Friday, December 4, 2020

November 2020 Drive Report; Winterizing Your Drive

For the month, I only went 738.0 miles averaging 4.05 miles/kwh. With a charging efficiency averaging 88%, that means  207.1 kwh put in.  FYI; DC efficiency is much higher averaging 96-97%. The lower mileage is representative of increased COVID restrictions. The theaters are closed, dine in isn't an option so... life is kinda boring. I admit the movie thing isn't a great hurdle. I have surround sound and 75" so if I slide my chair a bit closer, it really isn't all that bad I guess. First World problems are Hell... A friend doing WFH is getting into meal delivery services and I thought about it as its definitely a healthier option than what I am doing and right now there are some great prices making the difference in cost not so much. But that would be more time at home and not sure I want to do that. I do cook regularly but my skills are limited. I should really invest in a cookbook and get a hobby! 

The Worm Has Turned!

My last blog was my one year review with part two mostly examining LEAF Spy data on battery degradation. There I predicted my next adjustment due in Jan will either be positive or zero.  I also track my stats every 1,000 miles and probably will create another parallel chart for every month but I set a new record for degradation (the good kind of record!) At 15,000 miles (more or less) my degradation was .05% loss from 14,000 miles covering October 22 to November 28.  This nearly cuts my previous record of .09% in half.  I also set another record of sorts when my stats didn't change for 21 days. Previous high was 10 days. 

Now, the reduced driving, 100% L2 charging and the colder weather is also likely playing a part. How big is anyone's guess but realize my 2018 went into super slow degradation mode in July so not putting a lot into the "cold battery hibernation" theory that many people seem to like. 

On the 2018, I got it mid Feb so still "winterish" but much closer to the start of warmer weather but nearly the same thing happened on its one year anniversary where I had no changes for 16 days running from 2/13/19 to 3/1/19.  This happened on the change from 93.00% to 92.99% SOH.  The Plus record happened on the change from 93.13% to 93.12%.  Based on this info, I have determined the Plus is .13% better than the standard!!

(I hope we ALL realize I was kidding on that last part...) 

Charging Issues

Ever get the red flashing error on your EVSE? Usually comes with a dash emoticon? You may have or have not noticed it but its likely everyone has seen it a few times. The error condition corrects itself most of the time so not always noticeable.  I used to see it maybe a few times a month. I unplug 100% of the time when the charge is active since I never charge to full (or anywhere near it lately)  So what I have been experimenting with is squeezing the trigger on the EVSE first, waiting until the pump stops (like one second) running then unplugging. So far, so good. I didn't really track how often I got the faults but in my estimation, I have probably exceeded the time I would have seen at least 2 by now. 

Topping Up

The weather is either cooler or getting downright cold. Your LEAF, just like any other car will see diminished range because of the cold weather. Cold air is denser meaning if nothing else changed,your miles/kwh performance drops with the temperature because of the additional molecules. Not a whole lot you can do about that but there are a few things you can do in advance to minimize those inconvenient moments cars tend to throw at us at us when the weather turns. 

Top off your windshield wiper fluid.  Its the easiest thing on the  list and one of the most vital especially if you usually see snow. Snow on the roads quickly becomes slush mixed with oil and other gasser junk. Wipers alone have no chance against this toxic mix. Being caught short on windshield wiper fluid is not only inconvenient ($15 at 7-Eleven verses $5 at Walmart) but its dangerous. 

Related to the fluid is the wipers themselves. I will admit that I only change the short blade every other year but change the long one "around" November.  Because of the size of the blade, curve of the windshield or whatever,  not all replacement blades work with the LEAF. Costco was infamous for stocking ones that were garbage. Now this is a bit more work but one thing I found that worked very well is replacing just the blade itself. I get mine at the local Honda dealer. Under $10 and it would be classified "very easy" on the DIY scale I think.

Driver: Honda 76622-STK-A02 

Passenger: Honda 76632-STK-A02

Rear: Honda 76622-T7A-003 

Tire Pressures need to be checked. Do it first thing in the morning before any driving if parked outside. Remember tire pressures should be checked during the coldest part of the day. Tires will lose about one PSI for every 10ºF drop in the temperatures.  Another reason to check before any driving is tires heat up unevenly so checking them after driving means your front tires will read a bit higher than the backs since the fronts do most of the work. 

