What maintenance does an electric car need?
If you’re considering buying a battery electric vehicle (BEV) but are worried about the cost of maintaining it, we have good news for you. BEV drivers that follow the manufacturer's recommendations can expect to save $949 per year on maintenance and repairs compared to gas powered vehicles.
Throughout the life of the vehicle, BEV drivers can save over $6,000 due to lower maintenance, repair and fuel costs. You’ll still need to follow a maintenance schedule to inspect critical parts, but your primary focus will be the battery, brakes, and tires. Keep in mind that plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) require similar maintenance to gas powered vehicles to support their internal combustion engine (ICE) and electric components.
What maintenance does an electric car need?
BEV drivetrains have roughly 20 moving parts in comparison to an ICE vehicle’s 2,000, resulting in fewer points of failure. For example, you can say goodbye to the fuel injector and fuel pump, the exhaust system, catalytic converter, and muffler. Even with less moving parts, there’s still maintenance that must be done to keep your vehicle running.
One critical component of every EV is the battery—it’s massive, essential, and expensive if you mishandle it, with battery replacements costing between $5,000-$20,000. So, you need to treat your battery with the tender care it deserves to keep it humming along for years:
- Keep the charge level between 20% and 80% when possible and try not to top off after every short trip.
- Don’t let the battery sit for long periods either fully charged or uncharged.
- Primarily use Level 2 charging when at home or work and use DC fast charging when needed.
- Don’t let your vehicle bake in the sun or freeze in the cold for extended periods of time. The first can degrade the battery, the second can reduce the range.
BEVs and PHEVs feature friction braking, like ICE vehicles, and regenerative braking. With regenerative braking, the EV uses motor resistance to slow the car and sends the extra energy back to the battery. That shift happens every time you lift your foot off the accelerator or hit the brake pedal. While EVs primarily use regenerative braking, your EVs friction brakes still need to be maintained and checked periodically. It's recommended to visually check your brake pad and rotor thickness and listen for any screeching or grinding noises, longer stopping distances or soft brake pedal feel when driving that can indicate needed replacement. Luckily you will only be needing to conduct this maintenance periodically as, according to Wired, EV brakes can last double that of those on ICE vehicles, anywhere between 60,000-140,000 miles, though it’s recommended to change or inspect your brakes every 5 years.
Another prominent issue with EV brakes and rotors is rust. Since EV drivers primarily use regenerative braking, condensation can build up on your brake pads and rotors causing corrosion and sticking of system parts. In this case it’s recommended to occasionally apply your brakes hard when driving to help create heat and, in turn, reduce build up.
Bmay also increase tire scrubbing and abrasion on the road when using traditional tires. In fact, when BEVs use traditional tires they tend to wear out 20% faster than tires on an ICE vehicle. If your tread is below 2/32”, it’s time to change your tires. Consider selecting EV-specific tires that feature different rubber compounds, stronger construction to support the weight of a BEV, and provide a smoother, quieter ride with increased grip and minimal rolling resistance.
Do EVs need oil changes?
BEVs have no need for oil due to the absence of an engine. Motor oil is used to provide wear protection, lubricate engine parts and keep the engine cool in an ICE vehicle. In comparison, an electric motor uses electromagnetic fields to produce power without making direct contact between the pieces. Therefore, it isn’t necessary to protect an electric motor from wear through friction nor keep them cool, as they don’t produce much heat from power generation. PHEVs, on the other hand, still require oil changes.
Electric car maintenance schedule
You won’t be replacing spark plugs, servicing the transmission, or paying for tune-up, oil changeor coolant flushing. You will, however, still need to perform routine maintenance tasks like rotating the tires, topping off the windshield fluid, and replacing lights, hoses, and windshield wipers. Luckily, the owner’s manual should provide an easy schedule to follow.
The overall cost of maintenance and repairs on a Chevy Bolt are about $4000 over 5 years in comparison to the similarly sized gas powered Toyota Corolla Hatchback that costs over $5000 in the same time span, resulting in a savings of approximately $1000.
Home EV charger maintenance
In addition to electric car maintenance, you should also inspect and maintain your home charging station. It’s recommended to keep your unit clean, regularly check that cables aren’t worn, tighten mounting bolts and screws and monitor your charger's voltage periodically. While JuiceBox chargers are built to last with an enclosure that’s NEMA 4X rated, it’s still best to clean off dust and debris from the enclosure weekly. Your cables are one of the most important components of any charger. Be sure to wrap cables neatly around the rack and mount the connector for optimal performance.
Maintenance: The key to a healthy EV and charging station
Your new BEV, like any vehicle you have purchased, is an investment that needs maintenance. While BEVs benefit from having fewer moving parts than a gas powered vehicle and thus reduced points of failure, they still require some level of maintenance. BEV owners are trading fluid changes and more consistent brake and tire replacements for a vehicle with a simpler construction. With the right care for your EV, purchasing EV-specific tires for your car and using your senses to monitor brakes, you can keep your new EV around for many years to come.