What Drains the Battery in a Car or EV? 7 Common Culprits

There are a lot of misconceptions about what drains the battery in a car the most. Vehicle owners – especially EV owners – have to think about range. What can you do to enhance the battery performance in your EV? Check out this list to see if you’re taking the right steps to keep your battery in top form.

7 Things that Drain the Battery Most in a Car or EV

1. City vs. Highway Driving

This is a key difference between electric vehicles and gas-powered cars: EVs typically get better mileage driving in the city compared to cruising down the interstate. Why?  Electric cars have regenerative braking systems that put some energy back into the battery when coasting and braking. Steady driving at highway speed drains the battery much faster than driving in stop-and-go traffic – but anywhere you are driving, freeway or side road, driving faster consumes more of your battery than driving slower.

2. Acceleration

Smooth and steady is the trick here: don’t have a lead foot! Let up a bit to extend your battery’s range. A big pop of acceleration requires a quick jolt of energy, which is more demanding on the battery than a nice, easy acceleration. (EV owners know that fast starts are awfully tempting, though – quick acceleration is one way that electric vehicles really stand out from their ICE brethren.)

3. Watch the Weather

Cold temperatures can drain your battery substantially faster than mild temperatures. As a result, you’ll need to charge your EV more frequently during the winter months. In fact, a recent study shows that EV range can drop by up to 32% in freezing temperatures. One helpful hint is to pre-heat the battery before starting to drive (and pre-cool during summer’s heat) – your car may have settings to enable this. By doing this, you’re drawing electricity from your home’s electrical system and not the car, and you’re starting with a full battery. It also warms the battery to optimum temperature, which helps preserve the battery cells. But we should also remind you, that if you get stuck on a snowy highway, keeping warm in the car will last a good long time.

4. Heating and Air Conditioning

It takes more energy to keep your car’s interior warm during extreme cold (and cool during extreme heat). Bumping up the heat or air conditioning for comfort while driving takes more energy from the battery. Controlling the interior and battery temperature is the biggest power drain second to driving the vehicle. Electric cars aren’t able to draft off the heat of the engine to warm the cabin like ICE vehicles can. But – a nice way to stay warm without blasting the heat is to turn on the heated seats, if you have them. They use a lot less energy to keep you warm.

5. Battery Charging

Everyone’s natural inclination is to charge their battery to 100% – the more it’s charged, the further you can drive, right? But continually charging to 100% will deplete your battery’s life. Optimal charging? 80%. It’s important to be aware of how quickly you’re charging since many fast chargers can quickly bring your EV up to 80% in as little as 30 minutes. Stick with Level 2 charging unless you’re on a long road trip and need to refuel between stops.

6. Navigation and Infotainment Systems

Everything electric ultimately uses your battery, from the larger infotainment systems along the dashboard to rear passenger screens to USB ports. The good news, though, is that all those electronics *might* equate to about a mile of range per hour of driving. Not a lot! So listen to that music and enjoy the ambient lighting.

7. Identify Your Usage and Minimize What Drains the Battery in Your Car

The more you know, the more you can save. Many EVs can show you what functions of the car are using the most battery poser. You can also check key stats, such as battery health and average range per trip. Enjoy the drive!

And don’t forget that how you charge your EV battery matters. This blog post offers more tips to help make owning an electric vehicle easy and fun!

Efficient Driving Begins With Knowledge and Awareness

Understanding what drains the battery in a car or EV is crucial for maximizing its performance and range. As vehicle owners, especially EV owners, strive to enhance their battery’s performance, they must consider various factors that impact battery consumption. By staying informed about your EV’s usage and making informed decisions, owners can extend their battery’s life and make the most of their electric vehicles. Remember, driving an EV is not only eco-friendly but also offers unique advantages that set it apart from traditional internal combustion engine vehicles. Enjoy the drive and make the most of your electric journey!

More tips to help you enjoy your ride:

The 80% Rule: Why You Shouldn’t Charge Your EV to 100%

How WiTricity Makes Charging Electric Cars Easier

Reducing Range Anxiety for Electric Vehicles

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