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8 Electric Car Maintenance Tips

Tesla Model X

1. EVs Are Often Easier to Maintain Than Gas Vehicles

Electric vehicle (EV) powertrains are much simpler than internal combustion engines. They have significantly fewer parts, and those parts are much smaller and lighter. In fact, most EV motors can be carried by one person. These motors don’t require oil changes, spark plug replacement, or oil or gas filter changes.

Moreover, most electric cars don’t rely on a complicated multi-speed transmission. Instead, most use a fixed-ratio, direct-drive setup. There’s also no exhaust system, muffler, catalytic converter, fuel injector, or fuel pump in an EV.

Electric motors are not only reliable, long-lasting, and easy to maintain, but they also provide instant power on acceleration, they’re quiet and highly efficient, and they don’t produce tailpipe emissions or odor. Let’s take a look at what it takes to maintain an electric car.

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2. Electric Car Motors Don’t Need Regular Oil Changes

Even though electric motors require little maintenance, they still need to be serviced according to the manufacturer’s suggested schedule, which can be found in your owner’s manual. If you own a new EV, your local dealer should be able to handle your car’s scheduled maintenance. However, if you own an older model, you may have to search for a qualified mechanic who has experience with electric motors.

Most EVs don’t need transmission maintenance or fluid changes. A lubricant may be required for the direct-drive system, but it’s usually a sealed system that doesn’t need to be changed. There are some exceptions, however. For example, the Tesla Model S service checklist mentions a transmission fluid service at 12 years or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first.

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3. Take Good Care of Your Electric Car Battery

The battery pack is the largest, most expensive, and most critical component in an electric vehicle. It’s crucial that owners understand battery care and charging: The choices you make about your battery and charging habits will directly impact your EV’s longevity. The good news is that the steps for proper battery care are simple and easy to follow:

  • Keep your battery’s state of charge between 20% and 80% whenever possible. Repeatedly charging the battery to full will cause it to degrade more quickly. That’s also true of leaving the battery at a low state of charge for an extended time. Most EVs have settings that allow you to choose when you’d like the battery to start charging and how fully you’d like to charge it.
  • If you’re going on a long road trip, it’s OK to charge the battery to full and drive until it’s almost depleted, but this isn’t something you should do during regular daily driving. Chances are, you won’t need 100% of your EV’s range each day, so charging to 80% or less shouldn’t cause range anxiety. When you’re done driving for the day, simply plug your car in at home and it should be adequately replenished by the time you need to use it the next day.
  • Batteries don’t like extreme temperatures. When you can avoid it, don’t leave your EV parked in the hot sun for several hours. When it’s cold outside, be sure to put your car in your garage (if you have one). The cold won’t speed up your EV battery’s degradation, but it will temporarily reduce its range. Electric cars have more range in warmer temperatures than they do in colder temperatures. This is also true of gas cars, though it’s not as noticeable.

4. Buy a 240-Volt Home Charger

Charging at home is the most cost-effective and convenient option for most electric vehicle owners. You can charge any EV on a regular 110-volt household outlet, but that’s a very slow process. In most cases, you can add 2 to 5 miles of range per hour charging this way. If you start with a full battery and don’t drive very many miles each day, this may suffice. This “trickle charging” practice will also work to extend the life of your battery.

Most EV owners choose to have a 240-volt Level 2 charger installed at their home. This method adds from 10 to 60 miles of range each hour.

If you need even faster charging or need to charge on a road trip, public fast-chargers are the way to go. Today’s fastest public chargers can add 1,000 miles per hour or about 75 miles in just five minutes. However, only certain vehicles can accept such a charge. Typical fast chargers are more likely to replenish 200 miles of range in an hour for most EVs. Keep in mind, there are many factors that impact these figures, such as temperature, battery size, the energy output of the charging station, and the capability of your car’s onboard charger. Make sure you understand your car’s abilities and limitations before charging.

It’s important to note that fast-charging contributes to battery degradation. With that said, it’s an integral part of EV ownership, and electric cars are designed with fast-charging in mind. Still, it’s a best practice for electric car maintenance to only fast-charge when necessary.

Learn more about How to Charge an Electric Car.

5. Electric Car Brakes Last Longer

Electric cars have regenerative braking systems that use motor resistance to slow the car and send energy back into the battery. Essentially, when you lift your foot off the accelerator pedal and/or hit the brake pedal, the vehicle’s electric motor can act as a generator and produce electricity that’s sent back into the car’s battery pack.

Regenerative braking allows some EVs to feature one-pedal driving. Pressing on the accelerator pedal propels the car, while lifting off the pedal engages the regen braking. EVs still have traditional friction brakes, but those tend to last much longer than they do on gas-powered cars, especially if the driver relies heavily on the regen system and practices good driving habits, such as not tailgating or slamming on the brakes. In addition, when you press the brake pedal to engage the friction brakes, the regen system kicks in as well, so the friction brakes don’t have to do all the work on their own.

It’s not uncommon for an EV to travel well over 100,000 miles before needing to replace the brakes. There are actually several accounts of electric car owners with over 200,000 miles on their odometer who have never had their brakes serviced.

6. Tire Maintenance Should Be the Same

Regular tire rotation is important for all cars. It’s also imperative to check the air in your tires on a regular basis and have them inspected periodically to assure that they’re properly balanced and aligned.

Some people argue that electric cars’ considerable weight and instant torque can cause tires to need replacing more often than in conventional cars. However, this may only be the case if the car is driven hard and the driver is routinely taking advantage of that torque. The same could be said about a heavy car with a potent engine and lively acceleration, such as the Dodge Challenger or Ford Mustang.

If you’re concerned about your EV’s tires, be sure to get replacement tires specifically designed for electric cars. They tend to be quieter and more durable than traditional tires.

7. Electric Cars Require Fewer Fluids

Electric cars require few fluids. Like gas-powered cars, EVs have a thermal management system that requires coolant. You’ll also have to keep tabs on your car’s windshield wiper fluid and brake fluid. All these fluids can be topped off easily. Check your owner’s manual to find out when a coolant system flush is required. At some point, you may also need to get your air conditioning refrigerant recharged.

8. Electric Car Warranties Are Better

EV warranties are arguably better than most gas-powered car warranties because they cover the most vital and expensive component for a very long time. Specifically, federal regulations mandate that EVs come with a battery warranty that lasts at least 8 years or 100,000 miles.

The Hyundai Kona Electric has a lifetime battery warranty. The Tesla Model S and Model X have an 8-year/unlimited-mileage battery warranty. In fact, Tesla covers its entire powertrain for 8 years or 100,000-miles (unlimited miles in some models).

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