How to care for an electric car in winter

Have you made the switch to an EV but not sure how your battery will perform in cold weather? Here are our top tips for caring for an electric car in winter

Written by Verity Hogan
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How does cold weather affect electric car batteries?

Most of us don’t perform at our best in cold weather and electric cars are no exception. While EVs are improving and the latest models aren’t severely affected by a drop in temperature, the cold can still slow the movement of lithium ions in the battery. This means it won’t work as efficiently as normal and could limit the range of your electric car. There’s no need to worry about breaking down or running out of charge unexpectedly though; all EVs display the remaining range so you won’t get caught out in the cold!

How to care for an electric car in winter

Drive mindfully

Driving mindfully can help you conserve power and improve your electric car’s range in cold weather. Travel at a steady speed and try to avoid sudden acceleration or braking. You can also save energy by turning off the radio and not using the heater.

Invest in winter tyres

Investing in winter tyres can help you stay safe when the weather turns. The battery location can give electric cars a low centre of gravity, which improves traction in the snow, but they can also be heavier than petrol or diesel cars, making them harder to control in icy conditions.

If you’re concerned about wet weather – electricity and water don’t mix, after all – then don’t be! EVs have precautions built in so splashes of water are unlikely to cause damage, but it’s still good practice to avoid driving through submerged roads.

Keep your car covered

Storing your car in a garage or covered parking space overnight can help to keep the battery warm. Don’t have a garage? Keeping it under a cover can make a difference too.

Preheat the car

Many EVs come equipped with a preconditioning feature that you can use to warm up the car while its charging and before you get in. If the car is still plugged in while you warm it up, then this won’t drain the battery. Some systems can even be operated remotely from inside your house.

Keep regenerative braking on

Regenerative braking is the system whereby the electric motor acts as its own generator whenever you slow down or brake. The energy generated is then sent back to the battery as a top up. Keeping this function on in cold weather can help your battery last longer.

Use eco-mode

Another helpful function that many EVs come with to help in cold weather is eco-mode. This can preserve energy, reducing power consumption and boosting mileage by limiting the amount of energy supplied to the driving motor or cabin heaters.

Save more time to charge

While you can still charge your electric car in cold weather, you should expect it to take longer to charge overnight and to rapid charge. Overnight charges can take two or three extra hours to complete when temperatures are low. It’s worth bearing this in mind when travelling as charging points can also be affected and it’ll take longer to charge on the go. Try to avoid letting your charge run down completely just in case.

Basic car maintenance

An electric car is just like a petrol or diesel car in many ways and much of the standard winter car maintenance advice still applies. Make sure to keep your car clean, keep your anti-freeze topped up, and most importantly, keep the battery topped up too. If it does snow or you have ice on your windscreen, dislodge and de-ice as usual.

Is it safe to charge an EV in rain or snow?

Yes, there’s no need to worry about charging your EV in bad weather. Both electric cars and charging stations have been built to withstand rain and have protective layers and covering shields to prevent water getting into the system and causing damage.

Verity Hogan

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