Because electric cars have fewer parts to take care of, they are generally cheaper and more simple to maintain than gasoline-powered vehicles. Combining that with the fact that electric cars are typically cheaper to charge than gasoline, it may seem like an easy financial decision.
There are some maintenance quirks that electric vehicles (or EVs) have that can temper this outlook. The monetary cost of oil change is offset by the need for a higher level vigilance. For example, you will want to prepare your battery for each drive in low temperatures. The battery’s ability to hold more power will eventually decrease, so you must accept a decreasing range.
Less parts = less upkeep
An engine is a complex machine with many moving parts. To keep your engine running smoothly, you must replace all fluids and parts — including oil filters, pumps and pumps. Even if you keep your appointments with your mechanic for routine maintenance on your engine, there is still the possibility of it breaking down or wearing out.
An electric car does not have an engine. It uses a battery, which doesn’t have moving parts, to provide power to the motor that turns the wheels. Although EVs require regular maintenance, they are generally less expensive than gas-powered cars.
Basics of electric car maintenance
The car’s manual will list the parts that the owner should inspect and replace, as well as the intervals they should do so. These lists are often called “scheduled maintenance” and can be thought of as preventive measures similar to going to the dentist. You or a mechanic will inspect and replace parts as they reach the end of their useful lives with proactive tune-ups.
Many car manufacturers make their manuals available online. You can probably find the manual online for any EV you are interested in. Here are some common EV maintenance tasks:
Tires. To ensure even wear, you’ll need to rotate your tires. Tesla recommends that you rotate your tires every 6,250 miles on the Model Y, while Ford’s Mustang Mach-E can last 10,000 miles without needing to be rotated. Some EV owners have reported that their tires wear faster than tires on gasoline-powered cars. This could be due to the extra weight of the battery. However, EV-specific tires can withstand this added load.
Brakes. Brake fluid needs to be changed every two to five year, just like with gas-powered cars. Regenerative braking converts the energy from a slower car into electricity, so the brakes last longer. Standard brakes convert this energy into heat through friction, which eventually wears down the brake pads.
While battery maintenance is essential, some performance decline
Unlike gasoline-powered cars that require you to purchase new parts to replace damaged parts, EVs are powered by batteries. They live under your seat and don’t require maintenance. Although they don’t require any physical intervention, batteries still need your attention. To get the best results, you need to be consistent with your daily routine. This is something some may find too difficult after driving a gas-powered vehicle.
EV manufacturers say drivers can keep batteries healthy by:
You should charge to nearly full. Overcharging your battery to 100% can cause performance degradation.
Preconditioning. Some EVs allow you to notify them when your next driving trip is. Preconditioning is essentially a warm up for the battery.
This is an important point. Even if you follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding battery care, your battery’s capacity to hold a charge over time will decline. Your EV’s maximum range before it needs to recharge is going to decrease. A reduction of 30% or more can be normal. This is a major disadvantage compared to gasoline-powered cars.
If you purchase an EV, there is no need to worry about a decrease in range. Batteries are typically covered for eight years or 100,000 mile use. People who buy a car new usually sell it off before the ninth year, according to iSeeCars. This website aggregates websites that sell cars. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has shown that batteries can last up to 15 years, but with certain conditions you will still have a reduced maximum range. Although it is possible to replace a battery completely, most car companies don’t encourage this and rarely share pricing for new batteries.
Maintenance costs: Electric cars as compared to gas-powered cars
Consumer Reports published a study in 2020 that showed that an average EV owner saves $4,600 on maintenance costs over its life span, compared to a typical gas-powered vehicle.
AAA found that EV owners can save 18% on their maintenance costs compared with the average vehicle in a 2022 study. You can expect higher maintenance costs for certain types of vehicles. If you choose to switch to an electric vehicle from a pickup than from a small sedan, you will likely save more.
The manufacturer’s warranty may be able to help you avoid unexpected repairs that could lead to higher costs for a new or lightly used car.
There are many types of coverage that a vehicle warranty covers. These coverage types can vary from one vehicle to the next. Ford, for example, offers bumper-to–bumper coverage for 36,000 miles or three years. The battery warranty is eight years or 100,000 miles. The basic warranty of Tesla is similar to Ford’s bumper–to-bumper warranty. It lasts four years or 50,000 mi, depending on when it expires. The battery warranties for longer-range vehicles are limited to 150,000 miles, or eight years.
The jury’s out on how EVs age
It is not unusual to find a gas-powered vehicle that is older than the driver, or that has enough mileage to reach the moon. We know how many gas-powered cars have done well and our reputations for reliability have been built over the years. However, EVs haven’t been around for long enough to be able to prove themselves trustworthy.
You can expect higher maintenance costs for older cars. Consumer Reports says that EV maintenance costs increase by 25% for every 100,000 miles. This is similar to gas-powered cars. Consumer Reports found that the average cost of maintaining EVs with six-figure mileage rose by similar amounts. However, because initial maintenance costs were lower, actual costs end up being lower.