We all know electric cars are cheaper to run (and of course better for the environment) thanks to low electricity costs. But did you know you driving an electric vehicle can also save you a significant wage on maintenance costs too?

Yep, that’s right. Studies have shown that over a three year period, an EV could reduce your servicing and maintenance costs by as much as 35%. But why?

In this guide, we provide answers to the most common questions surrounding EV maintenance and explain why EVs are not only kinder for the environment, but kinder on your wallet too.

What maintenance does an electric car need?

In general, EVs require less maintenance than petrol or diesel engines. This is mostly due to having a simpler drive train with less moving parts and fewer fluids - EV’s have no oil or transmission fluid.

With fewer components that can fail, you’re less likely to end up with costly repair bills. However, carrying out regular maintenance is still important for safety and longevity.

Do electric cars need oil changes?

Electric cars don’t use oil which means oil changes a thing of the past. The same is true for spark plugs, fan belts, air filters, and coolant changes.

Do electric cars require servicing?

Taking good care of your EV will help slow its depreciation and increase its overall life expectancy, so it’s still important to service your electric car regularly. But because EVs don’t require an oil change every twelve months, intervals between services are often longer compared to combustion engines.

How often should you service an electric car?

In most cases, EV’s can wait two years before their first service. After this, servicing usually continues on a two-yearly basis but this may differ slightly depending on the manufacturer.

For example, Nissan recommends a 12,000-km service interval for the Leaf, whilst Tesla advises an inspection every 16,000-20,000 km.

Electric car maintenance schedule

To ensure you’re servicing your car the recommended amount, you should always check the car maintenance schedule. This is essentially a document produced by the manufacturer, outlining the recommended checks and services for your vehicle.

Not only will this help keep your car in a safe condition, but it also ensures the vehicle’s warranty is kept valid. Fail to carry out the recommended inspections and you could find you’re no longer covered for unexpected faults, so it’s definitely worth sticking to the schedule.

Tesla electric car maintenance

Each maintenance schedule will be slightly different depending on the manufacturer. Let’s look at Tesla as an example.

According to Tesla, cabin air filters should be replaced every two years and HEPA filters every three. You should also rotate your tyres every 6,250 miles or if tread depth difference is 2/32 in or greater, whichever comes first. 

Tesla also advises testing brake fluid for contamination every two years and replacing as needed, in addition to an air conditioning service every two years.

And for those driving in colder regions, you are advised to clean and lubricate all brake callipers every twelve months or 12,500 miles.

How long does an electric car battery last?

Battery life is a common concern among EV buyers, and quite rightly so. After all, phone and laptop batteries are prone to deterioration, so why should a car be any different?

Fortunately, EV batteries are far more superior than anything Apple or Microsoft use thanks to a bespoke battery management system, designed to preserve battery life for as long as possible.

In 2015, Nissan reported over 35,0000 European sales since the launch of the Leaf in 2011. From these figures, 99.99% of battery units remained entirely fit for purpose. The failure rate of the battery power unit was less than 0.01 per cent - a tiny proportion compared to the faults affecting your standard petrol or diesel engine. 

Yet the idea of having to replace a battery is still a big worry for many motorists. So to help potential buyers overcome this fear, most manufacturers now offer a battery guarantee of around 100,000 miles, which for the average driver, is roughly twelve years.

Finding an electric car mechanic

Whilst EVs may have fewer moving parts, their electrical systems are very different from conventional engines. Therefore, any services or repairs require the hands of a trained EV mechanic. This is perhaps the only downside to EV maintenance, as electric car mechanics are currently few and far between.

In 2018, the UK’s Institute of the Motor Industry (IMI) revealed 97% of auto mechanics are unable to work on electric cars. And of the 3% qualified EV mechanics, the majority are employed at manufacturer dealerships meaning your service options as an EV owner are limited.

Of course, this won’t always be the case. As the demand for EVs increases, electric car mechanics will soon become more standard. But if you’re considering buying an electric car now, it’s a good idea to check your local area first.

Do electric cars still need MOT tests?

MOT tests ensure your vehicle meets the legal safety and environmental requirements. And although EVs don’t require an emissions test, the normal MOT laws still apply. EV owners must therefore register their vehicle for an annual MOT once the vehicle is 3 years old.

Costs compared to other car types

On average, electric vehicles cost approximately 23% less to service and maintain over three years/60,000 miles compared to petrol alternatives. But for smaller vehicles, maintenance savings can be even greater. 

For example, the Renault Zoe will cost £1,100 to maintain over that period, while a Vauxhall Corsa 1.0T 90 Design costs £1,497. That’s an impressive 35.7% lower. But why?

We’ve already established EVs have fewer moving parts, meaning faults are less likely to occur. But if you look at the most common faults occurring in conventional vehicles, this becomes even more evident.

