Thinking about buying an electric car? There are plenty of reasons to buy one, including all the national and provincial incentives and rebates helping lower the price. You may also hear about another benefit of buying an electric vehicle: An EV requires less maintenance compared to a vehicle with an internal combustion engine (ICE).
Is it true? Is electric car maintenance truly less than an ICE vehicle? We explore that and some common maintenance items you can expect on an EV below.
While electric cars require less maintenance than traditional internal combustion vehicles, they are not maintenance-free. With an electric motor, EV owners have no oil changes to do or engine air filters or spark plugs to change like with an internal combustion engine (ICE). However, EVs still share some components with traditional vehicles that require periodic maintenance. Plus, EVs have a few extra components ICE vehicles don’t have that require some maintenance.
Here are some of the electric car maintenance items you can expect to perform. Check your owner's manual for specifics on what maintenance your EV needs and the maintenance schedule.
Not all EVs require you to change their battery pack coolant — Tesla says this should never need replacing throughout the vehicle’s life — but some, like the Chevy Bolt EV, have it on their maintenance schedule.
That said, you will generally only need to change the EV battery coolant about once every 15 years. So, unless you plan to keep your EV for the long haul, this is likely nothing you’ll ever need to worry about.
The cooling system may also have smaller maintenance requirements, such as draining and refilling the coolant circuits. They generally require this about every five years.
Like an ICE vehicle, an EV still uses brake fluid to power the braking system. Like all brake fluid, the stuff EVs use will absorb water over time, which can cause rusting in the system and boiling due to the high temperatures. You should perform a brake fluid exchange once the fluid reaches 3% water — you can have it tested at any repair shop.
A brake fluid exchange will remove nearly 100% of the fluid in the system and replace it with fresh fluid, bringing the water contamination to nearly 0%.
While most automakers don’t list a specific time frame for this important electric car maintenance, you can expect to need it once every 3-5 years.
Yes, electric cars still use traditional brake pads that wear out just like any ICE vehicle. However, an EV is typically slightly heavier than an ICE vehicle, which puts more stress on the braking system. This means you may replace brake pads and resurface or replace the brake rotors more frequently in an EV.
Keep in mind that EVs usually have some form of regenerative braking system. Some repair shops will apply a surcharge to replace brake pads on these systems.
Electric cars still roll on the same rubber tires as ICE vehicles, albeit low-rolling-resistance and low-noise versions of these tires. This means the tires will still need rotation about twice a year. Failure to rotate the tires can lead to uneven tire wear and significantly shorten the life of the tires.
Remaining in the same tire category — you’ll want to check the tire pressure periodically. Like an ICE vehicle, running on tires with too much or too little pressure will decrease efficiency and increase uneven tire wear.
Yes, even though EVs have a battery pack to power the powertrain, they still use a traditional 12-volt battery to power the accessories, like the headlights, audio system, and more. Like any car battery, this battery will degrade over time — especially in the frigid Canadian winters — and require replacement.
You may need a new battery once every 3-5 years, depending on the weather and what preventative maintenance you perform, such as connecting it to a trickle charger when it‘s parked overnight.
Your EV maintenance will also lead you to replace windshield wipers periodically. Like any vehicle, the rubber blades slowly degrade due to heat, sun, and extreme cold, resulting in streaking when they wipe away the rain.
You can expect to replace the wipers at least every 15,000 miles. Speaking of windshield wipers, you’ll also need to refill the windshield washer fluid periodically. Make sure to use the appropriate fluid or additive during the cold winters to prevent the fluid from freezing, expanding, and potentially cracking the washer fluid reservoir.
While there is no engine air filter, most EVs will have a cabin air filter, which keeps smoke, dust, pollutants, and allergens from entering the cabin through the heating and air conditioning system. Over time, this filter may become clogged and slow the airflow or develop an odd smell.
This is why automakers will generally recommend changing this filter every three years or so.
An EV chassis shares much with ICE vehicles, including the steering and suspension systems. These moving parts can shift over time, putting the wheels out of alignment like any other vehicle. This can cause the vehicle to pull to one side and uneven tire wear.
Having the alignment checked at least once a year — twice a year if you live in an area with rough roads — and adjusting it as needed is a good practice to keep your tires in good shape.
With all the salt and other chemicals used on Canadian roads to keep them free of ice in the winter, we’re all used to undercarriage cleaning to prevent rusting. The same holds true for electric cars, which can rust like any other vehicle.
So, while not every automaker will recommend it, you should perform an undercarriage cleaning at least once a year, preferably twice. This will help keep the undercarriage free of rust-accelerating salt and other chemicals.
The A/C desiccant bag is responsible for absorbing moisture in the air conditioning system. Over time, it can become mildewy and lose its effectiveness. You generally want to replace this every six years, or so, to prevent any issues in the A/C system.
EV battery packs do slowly degrade over time, losing capacity and driving range. This is perfectly normal and is a part of owning an electric car. For the most part, this is a tolerable thing — especially in today’s longer-range EVs — but there comes a time when the range is too short or the battery stops charging altogether. According to Consumer Reports, this shouldn’t occur until at least the 320,000-km mark.
The battery lifespan also depends on your EV charging habits. If you frequently use DC fast chargers, you could reduce the battery’s life by 10% or more.
At this point, you can choose to replace the battery, which can cost well over $15,000, making it the highest maintenance cost on an EV. Alternatively, you can scrap your 320,000-km EV and purchase a new one.
Looking for a quality used electric vehicle that’s up to date on its maintenance? Every EV Clutch sells goes through a 210-point inspection and reconditioning process, including completing any due electric car maintenance.
We also include a 90-day or 6,000-km warranty on all EVs and a 10-day or 750-km test-own period. If you don’t love your pre-owned EV, you can return it for a full refund or exchange it for another vehicle. So, you can rest assured you’ll have time to test your vehicle after completing your purchase online.
Check out our 100% online pre-owned car showroom today and choose the electric car that suits you. You can then complete the purchase, get an offer on your trade-in vehicle, and even secure financing all online. We’ll then deliver your vehicle to you and take away your trade-in vehicle. There’s no need to set foot in a dealership.