As they maximize cost-effectiveness and environmental protection, electric cars have surged in popularity. New owners may be coming into the world of electric cars without knowing the proper maintenance practices. To maximize the life of your electric car, you must learn how to properly care for it.
Whether you’re new to ownership or just refreshing your memory, taking care of an electric car doesn’t have to be a painful process. Throughout this article, we will discuss the important aspects of electric car maintenance and maximizing its lifespan.
Problems with Electric Cars that Can Be Prevented
Most electric vehicles require minimal costly maintenance as long as you practice regular upkeep. However, some owners often make common mistakes that deplete the efficiency of the vehicle. Most of these mistakes are easily avoided by following a few simple steps. These include:
- Motor maintenance
- Regularly checking of the brake pads
- Parking in shaded areas
- Steering clear of excessive battery charging
- Avoiding charges that are too quick
- Remembering a routine maintenance schedule
(Source: All Electric)
Though electric cars do not have the same mechanisms as vehicles that run on fossil fuels, some maintenance practices remain the same. While checking certain features does not need to be checked quite often, you will still need to regularly check certain aspects like tires, coolant, and windshield wipers.
Electric cars do not take quite as much work as those running on fossil fuels, so as long as you regularly check for everyday wear and tear, your car can last much longer.
How to Maintain an Electric Car
Certain components of every car will need regular servicing or checking. For most electric vehicles, your warranty will detail a “recommended schedule” for basic repairs and servicing. By not following these guidelines, you would be in violation of your car’s warranty.
But this is easily avoidable. Most electric cars follow a set schedule for regular maintenance. Some services are required by either mile or length of time. The following chart will detail some of the most basic maintenance required for electric vehicles:
|Monthly||Gauge your tire pressure and wearCheck and fill windshield wiper fluid as necessary|
|Every 7,500 miles||Rotate tiresCheck coolant levels for the battery, cabin heater, and power inverterInspect brake padsCheck for fluid leaksExamine power steering, shafts, and airbags for proper functionalityCheck pedals for wear and tear|
|Twice a year||Use plain water to clean the underbody of the vehicle|
|Every 15,000 miles||Have the windshield wiper blades replaced|
|Every 36,000 miles||Replace air filters in the main cabin|
|Every 75,000 miles||Replace the gas struts within the hood or body lift (Both if applicable)|
|Every 5 years||Swap out the brake fluidDrain all coolant circuits within the vehicle|
|Every 7 years||Replace the air conditioning desiccant|
This list may vary slightly from manufacturer to manufacturer, so be sure to check what specific maintenance is required by your car’s warranty.The chart is just the most basic outline, but maintenance can always be done earlier if needed. If you are worried about any of these specific maintenance requirements, check with your dealership or a certified mechanic.
What Fluids Are Required for an Electric Car?
Though electric cars do not require regular oil changes, unlike those using fossil fuels, some fluids will need to be regularly checked. These fluids may include:
- Thermal coolant
- Windshield wiper fluid
- Brake fluid
- Air conditioning refrigerant (such as freon)
- Internal lubricants
Keep in mind that not every electric motor vehicle will require the same fluid maintenance. For instance, many current models do not require lubricants, and those that do are often sealed and have no need of being changed.
As with any car, brake fluid, coolants, and windshield wiper fluid can be monitored and changed as needed. These fluids can often be topped off as you notice changes in your car’s functionality, but you may want to ask your certified mechanic about replacing fluids at each 7500-mile check-up.
If you’re new to car ownership or just want to be extra cautious, consider investing in a small testing device to gauge your fluid intake. This tester is designed to monitor your consumption of brake fluid. This is a small expense that might alleviate concerns about regular fluid maintenance.
Additionally, you can always check with a dealership, a certified mechanic, or your car’s manual for any questions concerning how much fluid should be used at one time.
Do Electric Cars Need Transmission Fluid?
The short answer is no. Electric cars run off of a different set of mechanisms than cars powered by fossil fuels. This eliminates the need for a multi-speed transmission. Therefore, without a transmission, there’s no place to add transmission fluid.
Most of the moving parts associated with cars running off of oil have been eliminated in the production of vehicles running on a purely electric motor. This will vary, however, if your electric car is a hybrid model.
