Do Electric Vehicles Use Oil?

Sort of: BEVs don't use it in a traditional way but hybrids do need oil changes

Most electric vehicles (EVs) don’t use oil in a way that requires traditional engine maintenance, although they might use oils as lubricants.

Hybrid EVs that use even small amounts of gasoline have engines that require lubrication, so they need regular oil changes. The answer to the question "Do EVs use oil?" can get a little complex depending on the type of electric vehicle you're driving.

Do Electric Vehicles Need Oil Changes and Other Types of Maintenance?

Some do and some don't; it all depends on the type of EV. Electric vehicles have a few different classifications, and they each use oil differently.

Battery electric vehicles (BEV): These pure electric vehicles don’t need oil changes, because they don’t use internal combustion engines. Oil products may be used elsewhere, like in the transmission.

Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV): These vehicles use small internal combustion engines in addition to electric motors, so they do need oil changes. However, oil changes may be required less frequently than with standard internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles.

The term “oil change” literally refers to draining old motor oil, replacing it with new, and replacing the oil filter. However, additional maintenance checks are typically performed during an oil change. The service technician may check and adjust other fluids, add air to the tires if needed, inspect and grease suspension and steering components, and more.

Since electric vehicles have many of the same systems found in ICE vehicles, they can still benefit from regular maintenance and inspections. The manufacturer will typically provide a recommended maintenance schedule.

For example, BEVs don’t have engine coolant but they do have battery coolant. This coolant doesn’t break down or leak as often as engine coolant although it still needs to be checked and topped off if it ever gets low. The manufacturer will have a recommended schedule for that.

How Do Electric Vehicles Actually Use Oil?

Electric vehicles use oil, but not in the same way that internal ICE vehicles do. Since BEVs, or pure electric vehicles, don’t have internal combustion engines they don’t use motor oil. Motor oil is the oil that gets changed, along with the associated filter, during what most of us think of when we think of an oil change. However, that’s just one place where vehicles use oil.


Some BEVs use oil in their transmission, e-axle, or gearbox. This transmission fluid wears out over time and should be inspected and changed at the manufacturer-specified interval.

In cases where the owners’ manual doesn’t mention an interval, service technicians will still typically inspect for leaks and fluid conditions during regular maintenance checkups.

Other Vehicle Components

Electric vehicles also use oil in ways you don’t need to worry about from a maintenance perspective. Bearings in the electric motor and wheel bearings both use oil, but neither of these requires regular maintenance.

Other electric motors, like the ones that lock your doors, may have components that use petroleum products, and air conditioning systems use oil for lubrication, as do some other systems.

Why Don’t Battery Electric Vehicles Need Motor Oil?

Pure electric vehicles don’t need motor oil because they use electric motors instead of engines that burn fossil fuels. Internal combustion engines that operate by burning fossil fuels have a lot of moving parts that operate at very high temperatures.

The structure of an internal combustion engine of a modern car on a stand with a partial section of the corps.
The structure of an internal combustion engine of a modern car on a stand with a partial section of the corps.

Sergii Petruk/iStock/Getty

These moving parts require lubrication, in the form of motor oil, to reduce friction and facilitate normal operation. In the complete absence of motor oil, an engine can seize up and suffer catastrophic failure in a very short amount of time.

Hybrid electric vehicles use both internal combustion engines and electric motors. The internal combustion engine requires motor oil for the same reasons outlined above, but can typically go longer between services.

This is due to the fact the electric motor does a lot of the work, so the combustion engine doesn’t need to run all the time. These engines are usually smaller than those found in ICE vehicles, so they don’t need as much oil either.

In contrast to ICE vehicles and hybrids, pure electric vehicles only have electric motors. These motors don’t have a lot of moving parts, so they don’t require oil for lubrication.

An electric engine labeled to show various parts.
An electric 'engine'.


Oil is often used in bearings and other components, but not in a way you need to worry about. These components are typically sealed, so they don’t require regular maintenance.

The bottom line: BEVs don't require oil changes but do use lubricants in some areas; HEVs can require oil changes due to the needs of the gasoline-powered parts of the engine.

  • How often should I change the oil in a hybrid vehicle?

    A hybrid vehicle may need oil changes less frequently than a solely ICE car because the gas engine doesn't see as much use. The exact period may vary by manufacturer; some recommend sticking with every 3,000 miles like a traditional car, but others give estimates of at least 5,000 miles.

  • What type of oil does a hybrid car use?

    Switching between electric and gas engines in a hybrid car can introduce more friction to the system, so you should take that into account when you pick an oil. You should always follow the manufacturer's recommendations for the type of oil your model of car needs; otherwise, you risk damaging your engine.