A Complete Guide to Electric Car Maintenance

 

While electric cars do have fewer moving parts than petrol, diesel, and even hybrid cars, it’s still important to keep on top of maintenance. Just like with any other car, if you don’t service and care for yours, then it’s more likely to encounter problems or even become unfit for the road.

That being said, it is simpler to maintain an electric car, as there’s no need to regularly check things like oil and coolant. Because there are fewer moving parts to go wrong, it’s cheaper to maintain an EV long-term.

However, that doesn’t mean you can just pretend that electric car maintenance isn’t necessary or you can just ‘do it next week’. You still need a regular car maintenance regime so your EV runs as intended and remains as efficient as possible.

A white Tesla surrounded by mountains

What goes into maintaining an electric car?

While the initial cost of an electric car may be more than the equivalent petrol or diesel car, you’ll likely spend considerably less on maintenance. That makes running electric vehicles more affordable than you might think.

But as previously mentioned, that doesn’t mean an EV looks after itself. They do still need to be routinely maintained by yourself as the driver and regularly serviced by a qualified mechanic.

Regular checks you can do include:

  • Washer fluid
  • Wiper blades
  • Checking tyres (tread depth, signs of damage and air pressure)
  • Air filtration system

It’s also recommended that you replace your wiper blades every 15,000 miles and the air filter every 36,000 miles (or sooner if you have to use them a lot – which is likely in the UK, let’s be honest).

On top of this regular maintenance (that you also expect with standard petrol and diesel cars), there are other times during your EV’s life when it’s recommended to give it some TLC.

Every 6 months

Wash the underbody using water to remove any corrosives, such as salt. This is especially important if you live somewhere close to the coast where the air contains more salt.

After every 7,500 miles

After every 7,500 miles, you should consider rotating your tyres. This ensures even wear and will prolong their life.

You should also have checks conducted by a professional on the following:

  • Suspension
  • Brakes
  • Airbags
  • The battery’s coolant level
  • Power inverter
  • Charger modules
  • Accessory power
  • Cabin heater

The drive shafts, pedals, gas struts, power steering and chassis should also be inspected for signs of damage and/or wear.

After every 75,000 miles

The body lift support gas struts and hood may need to be inspected and replaced by an EV-qualified mechanic.

Every 5 years

The brake fluid and coolant circuits should be replaced.

Every 7 years

The air conditioning desiccant will need to be replaced.

EV batteries

It’s important to have your EV’s battery checked whenever you have your car serviced. The battery is an EV’s single most expensive component. Like all batteries, EV batteries do degrade over time – similar to how your smartphone used to hold charge for two days but now struggles to stay charged by lunch. While the battery in your EV won’t degrade as quickly as your phone’s, over a period of several years you may find that it doesn’t hold quite as much charge. However, this is more apparent in older EV models, from when the technology was in its infancy. Now, it’s common for the batteries of modern EVs to last an average of 10 to 20 years.

Remember, even with regular servicing it still doesn’t guarantee that your EV won’t develop faults and have to be looked at by a professional. While EVs have advanced technology and fewer mechanical components (and therefore fewer parts that can potentially go wrong) they’re not immune to issues.

Do electric cars need more or less maintenance than other cars?

There are more than 25 fewer mechanical components in an EV compared to a petrol or diesel car. That means key components that are more likely to develop faults or require servicing aren’t found in an EV. These include:

  • Alternators
  • Belts
  • Catalytic converters
  • Fuel pumps
  • Gaskets
  • Mufflers
  • Oil filters
  • Pistons
  • Spark plugs

    How does maintaining an EV differ from maintaining a petrol or diesel car?

    Because there are fewer mechanical components in an EV, there is naturally less that can go wrong. Because of this, there’s also less that needs to be checked by you and your local EV-qualified mechanic.

    That means it’s also cheaper to maintain an EV than it is a petrol or diesel car, with some experts estimating that the maintenance costs are actually as much as 33% less. This will of course vary depending on several factors such as make, model, miles, and how well you look after your EV.

    Interior of an EV and infotainment system

    How do they differ from hybrids?

    Because they’re not 100% electric and have an internal combustion engine, hybrids do still have many of the mechanical components of standard petrol and diesel cars.

    That means hybrids still require more or less the same level of maintenance and servicing as other combustion engine cars. And as a result, you’re not likely to save money on maintenance.

    Do electric cars need oil?

    Unlike petrol and diesel cars, EVs don’t require oil. That’s because there are far fewer moving parts in an EV, which means there aren’t components rubbing together. That means your car leaking or running dry of oil is one less thing to worry about.

    Do EVs require an MOT?

    Yes, like petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles, EVs are still required to pass an MOT (following the first two years in which an MOT certificate is not needed).

    However, one key difference is that EVs don’t have to pass an emissions test – on account of them not actually producing any emissions. That means it’s one less thing for your car to fail on, too.

    Do electric cars need servicing?

    While not a legal requirement (unlike an MOT) it’s highly recommended that you have your EV regularly serviced, just like any other car.  Electric car servicing costs no more than it does to service any other car. It ensures the car is working to its full potential and isn’t in danger of developing any faults. That’ll also save you money down the line.

    Can any garage work on an electric car?

    In theory, yes, any garage can service an EV. However, in order to do that the mechanics working in that garage have to be qualified. This is because EVs are so vastly different from other cars under the bonnet.

    Do mechanics require specific training for EVs?

    At the moment, there aren’t as many qualified mechanics in the UK that are qualified to work on EVs as there are ICE vehicles. This is because, until recently, the demand hasn’t been there. However, as more and more drivers turn to EVs, the demand for EV-qualified mechanics also grows.

    The UK government has announced that the sale of new petrol and diesel cars is to be banned from 2030. This will only increase the rate at which mechanics gain their qualifications, meaning over the next decade there will be a boom in EV mechanics.

    How much does it cost to service an EV?

    As we’ve already discussed, because there are fewer moving, mechanical parts in an EV, an electric car service really isn’t expensive – if you can afford to service your current petrol or diesel car, you can afford to service an EV. There aren’t as many components to check (and also replace when worn out) which means an EV is kinder to your wallet.

    That being said, certain components can be expensive if the need for replacement arises: specifically, the battery. We’ve mentioned that EV batteries are the most expensive part of an EV, and in the rare event that one needs to be replaced, it can be rather pricey.

    Do tyres wear at the same rate on electric cars?

    Yes, tyres wear at roughly the same rate as they do on petrol and diesel cars. That means you don’t need to worry about replacing tyres any sooner than you would by driving any other car. If you rotate your tyres every six months it’ll ensure even wear and prolong their life.

    Standard EV maintenance you can and should do yourself

    As well as taking your EV to a qualified mechanic who can undertake a thorough inspection, there’s also plenty you can do yourself to look after your EV. This includes:

    • Checking your tyre pressure is the level outlined in your vehicle’s handbook
    • Checking your tyre treads are at least 1.6mm deep and there are no signs of damage on the sidewalls
    • Checking and topping up your washer fluid
    • Checking your windscreen wipers for signs of damage

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