on full – then leave them running until we are piping hot.
The most energy-efficient thing to do is to keep the heater on low throughout your journey. Constantly turning the heat on and off actually uses more energy, because the battery has to work harder to heat up the cabin when first turned on.
This means that whilst the cabin will not be cold, it will not be the kind of temperature that we have come to expect from fuelled cars. So you and your passengers will need to wear more layers on a winter journey than you may normally do. This will soon become the new normal, and will be well worth it in terms of preserving battery capacity.
You can help the situation by using seat heaters and steering wheel heaters if you have them, as they don’t actually use that much energy. And if your back and fingers are warm it can make the rest of your body feel much warmer than it actually is.
- Use Eco Mode
Most electric cars have an eco mode or lower energy-usage drive setting. This can help to boost your range by making your electric car operate more efficiently.
Eco mode can also help you to drive safely in snow and ice, as it reduces the power output of the electric motor, which helps to increase traction.
Some drivers have found that Eco mode can make your car feel slower, but the above benefits make it well worthwhile in winter conditions.
- Watch your speed
Another way to preserve battery life is to watch your speed carefully. Any type of car uses more energy at higher speeds, and in winter your electric car has to work even harder to achieve higher speeds because of the colder temperatures.
So keep to moderate speeds and drive a little more cautiously than perhaps you normally do. This will enable you to achieve the range you need to arrive safely at your destination.
- Top up when you get the chance
Last but not least, recharge your battery at every opportunity. Just as drivers of fuelled cars should not wait until their tanks are almost empty before refilling, so should you keep topping up when you get the chance.
Charging will not only increase your mileage range but in winter is particularly helpful as it also serves to warm the battery. Whilst the battery is charging you can also take the opportunity to warm up the cabin.
Do remember that charging will take longer with a cold battery so you need to plan your journeys accordingly.
It’s also helpful to maximise your battery regeneration as you drive. Some electric cars are now fitted with a regenerative braking system. This means that when the brake is applied in certain situations, the car’s electric motor goes into reverse mode ie it runs backwards, therefore slowing the car’s wheels. At the same time, the motor acts as an electric generator, producing electricity that it feeds into the car’s battery. Regenerative brakes work best in stop-and-go driving situations, and most electric cars also have friction brakes for when more braking power is needed. But check your car manual to see if your car has regenerative brakes and how to use them effectively.
Also bear in mind that there are times during a drive when your electric car will be able to start recharging. One example is when driving downhill: the energy being used by the car is less than it needs for the momentum of the car so the battery will recharge. These are good times to do things like quickly boost the car heater without any negative impact on the battery.
We hope that the above steps enable you to get maximum performance from your electric car this winter, and enjoy safe and happy driving. Check back here soon for more driving tips from Logbook Loans.