Electric car maintenance guide

Electric car maintenance guide

Editor Wakesho

We all know electric cars are cheaper to run and better for the environment due to low cost of electricity. But did you know you driving an electric vehicle can also save you a significant wage on maintenance costs too? Studies have shown that over a three year period, an EV could reduce your servicing and maintenance costs by as much as 35%.

Though electric vehicles may still cost more to purchase than their conventionally powered counterparts, they’re generally cheaper to keep running via affordable home charging. Electric vehicles also save their owners cash on an ongoing basis via lower long-term maintenance costs.

As an example of what’s typically required, here’s a look at the maintenance schedule for the 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV:

Monthly (performed by owner):

Check the tire pressure and adjust as necessary. Examine the tires for excess wear. Check the windshield washer fluid and fill as necessary.

Every 7,500 miles:

Have the tires rotated. Check the coolant level for the battery, cabin heater, and the power inverter, accessory power, and charger modules. Visually check for fluid leaks. Inspect the brakes. Visually inspect the steering, suspension, and chassis components for damage. Inspect the power steering, half shafts and drive shafts for excessive wear, leaks, or damage. Check the restraint (airbags) system. Lubricate body components (door locks). Check the accelerator pedal for damage, high effort, or binding and replace if necessary. Visually inspect the gas struts (suspension) for signs of wear, cracks, or other damage. Check the tire sealant expiration date, if equipped (this is used to temporarily seal and inflate a damaged tire).

Twice a year:- Flush corrosive materials (i.e. road salt) from the underbody using plain water.

Every 15,000 miles:- Replace the windshield wiper blades.

Every 36,000 miles:- Replace the cabin air filter (more frequently if necessary).

Every 75,000 miles:- Replace the hood and/or body lift support gas struts.

Every five years:- Drain and fill the vehicle coolant circuits. Replace the brake fluid.

Every seven years:- Have the air conditioning desiccant changed. (it absorbs and holds moisture in a mobile air conditioning system to help prevent corrosion).

For its part, Nissan gives two separate maintenance schedules for the Leaf. Schedule 1 is for more severe operating conditions that include frequent short trips of less than five miles in normal temperatures or 10 miles in freezing weather, stop-and-go driving in hot weather, low-speed driving for long distances, driving in dusty conditions or on rough, muddy or salt spread roads, or using a car-top carrier.

Schedule 2 requires less-frequent maintenance, but applies only to highway driving in temperate conditions. The bottom line here is that most Leaf owners will require Schedule 1 service.

As with the Bolt, this comes down to assorted periodic mechanical inspections, having the tires rotated every six months or 7,500 miles, and changing the cabin air filter every 12 months or 15,000 miles. In addition, the brake fluid should be replaced every 24 months or 30,000 miles, and the coolant changed after 15 years or 120,000 miles.

Now affording less maintenance doesn’t necessarily mean an electric vehicle is bulletproof. EV owners will eventually need to replace the tires, have the brakes serviced, and could be required to replace steering and suspension components, hoses, headlamps, taillights, and so on. As with any other type of vehicle, a wheel alignment will be necessary if the car pulls to one side or is exhibiting uneven tire wear.

And then there’s an EV’s battery pack to consider, which is by far cost more component. All electric vehicle batteries will degrade over time and lose some of their ability to maintain a full charge, though this happens gradually. It’s more of an issue with older EVs that could barely go for  80 miles on a charge than today’s crop of 200-mile-plus models. At that, only a relative handful of electric cars manufactured to date have reportedly degraded to the point where they needed to be replaced. Still, if you own an EV long enough you’ll see its range decline, and if it falls short enough to become an inconvenience, you may need to swap out the battery pack or trade the vehicle in for a new one.

Here are few questions that are related to electric cars

What maintenance does an electric car need?

EVs require less maintenance than petrol or diesel engines. This is mostly due to having a simpler drive train with less moving parts and fewer fluids , EV’s have no oil or transmission fluid.

With fewer components that can fail, you’re less likely to end up with costly repair bills. However, carrying out regular maintenance is still important for safety and long life of a car.

Do electric cars need oil changes?

Electric cars don’t use oil which means oil changes a thing of the past. The same is true for spark plugs, fan belts, air filters, and coolant changes.

Do electric cars require servicing?

Taking good care of your EV will help slow its depreciation and increase its overall life expectancy, so it’s still important to service your electric car regularly. But because EVs don’t require an oil change every twelve months, intervals between services are often longer compared to combustion engines.

How often should you service an electric car?

EV’s can wait two years before their first service. After this, servicing usually continues on a two-yearly basis but this may differ slightly depending on the manufacturer. For example, Nissan recommends a 12,000-km service interval for the Leaf, whilst Tesla advises an inspection every 16,000-20,000 km.

Electric car maintenance schedule

To ensure you’re servicing your car the recommended amount, you should always check the car maintenance schedule. This is essentially a document produced by the manufacturer, outlining the recommended checks and services for your vehicle.

Not only will this help keep your car in a safe condition, but it also ensures the vehicle’s warranty is kept valid. Fail to carry out the recommended inspections and you could find you’re no longer covered for unexpected faults, so it’s definitely worth sticking to the schedule.

