Electric vehicles (EV) on average cost more to purchase than their gas-powered counterparts. However, EVs make up for this as they’re generally cheaper to maintain or service. They’re also cheaper to run, especially for daily drivers with home charging stations.
The key reason for the lower servicing cost is that electric cars have fewer moving parts than gas cars. Electric cars don’t have an internal combustion engine. This means they lack components such as fuel pumps, a gear transmission, and oil gaskets.
Instead, electric vehicles use an electric motor to run. The motor is powered by a battery pack (usually located underneath the vehicle’s body).
How Often Do Electric Vehicles Require Maintenance?
Electric vehicles need to be serviced after every 7500 miles. This involves inspecting all major components from the battery coolant to the tires.
Typical Scheduled Maintenance for Popular EVs
According to Tesla, you should service your Tesla every two years. This is for specific components including:
- Cabin air filter
- High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter
- Brake Fluid
Tesla also recommends replacing the Air Conditioning System after a few years as shown in the table.
|Tesla Model||Replacement period|
However, two components require maintenance more often, at least once a year. First, Tesla recommends tire rotation after every 6250 miles. Secondly, the brake calipers need cleaning and lubrication after 12500 miles (or less if you live in cold regions).
The Nissan Leaf is the second best-selling electric vehicle in the world after Tesla’s Model 3. The vehicle manufacturer recommends the following maintenance schedule.
|Vehicle Component||Scheduled Timeline|
|Brake Fluid||15000 miles (approx. 12 months)|
|Cabin Air Filter|
|Nissan Intelligent Key Battery||18 months|
|HEPA filter||2 years|
Note that the timelines may vary depending on several factors such as your driving habits and weather conditions in your area.
Are Electric Cars Expensive to Repair?
Yes. Although EVs rarely break down, damage to major components such as the battery pack is expensive to repair.
Typical Cost of Major Items
An EV battery pack is the most expensive component to repair. The average cost to replace the batteries is about $5500. Nonetheless, the battery pack rarely malfunctions and lasts about 10 – 15 years. Sometimes, outlasting the car itself.
The motor is also expensive to repair, and the price ranges between $6000 and $9000. However, motors seldom need repair or replacement since they have very few moving parts. In fact, electric motors outlast the vehicle on most occasions.
The AC and cabin filters cost between $50 and $200 to repair, depending on the EV.
Tire damage cost between $35 and $100 to repair, depending on the type of damage. Tesla charges about $50 for wheel rotation and alignment.
Damage to the vehicle’s body can cost you thousands of dollars, depending on the extent of the damage. For the Tesla, damage to the bumper costs over $15,000 to repair.
What Maintenance Does an Electric Vehicle Need?
Electric vehicles are easy to maintain since they have few mechanical and moving parts. Even so, there are a few components that require maintenance from time to time, such as the brake fluid, other fluid inspections and software updates.
Other parts such as the tires, battery pack, and motor require regular visual inspections. Electric vehicles are also cheaper to maintain. On average, an EV costs about $900 a year to maintain, while a gas car costs $1200.
Typical Scheduled Maintenance
Brake fluid changes are recommended after every two to five years. Check the fluid level and quality at least once every year. Replace with fresh fluid if the level is low or if the fluid is dark brown or black, indicating it has gone bad.
Proper tire maintenance involves constantly inspecting the edges of the treads and replacing the tires after the recommended mile coverage — 7500 miles. Wheel alignment is also recommended every 6-12 months.
Electric car tires tend to wear out faster than traditional gas vehicles since they’re heavier and deliver instant torque and acceleration.
The battery coolant should be replaced after fifteen years or about 140,000 miles.
Wiper Blade and Fluid
Once a year, or after every 15000 miles, you should replace your electric vehicle’s wiper blades and fluid.
Over time, electric vehicles receive software updates to improve the driving experience. Both Tesla and LEAF have over-the-air updates where they’ll update your software remotely.
