When looking into buying an EV, people often wonder how much more this type of vehicle will end up costing them. While the initial cost will be higher, later payments like maintenance fees will be much lower. The reason for this is that EV maintenance differs significantly from that of gas-powered cars. If you’re wondering why that is, we’re here to go further into the details of this difference for you.
A Quick Overview of Gas Car Maintenance
To see the differences between the types of maintenance for each car more clearly, we’ll first go over the basic maintenance routines that gas-powered cars require. Since car owners are already aware of most of these, we’ll go through them quickly.
The most common process gas cars must go through is regular oil changes. Without fresh oil every few thousand miles, the engine will start to run a lot less smoothly, causing more serious problems down the line. Also, even if you keep up with oil changes, parts of your vehicle will eventually break down due to the friction between moving parts.
On top of that, you also need to perform the occasional tire rotation, fluid flush, and tune-up for your engine if you want to keep everything running smoothly. Changing out your engine belts and the battery will also be necessary every so often. While there’s certainly more you could do to maintain your gas vehicle, these are the bare minimum necessities that most drivers do.
The Main Components of EV Maintenance
Even though the parts of an EV work differently than those of gas cars, they still share many of the same internal components. Due to how they function, though, the way you maintain an electric vehicle is quite different from a gas-powered one. Here are the main repairs and replacements you’ll have to keep in mind.
Electric Motor Repairs
Unlike gas cars, EV motors are mounted directly to the axle of the wheels they control. Because of that, if your electric car has 4WD, it will have two motors. Despite that, you won’t need to do double the maintenance to keep your motors up and running. In fact, you really don’t need to do any maintenance at all.
Just like other consumer electronics, electric motors don’t need tune-ups or oil changes. They will simply work as intended until the day they give out. When that happens, you’ll need to replace the motor, but it’ll likely be much cheaper than the constant maintenance bills you’d have with a gas car.
After the motor, an EV’s next most important component is the gearbox. For traditional gas-powered cars to get up to speed, you need a multi-speed transmission, which has quite a few potential failure points.
However, since electric vehicles have instant torque functionality, they only need a single-speed transmission. Due to this simplicity, you will rarely—if ever—need to maintain your gearbox. In fact, most manufacturers don’t even recommend it since it’s rarely an issue that EV owners deal with.
Standard brake jobs are something else that you won’t need to do as often with an electric vehicle. This isn’t because EVs don’t use brakes—they do. It’s because they have a system in place that slows down the car a bit each time you let off the accelerator.
This system is known as regenerative braking. When you let off the pedal, your motors will reverse direction, allowing the car’s momentum to charge up your battery a bit through the motor’s generator-like functionality. While this is most helpful for extending your EV’s battery life, it also leads to noticeably less wear and tear on your brakes. This leads to fewer brake jobs during your EV’s life span.
Even though your EV’s internals function much differently than a gas-powered car’s internals, your electric vehicle still uses coolant. Instead of using it to cool your engine, though, the coolant in an EV helps keep the battery from overheating.
Even though the coolant in each vehicle type performs similar functions, differing coolants have differing life spans. For gas cars, you typically need to replace the coolant once every few years. For EVs, though, you only have to switch it out once every 100,000 miles or so. However, EV coolant flushes are much more difficult to perform, so you won’t be able to do it on your own.
While most of the differences so far have highlighted the benefits of EV ownership, battery replacement is one area where gas-powered cars win out. Most gas car batteries will last four to five years and only cost a few hundred dollars to replace. While EV batteries last 10 or more years, they cost significantly more, usually in the $10,000 range, although prices vary.
This is because the battery in an EV powers the entire vehicle, so it’s much larger and more expensive. Gas cars only need a battery to run a few electrical parts. However, one thing to remember is that electric vehicle parts are getting much cheaper over time. By the time your new EV’s battery fails in 10 years or so, it’ll likely be much cheaper to replace.
One EV maintenance option that not all owners do but is pretty common is getting rim replacements. EVs benefit from small, light wheels that are strong enough to support the extra weight that the electrical components bring. While factory-issue wheels will always be strong enough to support the car’s weight, they’re not always as small or light as owners would like.
That’s why many EV owners turn to aluminum alloy wheels. These are much lighter than standard wheels and can come in smaller sizes if necessary. Both the reduced weight and smaller circumference of the wheels lead to an increase in the potential range your vehicle can get.
Finally, we have the possibility of suspension failure. In general, EV owners will need to replace their suspension systems about as often as a gas-powered car owner would, which can be as little as every 100,000 miles. However, due to the increased weight of electric vehicles, a suspension replacement might end up being necessary slightly more often.
While the suspension in EVs can handle the increased weight, it won’t have as much room to compress when hitting potholes or going over bumps. That means the suspension compresses more than a gas-powered vehicle’s suspension, leading to a slightly shorter life span. Either way, you still won’t have to replace your suspension system too often with an EV.