3 Steps to Prepare Your EV for Long-Term Storage

Many drivers may have to plan for long-term storage options for their vehicles at some point or another. With the increasing number of EV owners, understanding what electric vehicle storage entails is vital for responsible ownership. So, whether you’re moving, going on a vacation, or storing your EV for the cold winter months, here are the steps to keep your EV safe and healthy.

1. Don’t keep your EV plugged in during long-term storage

A Volkswagen ID.3 electric car (EV) being stored in a car production garage
Volkswagen ID.3 car production garage | Sean Gallup/Getty Images

According to Driving Electric, keeping your EV plugged in while it’s at 100% charge and when it’s in storage will degrade the high-voltage battery. Instead, charge it to 80% or so and leave the electric vehicle unplugged. 

For the secondary 12-volt battery, much like the one in regular gasoline-powered cars, it is also a good idea to disconnect the cables from the battery terminals when you’re storing the vehicle. Leaving the cables plugged in is more likely to cause issues with the battery and could result in a dead battery when you return to your car. 

To disconnect the 12-volt battery, make sure that you’ve turned the car off and that it is unplugged from the charger for its main battery. Grab an appropriately sized socket wrench to loosen the bolt on the battery that holds the cables. First, loosen the bolt to disconnect the negative terminal, which is usually a black cable. You can always double-check with your vehicle’s owner’s manual. 

Then, loosen the positive terminal, which usually has a red cable, and remove the cable. It’s crucial that once you disconnect the cables from the battery, the cables aren’t touching any metal parts of the vehicle.  

2. Choose an inside location that is dry and climate-controlled

Although vehicles typically deal with being parked outside just fine on a regular basis, the situation is different when it comes to long-term EV storage. When getting your EV ready to store, it’s advisable to forgo leaving it outside and choose an inside location like a garage. 

If the car is outside, the changes in temperature and extreme heat or extreme cold can damage the battery’s longevity, CarProUSA reminds. Aim for a garage that is climate controlled for best storage. If you don’t have a garage or don’t have access to one, keeping your EV under a carport or shade awning is preferable to it being in direct sunlight. 

If you go the carport or shade structure route, be advised that the extreme cold will still be an issue for the battery during the wintertime.

3. Remove the battery and apply a trickle charger to keep the battery healthy

Again, maintaining battery health during periods of long-term storage helps keep your EV in top shape when it’s time to drive it again. The main, high-voltage battery does just fine when not in use for periods of as long as six months. The secondary battery, though, as mentioned before, needs some more attention during long periods of unuse.

Continuing from the steps outlined above for disconnecting the 12-volt battery, take it a step further and connect the battery to a slow or trickle charger. This keeps the battery in optimum health, and since a regular charger at full power would cause the battery to reach full charge quickly, this prevents potentially damaging the battery when left plugged in.

Remember that if your 12-volt battery is in the trunk or hatch, you’ll want to keep your trunk open when you’re storing the EV. If not, you won’t be able to open the trunk to put the battery back after storage unless you go through your vehicle’s battery jump start procedure. That’s because the 12-volt battery powers things like door locks and the trunk opener.

As a rule for security, if the garage is locked, keep your trunk open. If the garage isn’t locked, keep the trunk or hatch closed and go through the jump start recovery process.

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