01.17.2017 - by John U'Ren
Ask the EV Experts: Electric Car Maintenance

In our latest episode of Ask the EV Experts, we answer a question from Brian in Oregon. Have a question of your own? Post it on Facebook, Tweet at us or email us at info@pluginamerica.org #AskTheEVExpert

Question:

I’ve heard a lot about how electric cars don’t need any maintenance – is that really true?

Answer:

While it isn’t accurate to say that electric cars need ZERO maintenance, it’s true that all-electric cars need almost zero maintenance.

Take for instance, the new all-electric Chevy Bolt. The owner’s manual, which is available online (PDF), states that other than rotating the tires and checking vehicle coolant level and windshield washer fluid level every 7500 miles, the only other required maintenance is changing the cabin air filter every 22,500 miles, replacing brake fluid every five years, and flushing vehicle coolant every 150,000 miles. And this isn’t unique to the Bolt; the same goes for other all-electric vehicles.

For plug-in hybrids, maintenance is a bit more like your average gas car, except with greater intervals between servicing. Since plug-in hybrids use their gas motor much less than a gas car, there is less of a need for regular servicing. Plug-in hybrids also benefit from several advantages of their electric powertrain; because plug-in hybrids and all-electrics primarily use the resistance of the electric motor for vehicle braking, brake pads and rotors don’t need to be changed nearly as often. By using the battery for the initial miles of every trip, plug-in hybrids don’t need to have their oil changed nearly as often as a gas car does.

The monetary savings from maintenance are in fact one of the great benefits of owning a plug-in car, not to mention a huge time-saver.

12 comments on “Ask the EV Experts: Electric Car Maintenance”
  1. Margaret says:

    I just bought a Fiat 500e. I live in Colorado Springs, CO, and I have had no issue finding charging stations. I also plug in at home at night when the Kw H is in lower demand. My electric bill is about the same, so now issues there. However, I am confused as to what fluids I need besides coolant, brake and wiper fluids. I bought it used, and the dealer said I need to put battery fluid in it occasionally, but that seems odd. Any suggestions?

  2. anil patel says:

    i just bought a 2012 toyota rav4 ev when do i change the battery cooling fluids and since it has a teala motor? do you recommend going to toyota or tesla for service

  3. Gina Wright says:

    Is there a map somewhere that I can find the stations. And how do you know what apps to choose?

    1. Yes, visit our page at https://pluginamerica.org/get-equipped/find-an-ev-charging-station/ There you’ll find the PlugShare map where you can identify nearby chargers based on your location.
      You may also want to download the app from PlugShare for your phone. Lastly, many EV makers provide a public charging map app with the cars, but that depends on what car you’re driving.

  4. Guy Hall says:

    Wait a minute. There’s definitely more maintenance required. It’s frustrating to folks if we mislead them. Just last week I had to go the the automaker parts store to buy window wipers for the front windshield. A couple bucks I hadn’t budgeted for. At some point I’m also going to have to replace the rear wiper.

  5. Rhaman68 says:

    No: oil changes; air filter, coolant service, fan belt, alternator, fuel anything, exhaust anything, spark plug anything. Very little. 2011 Nissan Leaf.

  6. Fearless Freddie says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen, Who will buy an electric vehicle except possibly in California where they have a forward looking philosophy since the EVI disaster. I am in New Mexico and looked seriously at the IMIEV from Mitsubishi because of affordability issues, but could not find one, let alone someone to service and maintain it. There is no infrastructure to support the vehicle. The Smart car has an electric at reasonable prices until you find out you don’t own the battery, you must pay a monthly fee on top of the purchase price!!! Mercedes Benz now says they will only import the electric model to America, which must sit well with the Smart car dealers. The good electric cars with realistic range are a rich man’s toy. For Joe six pack you can by an electric with a 60-70 mile range at an affordable price, if you can find one in your state. Opel says they may do all electrics now that GM dumped this loser company on the French (PSA). That should go over like a lead balloon with the German people. The United States is not prepared for an electric vehicle world. Now the Chinese are highly motivated because their people are getting sick from air pollution in the big industrial cities of China, so watch China as they attempt to make a transition to electric vehicles. Also take a look at Arcimoto. Perhaps this is what we will all be driving someday. Green is good but a big challenge for all of us. Blessings to all of you

  7. Andy Silber says:

    We just took our one-year old Nissan Leaf in to the dealer for the anual checkup, which included a battery check (free), air filter replacement (~$30) and flush and brake fluid (~$150!!!). I checked the owner’s manual and that is what’s suggested (but I’m still not convinced is needed).

    1. R Micieli says:

      You got ripped off.Most manufacturers recommend brake fluid replacement at 2 year intervals.
      The reason being brake fluid is hygroscopic( meaning over time will absorb moisture. However I m a retiree from the auto business(service Tech and Service Director 40 years in all).I’ve never replaced brake fluid in and of my vehicles and the brake fluid when checked has always been clear and clean. Auto dealers have always,in my opinion exceeded needed service from what the manufacturer recommends.

    2. Rhaman68 says:

      Andy, sorry, but the possibility the none of the services you were charged were not done is very high. There is no “air filter” that I know and one year brake fluid is usable. The cabin filter is the only one I have changed on 2011 Leaf. Perhaps this dealer is not honest. Your best friend is the car manual service schedule. It outlines recommended items at specific intervals. Even so, you must approve any service items before done. Once done there is no way out. Sorry. Good luck.

  8. Christof says:

    I have had my 2014 Nissan LEAF for three years. Never once brought it into the shop — except to rotate, and eventually, buy a new set of tires. I’ve had to replace the wiper blades a couple of times and I’ve filled my windshield fluid, and I wash it periodically. But that’s it. No other maintenance and 34k miles on it.

  9. storm says:

    This does not mean that the vehicle should not go into the shop periodically. New Hampshire has an annual vehicle inspection program which discovered that my Volt had a brake rotor severely rusted from a hung up caliper- probably exacerbated by the brakes being seldom used; and a torn front axle boot which necessitated replacement of a front axle shaft.

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