The maintenance required for an electric vehicle is in some ways very similar to maintaining an internal combustion vehicle, but in some ways, it’s also quite different. Some things wear out quicker, while others need to be replaced a lot less often, and some items that are regularly serviced in an ICE car don’t even exist in EVs, so you never have to worry about them.

Given the nature of electric motors, which have a lot fewer moving parts than combustion engines and don’t require regular fluid changes or the replacement of mechanical components that wear out, EVs generally require less maintenance. This also means EV maintenance should be cheaper overall, although some models aren’t renowned for their reliability, and you might end up visiting a garage more often than you would think.

Thankfully, the biggest components in your EV, the battery pack and motors, need very little maintenance if you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Automakers recommend longer servicing intervals for EVs than they do for comparable ICE vehicles, though, so if no unexpected problems creep up, owning an EV should be a more hassle-free experience.

Let’s examine each of the major items of EV maintenance and their specific requirements.

Battery Pack

Lithium-Ion Battery Assembly


An electric vehicle’s battery pack should retain a significant part of its original usable capacity even after a decade of use. However, that only applies to EVs whose lithium-ion batteries are equipped with a thermal management system—batteries in EVs that don’t have one last a lot less—and it’s best to keep your EV in a garage during the coldest winter months as well as during the height of summer when temperatures are highest.

It’s also best to leave an EV plugged in if it’s not in use for a long time, as this will prevent the battery from being completely drained by providing power for the thermal management system that works even when the vehicle is turned off. You can even get a special charger with a timer to only provide power at certain times, and you can also set charging limits.

Frequently DC fast charging also accelerates battery degradation and capacity loss, especially if you regularly charge it from a very low state of charge or past 80–90 percent. This is less of a problem for lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries, which are much less prone to being damaged by being fully charged.

Regarding the actual maintenance that you need to do for the battery pack specifically, there’s nothing you can do other than make sure the coolant hasn’t seeped out or evaporated and is at the correct level.

You can expect your EV’s battery to last up to 15 years if you live in an area with a mild climate and you keep it in a temperature-controlled garage, or it could drop to under 10 years if you live somewhere with harsh winters and very warm summers and you leave the vehicle parked on the street and not plugged in when not in use.

Motors

Volkswagen APP 550 electric motor

Just like the battery pack, the motors in an EV require little to no regular maintenance, depending on their type. There is a lot less to go wrong, given that the only moving part is the rotor, which spins while inside a magnetic field, it creates along with the stator. There are no gears, belts, or chains, and there are no parts that wear out over time.

Some motors may require disassembly and cleaning, but that depends on their type, and there’s no reason why an electric motor can’t last for hundreds of thousands of miles. That’s comparable to a combustion engine, which needs a lot more maintenance, care, and consumables to last as long as an electric traction motor.

The transmission in electric vehicles, with very few exceptions, is a simple single-speed reduction gear mechanism that should also last a long time under normal use. Since there are no gears to shift and all the transmission is doing is stepping down the rpm from the motor’s output shaft to increase torque and move the vehicle, there’s a lot less that can go wrong compared to a traditional multi-speed or continuously variable transmission.

Fluids

2023 XPeng P7i thermal management system

One area where EVs and ICE cars are similar is in the fact that they both need lubrication and cooling, and this is done via fluids. Motor and transmission lubrication is achieved through the use of oils that also help with cooling. However, you don’t need to change this oil since it doesn’t lose its lubrication properties over time as it does in an ICE vehicle, where it goes through thousands of thermal cycles. You only need to top up this oil if some of it has leaked out and is below the recommended level.

Just like many ICE vehicles (as well as some heating and ventilation systems for buildings and other applications), most EVs require a glycol-based coolant. Since this type of coolant doesn’t contain water, it doesn’t conduct electricity, and so it is safer to use with lithium-ion battery cells. You usually don’t have to change the coolant because it will last longer in an EV compared to an ICE vehicle.

One reason coolant lasts longer in an EV has to do with the fact that it will never get as hot as in a combustion vehicle, where it’s recommended that you replace it every two years. You still have to change it in an EV, but it can last up to 5 years if nothing goes wrong with the vehicle. Some EVs inform you about the coolant level and how often it needs to be changed. Ask your dealer or refer to the manual to see what applies to your specific vehicle.

Tires

ERange EV Tire Test


EVs are heavier than ICE vehicles because they have to carry around a hefty battery pack, and this extra weight will accelerate tire wear. You still have to get your tires rotated as you would in any car every 5,000 to 8,000 miles, but you will find that they need to be replaced more frequently than in a gas car.

Regarding wear, it could be between 20 and 50 percent faster than in a gas car, but you should keep in mind that this is directly correlated with the vehicle’s weight—the heavier the EV, the sooner it will need new tires. If you own a smaller and lighter EV, like a Chevrolet Bolt, which weighs around 3,560 pounds, its tires will last longer than the tires on a much heavier Tesla Model S.

Powered wheels always wear out faster, so if your EV is all-wheel drive, you can expect quicker tire wear at all four corners. The instant torque delivery of electric motors is another factor that accelerates tire wear in an EV. The more powerful the vehicle and the more brutal the power delivery, the quicker the tires will wear out. Quicker performance-oriented all-wheel drive EVs like the Porsche Taycan Turbo will chew through their tires quicker than the base rear-wheel drive Taycan.

Some major tire manufacturers have developed EV-specific tires, which are designed to cope with EVs’ extra weight as well as provide less rolling resistance and improve range. EV tires feature beefed-up sidewalls designed to cope with an electric car’s extra mass and improve control and safety.

Brakes

2024 Lucid Air Sapphire Exterior Brakes


EVs rely heavily on their electric motors for braking. Some even allow you to one-pedal drive and come to a complete stop without even coming near the brake pedal. You therefore rely on the friction brakes less than you do in a combustion car, even despite the extra weight that EVs have to carry around, which you would think also puts additional strain on the brakes.

Volkswagen equips all its MEB-based EVs, even the performance models, with drum brakes on the rear, specifically because it found during testing that vehicles still had plenty of stopping power just by using the front disks and regen. Automotive parts manufacturer Continental has even proposed a concept for lighter-duty EV-specific disk brakes with considerably thinner disks (of the sort you would see on a motorcycle), arguing that powerful friction brakes will not be needed in EVs whose regenerative braking is becoming even stronger.

How quickly the brakes wear out in your EV is ultimately dependent on how much you use the regen function. If you like to wind that all the way down and just coast and rely on the friction brakes to stop, then you will probably need new pads sooner than you would have in a similar ICE vehicle (because the EV’s extra weight puts additional stress on the friction brakes if it’s not helped by regen). If, however, you drive your EV in one-pedal driving mode and you hardly ever touch the brake pedal, then there’s no limit to how long the pads can last.

Other Consumables

tesla model x air filters


The intervals for replacing wiper blades and cabin air filters should be similar to those for a gas-powered car. You will also have to replace your EV’s 12-volt battery every five to seven years. It is used to power the screens, the vehicle’s onboard computers, the diagnostic systems, and pretty much all peripheral systems. Even in a Tesla, the 12-volt battery is used to power everything but the drive motors. If your EV’s 12-volt battery dies, you will need to recharge it to start the vehicle—it could leave you stranded even if there is current in the big traction battery.

With EVs' extra weight, more stress is also put on suspension components including shock absorbers and bushings. These may also wear out quicker than in a comparable combustion car, although manufacturers have addressed this by making the suspension components slightly heavier-duty to cope with the extra mass. Another component that may wear out more quickly in an EV is each wheel's hub assembly (specifically the bearing inside), which is put under more stress in a heavier vehicle.

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