Skip to main content

How to care for your EV battery and reduce range anxiety

Protect your investment with these handy EV battery care tips

Electric vehicle symbol.
Michael Marais / Unsplash

Electric vehicle batteries can be the source of a lot of anxiety — most of which centers on their storage capacity. This can include range anxiety, and when a battery’s performance degrades past a certain point, EV battery replacement costs.

There are also environmental concerns to consider. When your vehicle’s juice box does eventually kick the bucket, EV battery recycling is an option and one that is becoming more and more efficient as time goes on. But with proper EV battery care, you can fend off the lithium reaper and keep your car’s original power supply in place for years longer than it otherwise would be.

However, it is worth noting that some of these methods either require a lot of conscious effort and/or may greatly impact your experience as an EV owner. You don’t have to go to extremes and can strike a balance — but just ignoring these instructions is acceptable if you don’t think a bit of extended battery life is worth it. If you are determined to make your battery last a lot longer than it should, here are four good ways to go about it.

An SUV parked in a snowy remote location
Simon Berger/Unsplash / Pexels

Keep it away from extreme temperatures

If you live in an area where the temperature never drifts toward extreme heat or cold, you may notice your EV’s battery outlasts those owned by people in harsher climates. This is because lithium-ion batteries, like the ones powering your car, should be kept within a certain temperature range. Range can drop by 5% when the mercury reaches the 90-degree mark, and it plummets further when temperatures get into triple figures. One study shows a temperature of 100 degrees can drop your electric car’s range by over 30%.

The impact isn’t just short-term; long-term exposure to heat can ruin a car’s battery just like it can ruin the lithium-ion batteries in your phone and laptop. A battery getting too cold has equally severe consequences. A lithium-ion battery contains liquid, and when liquid freezes, it expands. This expansion can destroy cells inside the battery, lessening its ability to hold a charge at best and totally ruining it at worst. Batteries have inbuilt heating and cooling functions to keep them close to ideal operating temperatures, but ideally, you should park your EV in a climate-controlled garage if you want to maximize its battery life.

Electric car plugged into charger
IvanRadic / Openverse

Don’t let it get too full or too empty

While charging to 100% is more convenient and provides more range in the short term — it can also damage the battery as time goes on. This is bad news if you like to plug your vehicle in overnight and wake up to a full battery in the morning. As with temperature, the other extreme is also bad. Storing a battery long-term with low or zero charge is a good way to greatly reduce its lifespan.

Ideally, you’ll want to keep your EV’s charge between 20% and 80%. The odd 100% charge when you have a long drive ahead is unlikely to have much of an impact either; it’s maintaining a 100% charge for a long, cumulative period that causes problems. So it shouldn’t cause you any range anxiety in the short term — and can ensure you’ll still be able to get the most out of your battery when you need it a few years down the line.

This is one of the easier things to keep a handle on, as many EV manufacturers include a battery-saving setting that caps a charge at 80%. You should consult its manual to see if your EV has this feature. If a battery-saver mode is present, you’ll be able to enable the cap in the vehicle’s settings menu.

ev charging in sunny weather
Blue Planet Studio / Shutterstock

Avoid fast charging

Fast charging is one of the advancements that is making EVs practical. In mere minutes, you can cram hundreds of miles of range into some vehicle’s batteries. It makes long-distance trips possible, and its usefulness means an expanded fast-charging network is high on the agenda for manufacturers, campaign groups, and governments.

So what’s the catch? Well, it’s not great for your battery. As we’ve mentioned, heat causes damage to lithium-ion batteries. Fast charging creates a lot of heat in comparison to slower charging methods. So the more you fast charge, the more you’re chipping away at your battery’s health. Again, the occasional road trip won’t cause a drastic decrease in your battery’s lifespan. But if using a slower, gentler charging method is an option, it may make your battery last a lot longer.

Charging the vehicle near the house. Holding smartphone. Young stylish man is with electric car at daytime.
standret / Adobe Stock

Drive more economically, or just don’t drive at all

Battery life is usually based on cycles. A battery can only be drained and recharged so many times before it degrades. Your smartphone uses similar battery technology to an EV, and most people cycle their phone’s battery around once a day. You may have noticed that, after a couple of years, your phone is dying a lot faster than it used to. This is down to battery degradation. Your car will behave similarly, though it will likely last a lot longer as few people will hit the 250 miles per day or so you’ll need to cycle the average EV battery.

