How to Give Your Electric Vehicle the Longest Life
While the cost of owning an electric car is relatively high compared to combustion engine cars, the significant outlay pays off in the long run in terms of maintenance costs. For starters, electric cars have fewer mechanical components than their fuel-powered counterparts. If you own an electric vehicle (EV), you won’t have to worry about things like:
Because they don’t come with the abovementioned components, owners enjoy overall cost savings from having fewer parts that need routine service and maintenance.
Even so, an electric car is not free of maintenance. If you have a Tesla EV, a good rule of thumb is to buy a Tesla extended warranty to prolong your coverage when your new vehicle limited warranty runs out. Besides, owners can follow a series of regular checks and services to ensure the longevity of their electric cars.
We’ve rounded up a list of things to check out from time to time.
While time is a primary degradation mechanism, it is not the only factor that ages your electric car’s batteries. Your actions also impact battery life significantly.
Exposure to High Temperatures
When you leave your electric car parked outside and exposed to extreme heat, you’re degrading its battery life. Due to extreme heat exposure, your car’s automated temperature control system will seek to achieve optimal efficiency by unnecessarily draining the batteries to lower down the temperatures. Ideally, this performance is meant to work only when you’re driving your electric car on the road. So do not park your vehicle in the open. Instead, park it in the shade or plug it in to allow the thermal management system to utilize grid power in its functions.
Charging Your Car Batteries to 80%
Electric cars come with an inbuilt battery management system that controls charging and discharging. Avoid charging your batteries at 100% frequently. While a fully charged battery guarantees you maximum operating time, it gradually degrades your battery and reduces its overall life span. Ideally, maintain the charge between 20% and 80% except for long road trips. Use quality electric car charging stations
Regenerative braking is a big deal in electric cars. The system traps kinetic energy when you slow down, preserving it in the battery to be used as voltage to power the vehicle later on. So it basically tops up the car battery.
Besides the regenerative system, electric vehicles (EVs) have a conventional braking system like traditional cars. They use metal discs, known as rotors, positioned behind the wheels. So when you put your foot on the brake pedal, the metallic brake pads squeeze tightly against the rotors, thus slowing down the car.
So how do you deal with brake parts deterioration?
Brake Dust Particle Filters
Positioned adjacent to the brake, the filter traps dust often caused by mechanical abrasion on the brake pedal. Take your car to the mechanic regularly for the dust materials to be disposed of. Changing your air filters regularly will also help prolong the life span of your brake parts.
Regular Brake Fluid Changes
Over time, brake fluid absorbs water from the air. If not flushed out regularly, the dirty brake fluid will eventually erode the brake system. So the solution lies in routine brake fluid changes. You don’t need to open the reservoir cap to inspect your brake fluid. Check from the outside whether the fluid level ranges between the min and max lines on the reservoir. Current best practice dictates that the brake fluid should be replaced every two years for electric vehicles.
Replace Brake Pads and Rotors
Because electric cars use the regenerative system more than the conventional braking system, your brake pads and rotors are used sparingly and thus last considerably longer. But you will still need to replace them eventually when they exhibit signs of wear. Plus, the brake caliper ought to be cleaned and oiled yearly.
Check Your Tires
Tires on EVs experience plenty of extremes for two main reasons. First, electric cars are heavier than conventional cars due to their huge electric battery. Secondly, they distribute instant torque, which takes a toll on the tires. As a result, EVs will grapple with faster tire tread wear than traditionally powered cars. Make sure to regularly check your tires for:
- Tread wear: Focus your inspection on the inside edge of the tread. This area is often susceptible to wear and tear.
- Tire pressure: A good tire pressure guarantees a smooth ride and prolongs the life span of your tires. Inspect your tires now and then. Make sure the tire pressure level is within the recommended guidelines.
- Wheel alignment: Take your wheels for alignment at least once or twice a year or when you drive on poor roads. Proper wheel alignment extends your tires’ life.
- Tire rotation: Carry out tire rotation as per the handbook’s instructions. Don’t wait for the occasional tire changes. If one side of your car tires shows more wear signs, you urgently need your tires rotated. Rotating your tires promotes uniform wear.
Update the Software
Similar to your laptop or smartphone, electric cars are subject to regular updates from their manufacturers. These updates deliver a host of benefits, from improving the navigation and infotainment systems to enhancing the efficiency and performance of the car. Like any smart gadget, your electric vehicle is configured with software to control everything, from accessible apps and radio stations to how internal thermal regulation is automated.
You might wonder, “Why don’t these cars come with all the updates pre-installed?” Well, there are two answers to this question. First, the technology associated with electric cars continues to evolve, so manufacturers have to keep adding new improvements to their models, much to the customers’ delight.
Secondly, the software limitations allow manufacturers to produce cars with good safety features and excellent performance. While some restrictions can be unlocked, they may come to the detriment of other functions. For example, increasing maximum speed can lower the battery life span.
Every now and then, your car’s connected app will notify you of a software update and highlight the potential changes and how they will affect your experience as the driver. You will only need Wi-Fi to install these updates. Here are some of the benefits you’ll get from a system upgrade:
Last year, Tesla launched a software update that increased the range of its Model X vehicles from 328 miles to 351 miles. Additionally, its Model S version benefited from a range increase to 390 miles from 373 miles. These improvements were realized without the need to modify anything on the cars. This means you can end up with a remarkably improved vehicle over time at no extra cost.
Improved Battery Capacity
Tesla continually issues software updates that improve the battery capacity of its cars. As a result, you may drive an extra 40 miles on a single charge, thanks to the updated battery capacity. These updates may also be applied in unique emergencies, like impending hurricanes and hailstorms, to allow drivers to escape.
What Else Do Software Updates Deliver?
Similar to some of your phone updates, a number of these improvements will be unnoticeable to the driver. Only the technical engineers can understand them. However, others are welcomed additions that introduce notable life improvements.
For example, some electric car manufacturers have issued updates to install Android Auto and Apple CarPlay as part of their infotainment systems. Others seek to introduce more comprehensive maps and satnav systems.
Some updates allow users to precondition their vehicles to either heat or cool the battery, depending on the level of comfort you need. This technology not only makes your car’s interiors nice and cozy during winter but can also be applied to preheat your car’s battery right before turning to a public charger to reduce the overall charging time.
The Bottom Line
If you observe the abovementioned best practices, you will undoubtedly minimize the potential of costly repair bills at the mechanic, plus having to replace your electric car prematurely for a new one.
The substantial cost savings will also allow you to recoup some of the investment you made on your electric-powered car. And besides extending the life span of your vehicle, these measures will afford you greater pleasure when driving out on the road.