How to Care for an Electric Car

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  • 1-100 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 25-6,000

If you own a plug-in hybrid electric (PHVW) or all electric vehicle (AEV), your maintenance requirements are likely different than what you’re used to with a straight gas engine. For example, there are no spark plug, emission, or exhaust system checks. Because the PHVW still has a gas engine, you will need to pay attention to those standard automotive maintenance tasks. However, this article focuses on the electric vehicle components.

Like all cars, the amount and type of usage will affect your automotive maintenance schedule. If you regularly use your electric car for repeated short trips, travel in freezing conditions, experience stop and go traffic in hot weather, drive in dusty conditions or rough roads, or use a car-top carrier, you’ll want to stick to a rigid maintenance schedule.

If you mostly use your electric vehicle for long, smooth rides at a consistent speed, less frequent maintenance checks may be required. Also note that each electric and hybrid car manufacturer has slightly different recommendations for maintenance based on the type of system and materials they use in the construction of the vehicle. Always follow your manufacturer’s recommendations.

Brakes

electric car regenerative breaking screen

Most electric cars offer regenerative braking, which typically lasts longer than the braking systems on standard vehicles. However, you will want to regularly check and replace brake fluid about once every year or two. Also monitor brake pads, lines, cables, and rotors.

Air Filters

electric car air filters

The in-cabin microfilter has an important task in keeping the circulating air clean. Remove it and look at the appearance. It should be white, not brown. Replace it annually or more often if needed.

Tires

repairing electric car tire wheel

Like other vehicles, you need to maintain the proper inflation and rotate your tires on a recommended schedule. While you’re having the tires rotated, or if you want to tackle it yourself, give an annual inspection to the axle and suspension parts, drive shaft boots, front suspension ball joints, and steering gear and linkage.

Charging Port

electric car charging port

The charging port is an essential component that is not part of a standard car. Each time you plug in your electric car, check the port for debris. Also look at the sealing cap. Use compressed air and proper eye protection to clean as needed.

FOB

broken remote car key fob

Your FOB is the key to admission when it comes to your electric vehicle. Avoid a dead battery that will keep your key from working by replacing them about every 18 months.

Fluids

changing fluid in electric car engine area

Electric vehicles have a lot less fluids to regularly check than a standard vehicle. For example, there is no oil to maintain. However, you will still need to monitor the reduction gear oil, coolant used for air conditioning, brake fluid, and wiper fluid.

Wiper Blades

electric car windshield wiper blade on rear window

Electric vehicles use standard wiper blades, and just like their gas-powered friends EV wipers wear out, warp, and crack. Replace your wipers once or twice annually, typically in the fall before the winter weather sets in and again in the spring as needed.

Batteries

electric car battery

Rechargeable batteries are at the heart of the electric vehicle system so maintaining them is a critical task. Monitor your battery levels daily and keep a record of performance. You will likely see that temperature, wind, and speed all affect the efficiency of the battery. Most new EVs come with a warranty that includes the battery covering eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. In some states that warranty is for 10 years or 150,000 miles. However, your batteries will lose efficiency over time and will eventually need replacing.

According to Carfax, you can extend your overall battery life with careful daily practices, and they recommend you “Keep your battery’s state of charge between 20% and 80% whenever possible. Repeatedly charging the battery to full will cause it to degrade more quickly. That’s also true of leaving the battery at a low state of charge for an extended time. Most EVs have settings that allow you to choose when you’d like the battery to start charging and how fully you’d like to charge it.”

Powertrain

electric car with hood open to battery and engine

Electric car engines require less maintenance than their gas cousins, but dealers still maintain checklists of things to check up on every so often. Tesla, for example, recommends a transmission service every 12 years or 150,000 miles on some of its models. Sounds pretty good if you're used to chek-ups every six months, but the point is you should follow the specific maintenance advice of the car manufacturer.

Standard Cleaning Upkeep

In addition to the body components, electric car owners also have the typical car-care tasks of washing, waxing, and interior detailing. Use the proper cleaners and moisturizers for your type of seat covering. Also care for the dash and steering wheel. Keep debris and liquids away from your display screen and regularly wipe it down when you clean the mirrors and windows.