The economic and public health impacts currently being experienced as a result of the coronavirus pandemic are historic on a global scale, and the situation presents a disruption in our daily routines that is unprecedented in modern life.
The social impact that is increasingly becoming the norm across the U.S. is happening house to house as a result of “shelter in place” orders. Commuting and school drop off have been replaced with full-time work from home and online lessons. In this shelter in place environment, very few are spending much, if any, time behind the wheel.
While typically electric car drivers might be used to driving their vehicles daily, or at least several times a week, many EV drivers have likely not previously had to consider what maintenance is necessary for electric cars that are sitting dormant for days on end.
Electric vehicle maintenance tips while sheltering in place
The heart of any electric car is its battery – and for many EV owners, this is where electric car maintenance questions arise. Most drivers are familiar with measures that need to be taken with gas cars while sitting for long periods, such as occasional driving to ensure adequate battery charge and to circulate the engine oil and coolant, and for longer periods changing spark plugs and air filters. Luckily, electric cars have fewer moving parts, and are less maintenance intensive.
Standby power drain – or “vampire drain” – is one of the more noticeable side effects of an electric car that remains parked for an extended period. This drain is a slow reduction in lithium ion battery energy caused by onboard systems that stay active while a vehicle is not in use, such as security systems, low-level computer systems, telematics, and so on. The loss of range is not significant on a daily basis, at approximately one to two percent per day, though that could increase slightly in colder temperatures. If left dormant for a week or longer, the loss in range can be noticeable.
For owners of JuiceBox smart EV chargers, this drain can be easily remedied by simply keeping your plug in electric car plugged into your JuiceBox and checking/updating your settings in the JuiceNet app. We recommend setting your JuiceBox to maintain a state of charge around 70 – 80 percent to increase your battery life. This way, if the battery pack drains over a period of days, JuiceBox will keep it in a steady state. As noted above, this same issue is present in traditional internal combustion engine vehicles as well – the 12-volt auxiliary battery drains over time for the same reasons, and left undriven, the car will no longer start after a period of time.
EV drivers should also follow traditional vehicle maintenance practices during this time, such as using a car cover to protect exterior paint. In order to keep tires more pressurized, drivers can put their car up on blocks. They can also be mindful to replace windshield wipers when needed. EV drivers don’t need to worry about other maintenance items like auxiliary belts -- in many ways, electric vehicle maintenance is much simpler than gasoline-powered vehicle maintenance.