Do Electric Cars Require Routine Maintenance?
Electric cars are the latest trend in automotive fashion. Many of the manufacturers are coming out with their own hybrid or completely all-electric versions of basic transportation, plus new manufacturers are joining the fray. It’s said that they are much cleaner than their internal combustion engine counterparts. That got me thinking the other day though. What maintenance, if any, does an electric car like the famed Tesla really need? I had to do some research because I knew they wouldn’t need engine oil changes since there isn’t an engine in the vehicles. The rest of the usual stuff made sense, and here’s what I found out:
No Engine, No Maintenance?
The internal combustion engine (ICE for short) has hundreds of moving parts that require lubrication to prevent wear over time. With an electric car, there isn’t a combustion engine that needs fuel or oil. Taking that away from the vehicle means oil changes aren’t a continued requirement, nor will be recycling the used oil that is removed from the engine. Take with it the spark plugs, spark plug wires, drive belts, exhaust system, and more components that are directly related, and it sounds as if there really isn’t anything to maintain on the vehicle on an electric car. While many things are gone, that doesn’t eliminate everything.
You may be thinking that all electric vehicles don’t have a transmission, so the fluid changes that used to be on your maintenance list are gone. That is only true for some vehicles. Some electric cars like the Tesla Model S have a transmission or gear-reduction differential that does require a fluid change. Thankfully it doesn’t require specialized fluid, and AMSOIL Signature Series Fuel-Efficient Synthetic Automatic Transmission Fluid meets the requirements for Dexron ® VI and your Tesla differential. It just needs 1.4 quarts for a fill, so a couple of the easy packs will keep the differential well lubricated until the next service at every 12,500 miles. Early documentation showed the frequency at 12 years or 150,000 miles, whichever comes first. Be sure to check with your local service center or the owner’s manual on what the exact service frequency should be for your model of electric vehicle.
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Your electric vehicle will still need tires to drive. Their air pressures will need to be checked every few months just like a regular vehicle, and you may need to set a reminder on your phone or a calendar to remember. Your local oil change place won’t be needed, and their service to check the tire pressure will also vanish. Your tires will also still need to be rotated every 6,000 – 10,000 miles, which may be the best chance to check the pressures as you’ll have hands on the tires. Or someone will. Tesla recommends the tires to be rotated every 6,250 miles, and other manufacturers recommend a higher mileage. Be sure to check your owner’s manual or have your service provider offer the best suggestion for your specific electric vehicle.
Stop in the Name of Love
Your electric vehicle will have brakes to slow it down and stop it completely. Most have a regenerative braking option that keeps the brake pad maintenance low. The pads tend to last twice as long as their combustion engine competitors, so the maintenance may seem significantly lower. One thing that does require a more frequent check is the brake fluid. Tesla, for example, suggests checking the fluid every two years for contamination. When it is time to replace the brake fluid, AMSOIL DOT 3 and DOT 4 Synthetic Brake Fluid is a perfect match for your Tesla. It will also work for any other electric vehicle that requires DOT 3 or DOT 4 brake fluid. Tesla also recommends cleaning and lubricating all brake calipers every 12 months or 12,500 miles for cars in cold weather regions. If you don’t drive in extremely low temperatures, AMSOIL Synthetic Multi-Purpose Grease NLGI #2 is a great option. It will withstand the higher temperatures of the brake system. If you need something that works better in lower temperatures, AMSOIL Arctic Synthetic Grease may be there best choice to ensure your brakes stay working perfectly.
The electric motors in your electric car produce a lot of heat. Did you know that they require liquid coolant to stay thermally cool? Auto manufacturers use coolant that is common to all vehicles, which makes it great for owners to find it without searching too hard. Replacement is suggested around the four-year mark, and AMSOIL Passenger Car & Light Truck Antifreeze & Coolant is a great option. It doesn’t require special mixing and it can be used to top off your current system if it shows to be low before the replacement timing. If you need a low toxicity coolant, AMSOIL Low Toxicity Antifreeze and Engine Coolant is biodegradable and won’t be harmful for animals or humans. Either will work fantastically in your electric car for the duration of the maintenance cycle.
Air Conditioning Service
Speaking of keeping cool, your electric car will most likely have an air conditioning system. It will require some level of maintenance as would a combustion engine vehicle. The A/C system doesn’t require specialized equipment exclusive to an electric vehicle service center, so any qualified service provider should be able to recharge your air conditioning system. Tesla recommends an air conditioning service every 2 years for Model S, every 4 years for Model X and Model Y and every 6 years for Model 3. This service will replace the desiccant to help the longevity and efficiency of the air conditioning system. Other electric vehicles will be in a similar service range. Your owner’s manual will specify what the exact service frequency is for your electric car.
Check Your Filters
Even though you don’t have an air filter for the engine, you will most likely have a Cabin Air Filter for your electric vehicle. Over 90% of the new passenger vehicles sold have one. The Cabin Filter prevents pollen and road dust from circulating in your passenger compartment, and they should be replaced every 2 years. We typically do them around Easter every year, which is a reminder of Spring cleaning. Easy to remember because of the holiday, and gets us ready for the driving season every year. AMSOIL offers two brands of Cabin Air Filters, which makes it easy to find one for your electric car. If you have a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter, it should be replaced at the three-year mark. Can You See Me Now?
Wiper blades are probably one maintenance item that is forgot about until that day when they leave big streaks across the windshield. Just like a regular vehicle, your wipers need to be checked and/or replaced on a frequent basis. You would normally check the windshield washer fluid during an oil change, or your favorite service station would, but without that oil change you may not remember to check your washer fluid reservoir. Add that to the list of frequent checks.
You Might Get a Charge Out of This
The batteries on your electric car are sealed and won’t require maintenance. The item related to your batteries is the charging port, and it does need to stay clean from dirt and debris. It has a cover to keep the dust and debris out, but you can check it every time you charge your vehicle. Just ensure it is clean before connecting the charge cord every time.
EVs don’t require a lot of maintenance, and they have very good warranties for the major components from the manufacturers. Federal regulations mandate that EVs come with a battery warranty that lasts at least 8 years or 100,000 miles at minimum, but auto companies like Hyundai offer a lifetime warranty for the battery on their Kona Electric model. Basic service can be completed by the DIY mechanic, but many offer services through licensed dealers and service centers. Most now have an app for your phone that will make scheduling service relatively easy and efficient. If you’re not sure what maintenance strategy will work best for your electric vehicle, contact us for help. Basin Motorsports is your local AMSOIL dealer, and are here to help keep your vehicles and power equipment running smoothly. We utilize AMSOIL products extensively in all of our vehicles and equipment for our working 100-acre farm and motorsports endeavors.