5 mistakes everyone makes when charging an electric car

Electric vehicles are fun and environmentally friendly, but it's easy to fall into these really common charging traps, especially if you're new to the scene

Volvo XC40 Recharge and Android Automotive
(Image credit: Volvo)

I am a convert to electric vehicles. They're exciting to drive, packed with the latest technology, and they're great for the environment as well. I'm not the only one who has seen the appeal, with EVs now more popular than ever in the UK.

But, switching to electric vehicles does require a change in habits, especially when it comes to charging, and with more and more people switching from internal combustion engines to electric vehicles, it's very likely they will be making some common mistakes. I've been lucky to spend a lot of time with different EVs over the years, and there are some simple charging tricks I've learnt over that time that I really wish I'd known when I first started driving them.

These tips are especially important when it comes to electric vehicle ownership, as charging a vehicle correctly will prolong the battery life.

I'm guessing these simple tricks will be useful for other people too, and, as such, here are the mistakes you can easily avoid in order to make charging your electric vehicle more efficient.

Once you've finished reading this article, make sure you read our guide to the mistakes everyone makes when driving an electric car.

1. Charging the battery to 100% when it's not necessary

This is perhaps one of the most common early mistakes – always charging your car's battery to 100-percent – even if it's not necessary. Constantly keeping a battery full will actually damage it, similar to how phone and laptop batteries degrade over time.

If you're mostly using your car for short commutes and trips, it's much better to let the battery capacity run down to 10 or 20-percent, then recharge to around 80-percent.

Only charge the battery to 100-percent if you've got a long journey coming up and need those extra miles.

2. Letting your EV's battey get too low

Related to the last point – don't let your electric vehicle battery get too low either. Constantly letting your vehicle's battery drop to below 10-percent will reduce its lifespan.

Letting your battery get low on a journey also means you don't have a choice over what charging station you use – you'll have to hope that the closest one is working.

If you needed another reason to stop your battery from getting too low, charging it from zero also takes a lot longer.

Develop good charging habits and keep that battery between 20 and 80-percent!

Mercedes-Benz EQS

(Image credit: Mercedes-Benz)

3. Relying on rapid charging exclusively

Obviously, there are times when you need to top up your battery in a hurry – being able to quickly boost your battery is a lifesaver on long road trips – but it's important you don't rely on rapid chargers for every charge. Rapid charging is not good for your battery in the long run – you should slow charge when you can.

Public rapid chargers can be pretty expensive, too.

4. Charging staight after driving

This is a very common mistake, especially when you first start driving an electric car. If you park up after a long journey or a spirited drive and begin to charge straight away, it can reduce the capacity of the battery.

It's much better to let the car cool down first, then plug it in and begin charging. This will preserve the battery. 

Some smart chargers allow you to plug the car in straight away, but won't start charging until you choose to in the app.

5. Relying on the public charging network

Unless you drive a Tesla, the electric vehicle charging network in the UK is pretty unreliable. This was a major issue in the early days of electric vehicles, and while the situation is slowly improving, it still has a long way to go. 

It's not uncommon to roll up to an EV charging station that doesn't work, needs a special account, or requires an app (typically in an area where you don't have any signal). This can be particularly annoying if you don't have enough battery left to make it to another charger.

It pays to take some time to plan your journey.

Spencer Hart
Style and Travel Editor

As the Style and Travel Editor at T3, Spencer covers everything from clothes to cars and watches to hotels. Everything that's cool, stylish, and interesting, basically. He's been a part of T3 for over seven years, and in that time covered every industry event known to man, from CES and MWC to the Geneva Motorshow and Baselworld. When he's driving up and down the country in search of the greatest driving roads, he can be found messing around on an electric scooter, playing with luxury watches, or testing the latest fragrances.