Is an electric bike too heavy to be transported on an SUV?

Cars

AAA Northeast Automotive Physician John Paul answers a question from a reader who wonders if an SUV has enough towing capacity for an e-bike.

The 2021 Honda HR-V Sport. Honda

Q My son has a 2021 Honda HR-V with all-wheel drive. He wants to add a hitch with a Thule bike rack. He recently purchased an e-bike that weighs around 85-92 pounds. Does this vehicle have enough towing capacity to carry an e-bike of this weight?

A. According to Honda, the HR-V’s towing capacity is 1,500 pounds and the boom weight is 150 pounds. In this case, the trailer tongue weight (the weight on the hitch itself) is the most important number. Consider the weight of the bike rack which is around 50 pounds and the bike 90 pounds, the total combined weight is close to the limit but still below the maximum tab weight of 150 pounds.

Q I bought a new Hyundai Kona EV a little over two years ago. Hyundai recalled my EV battery some time ago. They first told us to charge the car outdoors and not in a garage, then after a visit to the dealership to reduce the charging capacity to 80% while they figured things out. The dealer now wants me back to have the battery retested. What do you know about this situation? I would definitely prefer to have a 100% capacity battery and a safe battery to boot.

A. At this point you should continue to work with the dealership and Hyundai. You bought a car with a certain range and charging capacity, and that’s what you should have. Limiting battery charging to 80% (similar to Level III high-speed charging) is gentler on the battery and supposedly safer. Combined with Hyundai’s Extended Powertrain Warranty and Lifetime Battery Warranty, I would be patient and let Hyundai find the appropriate solution to the battery issue.

Q My 2015 Subaru Outback won’t go back to idle once it’s fully warmed up if I drive in neutral. It stays at 1500 rpm until I stop. If the air conditioning is on, it will go to 1000 rpm when coasting. Before the warm-up, it coasts to 750 rpm.

A. Is it something new with the car? Many cars will maintain a higher idle to reduce vehicle emissions and improve battery charge. When the throttle is closed quickly, vehicle emissions increase and the alternators provide less charging power. Keeping the engine rpm a bit higher until the vehicle speed slows down minimizes this. Idle speed is only measured when stationary, with the engine fully warmed up. Idle speed in neutral without air conditioning is 700 rpm plus or minus 100 rpm. With the A/C on the RPM is around 900 RPM. If it is something new, the problem could be a stuck/damaged throttle plate.

Q My Chrysler 300 gets 19 miles per gallon and I’m currently paying about $3.99 per gallon for 91 octane gasoline. Now that I’m commuting to and from work, what can I do to improve my fuel consumption and reduce my weekly fuel expenses?

A. The old adage of soft throttle and brake still holds true. Every time you accelerate quickly or brake aggressively, you are wasting energy/fuel. Maintenance is also important. Check tire pressure at least once a month. According to the EPA, keeping tires properly inflated can improve fuel economy by up to three percent. Excess speed also reduces fuel economy. Reducing your speed by 5-10 MPH can improve fuel economy by 7-14%. Combine trips to be more efficient and look at your overall driving habits to try and save 10-15 miles per week – the fuel savings add up. Finally, if your car manufacturer recommends and does not require premium fuel, save money and use 87 octane.

John Paul is AAA Northeast’s Automotive Physician. He has over 40 years of experience in the automotive industry and is an ASE Certified Master Technician. Email your question to [email protected] Listen to Car Doctor on the radio at 10 a.m. every Saturday on 104.9 FM or online at northshore1049.com.

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