Tesla electric car maintenance

Each maintenance schedule will be slightly different depending on the manufacturer. For example, according to Tesla, cabin air filters should be replaced every two years and HEPA(High-Efficiency Particulate Arrestance)  filters every three years. You should also rotate your tyres every 6,250 miles or if tread depth difference is 2/32 in or greater, whichever comes first.

Tesla also advises testing brake fluid for contamination every two years and replacing as needed, in addition to an air conditioning service every two years.

And for those driving in colder regions, you are advised to clean and lubricate all brake callipers every twelve months or 12,500 miles.

How long does an electric car battery last?

Battery life is a common concern among EV buyers, and quite rightly so. After all, phone and laptop batteries are prone to deterioration, so why should a car be any different?

Fortunately, EV batteries are far more superior than anything Apple or Microsoft use thanks to a bespoke battery management system, designed to preserve battery life for as long as possible.

In 2015, Nissan reported over 35,0000 European sales since the launch of the Leaf in 2011. From these figures, 99.99% of battery units remained entirely fit for purpose. The failure rate of the battery power unit was less than 0.01 per cent , a tiny proportion compared to the faults affecting your standard petrol or diesel engine.

Yet the idea of having to replace a battery is still a big worry for many motorists. So to help potential buyers overcome this fear, most manufacturers now offer a battery guarantee of around 100,000 miles, which for the average driver, is roughly twelve years.

Finding an electric car mechanic

Whilst EVs may have fewer moving parts, their electrical systems are very different from conventional engines. Therefore, any services or repairs require the hands of a trained EV mechanic. This is perhaps the only downside to EV maintenance, as electric car mechanics are currently few and far between.

In 2018, the UK’s Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) revealed 97% of auto mechanics are unable to work on electric cars. And of the 3% qualified EV mechanics, the majority are employed at manufacturer dealerships meaning your service options as an EV owner are limited.

Of course, this won’t always be the case. As the demand for EVs increases, electric car mechanics will soon become more standard. But if you’re considering buying an electric car now, it’s a good idea to check your local area first.

Do electric cars still need MOT tests?

MOT ( Ministry Of Transport) tests ensure your vehicle meets the legal safety and environmental requirements. And although EVs don’t require an emissions test, the normal MOT laws still apply. EV owners must therefore register their vehicle for an annual MOT once the vehicle is 3 years old.

Costs compared to other car types

On average, electric vehicles cost approximately 23% less to service and maintain over three years/60,000 miles compared to petrol alternatives. But for smaller vehicles, maintenance savings can be even greater.

For example, the Renault Zoe will cost £1,100 to maintain over that period, while a Vauxhall Corsa 1.0T 90 Design costs £1,497. That’s an impressive 35.7% lower. We’ve already established EVs have fewer moving parts, meaning faults are less likely to occur. But if you look at the most common faults occurring in conventional vehicles, this becomes even more evident.

According to a recent survey, the most common faults found by motorists were related to the exhaust and emission control system. Based on new car sales from 2015 to 2017, it’s estimated over 390,000 cars up to three years old could experience problems. But with an EV, you won’t be affected, as the exhaust and emission control systems are non-existent.

Brakes are another common problem. Warped rotors, fluid leaks, and worn brake pads are just a few examples of things that can wrong and whilst these issues can still arise with EVs, general brake wear and tear on electric cars is considerably reduced thanks to regenerative braking.

Regenerative braking uses electricity from the engine to slow the vehicle, whilst simultaneously restoring juice back into the battery. All electric vehicles use this technology, making braking more efficient and limiting wear and tear. It also reduces harmful brake dust, helping to improve air quality. As a result, you’ll find brake disks and pads can be changed less frequently, helping to save money on servicing.

Breakdowns and emergency repair

Whilst EV components may be less likely to fail compared to a petrol or diesel engine, things can still go wrong. Batteries can run flat or overheat and electrical faults can occur, therefore it’s a good idea to invest in breakdown cover.

In 2019, the RAC developed its first lightweight mobile EV-charger, to provide roadside assistance for flat EV batteries. And whilst the AA is not offering roadside charging yet, they will transport you and your vehicle to your nearest charging point to get you back on the road.

However, adapting services for EV owners has presented a number of challenges for roadside assistance providers. Firstly, the maximum towing weight for most standard breakdown service trucks is 2.5 tones, and with the added weight of an EV battery, many electric cars now exceed this limit.

Secondly, most electric car manufacturers advise against towing their vehicles as it can damage their motors. Instead, they should be transported with all wheels off the ground, which usually requires the assistance of a flat-bed vehicle.

Yet despite these additional complications, the good news is most roadside assistance providers cover electric vehicles as standard, so you won’t need to pay extra or take out a special policy to protect yourself.

Do electric cars break down more?

Electric cars do not eliminate the risk of a breakdown, but your chances are certainly smaller. One of the biggest causes of EV breakdowns is running the battery flat, but provided you listen to your EV’s low-power warning and react in plenty of time this can be easily avoided.

Source: Credit plus, My EV.com