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The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
 |  Feb 23 2012, 5:31 PM

The recent stories of the Tesla Roadster “bricking” will likely cause owners of other electric vehicles to worry. We’ve managed to track down and get a comment about the measures in place that can prevent other EVs from becoming damaged like the Tesla.

A “bricked” car is a lot like a bricked gadget. It can’t and won’t turn on, and is essentially useless (unless you want to use it as a giant and expensive paperweight).

Tesla Roadster

The story is that an owner let his Roadster die and left it uncharged for two months. The car then couldn’t be turned on or started, or re-charged. When the car was taken for repairs it was found that it would cost $40,000 to fix the vehicle.

It’s stated several times in the Roadster’s owner’s manual not to leave the vehicle discharged for an extended period of time. Specifically: “Situations may arise when in which you must leave your vehicle unplugged for an extended period of time. If this is the case, it is your responsibility to ensure that the battery does not become fully depleted.” Lastly, “Over-discharge can permanently damage the battery.” While it’s clear that owner negligence caused this damage, some blame can be put on the manufacturer to have more safety measures to protect the vehicle.

Nissan Leaf:

Nissan states that the Leaf cannot be fully discharged “thanks to an advanced battery management system designed to protect the battery from damage. One element of the battery management system is a failsafe wall that stops the battery from reaching absolute zero state-of-charge, even after a period of unplugged storage,”Steve Yaegar, Nissan’s technology communications manager said.

Still there are some warnings in the Leaf’s manual that advises owners to take proper care of its battery. One of the more conspicuous warnings says: “Avoid leaving your vehicle for over 14 days where the Li-ion battery available charge gauge reaches a zero or near zero (state of charge)”

When pushed, Yaegar skirted the issue of what would happen to a Leaf if a user ignored that advice.

Chevrolet Volt

While the Chevrolet has a gas generator to help keep the battery charged, what would happen if the battery is discharged completely? Nothing really. Chevrolet spokesperson Robert Peterson told us “This isn’t an issue for the Volt. The Volt uses only 10.4 kW of its 16 kWh battery. The rest of the battery space serves as a buffer to prevent overcharging or deep discharging.”

Mitsubishi i-MiEV

In the i-MiEV’s warranty manual, Mitsubishi states that the standard warranty does not cover any damages to the Li-Ion battery resulting from “failure to keep the main drive lithium-ion battery charged during storage of the vehicle.”

John Arnone a representative from Mitsubishi, said that while the i-MiEV battery can be fully discharged, if left for a long period of time it will still be able to be recharged by the usual means.

Smart ED

It’s true that electric Smart cars aren’t really on sale (lease-only), a member of customer relations told us that the upcoming 2013 model shouldn’t encounter any issues if left discharged. She did warn us that it may take a bit longer to fully charge back up again though.

It’s clear that electric vehicles are in their infancy. Being able to drive about without paying for gas certainly is a huge benefit. However, potential electric car buyers are already concerned about cost, range anxiety and charge times. Looks like its time to add battery maintenance to that list of concerns.

 |  Aug 17 2011, 12:15 PM

It’s easy to panic when you’re stranded by the side of the road after your car breaks down or you’re late for an early morning meeting and it just won’t start. Helping you keep your cool and stay safe, AAA has some advice for stranded motorists.

In a case where your car just won’t start, the problem may lie with the battery. It could be that it’s discharged or there’s a poor connection. Open the hood and check out the battery to see if it’s securely mounted in place and see if the cable clamps are connected to the battery. Cable clamps that are loose or corroded may be the problem. Clean the corrosion from the battery terminals and cable clamps and make sure the clamps are secured tight. If that doesn’t work, check to see if your car is fully in park and that there’s enough fuel in the vehicle. If all else fails, it’s time to call in a road service provider.

If you ever find yourself experiencing car problems while driving, your first priority is pulling off to a safe location. This should be away from the flow of traffic, and you should stay in your car while waiting for roadside assistance. Once you’re safe, you can call your road service provider. Take a look around and take note of your surroundings, landmarks and signs – anything that will help roadside assistance find your location. There are even certain smartphone apps (such as AAA TripTik Mobile and AAA Roadside) that will send your GPS location right to your roadside assistance provider.

Once roadside assistance has picked you up, you need to decide where to take it to get fixed. If you’re far from home and can’t get it to your regular mechanic, the easiest way to find a repair ship is with the help of a handy smartphone app (again the AAA TripTik Mobile and AAA Roadside apps can help you out here).