Summer is here and the heat has come along with it. If you own an electric vehicle you don’t have to worry about overheating the same way as traditional internal combustion powered vehicles do. Without a gasoline or diesel engine there is far less heat to dissipate when sitting in traffic or tooling around town. while some electric vehicles do use heat exchangers for cooling various systems, it is nothing like the heat that a normal engine creates. But even electric vehicles can be affected by the summer heat. Excess heat can actually affect the battery pack and reduce vehicle range, so you still need to pay attention to rising temps. Here’s a few tips to make summer electric vehicle driving a bit easier.
This one seems obvious but simply opening the doors and letting the hot air out gives your air conditioning system a good head start. Trying to cool broiling hot cabin air takes far more energy than ambient outside air. Open every door (even the back hatch) and let the breeze blow through for a minute. If you are not worried about rain, crack the windows a little while parked to let the hot air escape.
Why use your onboard battery pack to cool things down when you can use grid power? Many electric vehicles allow for using the climate control system while parked and charging. This lets the brunt of the cooling work get done before leaving on your trip. For example on the Tesla Model 3 the driver can schedule a departure time when they want the vehicle to be fully charged along with the cabin temperature at the desired comfort level. Similar features can be found on the Chevrolet Bolt and the Ford Mustang Mach-E to name a few. While this technique works best when charging from home, it can also be done while using a charging station. Just be courteous of others and remember that someone may need a battery top up as well.
Plan Your Trip
If possible try and plan trips during the morning or evening to avoid the heat of the day. This means your onboard climate control system won’t have to work as hard to keep you comfortable. Also try and avoid times of high traffic. Getting stuck on the freeway while surrounded by hundreds of other vehicles pumping heat into the air makes your own vehicle work harder to keep you cool. Driving at non-peak times can also help you find unoccupied chargers if you need one. Also be mindful of your driving route. While it may technically be shorter to drive along a major route, there may be less starting and stopping if you choose a different path. The idea is a smooth drive with a few changes in vehicles speed a possible.
Made In The Shade
This one is simple but can make a difference in your interior cabin temperatures. Take a little extra time to find a shady parking spot at your destination. A parking deck is ideal, but a nice shady spot under a tree or next to a building works just as well. While you are at it use a windshield shade to block the sun’s rays from reaching your dashboard and turning it into an oven. You can also choose to use a full car cover to give complete protection from the sun’s rays.
Keep It Clean
Remember that fun trip to the state park you took last week? Why are the folding chairs and blanket still bouncing around in the trunk (or frunk) adding weight to your vehicle? It takes battery energy to get your electric vehicle moving and the less mass there is the better. Every pound you are hauling around for no reason means more drain on your battery pack. Keep only the necessities in your electric vehicle. As a bonus you will feel better driving a clean car.
If you are trying to stretch your electric vehicle range during the summer then you may need to slow things down a little. Your air conditioning system draws power from the same battery pack as your drive motor, so keep that in mind. You don’t need to be a rolling roadblock, but easing up to speed instead of zipping by makes a difference. Recoup as much power as you can using regenerative braking rather than standing on the brake pedal at the last second. If your electric vehicle has an “Eco Mode” then use it to help further smooth out acceleration and tweak things for maximum efficiency.
Keep It Maintained
Make things easier on your electric vehicle motor by keeping all four tires inflated to the proper air pressure. It takes more effort to roll an underinflated tire, which will also cause it to wear unevenly. More than likely your vehicle already has a tire pressure monitoring system, but it never hurts to break out a proper tire pressure gauge to verify everything. You can find the recommended tire pressure in the owner’s manual and also on the driver’s side door jamb. Check tire pressure before driving so that the tires are cold. Make sure to rotate your tires as well. Your tires will also thank you with a bit longer tread life.
Thanks to advances in battery technology you probably don’t have “range anxiety”, so squeezing every last mile from your battery pack may not be a priority. Your driving style, driving habits, and destinations can all be balanced out with a little planning so that summer EV driving doesn’t have to leave you sweating.
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Photo courtesy of Pixabay.
With an automotive writing career spanning over two decades, Brian has a passion for sharing the automotive lifestyle. An avid DIYer he can usually be found working on one of his many project cars. His current collection includes a 1969 Olds Delta 88 convertible, BMW E46 sedan, and a slant-6 powered 1975 Plymouth Duster.