There are key differences between the 12-volt battery in an internal combustion engine and an electric vehicle (EV) high-voltage (HV) battery pack. Primarily, EV HV batteries are the driving force behind the entire car! If you’re considering switching from a gas or diesel engine to electric, you probably have many questions — especially about the battery. This guide will walk you through how EV batteries work, how long you can expect them to last, and how you can help maintain yours long-term.
How Do EV Batteries Work?
All HV EV batteries are different, but typically, they run using a battery pack controller and can be recharged by grid electricity or regenerative braking. When you plug them in at home or an electric vehicle charging station, they take electrical energy and store it in the HV battery pack. These packs are typically from the lithium family, similar to those in other electronics, such as your smartphone.
When you drive an electric vehicle, the battery pack powers the electric motor, which propels the vehicle. The HV battery pack energy may also indirectly power other electrical components like the radio, headlights, and seat warmers after it has been stepped down to 12-volts by the DC-DC converter. Cranking the heat or cold air in an electric vehicle may potentially reduce the battery’s range quicker since these are typically powered by high-voltage energy from the battery pack.
What is the Life Expectancy of an Electric Vehicle Battery?
Electric vehicles rely on their batteries to operate, so it’s ideal for them to last as long as possible. An EV battery's lifespan can depend on many factors, including manufacturing, driving conditions, temperatures, and how frequently they’re charged.
So when are electric vehicle batteries typically retired? Somewhere between 8 and 20 years. While that may seem like an enormous range, EVs have not been on the mainstream market for very long, so research is still pretty new. Most electric vehicle manufacturers have at least an 8-year or 100,000-mile warranty on the battery, similar to most ICE vehicle powertrain warranties. So, they don’t anticipate them dying outside of unusual circumstances before then. Compare that to 3-5 years in a standard 12-volt car battery!
What Happens to Electric Vehicle Batteries When They Die?
As your EV battery ages, it behaves similarly to an old phone or laptop. You may find yourself charging it more frequently, and the charge might not get you as far due to capacity loss.
What Can Cause EV Batteries to Degrade?
Many of the same factors that negatively impact other batteries can apply to electric vehicle battery degradation. Like the batteries in your cell phone, they may eventually run out of “juice.” But several other factors might increase the speed at which your EV battery degrades.
Have you ever tried to use your cell phone in frigid temperatures, only to find that the battery dwindles in just minutes? Well, the same thing can happen to an electric vehicle. Extreme heat, extreme cold, and extensive exposure to either can reduce the life of your EV’s battery.
Fast charging is occasionally convenient but will stress different parts of the battery if done regularly. On the other hand, it’s crucial to ensure you don’t let your EV battery get to 0%. Unlike a traditional combustion engine, you can’t hoof it to a gas station for more fuel! You’ll likely have to call a tow truck to get to a charging station.
Neglecting Your Manufacturer-Suggested Maintenance Schedule.
An EV still requires regular maintenance. The good news is that EVs have fewer moving parts than combustion engines, often requiring less maintenance. However, one thing to consider for battery life is that some electric vehicles use liquid coolant to keep the motor and battery from overheating. If your EV uses coolant, it’s vital to maintain fluid levels.
Furthermore, an electric vehicle still requires brake pads (though often less frequently since many EVs use regenerative braking), inspections, tire rotation and balance, windshield wipers, alignments, etc.
Can EV Batteries Be Replaced?
While EV batteries are made to last for a long time, they may eventually die. Once they do, they can be replaced. Don’t expect to replace your electric vehicle battery on the cheap, though. Prices can range from roughly $2,000 to $10,000 or higher, depending on the vehicle, type of battery, and range.
How to Extend EV Battery Life
You can potentially improve the lifespan of your EV battery by taking the following steps:
- Don’t charge it to 100% every time, and don’t run it to 0%. You can reduce the battery's overall capacity when you charge too often.
- Avoid driving (where possible) in extreme heat or extreme cold. Extreme temperatures can reduce a battery’s life and immediate range.
- Avoid using fast chargers too often. Fast chargers put stress on EV batteries and can cause performance issues.
- Don’t neglect maintenance or ignore problems. If something’s wrong with your EV, contact your nearest Tires Plus! Select locations now offer electric vehicle maintenance and service.
Get Plugged-In to Tires Plus
Keep your electric vehicle in good health by keeping it well-maintained at Tires Plus. Our technicians can perform general and scheduled maintenance services as well as high-voltage system diagnostic and repair services when needed. Contact your local Tires Plus location to confirm whether these services are available in your area today.