Just a few years ago, electric cars weren’t as prevalent as they are now. As they’re becoming more popular, car makers are jumping on the trend, and EVs are now found in everyday circumstances. EV cold-weather driving makes winter electric car maintenance an all new realm for the DIY car guy. What’s involved in running your electric car in cold weather? Here’s a quick look at what to be mindful off all winter long.
The biggest difference between an ordinary gas-powered vehicle and an electric-powered one is in their batteries. Because batteries are more sensitive to temperature, they need to be treated similarly to how you’d keep your body warm in the cold. Many cars come with thermal management systems that help keep them from freezing, but either way, keeping the car in the garage or at least insulating the batteries will help them last longer and take a better charge.
More Power Than Grip
When comparing a gas engine to an electric motor, a big difference is in 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, this instant power 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 help increase cold-weather traction.
Cold weather can affect the chemical reactivity inside the battery bank, resulting in lower charging and output levels. Even if you charge your car in a garage or shelter—out of the elements—the batteries can become cold while driving, making insulation even more important. If you run out of power while you’re out on the road, remember towing an electric-powered car often requires a flatbed tow since the motor won’t disengage like it does in a gas-powered vehicle.
The biggest hurdles in cold-weather electric-car operation are power and battery output but pay attention to the other components as well. For example, your windshield washer fluid might need additional winter-appropriate mixture. Add a good ice scraper to your equipment to help clear that icy windshield rather than running the defroster (and using more electricity).
Driving an electric-powered car can be a rewarding and economical means of transportation, however, considering the differences from fuel-powered vehicles, they have a unique set of requirements for cold-weather driving.
Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on winter electric car maintenance, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Image courtesy of Flickr.
Erich Reichert has been an editor and on-air personality in the radio control car hobby for 12 years. A certified car nut since birth, he has written for internationally published titles such as RC Car Action, RC Driver and Xtreme RC Cars, as well as Stuff Magazine, Road and Track and Super Street. He's covered everything from product reviews and tech articles to high-profile lifestyle pieces and celebrity interviews. Erich found his passion for writing after a successful career as an art director, working with brands such as Pepsico, NASCAR, MTV, Nintendo, WWE, Cannondale Bicycles and HBO. He's also a father, an avid hockey fan and an FIA race license holder who enjoys hiking, playing drums and movies.