5 Common Problems With Batteries In Electric Cars (Explained)

With the popularity of electric cars increasing exponentially, the concern with their batteries also increases.

The battery is the most expensive component in an electric car. As such, it’s only fair that we’d want to prevent problems with it.

In this article, we’ll be delving deeper into some common problems with batteries in electric cars.

Let’s jump straight into it.

1. Faulty or Damaged Separator

Chevrolet, one of the biggest brands in the auto industry, has had to recall some of its Chevy Bolt models. This was due to a faulty electric car battery separator, which rendered the models unsafe.

The main purpose of the separator in a battery is to separate the anode and cathode without affecting the ions. Unfortunately, manufacturers sometimes make these separators too thin.

As the battery undergoes normal wear and tear, the thin separator gets damaged and the battery becomes unstable. This then leads to the anode and cathode of the battery making contact.

When the anode and cathode of the battery come in contact, this short-circuits the battery and it may explode. The separator can also get damaged from overcharging for long periods of time.

Nowadays, electric car batteries do not explode as much as they used to. This is due to the advancement in electric car battery designs and technology.

In electric cars these days, manufacturers want the best batteries in their cars. Unfortunately, not all manufacturers are able to afford expensive battery packs in their vehicles.

Electric car batteries are not easily diagnosed, so if there are symptoms of problems, the battery must be disposed of. This is the recommended course of action by manufacturers of EVs.

After the battery pack is disposed of, it undergoes either recycling or reusing. Recycling is much more expensive, so some batteries are reused to power machines in factories.

2. Temperature Sensitivity

Lithium-ion batteries are temperature sensitive and must not be exposed to extremely high or low temperatures. This also goes for the battery packs that are included in electric cars.

It is recommended not to expose your EV battery to extremely high heat or very cold conditions for extended periods of time. This ensures a longer lifespan for your battery and better working conditions.

Other than exterior weather temperatures, the EV’s battery can become hot during charging or discharging. Extremely hot battery temperatures when charging can signal a dying or faulty battery pack.

Electric car batteries work in optimal temperatures between 65 and 115 Fahrenheit. These are optimal temperatures when the car is not exposed to extreme weather.

Unlike the lithium-ion batteries you’d find in your smartphone or other portable devices, EV batteries have temperature control.

A lithium-ion battery pack in an electric car has components built specifically for cooling the battery.

We have an article specifically about problems with Lithium-ion batteries for electric cars.

Much like a fan in a laptop computer, these components make sure that the battery is always at optimal working temperatures.

Cooling Components Used In Electric Cars

Here are examples of cooling systems used in electric cars:

  • Air Cooling
  • Liquid Cooling
  • Phase Change Material
  • Cooling Fins

Of all these methods, the most used method of cooling in electric cars today is liquid cooling. Liquid cooling has the best performance and efficiency when it comes to cooling battery packs.

With that said, all of these thermal conditioning systems are used by some of the best brands in the auto industry. These include electric car brands such as BMW, Tesla, Jaguar, and Mercedes Benz.

It’s no secret that EVs are here to stay and advancements in their technology will grow. Hopefully, this will result in better battery solutions that can handle more extreme temperatures.

3. Internal Electrical Imbalance

Electrical imbalance in an electrical battery occurs when it goes through many charges and discharge cycles. If the discharge is too deep within a short space of time, the battery may short circuit.

When overcharging, the battery heats up quite rapidly and might damage the separator. The separator keeps the positive and negative of the battery apart.

There are other sensitive electrical components in the battery, such as the anode and cathode and cells. These have to be working in optimal conditions at all times.

An electrical car battery is a lithium-ion battery that is sensitive to undercharging and overcharging. If the battery experiences any of these, the separator is affected and the battery may be compromised.

A damaged separator due to under or overvolting is rendered damaged and can even lead to an explosion. The separator is volatile and deep overcharging can damage it from the heat produced.

Another instance where the battery experiences electrical imbalance is when it falls from a really high position. The fall can dislocate some of the wiring and components in the battery and damage the separator.

Manufacturers have come a long way to ensure that their electric car batteries are safe for motorists. As such, it is evident in the number of electric car battery fires that are declining.

A larger issue at hand might be the rapidly growing electric car industry and the need to supply more batteries.

Manufacturers sometimes can’t keep up with demand and may opt for cheaper battery brands which are prone to imbalances.

It is recommended to visit the dealership if your car is showing signs of failure. Sometimes this can be as simple as the car taking longer times to charge.

Related: How Much Do Electric Car Batteries Cost? (10 Examples)

4. Difficult to Recycle

Electric car batteries are a marvelous piece of engineering and have come a long way in both design and efficiency. However, it is becoming difficult to recycle and safely dispose of the battery.

The materials in the cells of the battery pack include nickel, manganese, and cobalt. These raw materials are not considered environmentally friendly.

It’s no secret that electrical cars are much safer for the environment than their gas-engine counterparts. They have way fewer emissions being put out into the atmosphere.

It’s still difficult to process end-of-life electric car batteries and recycle them properly. Fortunately, there is still a market for large battery packs that cannot perform in an electric car.

Battery packs that have reached their end of life can be reused to power machinery. They can also be used as a power storage source for solar systems.

At the moment, only about 5% of EV batteries go through a full recycling process. The industry and sector are very smaller, but there is a lot of potential for growth.

With a replacement cost of about $5,000 and $15,000, battery packs are one of the most expensive components in a car. Fortunately, these batteries are expected to last around 10 to 15 years.

Even though old batteries might not be able to power a car anymore, they can still be used to power other things. This is because they can still have up to 70% of their capacity after being decommissioned.

With that said, governments are now starting programs for recycling or disposing of batteries.

However, there is still a long way to go before we can see environmentally friendly ways of doing so.

Related: 4 Ethical Problems With Electric Vehicles

5. Long Charging Times

Because EV battery packs are so huge and carry a lot of capacity, they can take quite a long time to charge. Having to wait for hours for an electric car to charge poses a problem for owners of EVs.

With the advancement of technology in the EV industry, it’s apparent that they are moving to make more efficient batteries. Manufacturers are now trying to shorten charging times and make batteries smaller.

Back in the day, electric vehicles used to have really long charging times. Nowadays, charging times have gone to as low as 5 hours for a full charge.

Because of the mystery behind EVs, people don’t really know much about how long electric cars take to charge. This causes confusion for consumers who are not technical and don’t know much about batteries.

EV manufacturers are now making it clearer for car buyers to understand how to charge and take care of their batteries. The car manual also specifies how long it will take to charge the car and how.

There are now faster battery chargers that allow faster charging times. These are better than household power outlets.

Modern EVs now come with entertainment systems to make charging times go smoother. Infotainment systems now include games and interactive apps to keep you busy while waiting for the car to charge.

Long charging times are also a huge buying factor when customers are looking for a car. Customers remember to have a choice between an EV and a traditional gas engine car.

Electric cars are environmentally friendly with very little CO2 emissions but long charging times. Gas cars are much faster when pouring gas, but also very harmful to the environment.

Related: How To Charge Electric Cars Faster? (3 Great Tips)

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