Electric Car Maintenance: There’s Not Much to It
There are a lot of reasons to consider going with an all-electric car. One that draws in many people is the promise of little to no maintenance. What they might fail to understand is that an electric vehicle isn’t something you just drive and never need to worry about. With electric car maintenance, you still need to keep on top of certain items, otherwise you’ll have big problems, or maybe even put your life at risk.
Electric car maintenance is different from traditional car maintenance, at least in some ways. Other items are exactly like what you get with regular cars. The best way to explain this is to go through each set of maintenance items.
An internal combustion engine contains literally hundreds of moving parts, plus oiling and cooling systems, and peripherals. They are marvelously complex pieces of machinery, and by design require a fair amount of maintenance as they age. That’s not the case with an electric car.
If you were to tear into an electric motor, you’d be struck by the simplicity of the design. Only about half a dozen or so moving parts exist, which means there’s not a lot to maintain or even fix. If you have a mechanic who knows how to work on electric motors, any servicing associated with it will cost a minuscule amount.
Just like internal combustion vehicles, electric cars still require regular servicing for the tires. That means they will need to be rotated, balanced and aligned periodically. Otherwise the tires will wear unevenly and need to be replaced sooner.
Also, keep in mind that you might run over a nail, rub against a curb, or do something else that would require tire repair. These are items you don’t escape simply by going electric.
This is another item that’s the same on an electric car versus a conventional vehicle. Over time, the rubber compound that makes up the wiper blades becomes brittle. That means it cracks and falls apart, so it no longer cleans the glass as well as before. You’ll notice streaking on the windshield when it gets to this point.
Just remember that sometimes streaking can be caused by dirt on the blades. Lift each wiper and clean the edge of the blade with a microfiber towel. This won’t leave behind any lint, hopefully extending the usefulness of your wipers.
Also, don’t forget to check the washer fluid level often. As you should already know, running out of the stuff can make seeing through the windshield difficult.
Another aspect of electric cars that’s the same as regular vehicles is brake maintenance. You cannot ignore the brakes completely, otherwise when you need them most, they might not be working correctly.
You must change the brake pads before they become too worn. The good news is the pads on regenerative brakes, which most electric cars use, are more durable than what you get with a conventional setup. In fact, they’re so durable you’re probably looking at brake servicing intervals that are twice as long, which cuts down on the frequency of going to the repair shop.
Over time, the rotors’ surface might wear unevenly or even warp, meaning you’ll have to either have them resurfaced or just put new rotors on your vehicle. Like the pads, the rotors likely will last longer on an electric vehicle.
Check the brake fluid from time to time. Refill it as needed. Follow the vehicle owner’s manual for intervals on flushing out the old brake fluid and replacing it with fresh fluid.
Some electric cars, like the Tesla Model S, have a transmission or differential that needs transmission fluid to keep running smoothly. At the intervals specified in the owner’s manual, check the fluid level and have it replaced.
Most people have no idea that some electric cars use a cooling system. It may be called the thermal management system, but it performs the same vital function of cooling the electric motors and battery pack, so they’re at optimal operating temperatures.
Just like with a conventional vehicle, you’ll need to check the coolant level periodically. If you notice the fluid is low, you’ll have to refill it to the correct level. Failure to do so can result in overheating, serious damage or maybe even a fire.
Keeping the humans inside an electric car cool is important, too. Just like other modern vehicles, electric cars use an air conditioning system that must be recharged every few years. Only a certified shop can do that. Once you feel the air conditioning waning, go visit the shop of your choice for servicing.
If you don’t want the slow charging option of plugging your electric car into a wall outlet at home, you’ll need a charging station. They’re pretty trouble-free, but you should perform regular maintenance on it. Just like any vehicle component, keep the charger clean and free of dust or any corrosion.
You’ll need to have the charger inspected by an electrician each year, similar to what you do with your furnace or air conditioning at home. The charge should be small, unless there’s a problem like damage on the charger cable.