Electric vehicles have some advantages over conventional gas or diesel cars. They are less expensive to run, cheaper to maintain and better for the environment.
But there are differences, too, including how you store an electric car you won’t be driving for awhile. Don’t just let it sit in the garage for an extended time, because when you return to it you’ll probably find its expensive battery dead.
10 Tips For Storing an Electric Car
- Cover it up. Store it in a garage if possible but if you can’t, at least use a weatherproof car cover. Or consider renting space at a storage facility to keep your car out of the weather and at a stable temperature.
- Clean it well. Wash and wax your car and make sure you remove mud and grease from the wheels and fender undersides, too. Leaving bird droppings or water stains on a car can damage the paint.
- Change the oil. If the car will be stored for more than a month you should change the oil first.
- Fill up the gas tank. Some electric cars do use fuel, such as the Chevrolet Volt. Topping off the tank prevents moisture from accumulating inside the fuel tank and keeps seals from drying out. Adding a fuel stabilizer prevents ethanol from building up, protects the engine and keeps gas from deteriorating for up to a year.
- Don’t set the parking brake. Brake pads that are in contact with rotors for an extended time can become fused. Use a tire stopper, or chock, instead.
- Inflate your tires. Fill to the recommended tire pressure to keep them from developing flat spots. If you’re storing the car for more than a month, consider removing the wheels and putting it up on jack stands.
- Keep the battery charged. Have someone start the car and drive it for 15 minutes every two weeks. This helps maintain the battery’s charge and also keeps the engine lubricated.
- Disconnect the battery if you must. If no one can start the car regularly during storage, disconnect the negative battery cable.
- Or attach a battery tender. Also known as a “trickle charger,” this device hooks up to your battery on one end and a wall outlet on the other. This delivers a small amount of electrical power, enough to prevent the battery from depleting.
- Don’t cancel your car insurance. The insurance company might later raise your rates due to the gap in coverage.
How About Hybrids?
If you’re storing a hybrid for three months or longer, make sure someone starts it and runs it regularly. Fail to take care of hybrid vehicle batteries and you might come back to a dead car and an expensive battery replacement bill.
Toyota recommends charging a hybrid vehicle’s battery at least once every two months and letting it charge for at least thirty minutes. Make sure lights and other electrical accessories are turned off. The company suggests charging its hybrids’ auxiliary battery at least once every two weeks for 20 minutes, again with the air-conditioning and audio equipment turned off. Alternately, you could disconnect the auxiliary battery’s negative terminal.
Unless you have the tail pipe connected to an exhaust hose, never start a car in a closed space because of dangerous fumes. Yes, even an electric car.
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