Caring for your electric car in the winter: 5 essential tips

Published by on 02.26.2020 - 5 min

From ice-covered windshields to frozen-shut doors and struggling batteries, winter weather can be tough on cars. It’s important therefore, for your safety and comfort, to take good care of your vehicle. Here are 5 essential recommendation when it comes to taking care of your electric vehicle in cold weather.

Best practice #1

Protect your car from the cold

Scraping The Windshield

In order to avoid having to scrape the frost off your windshield, the unwelcome surprise of frozen locks or a car door stuck shut, the best option is to keep your electric or combustion-powered vehicle inside a garage. If that isn’t an option for you, here are some tips for minimizing damage caused by the cold. Place a tarp over your car to protect the windshield, rearview mirrors, and doors. If you don’t have a tarp available, you can place a piece of cardboard between the windshield wipers and the windshield, and another on the back windshield, to keep frost from forming overnight. It is not recommended to use hot water to remove frost as the temperature difference can weaken the windshield. Lastly, you can apply a silicone spray to the door joints, whose rubber seals have to put up with a lot in winter, to prevent them from freezing solid.

Best practice #2

Heat in moderation

Renault ZOE - app

Turning the heat up too much or keeping it running for too long can decrease your electric car’s range by up to 30%. Pre-conditioning lets you avoid the often-painful first couple of minutes in a cold car, during which we tend to blast the heat and consume a large amount of energy. With pre-conditioning, your car will already be at the desired temperature before you even hit the road. This can be programmed remotely, with your heat kicking in thirty minutes before your departure.

Pre-conditioning also gets the entire vehicle up to temperature and avoids the energy loss associated with a cold start. If done while your vehicle is charging, it will use energy from the power grid instead of from the battery. You will therefore enjoy setting off with a pleasant temperature as well as a full battery, ready to start in the best possible conditions. It’s a win-win situation!

One last tip: while driving, some drivers enjoy turning on heated seats and steering wheel, which provide warmth while consuming less energy than regular heating.

Best practice #3

Hit the road with a fully charged battery

RENAULT ZOE charging

It all starts with a good level of charge. Cold temperatures tend to slow down the electro-chemical processes that take place inside the battery, which therefore doesn’t perform as well when the temperature drops considerably, and its capacity is decreased. In addition, heating the interior and the battery consumes energy, affecting your vehicle’s range. In cold weather, it’s even more important than normal to start your drive with a fully charged battery. Nothing could be easier, thanks to the remote charging feature available via the MY Renault application, which also enables you to charge during off-peak hours when electricity costs less. One hour’s worth of charging before departure will help your battery last longer in cold weather.

Pre-conditioning, when activated during charging, also plays an important role for the battery, by bringing it up to temperature before departure. Since the energy used to heat it up comes straight from the electrical grid, the battery’s range remains untouched.

Best practice #4

Switch to winter tires


Would it ever occur to you to wear a T-shirt outside in the middle of winter? Normally not. It’s the same for your car, whether it be electric or combustion-powered. When cold weather hits, it is strongly suggested that you equip your vehicle with winter tires. At temperatures below 7°C, summer tires do not perform as well. The more supple rubber, deeper treads and numerous grooves in winter tires provide better traction and therefore improve grip, optimize braking, and minimize the chance of hydroplaning. Basically, they’re safer!

Best practice #5

Adopt an eco-driving style


The key to eco-driving is a smooth style. This form of driving, primarily focused on preserving your battery, is also – indeed, even more so – a must in winter. Avoiding abrupt starts and stops preserves your car’s battery and minimizes the risk of slipping on road surfaces that are often wet and sometimes icy.
This winter, don’t worry about hitting the road… just drive gently!

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