Tesla Model S

Electric Car Maintenance: What You Need to Know

Electric cars, particularly pure electric vehicles operating without a supplementary gasoline generator, offer comparatively little maintenance to the typical passenger vehicle. There are fewer moving parts, a reduced number of fluids and extended brake wear intervals, thanks to regenerative braking. Still, there are a few electric car maintenance items that must not be avoided, including the following essentials as outlined in your owner’s manual.

Brake Care

Regenerative braking, a process that harnesses energy from the parts stored in the battery system for later use, means your brake pads will last longer. Maintenance intervals may stretch to twice as long as a conventional vehicle.

Tire Rotation

The Nissan Leaf is an all-electric vehicle requiring minimal maintenance.Follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for tire rotation and you should enjoy a lengthy amount of time with all four tires. There is no advantage with tire maintenance in electric vehicles nor is there a disadvantage.

Coolant System

Electric cars with a thermal management system make use of coolant, just as they do in traditional passenger vehicles. From time to time you may need to add coolant, replacing the same per the vehicle’s maintenance schedule.

Wiper Blades

There is absolutely no difference between the wiper blade care for your electric vehicle and a typical internal combustion engine car. Wiper blades should be replaced when worn, or twice annually, such as just before summer and again before winter settles in.

Fluid Check

Besides coolant, two other fluids are present in your electric car: brake fluid and windshield washer fluid. Brake fluid should be checked and replaced per your owner’s manual. Windshield fluid should be added periodically; choose a winter blend to lower the freezing point during cold weather.

Most other fluids, if present, are sealed and cannot be accessed. However, if you own the Tesla Model S, there’s a differential gear box containing transmission fluid requiring replacement as scheduled. Furthermore, all electric cars come with air conditioning, and that system must be recharged on occasion.

Battery System Replacement

The one maintenance area that may cost you more is the electric vehicle battery system. Electric cars use a nickel-metal-hydride, lithium-ion or similar battery pack, and these do have a limited lifespan.

Fortunately, many electric car manufacturers provide a battery drive train components warranty covering the battery pack and related components for eight years or 100,000 miles, whichever comes first. In some states that warranty is for 10 years or 150,000 miles.

Electric batteries lose efficiency over time and if the car is kept long enough the battery pack will need to be replaced. That expense varies, but a June 2014 Green Car Reports article stated a new Nissan Leaf replacement battery would cost $5,499 after a mandated $1,000 credit for turning in the old pack is taken. Tack on three hours of installation time and taxes, and your cost will push $6,000. Those costs can be avoided by leasing the electric car or selling it before the battery system requires replacement.

Not on Your Electric Car Maintenance List

As for oil changes, spark plugs and wires and air/fuel filters, these maintenance items are a thing of the past in electric cars because they don’t have these parts. Exhaust system maintenance, including the muffler and a catalytic converter, are simply not found in electric vehicles either.

Check out all the maintenance parts available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on electric car maintenance, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

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Matthew C. Keegan

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