Before we break down some aspects of EV maintenance that will go easier on your wallet, let’s get something out of the way: EVs are currently more expensive because of battery pack technology, which happens to have a limited lifespan. Once the energy pack starts to weaken and the need to recharge becomes ridiculously frequent, replacement is the only solution, and it could be costly.
Recently Reported EV Maintenance Statistics
By now, EVs have been on the roads long enough to get an idea of maintenance schedules and costs. In Los Angeles, a shuttle service operated by Tesla Motors recently reported maintenance costs on a Model X SUV after racking up 350,000 miles. The performance of the battery pack was superb: at just 13 percent degradation, the Model X still has a while to go before replacement is needed. Maintenance costs for this electric SUV came up to $18,000, and the major items were included:
* Complete rear brake and rotor replacement.
* Full replacement of axle shafts.
* Various repairs to passenger doors.
Given the high mileage of this road shuttle vehicle, the $18,000 in maintenance is very reasonable, particularly when the American Automobile Association estimates that new cars need an average $1,186 worth of maintenance per year, not counting major repairs such as those mentioned above. A Tesla Model X is specifically designed as a low-maintenance EV, which means that more maintenance would be required by a Nissan Leaf.
In terms of more usual maintenance, here is what you need to know about EVs:
No Oil Changes
Compared to their internal combustion engine counterparts, EV power plants have less moving parts that need to be lubricated; plus, you will not have to worry about oil filter replacements, gaskets or additives. This will save some money in addition to a few hours of sleep on Saturday mornings, one of the busiest times for auto repair shops around the country.
No Spark Plugs, Wires or Filters
Since there is no need to ignite fuel and cause explosions, EV owners can scratch these items off their maintenance lists. They can also forget about air and fuel filters.
No Mufflers of Catalytic Converters
No fuel emissions translate into not having to worry about exhaust system maintenance. All the other sensors and systems that make internal combustion engines cleaner and more efficient are not part of EVs.
Legacy Maintenance Services that Apply to EVs
EVs have a special system to manage internal battery temperatures, and this will require coolant level maintenance. Wiper blades and tire rotation are services that are not going away anytime soon, and the same goes for transmission fluid. As for EV brake systems, they are interesting insofar as the way they transfer energy from the battery pack for the purpose of generating stopping power, but they still feature brake pads that need to be replaced depending on driving patterns.
In the end, AAA economists estimate that EV maintenance costs are about a third of what internal combustion engines require. When the time comes to replace the battery pack, however, EV owners may want to consider whether trading-in for a newer model would make financial sense, and this is when the difference between an affordable Nissan Leaf and a pricey Tesla Model X will come into play.