The cold reality is that driving in the winter is more challenging for everyone. Both internal combustion engine vehicles and electric vehicles suffer from efficiency losses when it is freezing outside. However, the recent polar vortex shouldn’t fog anyone’s thinking about the overarching benefits of driving an EV in cold weather climates. Yes, electric vehicle performance is affected by extreme temperatures, but there are ways to manage range and efficiency in the winter months. This guide on winter car prep will teach you everything you need to know to keep your electric vehicle running in tip-top shape all winter long.
Hot Tip #1: Precondition.
Use the car’s precondition function as much as possible. Road conditions can be rough during the dead of winter compared to warmer climates. Most modern EVs have a preconditioning feature that will preheat the battery and passenger cabin. This allows you to depart comfortably with a fully charged and heated battery and cabin. Most electric vehicles allow you to set the preconditioning to begin every day at a set time, so your car is ready for you when you need to depart. Also, make sure your car is actually plugged in while you precondition, because you want to draw energy from the grid to do this, not drain your battery. Some EVs won’t precondition if the car is using a level 1, 120v portable charger, because they won’t provide enough energy to properly precondition. This is another reason why it’s advisable to use a level 2, 240v charging station, like our JuiceBox smart home charger.
Hot Tip #2: Okay to roast your rump, but use cabin heat judiciously.
EVs don’t use waste engine heat to warm the cabin like internal combustion cars do. Therefore, they need to generate the heat, and that can consume a lot of energy. Use the cabin heater sparingly if you really need to get the most range possible on a particular trip. If your car is equipped with a heated steering wheel and seats, use those options because they consume much less energy than the cabin heater does.
Hot Tip #3: Top off your all-season tires.
Your tire pressure will decrease roughly 1lb for every 10 degrees fahrenheit drop in temperature. Underinflated tires are not only dangerous, but will wear out faster and are much less efficient than properly inflated ones. This loss of efficiency can rob your electric car of many of its precious miles of range. Every tire has its own recommended psi. For example, the BMW i3s has a recommended pressure of 33 psi for the front tires and 41 psi for the rear tires, so make sure you check your tire pressure weekly in the winter months, and top off as needed. If you are in extreme weather conditions, it’s not a bad idea to have a spare tire ready to go. At the very least, do a tires check to ensure the pressure, tread, and overall condition.