Electric car maintenance & servicing

What to consider for maintaining and servicing electric vehicles. Understand the differences between electric motor and combustion engine vehicles.

Woman standing in front of a parked BMW i3

It may come as a surprise that electric car maintenance is far simpler than maintenance of a regular vehicle. With fewer moving parts, there’s far less to worry about. This makes electric car servicing and maintenance much easier and more cost effective.

This is a bonus for any driver and provides and even bigger benefit for high mileage fleet car and van owners.

Electric car maintenance costs compared to combustion engines

electric motor on yellow background

Fewer parts

It’s simple really. Think of all the parts that make up a regular car. The engine, a radiator, pistons, spark plugs, fuel pumps, cooling systems, exhaust system and timing belt to name but a few.

In fact, a regular car can contain hundreds of working parts which means there’s lots that can go wrong and parts that need replacing over time.

An electric car in comparison has a lot less to wear out, so maintenance costs can be as much as 70% less.

Regenerative braking

All electric cars have some form of regenerative braking.

Regenerative braking uses the electric motor to slow the vehicle which also puts some electricity back into the battery.

Braking becomes more efficient, placing less wear and tear on the brakes as well as creating less brake dust – great for the air we breathe.

Brake disks and pads will still need maintaining but you'll notice that this needs to be done less often, saving you money.

pink piggie bank on yellow background

Cost efficiency

Research by automotive data experts cap hpi revealed that service and maintenance costs for an electric car are on average 23% less

This will, of course, depend on the model that you drive and how you drive it.

One thing that will still be comparible between traditional internal combustion engined vehicles and electric cars and vans, is tyre wear. Tyres will need to be changed regularly.

I’ve been an electric car owner for six years now, owning two Nissan LEAF in that time. So far the only replacement I have had to make is my pollen filter.

Colin, electric car owner

So what maintenance does an electric car require?

electric car battery base on blue background

An electric car does need servicing at the same intervals as any car. Tyre wear and tear, windscreen wiper replacement along with brake fluid changes will all still be needed. Low tyre pressures can be unsafe and they'll reduce your range - expect roughly a 1% drop if your tyres are five pounds per square inch (PSI) below the recommended figure.

Like any car, an MOT will be needed after three years but with no emissions test and with fewer parts to test, repairs could be minimal.

When the time comes to service an electric car, make sure that the garage has staff that are trained in electric car maintenance. Many leasing companies and manufacturers, through their dealership networks, have trained specialists on hand. If you choose to use an independent garage it's always best to check before you book.

Car leasing and maintenance packages

electric car service mechanic with spanner

With the rise of Personal Contract Purchase (PCP) car financing, leasing a vehicle is becoming more popular. This is especially true of electric cars where drivers can upgrade to a newer model at the end of their lease period.

Most lease companies offer a service and maintenance package for electric cars. This includes our leasing partner Drive Electric who offer a package which covers servicing and tyres.

Ask for your leasing deal to include maintenance in the monthly cost before ordering

What about electric car batteries?

electric car lithium ion battery

Electric car battery life is one of the biggest concerns of potential buyers. Many people assume that an electric car battery uses the same technology as in a mobile or laptop and worry that the deterioration will be the same.

The good news is that this isn't the case. Car batteries use a different technology; and bespoke battery management systems within the car are designed to protect battery life. Although some deterioration over time is inevitable, car battery failures are very rare.

Car manufacturers also understand that battery life is a concern of their customers. Most models now come with a battery guarantee of around 100,000 miles: for the average driver, that's around 12 years.

Electric vehicle breakdowns

man with white car broken down

Even the most prepared drivers get caught out. If your electric vehicle breaks down, the most important thing is to get to a safe place. Use any remaining charge to get off the road or onto the hard shoulder.

It's usually safest to leave your EV. Use the door nearest the verge or pavement, ensuring on a motorway that all passengers wait with you behind the barrier well away from the traffic. Only then should you call the emergency services if needed, or your breakdown provider.

It won't normally be possible to get an EV moving again once it's run out of battery, so don't put yourself or your car at risk by trying to get a friend to tow it - leave it to the professionals. Even if you're not a member at the time you breakdown, major breakdown services including the AA, RAC and Green Flag will come to rescue you.

Before help arrives, check in your EV handbook for any restrictions on towing, which may damage the car's systems. While some EVs can be towed as long as their drive wheels are kept off the ground, others can only be moved on a flat-bed truck. If you're not sure, insist on a flat-bed - it avoids the risk of major damage to your car.

Most major manufacturers do offer a roadside assistance package to cover you for your first years of driving an electric car, or you can include it in your leasing package. Recovery services also now offer breakdown cover designed specially for electric cars, while the RAC recently announced it was equipping some of its vans with mobile recharging points capable of topping up stranded EVs.

As drivers gain experience with electric cars, range-anxiety quickly becomes a thing of the past. The majority of daily journeys are completely feasible by electric car. Thanks to rapid charge points on 96% of all motorway service stations, it’s also easy to make longer journeys without running low on charge.

Learn more about maintaining & driving electric cars

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