One of the awesome benefits of an EV is reduced maintenance. There is a plethora of things you just do not need to worry about anymore. You don’t need to change oil, there are no spark plugs to replace, no timing belt to change. It really is rather beautiful. But, just because there’s no engine in your EV doesn’t mean it never needs maintenance. Your EV needs love, too.
Regardless of what you’re driving, tires should be rotated every 5,000 to 8,000 miles to get the most life out of them. Tesla actually recommends every 6k because the torque comes from the electric motor in the rear, so if your tires are never rotated, the torquey side is going to wear quickly.
Suspension components on EVs wear down with time and mileage, just like a gas or diesel vehicle. Check your alignment once a year to make sure your tires are hugging the road just right to get the most life from your tires.
The brake system in your EV is hydraulic, just like any other vehicle. Over time, the brake fluid absorbs moisture, which is normal, because brake fluid is hygroscopic, meaning it attracts moisture. Moisture reduces the boiling point of the fluid, which can lead to air pockets in the brake lines and the moisture itself can help lead to rust on your braking components. That rust can damage your calipers and make brake repair even more expensive. To avoid those issues, and to avoid needing to replace calipers, we recommend replacing the brake fluid every two years, regardless of mileage.
Many EVs are equipped with regenerative braking. For those that don’t know, the motor draws power from the battery to turn your wheels, creating the energy needed to move. When the brakes are applied, that process is reversed and that same energy is then fed back into the electric system, replenishing a little bit of juice. The upside is that vehicles with regenerative braking tend to see brake pads and rotors last longer. The downside is that the calipers don’t get used as much and can start to stick sooner than later. Every two years, we recommend servicing the brake system to help the moving parts in your calipers continue to move freely.
Most EVs use liquid cooling systems for battery thermal management. Coolant helps regulate the temperature of your battery pack and keeps it adequately cooled. Old and/or contaminated coolant loses its ability to absorb and transfer heat efficiently which can result in overheating of the battery pack, electric motor and other key components. When coolant is fresh and in good condition, it helps maintain the proper temperature for all components, which reduces energy loss due to excessive heat, translating to longer range and lower energy consumption. On top of that, as coolant ages, it loses its anti-corrosive properties and becomes acidic. That acidic fluid can start damaging rubber hoses and plastic connectors that it flows through, which will lead to leaks. A cooling system that is low on fluid runs a higher risk of damaging expensive components. We recommend exchanging your coolant every three years.
In gasoline or diesel vehicles, the air conditioning system only needs attention when something isn’t working right. In some EVs, the air conditioning system has a bigger purpose; not only does it cool you, but it helps to cool the battery and electronics. As a matter of fact, Tesla, for example, doesn’t have an “air conditioning” system, but a Thermal Management System which is used to move heat to and from different parts of your vehicle. Keeping the battery and electronics at the proper temperature helps prevent premature failure. To keep your EVs thermal management system in top shape, service your AC system and replace the desiccant bag according to your manufacturer’s recommendation. This is typically recommended between three and six years.
Some EVs are equipped with a heat pump, rather than a traditional AC system; although, it still uses refrigerant. Heat pumps transfer heat from outside air or other heat sources (like the drivetrain or battery) to the cabin. To cool, the process is reversed and the evaporator (instead of absorbing heat from external sources) is now absorbing heat from the cabin. By using existing heat sources, instead of needing to create heat, these pumps are able to provide more heating or cooling for the same amount of energy. Since less energy is used with this system, it can also increase your driving range. If your HVAC system runs low on refrigerant, it will affect not only the heating and cooling of the cabin, but it will also affect the battery (and, therefore, efficiency), and drive units in the vehicle. To maximize the efficiency of your vehicle’s thermal management system, we recommend servicing the system every 3-4 years.
NOTE: There is a lot of information that we’d like to provide on heat pump operation, but it was just too long for this guide. If you’d like to learn more about how heat pumps work, please see our fact sheet called “How Heat Pumps Work.”
Some EVs are equipped with one filter, some are equipped with two. Those should be replaced every two to three years. Sooner if they’re dirty.
The majority of EVs don’t have a multi-speed transmission. They’re equipped with a drive unit that delivers power from the electric motor to the wheels, allowing your vehicle to move. It’s a crucial component that converts electrical energy from the battery pack into mechanical energy to propel the vehicle. Drive units typically consist of an electric motor, power electronics, and cooling systems.
The motor is the primary component and it’s what converts electrical energy into rotational mechanical energy. The power electronics are what regulate the flow of electrical energy between the battery pack and the electric motor. The included components such as inverters, converters, and motor controllers, which manage the motor’s speed, torque, and power output. The cooling system was described above (no need to make this guide any longer than it already is). Some EVs may have a gearbox or single-gear transmission which helps optimize torque and power delivery from the electric motor to the wheels, adapting it to different driving conditions or enhancing efficiency.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get to the maintenance of it. All of those components can experience wear and tear over time. The bearings, gears, and seals within those will require inspection and servicing to make sure they’re functioning like they should. Seals and gaskets are critical components in the drive unit that help maintain the integrity of the system, preventing leaks and ensuring proper lubrication. Over time, these seals and gaskets can degrade, leading to potential issues such as fluid leaks or contamination. Regular servicing of the drive unit allows for the inspection and replacement of worn or damaged seals and gaskets, ensuring the system remains sealed and well-lubricated.
The drive unit may require periodic lubrication and fluid maintenance to ensure smooth operation and to protect internal components from excessive wear. Lubricants and fluids, such as gearbox oil or coolant, can degrade over time, lose their effectiveness, or become contaminated. Regular service intervals provide an opportunity to inspect fluid levels, check for any signs of contamination or degradation, and replace fluids as needed.
Maintaining regular service intervals helps ensure that the drive unit operates efficiently, reduces the risk of breakdowns, and maintains the overall performance and reliability of your electric vehicle. We recommend drive unit servicing about every 48,000 miles or four years.
Sunroof drains are responsible for channeling rainwater and other moisture away from the vehicle’s interior. If the drains become clogged or blocked, the water can overflow and leak into your vehicle, which can cause extensive damage to upholstery, carpeting, and electronics. Electronic malfunctions or failures can be costly to repair and may even compromise the safety and reliability of your vehicle. If a leak is left to its own devices, it can also lead to mold, mildew and unpleasant odors. Not to mention the rust and corrosion that can develop. Servicing the sunroof drains is crucial to prevent water damage, preserve the vehicle's value, avoid electrical issues, prevent corrosion, and maintain overall functionality. This service also includes clearing the roof guides of any debris, removing all old grease and applying fresh grease and calibrating the sunroof (if required).
Then, of course, there’s the basics that should be checked once a year:
- Check coolant level;
- Check windshield washer fluid level;
- Check tire pressures;
- Check tire wear;
- Check for fluid leaks;
- Inspect brake system;
- Inspect steering, suspension and chassis components for any issues;
- Lubricate body components;
- 12 volt battery.
Those are just to name a few.More Information
In summary, maintaining an electric vehicle through regular servicing is crucial for optimal performance, extended lifespan, safety, cost savings, preserving resale value, and minimizing environmental impact. Proper maintenance ensures that the EV remains reliable, efficient, and safe, enhancing your overall ownership experience. If you have any questions on any of these items, please feel free to call or email us.