9 Tips for Driving and Charging an EV in Hot Weather

By Chantel Wakefield 04/28/2023 4:00pm

Electric car charging in the sun

Electric Car Hot Weather Tips

  • Plan your driving route for errands to make the most efficient use of your time and battery range.
  • Charge during off-peak times to potentially save time using public stations and save money using your residential charger.
  • Use the electric car’s “eco mode” to automatically adjust settings that reduce energy consumption and optimize battery efficiency.

You can use electric cars in any temperature, but current and potential EV owners need to understand how hot weather affects performance and battery range. As with cold weather driving and charging in the winter, there are key things to remember during the warmer months. Here are some best practices for driving electric cars and charging EV batteries when the temperature gets hot.

1. Plan Your Route

This tip applies to electric car and gas-powered vehicle drivers seeking less fuel consumption. It takes longer to recharge an EV battery than it does to fill a gas tank, and charging stations are less common than gas stations, so savvy drivers are intentional about when and how they drive — especially in extreme heat.

Electric cars typically use battery power faster when it’s hot, and recharging often takes more time than in mild temperatures. To avoid having battery power run low during a scorching hot day, be intentional about planning your route and combine errands whenever possible. If you commute to work, make time in your schedule for other stops along the way so you don’t make special trips and all your driving is done at once.

2. Plan Your Charging Stops

While you’re planning your driving route away from home, also plot charging stops. Make the most efficient use of your time and battery range. Online tools and smartphone apps can provide real-time data on EV charging stations, availability, and historical reliability ratings. Use them to map out the most convenient charging stops along your route.

Take advantage of charging stations at grocery stores, restaurant parking lots, or other common areas. This is a great way to make sure you have enough range to reach your destinations comfortably without any hiccups.

RELATED: EV Charging Stations: Everything You Need To Know

3.Precondition Your EV Interior

Many electric cars come with a “precondition” feature that lets you remotely cool down the interior while the EV is still plugged in. Preconditioning can help optimize your EV’s performance in hot weather by reducing the strain on the air conditioning system once you start driving. Since the cabin is already cool, the battery isn’t overworked bringing the temperature down to a comfortable level.

Note: EV battery preconditioning is a separate function of an electric car that’s used in cold weather to prepare the battery for optimal performance.

4. Charge During Off-Peak Hours

Charge up earlier in the morning or later in the evening. Extreme heat affects charging speed, so choose more temperate times of day for faster recharging. During peak hours, some charging stations may slow down charging speeds to manage demand. This will help ensure the charging equipment doesn’t overheat.

Many utility companies implement rate surcharges for electricity use during peak demand times, so do your wallet a favor and be mindful of those periods when charging at home.

Avoid prolonged use of fast chargers and choose slower chargers when possible. Level 1 and Level 2 chargers are easier on the battery and generate less heat during charging.

RELATED: Everything That Drains Your Electric Car Battery

5. Monitor Your Battery

Pay attention to your battery temperature and state of charge (SOC) during hot weather. Most electric vehicles have a built-in battery management system that provides real-time data on the temperature and SOC. You should be able to access these details through your infotainment menus or the manufacturer’s mobile app.

In the unlikely event that the battery is getting too hot, take a break from driving. Give it time to cool down before continuing your journey.

6. Park in the Shade

Park your EV in the shade to reduce the heat buildup inside your vehicle as it sits unattended. If you can’t find shade, use reflective window covers or sunshade inserts to block those rays from entering your vehicle. Small steps like these can reduce how much you’ll need the air conditioner and save a few miles of battery range.

Prolonged exposure to extreme heat can affect an electric car battery’s long-term performance and ultimately reduce its lifespan. To prevent overheating, don’t expose your vehicle to direct sunlight for extended periods. If possible, always park in a shaded or well-ventilated area to allow the battery to cool down naturally.

RELATED: How Much Does It Cost To Charge an Electric Car?

7. Drive Smart

Safe and smart driving is always good practice, but it’s especially important in hot weather to help conserve your battery range. Accelerate and decelerate at a steady pace. Don’t sit idle with the car turned on for more than a few minutes, and stay within the recommended speed range. These good habits will help manage energy consumption. Additionally, be mindful of the load you carry. Avoid weighing the car down with excess cargo.

8. Use Eco Mode

Utilize the electric car’s eco mode, if available. This mode automatically adjust your car’s settings to reduce energy consumption and optimize efficiency. When paired with the smart driving tips above, this can make sure you get the most out of each charge in hot weather. Other EV driving features like regenerative braking can also improve your fuel efficiency.

MORE: Electric Car Charging Etiquette Guide

9. Keep Your Tires Properly Inflated

Maintaining the right tire pressure is important for any vehicle in all weather conditions, but it’s particularly crucial for electric car tires in hot weather. Underinflated tires can increase rolling resistance, which is the amount of energy it takes to keep rolling along the road. The higher the rolling resistance, the lower your EV range. This can also affect handling and stability.

Check your tire pressure regularly, especially during hot weather when it tends to fluctuate more. Keep them properly inflated to boost performance and increase your driving range.