Since I started working from home, I decided to leave my car in the office carpark. I am not sure how long it will be before I start it up again. Are there any problems that could arise from leaving a car idle for weeks? A colleague who owns a Hyundai Kona Electric has also left his car in the office. What are the issues with electric vehicles (EVs) if they are not driven for several weeks?
The two main components that deteriorate when a car is left unused for extended periods are the tyres and battery.
Tyres can lose air over time due to leakages from the rim-tyre interface, defective valve and porosity in the wheel structure. So when you eventually get back to your car, check the tyres before driving off. A slight deflation is to be expected and you can drive to the nearest petrol station to pump up.
A gradual depletion of battery charge is also to be expected. If it is a battery that is more than two years old, several weeks of inactivity will likely cause it to go flat.
Batteries continue to supply energy even when the car is idle. Equipment such as anti-theft systems, on-board cameras, real-time dependent memory functions (such as clocks) and the EPR in-vehicle unit consume electrical power.
Also, a cause of depletion is a chemical process known as self-discharge. This is the main concern for EVs. If a battery is 60 to 70 per cent charged, you may be left with about 50 per cent after about six weeks because of on-board consumption and self-discharge.
This should be sufficient for you to drive home or to the nearest charging point. Do not park an EV for long periods if it has only 20 per cent charge or so. You may end up with insufficient range to get to the nearest charging point.
In any case, EV batteries should not be allowed to drop below 20 per cent charge for longevity.
If a car is parked in the open for long periods, it may sustain some temporary damage to its paintwork.
Lubricants and fluids will also settle after a long spell of inactivity. So, be gentle when you first drive out after “hibernation”.
If left idle for months, it is best to send the car for servicing as soon as you start driving it again. Tyres may also develop flat spots and may need to be changed.
So ideally, you should drive your car at least once a week to prevent all the above from happening.
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