>How often do electric cars need to be serviced?
How often do electric cars need to be serviced?
Whenever you make a big, long-term purchase like a car, ongoing maintenance and upkeep have to be considered. We know petrol and diesel cars cost roughly £1300 a year to fuel and fix annually, but what about electric vehicles (EVs)? Are they just as expensive to keep on the road? Does all that slick new engineering cost more to maintain?
The truth is EV owners pay half as much on average to service their cars as internal combustion engine (ICE) owners.
Why do EV drivers pay so much less than their petrol peers? Let’s take a look.
How often do EVs need to be serviced?
Like any machine in regular use, electric vehicles need occasional maintenance and periodic repairs. However, compared to petrol and diesel cars, the annual repair bill is much easier to manage.
EVs typically require a twice-annually service check for onboard systems and tire rotations. These checks ensure the battery is maintaining optimal performance and the car is running as it should.
After 8 to 10 years when the manufacturer warranty expires, that’s when to expect a sizeable bill for battery replacement. At current prices, a new EV battery can cost between £4,000 and £8,000. In time however, industry analysts expect the price of battery technology to drop significantly as mass production finds new efficiencies and cost-effective innovations.
Why do EVs cost so much less to service?
Electric cars eliminate monthly spending on petrol fill-ups and reduce the amount of carbon being sent into the atmosphere. They also come with other built-in savings over ICE cars.
EVs have only a fraction of the moving parts that ICE vehicles do. That naturally reduces maintenance and repair costs over the lifetime of the car because there are fewer parts subject to constant friction, pressure, and stress. There are no oil changes to factor in, no spark plugs that need replacing, and no expensive emissions controllers like catalytic converters to worry about. And did we mention the savings on petrol? Most UK drivers spend about £1200 annually to fuel their cars.
Electric cars also use a system called ‘regenerative’ braking, which allows the car to recover energy when the vehicle slows down and send it back into the battery. That provides an instant boost to EVs energy efficiency, and it dramatically reduces wear and tear on mechanical braking systems, reducing the need for new brakes, pads, and calipers over time.
Electric car manufacturers like BMW and Hyundai are creating “smart maintenance” systems within the vehicles to guide when maintenance happens and what needs fixing. They’ve realised that EVs come with so many sensors and data capture opportunities that the car itself can tell you when it needs servicing. At some point in the future, smart maintenance may even replace manufacturer-mandated service schedules, ensuring that drivers get their cars to the shop when required but also ensuring that only the components that need attention are replaced, rather than rely on an arbitrary schedule to replace everything on a pre-set list.
For drivers, an electric car service is much the same experience as an ICE car service. You still have to make an appointment, take the car in, let a mechanic give it a thorough check-through, fix any issues, then return to the garage to collect it. Only qualified EV mechanics, however, can service an electric vehicle.
What does an EV service visit involve?
If your car doesn't have smart maintenance capability, then regularly scheduled manufacturer service visits are a must. Many of the elements are the same as you'd have with an ICE vehicle, like checking steering, brakes, suspension, tyres, and lights. Of course, EVs also have their own particular systems to consider:
Checking on exterior charging cables and charging points. Any damage to these or malfunction could slow down charging or stop the battery from charging at all.
Visually inspecting all internal high-voltage connections and cables. Damaged internal cables could also create issues that affect charging
Wheel rotations to identify indications of brake binding. This occurs when EV brake pads fail to release properly, which mechanics call “binding” of the discs. If it happens it will affect braking distance and steering control.
Checking coolant levels for the inverter. In EVs this is an essential check because coolant regulates the electric motor temperature.
Finally, EV mechanics will download all diagnostic data from the EV’s onboard computer and analyse it for performance issues.
Greener, and cheaper (long term)
When it comes to annual servicing, electric cars are the cheapest on the market. Their relative lack of moving parts is a real benefit compared to ICE vehicles. On the other hand, they cost as much and sometimes more than their ICE equivalents, depending on the make and model.
Just like any car, it is important to have EVs serviced at the manufacturer’s recommended intervals in order to drive them safely and meet required standards. In some cases, electric cars let you go longer between service visits than a petrol or diesel car. In other cases, the manufacturer might recommend a more frequent servicing schedule. Check before you buy and factor that into your overall monthly driving budget.