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Clean, Mean, Electric Machine: Spring Cleaning and Adventure Prep for Your EV

As spring blooms and temperatures rise, it's the perfect time to give your electric vehicle some much-needed TLC. Just like any other vehicle, EVs require regular cleaning and maintenance to keep them running smoothly and looking their best. Are you ready to roll up your sleeves and get your EV in tip-top shape? Here’s the areas you want to make sure to give some attention!

Performing General Maintenance:

  • Exterior Cleaning: Start by giving your EV's exterior a thorough cleaning. Use a mild detergent and water to wash away dirt, grime, and road salt residue. Pay special attention to the wheels, tires, and undercarriage, as these areas are prone to collecting debris, especially after the winter season. If you live in a location that uses salt or other chemicals to treat roadways for ice, adding wax or sealant after washing adds a layer of protection and makes it easier to clean in the future. After your deep clean, shoot for washing your car at least once every 1-2 weeks to remove pollen, dust, and other debris.

  • Interior Cleaning: Next, tackle the interior of your EV. Vacuum the floors and seats to remove any dirt, crumbs, or debris. For floor mats, shake off any loose material then rinse them clean. Fabric seats may need upholstery cleaner and a soft-bristled brush to remove stains and spills. For leather seats, use leather cleaner and conditioner. Wipe down surfaces with a gentle cleaner and microfiber cloth to remove dust and smudges, being careful not to use products that could damage the interior materials. Pay attention to cracks, vents, and buttons where dust and dirt accumulate.

  • Glass Cleaning: Don't forget to clean the windows and mirrors of your EV for optimal visibility. Start by using a dry microfiber cloth to remove any loose dirt and debris. Then, spray automotive glass cleaner on windows and mirrors, removing the cleaner with a squeegee. After you’ve squeegeed the entire window, use a clean microfiber cloth to buff to a streak-free shine. Voilá!

  • Tire Care: Check the tire pressure regularly and inflate them to the recommended psi to ensure optimal performance and fuel efficiency. Refer to your owner’s manual or the sticker on the inside of the driver’s side door jamb for the manufacturer’s recommendation. The psi may vary between the front and back tires. Inspect the tread for wear and tear and replace the tires if necessary to maintain traction and safety. Pro-Tip: Take a penny and insert it into several of the tread grooves with Lincoln’s head facing down. If you can see the top of his head completely, it’s time to replace your tires! If part of his head is still covered, you’ve still got tread.

  • Fluid Levels: While your EV doesn’t have traditional fluids like oil, coolant, or transmission fluid in a gas-powered engine, there are a few fluids to check. Battery coolant helps regulate the temperature of the battery pack and may have a reservoir for visual inspection. When it comes to brake fluid, EVs still have a hydraulic brake system and it should be checked periodically. Does your electric vehicle have a power steering that requires power steering fluid? If so, consult your owner’s manual for how to check the level. And lastly, windshield washer fluid- keep your windows spotless with either EV-specific washer fluid or all-season use. Top them off as needed to prevent overheating, ensure smooth operation, and easily remove debris.

Checking Your EV's Battery Health:

  • Monitor Charging Habits: Pay attention to your EV's charging habits and make adjustments as needed to optimize battery health. Use Level 2 charging to primarily charge your battery, especially when it is close to empty to reduce wear and tear. Fast chargers are great for occasional use or to top off your battery when you’re out and about. Try to keep the battery level between 20% and 80% for optimal longevity by charging regularly each day or overnight.

  • Schedule Regular Inspections: Schedule regular inspections with a certified technician to check your EV's battery health and performance. They can perform diagnostic tests and identify any issues that may need attention. Look for authorized dealerships and service centers or specialized EV repair shops to find a certified tech. An annual inspection is recommended, even if you aren’t having battery issues, to help detect early warning signs of battery degradation or other issues that may affect performance and longevity. Pro-Tip: If you’re purchasing a used EV, consider having the battery inspected by a certified technician as part of the pre-purchase inspection process.

  • Temperature Considerations: Be mindful of temperature extremes, as they can affect your EV's battery life. Avoid exposing your EV to extreme heat or cold for prolonged periods and consider storing your EV in your garage during high and low temps. EVs typically come with battery thermal management systems to help protect your battery, however, the design and sophistication of these can vary between models and manufacturers.

  • Software Updates: Keep your EV's software up to date to ensure optimal performance and efficiency. Manufacturers often release updates that can improve battery management and extend battery life through the battery management system. The BMS monitors and manages the state of charge, temperature, and health of the battery pack. Up-to-date software optimizes the BMS algorithms and maximizes the efficiency of charging and discharging processes.

  • Storage Tips: If you plan to store your EV for an extended period, follow proper storage guidelines to maintain battery health. Keep the battery charged to around 50% to help prevent over-discharge or overcharging during storage which can be detrimental to battery health. store the vehicle in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.

Preparing to Hit the Open Road:

  • Spring Maintenance Checklist: Perform a spring maintenance checklist to ensure your EV is ready for the road ahead.

    • Check the brake system (brake pads, rotors, and calipers) for proper functioning and address any unusual noises or vibrations.

    • Inspect all exterior and interior lights, including headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, and hazard lights. Replace any burnt-out bulbs and ensure that all lights are working properly.

    • Look for signs of wear or deterioration on your wiper blades and change them out if needed.

    • Examine your charging cable, connectors, and charging station for any signs of damage or wear. Ensure the charging equipment is functioning correctly and safely.

    • Check your HVAC system by testing the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning for any unusual noises, odors, or airflow issues. Reference your owner’s manual for air filter change schedule recommendations.

    • Inspect your EV’s suspension and steering by looking for signs of wear, damage, or abnormalities with a visual inspection, steering wheel alignment test, smooth steering operation check, and suspension performance verification. Addressing any issues promptly ensures your EV’s ride comfort, handling, and safety.

  • Tire Rotation and Alignment: Rotate the tires and perform a wheel alignment to ensure even wear and optimal handling. Proper tire maintenance is essential for safety and performance, especially during spring road trips and adventures.

  • Plan Your Spring Adventures: Once your EV is clean, maintained, and ready to go, it's time to start planning your spring adventures! Map out your route and note EV charging stations to plan stops accordingly. Don’t forget your vehicle registration and insurance. And always carry a well-stocked emergency kit in case the unexpected strikes.

With proper cleaning and maintenance, your electric vehicle can provide years of reliable performance and enjoyment. By following these tips, you can keep your EV running smoothly and looking its best, while also protecting its battery health and preparing it for spring adventures. So grab your cleaning supplies and get ready to hit the road in style with your freshly cleaned and maintained EV!

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