Though hybrid vehicles have many of the same components as a car running on pure electricity, they still contain oil-based mechanisms like transmissions. Ordering replacements for electric cars that require transmission fluid can be tricky because there is no dedicated fluid for these types of vehicles.
Many electric vehicle owners recommend synthetic oils that can be used in many different vehicle types, live this Valvoline transmission fluid. Of course, the type of oils and fluids needed may vary by the make and model of your vehicle. To ensure your vehicle has the right oils and lubricants, check with a certified dealer or mechanic. You may also consult your car’s specific owner’s manual.
Additionally, some popular electric car companies do require some transmission services. For example, the Tesla Model S requires a service every 12 years that involves transmission fluid.
How to Keep Your Electric Car Battery Healthy
Because your vehicle runs on electrical currents, the battery is possibly the most essential component of its design. Not only is this the most expensive part of your electric car, but it also dictates how long your car will efficiently perform. The following are some ways you can keep your vehicle’s battery healthy over time.
Use Proper Charging Practices
Charging an electric vehicle can be done at public charging stations. However, there may not be many of these to choose from in your area. In this case, you will most likely need to go through the process of charging your electric vehicle from home.
The initial setup of charging at home can be a little costly. However, you can factor in these costs at the initial purchase of your electric vehicle. Setting up this equipment is an integral part of purchasing an electric car. To charge your vehicle from home, you will need to follow these steps:
- Check for local state and utility incentives to aid in the cost of installation
- Dedicate an outside area as your personal charging station (garage, driveway, backyard, etc.)
- Be sure you follow your local regulations, codes, and standards for installation
- Contact an electrical contractor to assist in the process of installation
- Install any necessary level 2 charge station equipment
(Source: U.S. Dept of Energy)
This is the necessary process for the installation of level 2 charging equipment. However, not all electric cars will need this heavy-duty equipment to charge. Smaller electric vehicles, such as hybrids, will only require level 1 charging equipment. Check with your certified car dealership or mechanic to know which equipment type your make and model requires.
Provide Sufficient Charge
Just as is the case of most electronics, the battery needs a sufficient charge to retain its efficiency. If the car is left charging too long, the battery can become charger-dependent. This will render the car less efficient, and the battery life will be more quickly depleted.
Similarly, quick charges of your car’s battery can equally deplete the lifespan. To keep your electric car at its most efficient, the battery should always remain between 20% and 80% charged.
Of course, life can get in the way, and sometimes you cannot maintain this ideal percentage range. It’s okay for the battery to fall a little below or above the range from time to time. However, if this becomes a habit, your battery will not reach its full potential lifespan.
Keep Your Car’s Environment in Mind
Paying close attention to your environment is an essential part of maintaining a healthy electric car’s battery. In temperatures that are too hot or too cold, the battery will undergo a reduction in range. This means that the average distance you can travel on a certain percentage of charge could be greatly reduced.
When the car is not in use, try to park your electric vehicle in a shaded area of moderate climate. Preferably, while not in use, park the car in a garage or similar storage structures. If this is not possible, that’s okay.
Extreme temperatures should not deplete your car’s battery to the point of replacement. However, you will need to factor in how climate will affect your travel plans. If you know that your car will be exposed to less than favorable temperatures, remember that your electric car will not achieve the same mileage as usual.
You may need to adjust how long and to what percentage you have to charge the car’s battery according to the climate.
Maximizing Energy Efficiency and Milage in Your Electric Car
For a vehicle that runs on pure electrical energy, maximizing efficiency means following proper charging rules and techniques. If the electric car you own is a hybrid model, this entails coupling electrical efficiency with low consumption of fossil fuels.
Modern electric motors can be a bit expensive. However, properly servicing your car can extend its life expectancy to either eight years or 100,000 miles. This is about the cut-off point of most dealer warranties. Your car’s motor can possibly outlive this time frame, but the warranty would not cover any repair cost.
How Often Do Electric Cars Need to Be Serviced?
Depending on the type of service, you may go up to seven years without making any significant repairs on an electric vehicle. However, this comes with the expectation that you regularly check, or have checked, your electric car for everyday wear and tear.
At least once a month, you should regularly inspect essential features like the tires and wiper blades. Most routine maintenance will fall under the 7500-mile umbrella. Each time you reach this amount of mileage, you will want to see a certified mechanic or auto dealership to confirm your vehicle is functioning properly.
