How Does Cold Weather Affect Electric Cars?

Planning to take your electric car on a road trip? If you’re traveling to an area that regularly experiences cold temperatures and precipitation in the winter, you need to be aware of how electric cars behave in winter weather. So, how does cold weather affect electric cars? Read on to learn what to expect.

A full charge won’t take you as far

Battery life is one of the most important considerations to remember when it comes to driving electric cars in winter weather. All vehicles, whether electric or gas-powered, become less energy-efficient in cold temperatures. While drivers of gas-powered vehicles notice a drop of around 20 percent in terms of how many miles they can travel on a single tank, the loss of efficiency can be even more pronounced for those who drive electric cars.

Cold temperatures can substantially hamper both the performance of a battery as well as its ability to accept a charge in the first place. Studies by AAA have shown that an electric car’s operating range drops by an average of 41 percent when temperatures plunge and the heater is turned on.

Why such a difference? Gasoline-powered engines generate heat that can be harvested to heat the car, while an electric car’s climate control system relies on battery power alone for heating and cooling, greatly affecting the distance you’ll get from a full charge.

Tire pressure drops

No matter what type of car you drive, gas-powered or electric, you need to remember that tire pressure directly correlates to the ambient temperature outside. On average, tires lose 2 percent of their air pressure whenever the temperature drops by 10 degrees Fahrenheit. Refer to your owner’s manual to determine the ideal tire pressure and inflate them as needed.

Maintain enough charge

It’s crucial to keep enough charge in your battery. Generally, you should always have at least a 20 percent charge. You’ll need that power in reserve to warm the car inside and to get the battery warm enough for safe, efficient operation. It’s smart to keep your car plugged in while you preheat it so you’re not using any of your energy reserves.

It’s best to keep your vehicle in a heated garage rather than outside in cold temperatures, but this isn’t usually possible if you’re away from home. Some small steps you can take to make life easier for your battery include parking in the sun to keep the car warmer and using pre-conditioning apps on your smartphone to heat the interior while you’re charging the vehicle.

Reduce your speed

Remember that excessive speed drains the battery, too. When you’re driving in cold weather, ease up on the accelerator to improve your battery range. Slow down, drive safely and get the most from every charge.

Now that you understand how cold weather affects electric cars, it’s time to schedule your tune-up before you hit the road for a winter road trip. Reach out to Qwest Automotive Service today. We’ll make sure your vehicle is ready to travel when you are, regardless of the temperature outside.