Are Electric Cars Good In Cold Weather?

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The CarsDirect editorial team is dedicated to providing our readers with the latest on new and used cars, expert opinions on which vehicles make the grade, and all the fun stuff in between.


, - November 29, 2022
Ford Mustang Mach-E

With more choices than ever before, there's an EV for just about everybody these days. However, drivers in harsher climates may be wondering whether or not electric cars are good in cold weather. Fortunately, there are ways to help ensure that your electric car doesn't encounter performance issues in cold weather.

Ford recently offered some tips for F-150 Lightning buyers to get the most out of their trucks. Based on these cold-weather EV tips, we think owners of other electric cars may be in a position to save energy and drive smarter when temperatures dip. Here's a look at some of the company's cold-weather electric car tips.

Turn Off The Heater

It may seem like a dealbreaker, but turning off the main heater inside your electric car can improve efficiency. Instead, Ford recommends using your heated seats and heated steering wheel (if applicable) as your primary means of staying warm. That said, it probably wouldn't hurt to have a hot beverage on hand, too.

Tesla Model X

If you're sitting in your car while charging, Ford suggests turning off the heater when possible. If that proves to be challenging, some drivers may want to consider dressing more warmly. Here, choosing an electric car that charges quickly could help ensure that you get back on the road as fast as possible in bad weather.

Park Your Electric Car Indoors

Parking your electric car or truck in a garage could greatly affect comfort and performance. Ford says that electrolyte fluid in battery cells can become sluggish in temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. This can affect just how much power your electric car battery can discharge as well as how fast it can charge.

Tesla Model 3

According to research from AAA, extremely cold weather can cut EV range by up to 41%. That's defined as temperatures below 20 degrees and was found to reduce the range on a Tesla Model S from 239 miles down to just 148 in some conditions. That's a huge difference in performance simply based on the weather.

Precondition Your Battery

Newer EVs have software that can help plan trips more efficiently. In Ford's case, the FordPass app can help warm a vehicle's battery before a planned departure time. The brand says that doing so could make for a more efficient commute. This will require your EV to be plugged in, however, so be sure to plan ahead.

Watch Your Speed

As with a gas car, higher speeds tend to use more energy in an electric vehicle. To get the best efficiency, Ford suggests driving at moderate speeds in cold weather. This may also prove to be a safer way to drive, especially if the roads are wet and you hydroplane or encounter black ice and other hazards on the road.

Check Your Tire Pressure

Like any car, an electric vehicle needs to have proper tire inflation to run efficiently. That means having an inflation gauge to ensure you have the right pressure. The correct pressure should be stamped inside the driver's side door and will be the "cold inflation pressure" before embarking on a trip or starting your commute.

2023 Nissan LEAF

It may sound counterintuitive, but drivers shouldn't use the tire pressure ratings stamped onto the sidewalls of their tires. That's because car manufacturers have specific guidelines for what performs best in their vehicles. As a result, two electric cars with similar-looking tires may have very different pressure requirements.

It may also be smart to look at what kind of tires you even have. For example, a Tesla Model 3 with high-performance summer tires may not always be appropriate for snowy weather. Some EV owners may find it worth investing in a good set of winter tires, which are specifically designed to perform well in snow and rain.

Remove Snow To Reduce Drag

Weight can have a big effect on efficiency in any car, and reducing the load on your electric vehicle can make a difference. Ford suggests brushing off any snow from your vehicle before starting your trip. In addition to saving weight, this could help reduce aerodynamic drag so that you can spend less energy on your trip.

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The CarsDirect editorial team is dedicated to providing our readers with the latest on new and used cars, expert opinions on which vehicles make the grade, and all the fun stuff in between.


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