This does not mean you will have to have repairs done every 7500 miles, but having an expert look over your car’s condition at this milestone will ensure the longevity of its life. Because there is little to no oil consumption in modern electric vehicles, this will differ from the regular services tied to an oil change.
During the 7500 mile check-up, the mechanic may go ahead and rotate your tires, but there will not be a set “oil change” scenario to deal with. Everything done during this check-up is just to ensure your care is maximizing its potential efficiency.
Average Cost for Servicing an Electric Car
Like most current vehicles in circulation, the cost of maintenance may vary by the make and model of your electric vehicle. Looking at some of the most popular makes and models, the average maintenance for an electric vehicle ranges from $950 to just over $2000. This rivals the average price of fossil fuel consumption which costs about $3000 yearly.
The average price of electric car service is currently tracked on a three to five-year basis due to the longevity of peak performance. The design of an electric car eliminates some of the most serviced parts in oil-based vehicles. On average, an electric car owner saves around $4600 just on the regular maintenance and service of their vehicle in its lifespan.
This amount does not factor in the amount saved on the consumption of energy. As the average fossil fuel-based vehicle consumes around $3000 of fuel per year, after just ten years, you would save about $30,000. If you maximize the use of charging stations and keep your vehicle at maximum efficiency, you could be saving about $23,000 in ten years.
This is based on an average of $30 to $60 added to your electric bill each month. If you only charge enough to add $30 to your electric bill each month, you could be saving more than $25,000 in ten years on energy consumption.
How to Take Care of a Plug-In Hybrid Car
In the electric vehicle industry, we currently have two basic options to choose from. Of course, we have purely electric vehicles, meaning they run strictly on a motor powered by electrical currents. Similarly, we have cars that are classified as hybrids. These vehicles share similar characteristics to electric vehicles, but they have the added option to switch between electrical energy and fossil fuel consumption.
Hybrid cars are popular due to their versatility in design and function. Some common characteristics found in hybrid vehicles may include:
- Small engines
- Fuel efficiency
- Energy conservation
- Electric motor that supports the fuel-based motor
- Recharging the battery as the vehicle is driven
- Smaller, plug-in chargers
- Can be compatible with public charging stations
As hybrid cars are a type of electric motor vehicle, they share many of the same required servicing and maintenance procedures. However, they will also require regular oil, transmission fluid, and coolant changes.
This is because although some types of hybrid vehicles switch between electrical and fuel-based energy to operate, most plug-in hybrids use the combustion engine as more of a backup generator. In this case, the combustion engine would only operate once the electric motor has been depleted of energy.
With that said, here are the basic maintenance checks you will need to perform with hybrid vehicles:
|Monthly||Check windshield wiper fluidCheck oil levelsCheck your tire pressure|
|Every 5000 to 10,000 miles||Have your tires rotatedCheck all coolant levels Inspect brake pads and replace if necessaryCheck for fluid leaksRepair or replace power steering, shafts, and airbags if necessaryEnsure pedals are fully functional|
|Twice a year||Use plain water to clean the under layer of your vehicle|
|Every 15,000 miles||Replace windshield wiper blades|
|Every 40,000 miles||Have air filters replaced|
|Every 5 years||Drain and replace all coolants in the vehicle Replace the brake fluid|
|Every 10 to 15 years||Replace or service the battery|
As you can see, because of the moving parts that make up the combustion engine, hybrid vehicles require a mix between electric car maintenance and fuel-driven car maintenance. Check your hybrid’s manual or consult an auto mechanic to get a more thorough schedule for your specific vehicle.
Do Hybrid Cars Need More Maintenance?
These types of vehicles are designed for fuel efficiency that can withstand longer trips on less battery power. Many of these characteristics are shared with purely electric cars, but the most significant differences rest in the moving mechanics and mechanisms.
Because hybrid vehicles have a combustion engine that consumes fossil fuels, they require more intensive maintenance than fully electric options. However, despite their complex design, plug-in hybrids often require no more maintenance than average cars of similar build.
For instance, the BMW i3 and Chevrolet Volt typically run on an electric motor primarily, so the mechanisms controlling the combustion engine will only be used once the battery can no longer sustain full functionality. With cars such as these, the only real added step would be monitoring the charging percentage of the vehicle’s electric motor. With a plug-in hybrid, you will not have to install the level 2 charging equipment required for most fully electric motor vehicles.
