You finally took the plunge and traded in your gas guzzler for a more practical electric car after years of contemplating. What do you need to know about keeping your new wheels in good shape?
First, the good news—electric cars are far simpler from an engineering perspective. A typical combustion engine car has over 10,000 moving parts.
A typical electric car has closer to 150. That means there's a lot less that can go wrong with an electric vehicle (EV). Still, even EVs have a handful of typical maintenance issues.
1. Battery Replacement
The most important part of maintaining an electric vehicle is caring for its battery. It’s expensive to replace, but with proper care, you won’t have to worry about that for ten to twenty years.
To keep your battery in optimal condition, avoid using the supercharger more than necessary. Although a fast charge is sometimes the solution to an immediate need, frequent use will reduce the lifespan of your battery.
Also keep your electric vehicle at 25-50% charge if you don’t plan to use it soon. Leaving it at a very low or very high charge makes the system work harder.
Another helpful tip is to keep your EV out of extreme temperatures while stored. Very hot or very cold temps will affect the performance of the battery.
Know that your EV battery will lose efficiency with each passing year, causing a lower range capability. However, this decrease is typically small and EV batteries are built to function for an average of 200,000 miles, if not longer.
2. Tire Care
Tires on electric cars require the same care as tires on a gas-propelled vehicle. After all, tires don’t know what fuels the motion.
Prepare to have your tires rotated and inspected at regular intervals. They'll also need to be replaced every 40,000-80,000 miles just like your previous rides.
You may also have to deal with flats and tire leaks, especially if you run over a sharp object or hit a curb.
3. Regenerative Brake Repair
EVs use regenerative braking, which means they reclaim the car’s kinetic energy when you tap the brakes, using it to recharge the battery.
It’s an efficient system that adds to the power your car creates for itself without the use of fuel or stored power.
It’s also efficient in the use of braking components. However, even though the wear on brake pads is lighter they will need to be serviced and maintained eventually.
Note: Some EVs override the regenerative braking system when the car is fully charged, putting more pressure on the brake pads. If you don’t need a full charge for your commute, consider limiting the charge to below 80% to see if that reduces wear on your brakes.
4. Cabin Filter Replacement
Some newer EVs have internal air purification filters. Every 30K miles or so, these filters will need replacement, a task you can perform yourself if you have an hour to spare.
5. Fluid Upkeep
Like gas cars, electric vehicles have systems that rely on fluids. While you can finally skip the frequent oil changes, most EVs still have coolant, brake fluid, and windshield washer fluid. Some also have transmission fluid.
Letting any of these fluids run out is a recipe for more expensive repairs down the road.
Mechanic or DIY
The good news is that electric vehicles require much less maintenance than gas cars, since you're waving goodbye to replacing spark plugs, fuel filters, and many other parts.
Deciding whether to tackle repairs yourself or make an appointment with a qualified mechanic is the same with an EV as a gas-powered rig.
If you feel you have the skills, go ahead and give it a try. If you’re lost, it'll probably save you money to have knowledgeable and experienced hands on the job.
You might be comfortable changing filters and checking fluids, while leaving brakes and batteries up to a mechanic.
If your vehicle's under warranty, familiarize yourself with the rules. Performing your own repairs may void your protection.