How to Keep an Electric Car Battery Healthy

Tesla 3 2021

People are always talking about the “health” of your electric car’s battery. What does that even mean? Are you supposed to throw broccoli under the hood when you’re done driving? Well, health refers to how powerful the battery is and how well it can perform its job.

It’s all a matter of understanding how your battery works and treating it well. Avoid parking in really hot or cold temperatures. Keep the charge between 25% and 75% at all times. Never use a fast charger (unless there’s an emergency and you’re stranded). Also, make sure you’re not driving your EV like a racecar driver, this will kill your battery.

With an EV, the battery is super important. Keeping it healthy means having a car that’s faster, longer-lasting, and quicker to charge — three things that all EV owners want to see. Well, you came to the right place. I’m going to tell you how to keep your electric car battery healthy.

How Your Car Battery Works

Your car battery works with a little help from chemistry. There is a cathode and anode inside of your battery. Their only job is to transfer electrons which turns into electricity.

Electrons will always transfer from the cathode to the anode with no exception. This means that the battery is constantly discharging. The electricity flows out of the battery and goes into the motor, HVAC, and radio (among other things).

How a lithium ion battery works for EV electric vehicle cars and batteries

If this keeps happening, then the battery doesn’t have any more electrons to give and it just sits around and does nothing. That is until electricity is pumped into the cathode and the electrons start trickling again.

This is the process that happens when you plug your EV into its charger. Electricity from the outlet flows into the charger, into the battery, and revitalizes the cathode in your EV’s battery.

That’s the beauty of science.  

Electric Car Batteries are Different

In a typical gas-powered car, the battery is important. In an EV, the battery is critically important.

The battery is the heart of your EV. It powers every electrical component, sensor, and computer in your ride. It also powers the motor — you know, the thing that makes you go vroom in the first place.

Since they have such a huge job, the batteries are bigger and more powerful in an EV as compared to an ICE car.

Your battery is in charge of:

  • How many miles your car can go with one charge
  • How quickly your car charges when it’s plugged in
  • The speed and acceleration of your vehicle

When the battery starts to die, all three of these categories see worsened results. Your car won’t go as far, charges slower, and performs worse.

This is why it’s so important to take care of your EV’s battery.

How to Keep an Electric Car Battery Healthy

Keeping your car battery healthy is actually pretty easy for the typical EV owner. There are a few major things to watch out for, but it’s otherwise just common sense stuff.

1. Regularly Check Your Battery’s Health

It’s important to understand the health of your battery. Check to see the current charge, how much life is left in your battery, and the physical condition.

Nissan Leaf interior car instrument cluster EV dash
Nissan Leaf – dash instrument cluster

If there’s rust, spillage, or any mechanical damage to your battery, you need to immediately have it serviced.

Doing this will prevent any surprises in the future as far as your battery is concerned.

2. Minimize Exposure to Extreme Temperatures

Batteries perform especially poorly in two conditions: very cold or very hot temperatures.

As an EV owner, your job is to minimize your car’s exposure to extreme temperatures.

In cold weather, your battery will underperform. You might notice your range, performance, and charging time all get worse. Even gas-powered car batteries suffer the same fate when temperatures get below freezing.

This is all thanks to the chemistry going on inside of the battery. When the air cools down, the reaction occurs slower.

Electric car plug charging in the winter of Amsterdam

In hot temperatures, you might not even notice your car acting differently. The damage is being done within the battery.

There is a thermal system built into your EV to help protect you against hot temperatures. In some cases, a battery won’t charge if it’s too hot. While this saves the life of your battery, it might mean waking up to a partially charged car.

When batteries get hot, they lose capacity because the internal materials degrade. In other words, a full charge isn’t quite as full after the battery is exposed to extreme heat.

It works the same way as your phone’s battery, actually. When it overheats, the chemical reaction in the battery gets carried away and burns away the material inside. Instead of a 100% capacity, your battery might drop down to 99%. The next charge will grant you fewer miles and less horsepower.

The solution? Park in a garage whenever possible. This keeps your car away from the fluctuating temperatures outside while it’s charging.

3. Stay Away from a 100% Charge

It seems counterintuitive, but a 100% charge is not ideal for the long-term health of your battery. Overcharging a battery will heat it up and eat away the total life expectancy.

It’s all about learning how many miles you use each day and what percentage of battery you need to have.

Electric Car Battery Status

If you pick the right EV charger, it will learn your routine and automatically stop charging at the correct percentage (which isn’t 100%).

The biggest tip I can give you is to make sure you stay away from a 100% charge. 75% tends to be the magic number — as long as you’re under that figure, you’ll be fine.

Other smart chargers will allow you to toggle the maximum allowable charge. You can just put a hard limit of 75% to ensure the battery doesn’t overfill and get damaged.

4. Try To Limit The Use of a Fast Charger

Faster chargers are overall safe to use but can degrade your car’s battery. The reason why is It creates too much heat and passes too much current into the battery. Your EV isn’t built for this.

Man taking a fast EV charger from EV charging station in focus
EV fast-charging station

Studies have shown that eight years of fast charging as compared to regular charging will result in a 10% difference in range capacity. That’s the difference between 500 miles and 450 miles.

Maybe that doesn’t seem like a lot, but that could be a week’s worth of commutes to certain people.

5. Always Stay Above 25% Battery

Ideally, your car’s battery will never die. Going under 25% battery isn’t a good idea and will hurt the health of your EV battery.

Electric car low battery charge status of the EV battery indicating it's almost empty depleted

Your car has some built-in systems that turn off a lot of components before hitting 0% charge. If you leave your EV in storage long enough and you go beyond this cut-off and still hit 0%, then there can be damage done to your battery.

This only gets worse the longer you keep your battery dead because full charging cycles from 0% to 100% can also degrade the battery.

6. Don’t Floor it

I had a friend in high school say, “why would a gas pedal go all the way to the ground if we’re not supposed to push it all the way to the ground?”

It’s surprisingly sound logic.

Tesla On The Road

While this might be a fun excuse to goof around on an open road safely, it’s not great for your EV’s battery. Every time you floor it, your battery might take a little bit off of its total capacity.

If you like to have fun on the road, then your battery’s life will shorten pretty quickly. That’s an expensive problem to fix.

7. Let Your Battery Cool Down After a Joyride

I know I just said you should never floor your car or drive it super-fast, but let’s be honest — electric cars are too fast to stick to driving slowly. I’m just being realistic, here.

After you go for a fast joyride, give your battery some time to cool down before plugging it in.

Rear view of a Porsche Taycan Turbo EV parked on the road outside a popular hotel
Porsche Taycan Turbo

Your battery will undoubtedly be hot after you abuse the powertrain for fun. Charging also heats up the battery. As I mentioned earlier, heat is the worst enemy of battery health.

Just give it about 30 minutes to an hour to fully cool down in your garage before you plug it in.

Conclusion

A healthy battery translates to a happy owner. Make sure you remember these tips as you own and operate your EV. For more tips for EV owners, check out the rest of my site. Also, see what car products can make your life a little easier.

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Ernest Martynyuk

An automotive enthusiast who's been tinkering with vehicles since I was 15-years old. Repairing automotive electronics has been my main job for over a decade now and have a passion for everything technical regarding cars.

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