The cycles are cumulative, so you don’t have to go from 100% to 0% for it to count as one. You can go from 60% to 40% and recharge it back to 60% five times for example, that would count as one “cycle.” Using less battery power means you will have to recharge less and ultimately cycle the battery fewer times per year. While you’ll get a similar number of cycles to other drivers with the same battery configuration, your vehicle may last a lot longer in terms of time. You might get twelve years out of a battery, while others barely get eight.

Economical driving is pretty much the same if a vehicle is gas-powered or battery-powered. Avoid harsh acceleration and braking. Clear the trunk out, as extra weight will hamper fuel economy. Keep the windows and sunroof closed to reduce drag—that kind of thing. Not driving at all is also an option. If there are times you can leave the EV in the garage and walk or take the bus, you’ll have saved a bit of battery life you can use later. Just remember to charge the car to around 60% if you plan on leaving it unused for an extended period.

Editors' Recommendations

Dave McQuilling
Dave has spent pretty much his entire career as a journalist; this has included jobs at newspapers, TV stations, on the…
Why Alfa Romeo changed the name of its first EV
Alfa Romeo Milano

One of the more exciting aspects of the world of EVs is finding out what kind of entrant some of our favorite car manufacturers decide to throw into the fray. Although it doesn't get quite the same level of fanfare and accolades that the high-flying Lamborghinis and Ferraris get, Alfa Romeo has quietly gone about its business of being an elegant, performance-oriented Italian brand for decades. Alfa Romeo just debuted its first EV — the Milano — and then quickly changed the name. And it's all thanks to the Italian government.
Why the name was changed

So, what happened? The EV is being built at a factory in Poland and is the first Alfa Romeo model to be made entirely outside of Italy. Adolfo Urso, Italy's industry minister, said, "A car called Milano cannot be produced in Poland. This is forbidden by Italian law."  In 2003, Italy passed legislation prohibiting products that falsely claim to be Italian.

Read more
Despite reports to the contrary, Ford is not wussing out on EVs
Ford forges ahead with new plants and facility expansions for EV production
Mustang Mach-E Rally driving on pavement directly at the viewer.

Ford Motor Company recently released an update on its global EV and hybrid manufacturing plants and plans. Given rampant reports of industry-wide EV sales slowdowns and automakers announcing changes in their electrification strategies, Ford's open presentation is fresh air. Details of Ford's programs for EV, hybrid, and ICE vehicles follow the outline Ford CEO Jim Farley shared with investors during a quarterly earnings call in early February 2024.
Why Ford's continued EV focus matters

Global electrification of the automobile industry is a given, but in these still-early days in the transition, corporate messaging can either add to the confusion or calm hypersensitive observers. It's easy to report that X company's EV sales are down one month, but if direct competitors began selling new electric models during the same period, apparently contradictory headlines can both be accurate. With current electric vehicle sales reporting, traditional year-0ver-year comparisons have little value, and even quarter-to-quarter metrics are suspect.

Read more
Mercedes-Benz Wallbox smart home charger now available nationwide for fast EV charging
Save time and hassle by charging your EV at home
Mercedes-Benz Wallbox home EV charger in a garage behind a car with its taillights on.

If you drive a Mercedes-Benz EV or Plug-in Hybrid, the Mercedes-Benz Wallbox is now available throughout the United States. It offers a convenient home charging solution. The Wallbox significantly benefits drivers who recharge their electric or plug-in hybrid vehicles overnight. This is particularly useful given that the charging speed can vary based on the vehicle's battery size and current charge level. Also, the Wallbox's design complements the aesthetic of Mercedes-Benz electric vehicles.
Why the Mercedes-Benz Wallbox is important

Like most other automakers, Mercedes-Benz is making huge investments in battery electric vehicles (BEVs). Convenient charging is a key element in supporting consumer transition to BEVs, and charging at home is the most convenient way to make that happen. Mercedes-Benz has joined other automakers in adopting the North American Charging Standard (NACS) so customers can connect to Tesla's Supercharger network away from home, but fast charging at home with a Level 2  240V charging box will charge an EV's better up to eight times faster than plugging a Level 1 charger into a standard home outlet.
Using the Wallbox app

Read more