Check your 12 volt battery. Like any car, your LEAF will not start without a 12 volt battery in "reasonable" shape. Yep, that is all we need, one that is barely alive but even that is not always possible with Nissan's 12 volt battery algorithm.  I am happy to report that initial analysis indicates the algorithm has improved on my 2019 Plus.  But improved does not mean "fixed" 

Lead acid for longest life wants to be at or near a full charge. This means nearly 13 volts (why is it called a 12 volt battery then?) Now the LEAF puts a load on that 12 volt battery 24/7. That is how it remembers your radio stations, etc.  That load is pretty low most of the time dropping the voltage a tenth or so. 

Things that can increase the load;

Charging or being plugged in and not charging (charging complete or on a timer)

Telematics like Nissan Connect. 

Walking near your car with fob in your pocket. 

Auto headlight settings or anything else that stays on after you shut the car off. 

So right now I am in the process of trying to figure out if the 12 volt algorithm responds to outside influences. To do that, I have to have a general idea of when the car actually charges the battery when its sitting.  To say tracking this process is frustrating is an understatement.  First thing I tried was Go Pro on the slowest frame rate. Two nights, zero results. Will go deeper into this soon. 

But I am waking up to a battery that is anywhere from 12.65 (GREAT!) to 12.15 (ooooohhh...) volts.  Now, I park in a garage where the temps run in the low to upper 50's.  We had a burst of cold weather that lasted 3 days and the garage temps held up well so my issues aren't critical but if you are parking outside, you WILL have battery issues. 

Now, last year my car was new so I had little worries about the cold. My previous place, the garage was 5-10º colder due to a lot more shade (which I MUCH rather wish I still had!) but in previous years, once a month or so, I would boost the 12 volt. So if you have a charger, this might not be a bad idea. Don't be one of the 2-4 Facebookians I see posting dead 12 volt battery stories, daily. 

Finding Your Comfort Level

We all have comfort levels that vary a ton so saying what works for anyone else but me is really quite crazy but everyone does it anyway, so this is my disclaimer; 

I live in a relatively mild climate which means I have challenges...different ones. Because of that, some of what I suggest will sound crazy to people who live in more severe weather. 

Here we have rain...LOTS of it. This year, it hasn't happened like it normally does. Forecasters predicted colder wetter weather but we have been a LOT drier than normal. I don't remember the last time there was little or no rain predicted for the South Sound Region for the first 5 days of December. 

But one thing I have been experimenting with is running defrost with less heat. My Plus has separate heat and A/C buttons.  During defrost, A/C power is pretty low, generally 200 watts or less.  Heat is another story. On startup, it will get up to 3500 watts and slowly work its way down. But its bottom is generally 300-750 watts. (I have seen it at 150 but rarely and no more than a few minutes at a time) So being able to run (and see) with the heat off is a benefit.  I have just started doing this over the  past week and the rain issues have been mild so will report back in much more detail when I see how well it works on the milder, wetter days when fogging is a huge issue. 

Another thing I got was heated socks! Uses rechargeable Lithium and first trip out was favorable. Will have more on that later as well.  Just a few quick comments on the socks.  They are very comfortable so even as just socks, they are great.  I picked them up on Amazon for $25. They have 3 heat settings and only warm up the toes and ball of your foot. 

I got them yesterday so took off on a drive waiting till dark. It didn't get as cold as I had hoped as I was only using steering wheel heat and seat heaters using defrost as needed (light need) but I was very comfortable at 42º.  It was my goal to wait until my feet got cold before turning them on as I won't be wearing them on a regular basis. They will go in my "emergency" kit which also contains handwarmers, gloves, knit caps, tire socks, etc.) so its important to not test to see if they will keep my feet warm but to see if they can warm up cold feet. 

But I got to my turnaround spot and my feet were just starting to feel the cold so not cold yet. I will say even on the highest setting, the warmth was not overwhelming. Still much better than nothing and just the sock itself is much warmer than would I would be normally be wearing. So... stay tuned!