Plug-in hybrids can be charged from an outlet plug such as a Megear charger. These chargers work almost like an outlet plug. You simply plug the charging cable into a capable outlet and beginning charging the car’s electric motor.
What Are the Costs for Maintaining a Hybrid Car?
Just as other electric motor vehicles, hybrid, plug-in cars come with certain incentives. For instance, you may be eligible for a credit ranging from $2500 to $7500 just for owning this type of vehicle. This is due, in part, to the Energy Improvement and Extension Act passed in 2008.
Unlike cars that run entirely on an electric-powered motor, you will still need regular oil changes and tune-ups every 5000 to 10,000 miles with a hybrid. Over five to six years, any additional costs used to switch to a hybrid will be recouped due to lower maintenance costs. Though you may still be spending money on fuel consumption, the hybrid efficiency ensures a much higher mile per gallon.
How to Keep Your Hybrid’s Car Battery Healthy
Just like electric vehicles without a combustion engine, hybrid batteries often react differently in weather that is too cold or too warm. The best practice to achieve peak energy efficiency with your hybrid is to keep the car in a moderate temperature, away from the elements. If possible, try to keep your car parked in a garage space or similar structure while not in use or while charging. This will ensure that your battery is fully functional when it’s time for a drive.
Additionally, you will want to ensure that your battery remains sufficiently charged as often as possible. To maintain peak performance, you should never let the battery fall below 20% charged. This can be done with proper monitoring of power usage and charging habits.
Quick charges often do little more than wake up the battery. Imagine that you were very thirsty, and someone gave you one drop of water to help. This is the same principle as charging. Giving it a tiny amount of charge when the battery is low will only exacerbate the problem over time.
Like with fully electric vehicles, you also want to avoid making the battery charger-dependent. Because of this, it is recommended that you only charge your battery up to about 80%. You can check your car’s specific manual for the best length of time to achieve the best charge. But on average, most electric cars can charge completely in 8 hours. As a good rule of thumb, plan to charge your car between 4 to 6 hours, depending on how much energy you have consumed.
Maximizing Energy Efficiency and Milage for Hybrids
As an electric car derivative, hybrid cars have similar maintenance practices to fully electric motor vehicles. To ensure your electric vehicle is achieving its maximum efficiency and mileage, you must regularly service and maintain your car.
Hybrid maintenance follows many of the same steps as electric motor vehicles with just a few additional servicing requirements. These include:
- Do not overcharge the battery
- Keep the battery sufficiently charged
- Regularly align and rotate your tires
- Check brake pads and brake fluid levels
- Monitor all fluids related to engine function (coolant, oil, transmission fluid, etc.)
- Refill power steering fluid as needed
- Refill and routinely check the levels of windshield wiper fluids
- Change your windshield wiper blades every 6 to 12 months
- Consult certified mechanics for regular servicing to comply with your warranty
One of the most important parts of maintaining an electric motor vehicle is assuring the battery is well cared for. If your electric car’s battery stops functioning outside of the warranty, you can expect to pay between $2000 and $12,000 for a replacement.
The batteries are the most expensive part of an electric vehicle because the market for these is still growing. The cost to manufacture these batteries is more expensive than most because there are so many battery types. There is no set standard for what type of battery is most used across the electric motor vehicle industry.
Most hybrid battery shells are a much different shape than you will find in cars that run off fossil fuels. For instance, this Toyota Prius hybrid battery is much longer and in no way resembles traditional car batteries. Replacing this without a warranty is $2,378.55 for a remanufactured product. This battery is at the lower end of the price range. For something like a Tesla, you will edge closer to the $12,000 mark.
As you may have guessed, proper charging techniques will be your best friend in ensuring your car has a long life. Let’s take a look at how to properly maintain a hybrid electric vehicle’s battery supply.
Owning or switching to an electric motor vehicle can seem a bit overwhelming in the beginning. Ensuring you can adequately maintain such an investment relies on your running knowledge of proper care instructions and procedures.
Once you know the ins and outs of electric car maintenance, you will be able to enjoy ownership without unnecessary stress. Some of the most important aspects of ownership are proper routine maintenance, appropriate charging practices, and consistently staying educated on updates in the industry. With regular maintenance and service, you can enjoy using your electric vehicle for years to come!