Ever since the first automobile became available for the mass market, the average Joe could tinker with it and fix almost any issue that occurred in the vehicles life. Even as hybrids became very popular, there was still quite a lot you can do yourself to ensure the vehicle ran properly and for a long time.
Today, as electric vehicles become more and more popular, the ability to work on them has become not only more difficult but down right dangerous.
Checking the engine and overall drivetrain functionality and health of a regular vehicle is one of the most important things to look at to ensure long term reliability. When it comes to electric cars, figuring out how to check an electric vehicles battery health is equally as important, if not more.
Battery Health is MORE Important Than Engine Health
Although both are important and both are different types of vehicles, checking the health status of an electric vehicles battery can give you better idea of how far the pack has degraded.
Degradation occurs with time on all electric cars in varying degrees. For example, a first generation Nissan Leaf from 2011-2015 had a battery that degraded fast when under high heat. After just 20-30K miles, the battery would only be able to hold 60-70% of its capacity.
Most EV’s on the market can hold at least 80% capacity well past 200K miles, however it is crucial to check the exact number as much as possible.
What I want to show you is how to check an EV’s battery health by yourself and use your phone as an OBD2 scanner. The following methods described below should work well, however for far more detailed and accurate estimates (that can be guaranteed at least), a dealer might be your only solution with their brand specific OBD2 software. Let’s first start with learning how to test the battery health in a Nissan Leaf.
Battery Health Checking for Nissan Leaf
Leaf Spy is an app you can download that is available for IOS and Android. The app costs $14.99 in the store, however the majority of users have rated this app quite high, signifying the usefulness of the app.
Leaf Spy allows you to connect the application to your vehicle via an OBD2 adapter you can use via bluetooth.
The app lets you see the vehicles current SOC (state of charge), battery temperature, average miles per KWH, wH currently being used, miles left to empty, the 12V battery voltage levels, and a few more things.
This is the perfect app to get if you own or are thinking about owning a Nissan Leaf.
Checking Tesla Battery Health
When it comes to checking a Tesla’s battery health, there’s a similar app to what Nissan owners get, called Scan My Tesla. This is also a paid app, costing $8.99 and can be found on both IOS and Android marketplaces.
Scan My Tesla works by connecting the vehicle to a “bluetooth OBD2 adapter”. From there, you’ll be able to use the app and see a variety of information, such as: Current Battery Voltage, Battery Power Being Used, Torque Being Used, HP Being Used, The Average WH Consumption, Current Speed, Battery Temperature, and much more.
You can dive a bit deeper into the battery information and see individual battery cells, what their temperatures were at a minimum, maximum, and average. There’s a least a few more paragraphs remaining that would explain everything there is to this application. If you want to make sure your vehicles lithium ion battery is in good shape, spend less than 10 dollars, get the bluetooth dongle and have a look.
Battery Health Check on Chevy Bolt EV
This vehicles rings true to me because the 2017 Bolt EV was the first electric vehicle I owned. Though it was only a few months, I managed to rack up over 30K miles in that short period of time. After driving and verifying with the app the overall kWh delivered to 100% state of charge, I had a faulty battery pack. This resulted in a Chevy Bolt EV recall and I ended up getting a new pack, for free.
What I learned about the vehicle is that you can use an app called Torque Pro (android only), download the Bolt EV PID’s (custom files for the vehicle), get a bluetooth dongle, connect it to the phone and from there you’ll be able to scan the vehicle for problems, see the maximum kWh delivered to the vehicle, what the battery capacity is at any given moment and much, MUCH more. It’s a great app that works real time, as you drive.
The downside of this app is it takes a little bit to get used to, a bit of customization is necessary, but otherwise, once you get it, it will work well.
Battery Health Checking for BMW i3
A lesser known app for checking the battery health of a BMW i3 is the “Electrified” App, found only on the android marketplace. This application allow you to see between three tabs: Car, Battery, and Charging. The most important one is the “battery” tab which gives you your current state of charge, current voltage, current amp used, kW being used, battery temperature, battery capacity in Amp Hours (aH) and projected range (in kilometers).
This seems to be an app that is popular in Germany and some other European countries. If you have an i3 and you can download it, give it a try, it appears to be free of charge.
Battery Health Check for Ioniq 5, EV6 and others
One of the most popular apps on the market for wireless car scanning is the Car Scanner ELM OBD2 app (android and IOS). This app is great in the fact that much like Torque PRO, you can download custom files into it and scan different vehicles. In this instance, this app can scan the latest and greatest Hyundai Ioniq 5 and Kia EV6 for: Battery State of Charge, GPS speed, Battery DC Voltage, Amps Being Drawn, Battery Temperature, Voltage, Motor RPM’s, and more.
This application does require a wireless adapter to pair with your phone, however that’s nothing new. A popular one online should cost no more than $50 and from there you should have all you need.
Those are just some of the common vehicles people have found ways to check the overall battery health. There might be some vehicles that have apps that can do the same, however I did not manage to find any that stood out.
Top 2 Picks:
I would say you should go online and order a good quality bluetooth dongle. From there, go download the OBD2 ELM app that lets you connect directly to your vehicles OBD2 system, wirelessly. Connect and see which parameters are available for your vehicle.