Other brands require you to take the car to the dealership for an update. You need an internet connection for updates.
While most software updates are free, you may need to pay for others, such as Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Mode and Enhanced Autopilot on their older models.
Do Electric Cars Need Oil Change?
No. EVs are powered by an electric motor, not a combustion engine. For this reason, they don’t use or require oil for operation.
Do Electric Cars Break Down Less?
Yes. Electric cars have fewer moving parts than traditional gas cars and therefore break down less.
The brakes also last longer and are less susceptible to damage on an EV due to regenerative braking technology in electric cars. Regen braking reduces wear and tear since mechanical braking is hardly used.
Does an Electric Car Have a Gearbox?
No. EVs are powered by electric motors and therefore don’t need a clutch or gearbox. They only have a single gear and a reverse gear.
How Long Do Electric Motors Last?
Between 15 and 20 years. Additionally, EV motors rarely malfunction and usually lasts longer than the vehicle’s lifespan.
How Often Do Batteries Need to Be Replaced In an Electric Car?
Batteries need replacement after at least ten years or 100,000 miles, after which they lose significant power and range. Additionally, all batteries in electric vehicles sold in the U.S are covered under a warranty of 8 years or 100,000 miles.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace Electric Car Batteries?
The price of battery replacement is still in the thousands of dollars for EVs. A Nissan Leaf, for example, costs about $5500 for replacement. The Chevy Bolt, on the other hand, costs a whopping $16000.
The good news, however, is that different manufacturers provide different warranty covers for the battery. Therefore, you won’t need a battery replacement within the car’s lifespan.
|Vehicle||Manufacturer’s Battery Warranty Cover|
|Nissan Leaf||8 years/100,000 miles|
|Kia||10 years/100,000 miles|
|Tesla||8 years/100,000 miles|
Can You Charge an Electric Car With a Generator?
Yes. Using an inverter generator, you can charge your EV. It’s, however, slow and recommended only as a backup for longer trips. Additionally, for manufacturers such as Tesla and Honda, cheap generators will not work since they don’t produce a pure sine wave.
What Happens to Electric Car Batteries at the End of Life?
When batteries get to their retirement age, they can be reused at home or work as energy storage. Both solar power and wind power can be stored in old EV batteries. This way, you can have two sources of power at home — grid and solar power.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do Electric Cars Lose Charge When Parked?
Yes. Electronic components and functions are always switched on in the background, even when the car’s engine is off.
Depending on the brand, an EV loses between 1% and 2% of charge a day when parked.
You can minimize loss of charge by activating power-saving mode and turning off unnecessary electronic functions when the car is off.
Is It Ok to Leave an Electric Car Plugged In?
Yes. It’s safe to leave your car charging, even overnight, since EVs come with battery monitoring systems that ensure the battery does not overcharge.
Is It Ok to Leave My Tesla Charger Plugged In for Long Periods?
Yes. Both the charger and the vehicle are safe to be left charging for long periods.
In fact, it’s recommended that you leave your Tesla plugged in if you’ll be absent for weeks or months to prevent damaging the batteries when the level drops to zero or near zero.
Additionally, you can set the maximum charge level to 50%, which is the ideal working state for lithium-ion batteries.
Can You Jump Start an Electric Car?
Yes. But there are some measures you need to take. First, make sure the vehicle is not plugged in when jump-starting as the power surge will fry onboard electronic systems.
You also shouldn’t jump-start a traditional combustion engine using an electric car since the 12V EV battery lacks enough power.
Do Electric Cars Stop Suddenly?
When the battery is completely drained to zero, an EV will stop moving. However, you shouldn’t let this happen. Always charge your EV when the charge level falls between 10% and 20%.
Can an EV Be Towed If It Breaks Down?
No. Towing an EV damages the traction motors. In case you run out of power, contact a flatbed truck to carry the vehicle to a charging station.
Next: Want to learn everything you can about your electric car? Check out our complete guide to electric cars.
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