You Don’t Have to Sweat the Maintenance for an EV

Say goodbye to oil changes and spark plugs

A few months back, our Hyundai Kona electric threw up an alert: "Maintenance due." We'd hit about 7,000 miles, and since Hyundai offers free maintenance for new vehicles, I set an appointment to find out that the required work was a wheel rotation.

car mechanic workers checking, repairing and maintaining wheel at auto repair shop

Amorn Suriyan / Getty Images

One benefit that has been shouted to the heavens about EVs is their relative maintenance-free life cycle. Gone are oil changes, spark plugs, valve adjustments, radiator flushes, etc. I’ve spent most of my life working on vehicles, and while I enjoy taking something that’s not working correctly and bringing it back to normal, it’s not exactly great on the wallet. 

It’s also not for everyone, which means sending your vehicle to the shop or stopping by the local oil change place and waiting in line to get your fluids replaced. But, because an EV doesn’t have an internal combustion engine with all the parts and juices that help control the tiny explosions that move a car forward, there’s far less to maintain.

Easier Than Gas

Typically, what you're looking at for an EV over the course of about 100,000 miles are, of course, tire rotations. This is something you should be doing on a gas vehicle, so this really shouldn't be much of a surprise. Then there's the cabin air filter replacement. This isn't the same as the air filter you may have been asked about while getting your gas car services. It's something your gas car likely has, but it's not the filter that keeps bugs and other debris out of your vehicle's intake. 

And then, well… that's about it for quite a while. Some electric vehicles will recommend a battery coolant fluid flush after about 100,000 miles.

Tesla working checking the wheels on a Tesla vehicle


As for brakes, there's some more good news. Because most electric vehicles use regenerative braking to help bring a vehicle to a stop, the brake pads tend to last far longer than those on a gas vehicle. 

What's happening here is that regenerative braking uses the electric motor to help slow the vehicle down. The energy generated by the motor, now spinning as it slows the wheels, is sent back to the battery. It's why electric vehicles have impressive range numbers when they're driving around town encountering stop lights and regular in-town traffic, as opposed to cruising on the freeway at 70 miles per hour. 

Capturing energy via the motor means that the brake pads have less work to do to bring an EV to a stop. In other words, those brake pads will last far longer than what you're used to. Eventually, they'll still need to be changed, and the braking system should be checked along with the vehicle's rotors or drums, but you're not going to hear the slight squeal from your brakes as they come to the end of their life for quite a while.

EVs Aren’t Perfect

This isn’t to say that an EV is some magical, worry-free machine that’ll last until the end of time without issues. Everything breaks down eventually. Electric vehicles still have suspension systems, electrical systems, and, more importantly, complex computers that could run into issues. A light manufacturing defect, a bad piece of road, or a tiny bug in the code could result in an issue that requires service center maintenance. 

Tesla technician doing maintenance on a Tesla vehicle


Then, of course, there are the recalls. Batteries tend to be the most common issue when it comes to EV recalls, or at least the most troubling. Replacing a battery is no easy feat, either. Just ask Chevy, which had to do just that with the Chevy Bolt after issues were discovered with the manufacturing of the batteries they got from LG.

But unlike a gas-powered car, an EV is less likely to surprise you with maintenance costs down the road. The EV at the showroom might cost more money, but they’re currently far cheaper to drive than most of their gas counterparts, and the long-term cost benefits make for a vehicle that’s easier on the wallet during your day-to-day life.

Also, you’ll be a lot less oily.

Want to know more about EVs? We have a whole section dedicated to electric vehicles!

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