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How to Take Care of Your EV Battery

Like driving habits, charging speeds, and more.

battery warning dash light
Kurdyukova Olga/Shutterstock.com

With gas prices still out of control, more and more consumers are buying or considering an electric vehicle. And as more people switch to EVs, battery maintenance will be a big topic of discussion. Yes, there’s more to it than you think.

Similar to the gasoline engine in a regular car, you’ll want to take a few steps to keep the battery running at optimal levels. While it’s true that EVs require less maintenance, there are still a few steps you can take to help in the long run. So, here’s how to take care of your EV battery.

What to Know About Your EV Battery

electric vehicle charging graphic
Smile Fight/Shutterstock.com

Before diving into some of the best EV battery health practices, let’s clear a few things up. For starters, not all electric vehicles use the same battery and charging technology, so it’s always best to refer to your owner’s manual. You know, that thing in the glove box most people don’t bother looking at now that you can Google everything. The owner’s manual will have helpful information directly from the manufacturer, including battery tips.

Bad driving and charging habits can negatively affect your vehicle, just like if you don’t change the oil or top off the fluids in an engine and transmission.

Similar to the battery in a smartphone, the lithium-ion battery in your electric vehicle can and will degrade over time. Just like a traditional internal combustion engine (ICE) that loses performance from daily wear and tear or the lack of maintenance over time.

The difference is an electric vehicle battery won’t degrade nearly as fast as a smartphone, so it’s not a huge concern. Furthermore, federal regulations require all EV makers offer up to an 8-year or 100,000-mile warranty on the battery. So if one degrades faster than expected, it’ll be under warranty.

Many of these tips are standard suggestions across the industry. Furthermore, many EVs automatically do these things for you, but regardless, every little bit helps.

Follow the 80/20 Rule for Charging

EV battery charging percentage

While there are several debates around this topic, the 80/20 rule isn’t new. In fact, it’s something mentioned for almost any device with a battery. So, what is it, and why should you care?

Whether it’s an electric vehicle, smartphone, or other battery devices, lithium-ion battery cells will last longer if you don’t constantly charge it to 100% or run it down to zero. Every time a battery drains entirely, some of the cells inside die. As a result, almost every EV on the road has software systems to prevent the battery from ever reaching zero.

Still, to extend the life of your electric vehicle’s battery, try and stick to the 80/20 rule. Only charge it 80% and never let it go below 20%. Most vehicles even have this as an option in the app settings menu or touchscreen controls. Charging an EV to 80% is usually pretty fast, but that last 20% takes the longest, heats up the battery, and taxes the system.

Obviously, if you’re going on a long drive and need as much range as possible, you can undoubtedly charge your EV to 100%. That said, try to stick to this system during daily short trips.

Don’t Charge Your Battery Daily

Tesla Model 3 for 2022

Range anxiety is a real thing, especially with new EV owners. Worrying about running out of battery and getting stuck somewhere is natural. As a result, many people tend to charge their EVs every single day. To prolong the life of your battery you should avoid charging it daily.

A battery will degrade over time, but that process speeds up after each complete recharge cycle. If you get home and throw your EV on the charger every single day, you’re using more recharge cycles and reducing its lifespan. Instead, most manufacturers suggest you let the battery get down to around 20% and then recharge your electric car, truck, or SUV.

Basically, don’t recharge your car every day if you don’t need to. If your commute is a short 10-20 mile drive, wait until your vehicle gets down to a lower level and try to recharge once or twice a week. Using fewer charge cycles will ensure the battery pack lasts longer.

And while EVs are getting smarter about battery management and voltage levels, this is a change you can make yourself.

Slow Charge Your EV At Home or the Office 

Tesla charging at a supercharger

Many of you won’t like this next suggestion, but you should also avoid using fast-charging technology if possible. Tesla’s Superchargers are incredibly convenient and can top off a battery almost as quickly as stopping at a gas station. However, rapid high-voltage charging pushes tons of electrons, heat, and load onto your battery system. And those are all bad things.

Using the standard level 1 or level 2 charger that comes with your vehicle from the manufacturer is likely the best route. You’ll benefit from avoiding fast chargers if you can use slower charging speeds at home, the office, or while out and about. All that extra strain, load, heat, and rapid acceleration can degrade battery cells faster than slow chargers.

According to KIA, using slower charging systems can preserve roughly 10% of your overall battery life over the course of eight years when compared to using fast charging.

Limit Exposure to Extremely High or Low Temps

Battery warning light on dashboard
Bjoern Wylezich/Shutterstock.com

Another thing all owners can do is try to keep an EV battery within comfortable and safe temperature ranges. This is helpful while parked and while charging. If you’re going to park an EV for an extended time, try to avoid extreme heat or frigid cold temperatures, as neither play nice with battery cells. And if you do, keep it around 75% if possible.

Prolonged exposure to extremely cold or hot temps can speed up battery degradation or reduce efficiency. You’ll want to take the same precaution when charging an electric vehicle. Charging in extreme heat or cold environments can also have a negative impact.

As we said earlier, electric vehicles are pretty smart, and most of them have software to control charging at safe and optimal levels, and the same can be said about charging temperatures.

For example, a Tesla will intelligently heat the battery system on a cold morning to improve performance, and it’ll do something similar if you try to charge the car if it’s freezing outside. Alternatively, your Tesla (and many other EVs) will use fans and liquids to keep the battery from getting too warm during charging. Your vehicle may take the guesswork out of this for you, but it’s still a good idea to plan when and where you charge for the best results.

Practice Good Driving Habits 

2022 Tesla Model 3

And finally, let’s discuss your driving habits. I get it, electric vehicles are fast and fun, but some extreme driving habits probably aren’t doing you any favors. While that rapid acceleration is undoubtedly addictive, try to avoid doing it too often in cold or hot environments.

Suppose you’re constantly pushing the skinny pedal to the metal and going fast. In that case, you’ll be putting additional and unnecessary strain on the battery, like draining your gasoline and getting poor MPG. Rapid acceleration and deceleration will increase heat, and heat is bad for any battery.

Cold weather doesn’t do your EV battery any favors, either. Driving fast (or aggressive) during the cold will likely reduce your battery range. We already know that cold weather reduces range, and pushing those battery cells to the limit at the same isn’t the best idea.

At the end of the day, don’t forget to enjoy your EV. These intelligent vehicles have a lot to offer, and the system will do most of the heavy lifting for you. Try and maintain healthy EV battery practices, but don’t forget to love everything your electric vehicle offers.

Cory Gunther Cory Gunther
Cory Gunther has been writing about phones, Android, cars, and technology in general for over a decade. He's a staff writer for Review Geek covering roundups, EVs, and news. He's previously written for GottaBeMobile, SlashGear, AndroidCentral, and InputMag, and he's written over 9,000 articles. Read Full Bio »