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What Goes into Electrical Car Maintenance?

Car health monitors are great, but what if you didn’t need them at all? Today, we’re going to look at the electric automobile to see what type of maintenance these vehicles really need. Recently, I was able to sit in a Tesla and hear from the owner just how little maintenance these automobiles really need.

It’s not much.

So, what goes into maintaining an electric vehicle?

Brake  Servicing

Your vehicle will need to have its brakes serviced, but the interval for serving brakes is far longer than a standard vehicle. These brakes will convert some of the force from braking into energy to recharge your automobile’s battery.

When you do have to replace the brakes, you can be sure that you’ll pay a lot of money in the process.

Some Tesla owners claim to have paid $1,600 to replace their brakes. But Elon Musk has reassured owners that the vehicle’s brakes really wouldn’t need replacement. He tweeted that the brakes “literally never” have to be replaced.

The regenerative brakes reduce wear and are far more efficient than general brake pads.

What’s very different with an EV compared to a standard vehicle is that an EV doesn’t even need the brakes to be applied “most of the time.” When you let go of the gas, these vehicles automatically start slowing down and will remove the need for two pedal driving.

But the brake is there for those emergency situations when you need to stop rapidly.

Electronic motor resistance will be able to handle most braking for the driver. When, or if, the brakes need to be replaced, the driver will be able to rely on the vehicle’s wear indicator for proper replacement.

Brake Fluid Replacement

Brake fluid should be replaced, and this will be one of your most tedious maintenance requirements every two years or so. The fluid can be tested at a repair center to be able to determine if the fluid is contaminated or needs to be replaced.

Coolant Service

A standard auto requires anti-freeze to be able to cool the vehicle properly. The engine needs this coolant to ensure that it does not overheat and cease working. But what happens when the entire vehicle is operating electronically?

The engine doesn’t get hot.

But there’s one factor that a lot of people are overlooking: battery cooling. Your battery will get very hot, and in fact, without proper coolant, the battery will burst into flames. You’ll need to change this coolant to ensure that the battery lasts a long time.

And you’ll avoid your vehicle catching on fire, too.

Tesla had a coolant change recommendation that was around four years or every 50,000 miles, but then the company came out and said that the change was no longer necessary. Changes are not as “needed,” but you will have to change the battery coolant eventually.

Chevy’s Bolt has a coolant change every 150,000 miles, and this is more on par of when you can expect to have to change your coolant.

Unlike your engine coolant, which can often go a long time without flushing, you definitely don’t want to degrade your vehicle’s battery lifespan by not changing your coolant. A hot battery will degrade faster, and some of these EV batteries can cost as much as $15,000 or more to replace.

Tire Rotation, Balance and Alignment

Your vehicle’s tires are very much the same as in a standard vehicle. Replacing the tires is highly recommended when wear is shown. Of course, driver behavior will dictate the need to change tires earlier due to tread wear.

Tesla recommends that every 10,000 to 12,000 miles, you have the following done:

  • Tires inspected
  • Tires rotated
  • Balancing and aligning as necessary

This is all basic tire wear information, and it will allow you to continue driving safely. Tires that are allowed to become worn down will lose optimal traction and have a longer stopping distance.

Air Condition Servicing

Every EV’s air conditioning service requirements will vary, but the span is typically 2, 4 or 6 years based on Tesla’s recommendations. You’ll want to service the air conditioning system any time that you notice the air conditioner’s performance has dropped.

Basic Filter Changes

Your vehicle does not use oil and doesn’t have OBD 2 scanners, but many do come with state-of-the-art filtration systems. And any time there is a form of filtration, there is a filter that needs to be replaced.

Tesla’s recommended maintenance schedule has two main filter changes required:

  1. Cabin air filter. A cabin air filter can be found in all automobiles, and this is an air filter that is used to prevent pollen and dust, among other particles, from entering your vehicle’s vents. These filters need to be replaced every two years.
  2. HEPA. Some vehicles come with a HEPA filter, but others do not. You’ll want to refer to your vehicle’s manual to determine if your vehicle needs a HEPA filter. These filters are highly efficient, and they’ll need to be replaced every three years on average.

Filter changes are quick and easy maintenance items. You’ll notice that you don’t need to worry about an oil or fuel filter because your EV is highly efficient and doesn’t utilize combustion to propel the vehicle.

Lubrication and Winter Care

Winter is especially hard on all vehicles, and it’s time to take your vehicle in for basic maintenance. The cold will cause your brake’s calipers to lose some of its lubrication, so you’ll want to bring your vehicle in for care every 12 months or 12,500 miles to have the calipers lubricated.

Batteries cannot be maintained by the dealership, but they may need to be replaced at some point. When a battery needs to be replaced, it will cost you a lot of money if it’s not under warranty.

The good news is that Tesla offers a 120,000-mile warranty on their battery, and the Nissan LEAF claims that at 100,000 miles, the vehicle’s battery will still be at 66% capacity. If you only drive 10,000 miles a year, you won’t have to replace the battery for 10 to 12 years – if it needs replacing.

November 11, 2019


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