How does the US Coast Guard impact your knowledge of electric vehicles? Despite their seemingly unrelated nature, the Coast Guard has recently published a blog post on their official website discussing electric vehicle batteries, specifically their transportation on cargo boats and shipping containers and how this can impact the marine environment. The Coast Guard has issued a safety alert stating that saltwater intrusion can damage these batteries and even cause fires, as depicted in a photo in the article. It is crucial for vessels, ports, and shippers to be aware of this extreme risk and to avoid loading EVs with damaged lithium-ion batteries onto commercial vehicles. After all, the last thing anyone wants is a boat catching on fire 50 miles out at sea with no fire department nearby, as even if the fire goes out, the boat will likely sink. 

This information is particularly relevant for those living in coastal areas, such as California, Oregon, Washington, Florida, Texas, New York, New Jersey, and Virginia, which are among the most populated states and have high usage of EVs due to their proximity to the coast where saltwater exposure is more common.

What happens if your EV battery is damaged? 

Even if you drive over a rock or a speed bump and your battery is damaged, it may still work. However, because you don’t frequently inspect your battery, you may not notice any damage. For example, if your windshield has a chip or a shopping cart causes a ding on your car door, you would immediately notice it. But if a rock damages your battery from underneath, you may not notice it because you don’t inspect your battery every day.

This type of damage can do more harm than just cosmetic. If the battery is damaged and saltwater enters it from the spray on the road, the result can be catastrophic. The Coast Guard has noted that saltwater intrusion can cause fires and poses an extreme risk to damaged batteries. This risk extends to parked cars as well, as saltwater can corrode leads or short-circuit the battery and cause a fire, leading to the loss of your car and even your house.

Even if you don’t live near the ocean, it’s important to be aware of the risks associated with saltwater exposure. During winter, most of the country uses salt for snow and ice mitigation on roads, and the salinity content of this saltwater can be even higher than that of the ocean in some places. Therefore, if you live in states like Maine, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, or South Dakota, where snow is common, you should also be cautious of saltwater intrusion in your battery.

This is a critical issue that consumers may not be aware of, and it’s essential to check your vehicle periodically to ensure there is no physical damage to your battery. If you suspect any damage, take immediate action to prevent any catastrophic consequences, such as parking your car outside until the battery is inspected or taking it to a professional for repairs. By taking these precautions, you can help protect your property and avoid the potentially dangerous consequences of damaged EV batteries.