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How do I store an electric car?

Vacations, lockdowns, jobs. There is a lot of reasons why you aren’t driving a lot over a period of time. But how do you actually store it properly over a longer period of time? Will anything actually happen if it just stays idle?

Make sure to check your batteries. Your 12-volt lead-acid battery must be charged and optimally it should be full. The main high-volt lithium-ion battery should be at least 10% charged, but not full. Personally, I recommend between 30% and 60%. Do NOT keep your EV plugged in while it’s idle over a longer period of time.

Keep your EV’s main high-volt lithium-ion battery charged

Keep the growth of dendrites/whiskers down.

The dendrites/whiskers start to grow in the solid electrolyte interface, which is a film where the solid surface of the anode meets the liquid electrolyte. Ethylene carbonate is the specific cause of why the growth starts. Dendrites or whiskers are small tree-like structures growing inside the battery. When they grow too large, they ruin the battery and reduce the amount of capacity it has.

Though this is not 100% scientific, it is still theoretically believed that keeping some voltage in the lithium will slow this growth down. However, a battery degrades faster over time the more voltage is experienced. So it’s a fine balance, don’t keep it fully charged and don’t keep it depleted.

Also, the battery will deplete itself little by little over a long period of time. So if you leave your car with a very low charge, you’ll risk it getting 100% depleted.

Keep your 12-volt battery charged

It’s very important to make sure your 12-volt lead-acid battery is in a healthy condition and fully charged. Often in electric vehicles, you can actually see how much charge there is left on this battery in the settings. If your car doesn’t have this set you can check it with a multimeter. It doesn’t have to be an expensive multimeter to do the job. If you don’t want to buy it, maybe ask around your family/friends or go to the local mechanic or electrician, they’ll have one for sure.

My 10 Tips for storing your electric car

  1. Keep some charge in the batteries. As explained above, it’s important to keep the batteries at least with a little charge. This will prolong the batteries lifespan and keep all systems ready.
  2. Get someone to take it for a ride. If you are gone for a very long period, it’ll be a good idea to borrow it out for a bit or let someone take it for a spin to keep everything lubricated and charged.
  3. Inflate your tires. Maybe even put a little extra pressure in, to make sure the tires don’t develop any flat spots.
  4. Clean and wash it. Wash and maybe wax your car to remove any grease or mud from the paint and metal. Bird droppings or other mud spots and damage the paint.
  5. Cover it up or leave it in a garage. If you don’t have a garage, at least cover it up to reduce any grease and water stains that can damage the paint.
  6. Disconnect the battery. If you are going away for a long time, it can be a good idea to disconnect the main battery, so nothing can impact its condition. Always disconnect the negative terminal first, it’ll probably be a black cable. Make sure both cables are away of any metal part of the battery or vehicle.
  7. Use a battery tender. This is a device which will deliver a small amount of electrical power and prevent the battery from depleting. These also have settings to not charge it fully up.
  8. Don’t cancel or pause your insurance. Anything that might happen to your car while it’s parked will also be covered by your insurance. Do not cancel or pause it to save money.
  9. Use a tire stopper instead of the parking brake. The parking brake is in contact with the rotors. Over a long period of time, these can rust and get fused or break apart if not separated. A large piece of wood can also do the job.
  10. Keep your charging equipment dry and loosely packed up. If you have connected cables, please secure them best as possible. If you have cables laying around, find a good way to protect them. But don’t pack them too tight so they get kinked.

Author: Morten Pradsgaard

Morten has been working with technology, IoT, and electronics for over a decade. His passion for technology is reflected in this blog to give you relevant and correct information.