Understanding the Reliability of Electric Cars

Did you know that electric cars are actually just as reliable as their petrol and diesel counterparts? It’s true – the facts are there to prove it. 

There can be a misconception that, because EVs are still a relatively new technology, they’re more prone to faults and breakdowns. However, we’re here to let you know that that isn’t true – electric car reliability is better now than it has ever been, and is only improving.

So how reliable are electric cars?

As you might expect, some EV makes and models are more reliable than others, just like petrol and diesel cars. However, that’s not to say that any EV is particularly bad – far from it.

Whereas petrol and diesel cars have an internal combustion engine (ICE), EVs don’t – and that means EVs have far fewer mechanical, moving parts. And with fewer parts comes fewer things that can go wrong.

EVs also wear in different ways to other cars. Because electric cars use regenerative braking – used to charge the battery – there’s less wear on the brake pads, which means they don’t need to be replaced as frequently, either.

That’s not to say your EV doesn’t need to be looked after, or that faults will never happen. Like any other car, you still need to make sure that your electric car is routinely serviced (by an EV-qualified mechanic) and obtains an MOT certificate – minus the emissions test, of course.

As well as the reliability advantages, check out our post on the other benefits of driving an electric car.

A mechanic works on the underside of a car

Are EVs more reliable than petrol or diesel cars?

Electric car reliability is relatively on par with that of petrol and diesel cars. As we’ve already covered, there are far fewer moving parts inside an EV – over 25 fewer in fact – which means there’s less that can potentially go wrong.

Parts that can commonly experience faults in petrol/diesel cars include:

  • Oil filters
  • Gaskets
  • Alternators
  • Belts
  • Spark plugs
  • Catalytic converters
  • Pistons

And this is on top of the many other issues that petrol and diesel cars can potentially face.

But of course, we’d be lying if we didn’t say that sometimes things can go wrong with an EV. Even the most reliable electric car can potentially experience a fault now and then. Occasional problems experienced by EV drivers include:

  • The need to replace the coolant
  • Gearbox issues
  • Motor faults
  • Battery faults

Because batteries are the single most expensive component of an EV, this can be a costly issue to resolve. However, it’s worth checking whether your manufacturer will fix or repair your battery should it develop a (rare) fault, or whether it’s covered as part of your insurance policy. For more information, check out our guide to electric car insurance.

What about hybrids?

In 2021, Which? surveyed drivers of petrol, diesel, electric, and hybrid vehicles to gather data on which type was the most reliable over the previous year – and, perhaps surprisingly, hybrids came out as the winner.

The results found that just 3% of hybrid owners needed to consult a mechanic – compared to 15% of plug-in hybrid owners.

A hybrid car engine

Why are EVs more reliable now than ever before?

It’s important to remember that modern EV technology is still in its relative infancy, with reliability improving year on year. By the end of the decade, and with the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel cars, EVs will undoubtedly have improved their reliability even further.

The Which? survey revealed that back in 2014 20% of EV owners reported faults with their car, compared to 2021 which had gone right down to 10%. If the trend continues, by 2030 EVs will likely be in line – or very possibly better than – petrol car reliability.

How can you maximise the reliability of an EV?

We’ve already covered how there are fewer moving parts inside an EV and therefore fewer things that could go wrong. But, as a responsible EV driver, there’s plenty you can do to improve the reliability of your EV, so the risk of it developing any faults is lessened.

And the good news is that it’s cheaper to service and maintain an EV than it is other cars. So, if you make sure your car is routinely serviced by an EV-qualified mechanic it’ll save you money and worry in the long run.

There are several things you can do yourself to maintain your EV, including checking your washer fluid, wiper blades, tyres (pressure, treads, and for signs of damage), and the air filtration system.

Every 7,500 miles you should also have the following checked by an EV-qualified mechanic:

  • Battery
  • Brakes
  • Airbags
  • Coolant
  • Power inverter
  • Charger modules
  • Cabin heater
  • Accessory power
  • Suspension

As with petrol and diesel models, you’ll also need to ensure that your EV achieves an MOT certification yearly after the first three years – so why not get it serviced at the same time?

For more information, check out our guide to electric car maintenance and servicing.

An EV plugged into a charge point

What are some of the most reliable EVs?

A 2021 survey by WhatCar? revealed the most reliable electric cars after 16,000 EV drivers were asked about the faults (or lack thereof) they’d experienced.

And the winners were…

Nissan Leaf

With a reliability rating of 98.6% and the most reliable electric car according to WhatCar? is the Nissan Leaf. The most common faults drivers reported were brakes and non-motor electrics.

MG ZS EV

The MG ZS EV has a WhatCar? reliability rating of 96.5%, which was up 13% on the previous year. The main issues reported were bodywork and steering.

Kia E-Niro

Close in third is the Kia E-Niro, with a reliability rating of 95.8%, with the main faults related to the batteries and electrics.

FAQs

Got a question about electric cars?
Have a read through our FAQs or email hello@elmodrive.com

How reliable are electric cars?

As technology advances, EV reliability is improving. A survey from Which? discovered that EV reliability had improved from 80% to 90% between 2014 and 2021.

Are EVs more reliable than petrol or diesel cars?

EVs are proven to be as reliable as petrol and diesel cars. However, a survey by Which? found that hybrids are the most reliable type of car.

How can you maximise the reliability of an EV?

While EVs do have fewer mechanical components than petrol and diesel cars, it’s important to routinely maintain and service your car to ensure faults don’t develop.

What are some of the most reliable EVs?

A 2021 survey by WhatCar? revealed that the Nissan Leaf is the most reliable electric car, with just 1.4% of owners reporting a fault over the previous twelve months.

Hire your own electric car

Here at elmo we provide an affordable electric car subscription service, so you can drive your own EV with none of the costs involved with buying one. Check out how you can hire an electric car with elmo today.