Electric vehicle maintenance may not be nearly as involved as what’s required to keep a traditional gas-powered automobile on the road, but you might be surprised by just how much crossover there is between the two systems. Even though they don’t require oil or fuel, electric vehicles (EVs) still use similar components as other cars and trucks for their non-driveline systems.
What does this mean for electric vehicle owners? Let’s take a look at three major maintenance items you’ll need to take care of to ensure trouble-free, battery-powered motoring.
Brake Fluid and Pads
Just like any other automobile, electric vehicle maintenance needs to take into account the gradual wear experienced by its braking system. The key word here is “gradual.” Since all EVs use a regenerative system to capture kinetic energy and transform it into electricity — which often relies on the resistance of the electric motors rather than the application of pads to slow down — it can take a very long time before pads have worn down to the point where they need to be replaced. This is especially true if you are a cautious driver who uses higher regeneration settings rather than regularly pushing the pedal to stop.
That being said, brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means it absorbs water over time. When this happens, it loses its ability to resist heat, which can lead to a soft pedal in an emergency stop situation. Fortunately, it’s easy enough to pull off a wheel and inspect your brake pads for wear, which should be done at least once a year. At the same time, pop the cap off the brake fluid reservoir and examine the fluid — it should be clear, with no odor and no debris floating in it. If the fluid is starting to darken or it smells burned, it’s time to replace it.
Tire Rotation and Inspection
Electric cars usually ride on special low-rolling resistance tires, but they still undergo the same abuse as a gas-powered vehicle from daily driving. This means that regular tire inspections are an aspect of electric vehicle maintenance that you can’t avoid.
At least twice a year, typically with the changing of the seasons, make sure to look for any damage, cracking or dry rot, as well as uneven wear that could indicate a suspension alignment problem. You’ll also want to regularly rotate your tires to even out the normal wear that every car experiences.
Keeping a constant, healthy battery temperature is vital to ensuring your EV lasts as many years as possible while providing optimal performance and charge capacity, so you need to consider the manufacturer’s requirements for keeping the battery coolant fresh. Your owners manual will outline just how many miles, or how many years, you can go before taking care of this crucial aspect of electric vehicle maintenance.
EVs might offer a lower-maintenance driving option, but that doesn’t equate to a zero-maintenance option. Take care of your electric car, and it will take care of you. Neglect it, and you’ll run into the same problems you would with any vehicle.
Check out all the brake system 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 vehicle maintenance, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Having been bitten by the car bug at a young age, I spent my formative years surrounded by Studebakers at car shows across Quebec and the northeastern United States. Over ten years of racing, restoring, and obsessing over automobiles lead me to balance science writing and automotive journalism full time. I currently contribute as an editor to several online and print automotive publications, and I also write and consult for the pharmaceutical and medical device industry.