WHEN THE TEMPERATURES DROP AND THE SNOW FALLS, THIS IS WHAT TO EXPECT.
With the help of Old Man As the icy fingers of winter begin to grasp many parts of the country, motorists should pay particular attention to their electric vehicles to ensure they are prepared to withstand the assault of freezing temperatures. Seasonal changes can be especially noticeable for electric-car users, especially those who live in the coldest climes. Here’s what to expect and how to act when the temperature drops, whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned pro.
CHECK THE TIRES
To begin, use a good quality air gauge to check the air pressure in your electric vehicle’s tires. While this should be done on a regular basis, it’s especially vital now that we’re approaching winter. This is because every 10°F change in ambient temperature causes tires to lose 2% of their air pressure. The tire pressure monitor warning light may also be activated on your vehicle’s instrument panel (it looks like a cutaway of a tire with an exclamation point).If one or more tires have low air pressure, pump them to the PSI suggested by the OEM (pounds per square inch). It’s written in your owner’s handbook and on a sticker on the driver’s side doorjam. Consider adding a pair of gripping snow tires for the winter if you live somewhere that receives a lot of snow.
EXPECT FEWER MILES ON A CHARGE
In cold weather, all cars, whether they operate on gas or kilowatts, become less energy efficient. In the cold, the gas mileage of a normal internal combustion engine vehicle drops by approximately 20%, and this impact is more severe with electric automobiles.
Cold conditions, however, may wreak havoc on a battery’s performance as well as its capacity to receive a charge.
An electric car’s working range drops by 41% when the temperature drops below 20°F and the heating is turned on, according to a research done by the AAA earlier this year. That implies that if you buy a Nissan Leaf, which is supposed to travel 150 miles on a single charge, you’ll probably only get approximately 88 miles before needing to plug it in. It will also take longer to charge the vehicle’s battery pack to full capacity. The regenerative braking feature of an electric automobile, which recovers energy lost during deceleration or halting and transfers it back to the battery, is likewise limited by cold temperatures.
Furthermore, utilizing the heater will rapidly deplete the battery of an electric car. While gasoline engines produce a huge quantity of heat that may be used to warm a car’s interior, an electric car’s climate control system is exclusively powered by battery power.
MAXIMIZE YOUR CAR’S COLD-WEATHER RANGE
Extending an electric car’s operational range to reach maximum miles per charge may become an obsession for some electric car owners, and it’s especially important during the winter months. Under harsh climatic circumstances, proper preparation is essential for reducing range anxiety.
When an electric car is not in use, it is preferable to store it in a garage to protect it from the weather. It’s even better if your garage at home and/or your work parking spot are heated. To guarantee that the battery maintains a full charge, keep the car plugged in at all times. If your car has a pre-conditioning option, activate it before getting on the road (typically via a smartphone app). While the car is hooked into the charger, this will heat both the cabin and the battery pack, which will help maintain battery capacity. In chilly conditions, certain models will automatically warm the battery. When you’re not at home, park your automobile in the sun to keep it warm.
When driving, use the warmth sparingly. Reduce the temperature to as low as you can tolerate it and rely on your car’s heated seats and steering wheel (if fitted), which use less power. Wear warm clothing and a thick coat to avoid having to use the air conditioning. In the AAA study, the electric vehicles tested lost just approximately 12 percent of their range in the cold when their heaters were turned off, compared to 41 percent when the temperature control was turned on.
If your automobile has a “Eco” mode that adjusts performance settings to save battery range, make sure you activate it. Set your car’s regenerative braking to full force to transmit more power to the battery when you come to a halt if your automobile permits it. Also, when driving in cold weather, try to keep your speed down. Not only does traveling at higher speeds consume more energy than driving about town, but the vehicle’s aerodynamic drag also rises at higher speeds, necessitating more power to overcome.
Also, keep track of public charging stations near where you live, shop, and work in case you run out of juice. Look for DC Fast Charging devices that can recharge an electric vehicle’s battery to 80% capacity in 30-45 minutes, depending on the vehicle and ambient temperature.
WINTER DRIVING STRATEGIES
If you live in a snowy winter environment, there’s a chance you’ll have to deal with quickly changing road conditions, and you should be prepared for the worst. To help get your car moving if it becomes stuck on snow or ice, fill the windshield washer tank with non-freezing solution and keep a small shovel, brush/scraper, and some flattened cardboard boxes or a large bag of sand or cat litter in the trunk. Fortunately, the lower center of gravity and equal weight distribution of an electric automobile aids traction on slick terrain. Those with all-wheel drive do much better in this department.
Even so, you won’t be able to avoid the laws of physics – any car can spin on ice or become stuck in deep snow, so you’ll want to be cautious. When the snow starts to fall, put on your headlights, slow down, and allow plenty of distance between you and the vehicles ahead of you – your brakes won’t function as effectively as they would on dry roads. Keep an eye out for frozen areas, particularly on bridges and overpasses, which freeze faster than concrete roads. To reduce your reaction times to a minimum, avoid utilizing the cruise control in your vehicle.
If you feel the brake pedal pulsing or chattering as you approach a halt (and/or the “ABS” light on the instrument panel is flashing), the antilock function is engaged. Keep your foot firmly on the brake pedal until the car comes to a complete stop. If the stability control warning light on the dashboard flashes, it signifies the system is assisting you in countering wheel spin, and you should slow down. If your car starts to slide on a slick area or black ice, be cool and steer in the desired direction while keeping a light and steady foot on the accelerator. When a car or truck is sliding sideways, slamming on the brakes can only make matters worse.
If you do become stopped on snow or ice, turn off your car’s traction control system (there’s typically a dashboard button for this – see your owner’s handbook) because it’s usually ineffective in this case. To prevent digging oneself deeper into a rut, avoid rotating the tires. Instead, slowly “rock” the car back and forth to free it. Slowly creep forward as far as possible with the gearbox in drive – possibly only an inch or two at a time – then engage the brakes, reverse the car, and repeat the procedure several times to gradually become unstuck.
If that doesn’t work, toss a few handfuls of sand or cat litter beneath the tires that you carefully placed in the trunk to provide just enough traction to start rolling. To assist the tires catch, push sheets of cardboard or the car’s floor mats under them. Enlist the aid of passers-by to push the automobile if feasible. Otherwise, you’ll need to call a tow truck to help you out.
Thankfully, warmer weather is on the way.