EV Maintenance and Repairs 101

Get the facts about the costs associated with EV upkeep

Mechanic standing in front of a blurred car in background.

Richard Drury/Getty

There is a persistent myth that electric vehicles (EVs) cost more to maintain and repair than gasoline-powered vehicles. While EVs can be more expensive to buy than similar gasoline vehicles, they’re actually less expensive to maintain in a lot of cases, and most repairs cost about the same for both types of vehicles.

EVs do have some systems and components that can be quite expensive to repair if they break down, but the same is true of gasoline-powered vehicles. And, these days, the most expensive components of an EV are typically covered by lengthy warranties, including batteries.

What Regular Maintenance Does an EV Require?

Electric vehicles don’t require a lot of maintenance, but that doesn’t mean they’re completely maintenance free. Each manufacturer has their own EV maintenance schedule that you’ll need to follow to avoid voiding your warranty, and there are also a handful of other things that you should consider having checked or checking yourself from time to time.

Some common maintenance items in EVs include:

  • rotating the tires,
  • replacing the wiper blades,
  • filling the wiper fluid,
  • flushing the brake fluid,
  • replacing the passenger compartment air filter, and
  • flushing the battery thermal management coolant.

Aside from the thermal management coolant, these maintenance items all apply to gasoline vehicles as well, and even thermal management coolant has a gasoline vehicle counterpart in engine coolant. However, the engine coolant in gasoline vehicles typically needs to be flushed more often than an EV's battery thermal management coolant.

The regular maintenance items that you need to keep up with when owning an EV are all fairly low cost, only need to be done sparingly, or both. 

Are EVs More Expensive to Maintain Than Gas Vehicles?

EVs are not more expensive to maintain than gas vehicles because gas vehicles have many more systems that require regular attention. In addition to everything mentioned in the previous section, gasoline-powered vehicles also require:

  • regular oil and oil filter changes,
  • engine air filter replacement,
  • transmission fluid flushing,
  • spark plug replacement,
  • coolant and accessory belt replacement, and more.

To see the stark difference between maintaining an EV and maintaining a gasoline vehicle, you only need to look at the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule for two vehicles from the same manufacturer. For example, the Chevy Bolt EV and gasoline-powered Chevy Impala.

In the first 45,000 miles for the Impala, the manufacturer recommends:

  • six tire rotations,
  • six oil changes,
  • two passenger compartment air filter replacements,
  • one engine air filter replacement, and
  • a transmission service for the gas-powered vehicle.

The Impala's recommended services add up to over $1,000.

For the EV at 45,000 miles, the manufacturer recommends:

  • six tire rotations and
  • two passenger compartment air filter replacements.

The Bolt's recommended services add up to less than $500.

The price of parts and labor can fluctuate, so you may see different numbers in the real world, but it’s still clear that EVs are less expensive than gasoline-powered vehicles in terms of manufacturer-recommended preventative maintenance.

Going beyond the basics recommended by the manufacturer, there are about 18 different regular maintenance items that you need to keep track of with the average gasoline-powered vehicle, ranging from regular oil changes and checking the PCV valve to replacing the timing belt every 60-100,000 miles.

EV owners only need to worry about six of those items.

Are EVs More Expensive to Repair Than Gas Vehicles?

Beyond maintenance, EVs and gasoline-powered vehicles are fairly similar in terms of the cost associated with performing repairs. EVs have fewer moving parts, especially when comparing a gas engine to an EV motor, so there are fewer things to break down.

For example, EV owners don’t need to worry about gaskets leaking and needing to be replaced, or internal engine components wearing out. EV motors are expensive to replace, but they are usually designed to outlast the vehicle itself.

Systems like the suspension and steering linkage tend to wear out, break, and require repairs at a similar rate between EVs and gasoline-powered vehicles, because they aren’t that different. Repair costs are also similar.

Other systems, like exhaust and emissions controls, are only present in gasoline-powered vehicles, and bring additional repair costs that EV owners don’t need to worry about.

Brakes tend to require servicing more often in gasoline-powered vehicles due to the effects of regenerative braking in EVs, but regenerative brakes are more complicated and have more components that can fail and need to be repaired.

What About Batteries and Electronics?

EVs do have some very expensive components, like battery packs and various electronic controls. Despite continued research and advances that have lowered overall costs, EV battery packs are still more expensive than just about any single component you will find in a gas vehicle aside from the engine itself. In fact, replacing the battery packs in an EV can cost as much as replacing the engine in a gas vehicle.

However, unlike gasoline-powered vehicles, where a failed engine means you can no longer use the vehicle, EV batteries tend to wear out slowly and exhibit a reduced capacity and range.

Most manufacturers also offer a significant warranty on the battery packs of around eight years and 100,000 miles. If the batteries fail within that period, or even wear down to the point of retaining less than 70 percent of their capacity, replacement is typically covered.

Replacing batteries and other electronics outside that window can represent a significant expense, but any gas vehicle that reaches that age and mileage will have its own expensive, non-maintenance repairs to contend with as well.

Maintenance Item EV ICE Vehicle
Check oil No Yes (at least once a month)
Change oil and filter No Yes (3mo/3,000 miles, or as specified by manufacturer)
Engine air filter No Yes (1-4 years, more often in some driving conditions)
Transmission fluid No Yes (30-60,000 miles)
Spark plugs No Yes
Spark plug wires No Yes
Accessory belts No Yes (at least every 10 years, or when fraying/cracking occurs)
Coolant hoses No Yes (4-5 years, or when weakening is detected)
Engine coolant / Battery thermal management coolant Yes (150,000 miles, or as needed) Yes (30-60,000 miles, or as needed)
Passenger compartment air filter Yes (2 years / 20,000 miles, or more often in some conditions) Yes (2 years / 20,000 miles, or more often in some conditions)
Rotate tires Yes (7,500 miles, or as recommended by manufacturer) Yes (7,500 miles, or as recommended by manufacturer)
Flush brake fluid Yes (2-5 years, or as recommended by manufacturer)*^1 Yes (2-5 years, or when replacing brakes)
Timing belt No Yes (60-100,000 miles, as recommended by manufacturer)^2
Fuel filter No Yes (20-40,000 miles)
Wiper blades Yes (12 months or as needed) Yes (12 months or as needed)
Check and fill wiper fluid Yes (as needed) Yes (as needed)
Power steering fluid flush No Yes (2 years / 50,000 miles or as needed)
Inspect PCV valve No Yes (20-50,000 miles, or as needed)

*^1 EV brakes tend to last longer due to the use of regenerative braking, but the fluid still needs to be replaced or flushed regularly due to water intrusion.

*^2 Not all ICE vehicles have timing belts. It’s especially important to replace the timing belt as preventive maintenance in ICE vehicles with interference engines, but all vehicles that use timing belts need to have them replaced eventually or they will break.

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