Essential electric car checks before driving long journeys
Making sure your car is in top working condition is vital for any adventure. And it’s even more important for an EV so you can make the most of your range. We’ve put together this list of essential electric vehicle checks before driving a long journey so you know exactly what to inspect before heading off.
Not only are you making sure your car is safe and ready to go, but you’re ensuring you’ve done everything you can to maximise your range and minimise downtime.
Most EV checks before driving off are the same that you’d carry out on a car with a combustion engine, but with a few new ones added.
All are equally important to ensuring a safe and efficient road trip. Explore below to find the list of vital electric vehicle checks before driving off on a long journey.
1. Top up your battery
This may sound like a simple one, but ensuring that your electric car has enough charge for the journey ahead is vital. Most modern EVs have a handy feature that allows you to schedule in when you need the battery charged so it's ready for your departure. If you’re heading off at 10 am, preset charging to finish at 9 am. Intuitive apps give you control of this feature, allowing you to remote charge as long as it’s plugged in.
You don’t need to charge 100% either. Set it to finish at around 80% to maximise your battery’s life. For more information on how to keep your EV battery healthy, read our in-depth guide to electric car batteries. But if you’re really in a rush, set it to 100% to minimise downtime later in the journey.
2. Check your fluids
Whilst fully electric cars don’t have engine oil, there are three main fluids you will need to check before going on a long journey. These are the battery coolant, brake fluid and windscreen washer fluid.
The coolant fluid is important as this is what cools your EV battery. This means it’s vital to check that this is topped up before you go on a journey. Not having enough battery coolant may damage your battery, which would then be made worse by driving long journeys and using rapid chargers.
Brake fluid is another vital part of an EV for safety and range. This fluid is used to ensure safe and efficient braking, which then benefits your car’s regenerative braking system to draw power to the battery. EV brake fluid needs to be changed around every 25,000 miles or so, but it’s still worth checking before you depart on a cross-country adventure.
Windscreen washer fluid is another important one to keep topped up. Ensuring you’ve got this filled means you can easily clean away any dirt, smudges or any other marks off your windscreen. Bring a large bottle of water and some washer fluid just in case you need to top up later in the journey.
3. Test your brakes
Safety first! Walk around your car for a quick visual inspection of your brakes, then get in and give them a test to make sure everything’s in working order. They’ll most likely be fine, but, just like with a traditionally powered car, it’s always worth checking your brakes before you head off.
Press the brake pedal a few times to make sure it doesn’t feel spongy or loose. Next, find somewhere you can test coming to a stop quickly with a firm press of the pedal. If you come to a stop quickly without veering to one side, you’re good to go.
4. Turn on your lights
This is a quick and easy one. Test out all the light functions, including daytime running lights, headlights, full beam, indicators, fog lights and brake lights. You can do this alone by checking your car in the reflection of a window, or you can ask a passenger to have a quick walk around the car as you test the functions.
5. Check your tyres
Tyres are another essential part of any car check. You need to make sure they’re in safe working order with no damage, legal level of tread and enough tyre pressure.
First, inspect each tyre for damage. Spotting this early can be the difference between getting to your destination safely and breaking down on the motorway.
Next, have a look at the tread depth and make sure it's well within the legal limit. This will ensure safe driving and ample stopping distance.
Finally, make sure your tyre pressure is correct before heading off. Underinflated tyres are at higher risk of damage and wear and actually reduce your electric car’s range. So make sure all your tyres are safe and efficient before heading off and consider taking a portable electric pump just in case.
If you find any issues with your tyres, here at Pentagon we stock all sizes of tyres to get you on the go. Get tyres from budget to premium all with a Kwik Fit price match promise.
6. Clear your view
Make sure every window and mirror is clear and clean before you drive off. After topping up your windscreen fluid, give both front and rear windows a clean with the washing function.
Most modern electric cars can pre-condition the cabin for you. So if it’s a colder morning, you can choose a departure time and your EV will pre-set the temperature and demist the windscreen before you’re even in the cabin.
This also maximises your range, as running the climate control whilst driving depletes your battery quicker.
7. Bring your charging cables
Always bring your charging cables with you, just to be safe. Make sure they’re packed away before you go and you won’t be hit with any surprises. This will help if your route or final destination doesn’t have many rapid chargers nearby.
Pack your cables in an easy to reach location so you have easy access without having to unload all your luggage.
8. Read the owner’s manual
Make sure you’re familiar with all the car’s features and functions before you drive off. For example, it’s worth understanding what different driving modes do to your car, and the effect this has on your range.
At the very least, ensure you bring the manual with you to consult should you need it.
9. Breakdown cover
Hope for the best but plan for the worst. Make sure you have full breakdown cover before you go on a long journey. Whilst electric cars tend to have fewer issues compared to traditional cars, due to having fewer mechanical parts, it’s always best to be prepared.
You can get breakdown cover designed for electric cars. Companies like the AA and the RAC will get you to the nearest charging point if you run out of battery on the road, or they’ll give you a quick charge to get you on your way.
10. Bring your charging cards & get the apps
Make sure you bring charging cards for at least three charging point brands and download all the necessary apps. This means you’ll always have access to charge points with easy payment and won't be caught off-guard.
Have a look at the route ahead and identify charging point brands so you know which cards to bring and apps to download.
11. Know your charging stops
Another simple-sounding tip that may save you a lot of trouble: plan ahead and look at charging points along the journey. Again, most electric cars have this ability built into the infotainment system or companion app, but it’s still good to have a general idea in case of any issues that arise.
A handy tip is to combine refreshment and toilet breaks with charging. For example, if you’re on a five-hour drive, you can schedule a stop halfway through to stretch your legs, get a drink and recharge the battery for 20 minutes. This minimises downtime and gets you to your destination quicker.
Now get going!