According to a recent Which? survey, the most common faults found by motorists were related to the exhaust and emission control system. Based on new car sales from 2015 to 2017, it’s estimated over 390,000 cars up to three years old could experience problems. But with an EV, you won’t be affected, as the exhaust and emission control systems are non-existent.

Brakes are another common problem. Warped rotors, fluid leaks, and worn brake pads are just a few examples of things that can wrong and whilst these issues can still arise with EVs, general brake wear and tear on electric cars is considerably reduced thanks to regenerative braking.

Regenerative braking uses electricity from the engine to slow the vehicle, whilst simultaneously restoring juice back into the battery. All electric vehicles use this technology, making braking more efficient and limiting wear and tear. It also reduces harmful brake dust, helping to improve air quality. As a result, you’ll find brake disks and pads can be changed less frequently, helping to save money on servicing.

Breakdowns and emergency repair

Whilst EV components may be less likely to fail compared to a petrol or diesel engine, things can still go wrong. Batteries can run flat or overheat and electrical faults can occur, therefore it’s a good idea to invest in breakdown cover.

In 2019, the RAC developed its first lightweight mobile EV-charger, to provide roadside assistance for flat EV batteries. And whilst the AA is not offering roadside charging yet, they will transport you and your vehicle to your nearest charging point to get you back on the road.

However, adapting services for EV owners has presented a number of challenges for roadside assistance providers. Firstly, the maximum towing weight for most standard breakdown service trucks is 2.5 tonnes, and with the added weight of an EV battery, many electric cars now exceed this limit.

Secondly, most electric car manufacturers advise against towing their vehicles as it can damage their motors. Instead, they should be transported with all wheels off the ground, which usually requires the assistance of a flat-bed vehicle.

Yet despite these additional complications, the good news is most roadside assistance providers cover electric vehicles as standard, so you won’t need to pay extra or take out a special policy to protect yourself.

Do electric cars break down more?

Electric cars do not eliminate the risk of a breakdown, but your chances are certainly smaller. One of the biggest causes of EV breakdowns is running the battery flat, but provided you listen to your EV’s low-power warning and react in plenty of time this can be easily avoided.

Electric cars with the lowest maintenance costs

So, the big question. Which electric cars have the lowest maintenance costs? With the majority of electric cars still in the early years of ownership, getting a true picture of a vehicle’s long term maintenance costs can be tricky. But based on the latest customer feedback, we’ve compiled our top five low-maintenance EVs.

Hyundai Ioniq Electric

First introduced in 2016, the Ioniq has proven itself to be one of the most reliable electric cars you can buy. With low runnings costs and cheap servicing, it’s a great option for anyone looking to reduce their maintenance costs.

It has a sufficient range of 174 miles and can be fully charged in 12 hours using a conventional plug, or 4 hours using Hyundai’s home-install Pod Point. Alternatively, you can charge your Ioniq in just 33 minutes with a 50kw fast charger.

BMW i3

With its strong reputation for quality and reliability, BMW has pulled out all the stops to ensure the i3 lives up to the usual BMW standards. As a result, you’d be unlucky to run into any costly problems with this EV.

The i3 is also a great choice if you want to inject a little excitement into your driving, as both the regular and sportier i3s use the electric motor to send power to the rear wheels, providing more grip and faster acceleration. Even the regular model can accelerate from 0-62mph in 7.3 seconds.

Nissan Leaf

It’s hard to believe the Nissan Leaf has been around for almost a decade. As the first mainstream electric vehicle, the Leaf was an instant hit and is still extremely popular today. In March 2019, the Leaf became the first electric car to pass 400,000 sales.

The fact the Leaf has been around for longer means we can grasp a more accurate picture of its long term reliability and maintenance costs. And it’s good news. In the most recent What Car? Reliability survey, the first generation Leaf achieved an impressive score of 95.6%.

With a range of 124 miles, the first-generation Leaf may be a little behind some of it’s newer rivals, but it’s cheap to run and more reliable than many alternatives.

Kia e-Niro

Since entering the market last year, the e-Niro has already received multiple awards and is considered one of the most affordable electric cars available. It was so popular, it actually sold out in the first year. And it’s not hard to see why.

Its generous 7-year/100,000 mile warranty covers the battery, electric motor failure, and standard components, providing you with ultimate peace of mind. And with an official range of up to 282 miles between charges, you don’t have to worry about getting caught out either.

Tesla Model S

The upfront cost of a Tesla may be pricey, but with low running costs and an impressive 8-year warranty covering the vehicle battery pack, the Model S may be worth the investment. It’s also a reliable choice, thanks to components manufactured by Toyota and Mercedes.

In the 2016 Driver Power customer satisfaction survey, it was voted the best car to own in the UK and came in fifth place for overall reliability. And just when you thought things couldn’t get any better, the Model S has one of the highest ranges available, achieving 287 miles in standard form and an extraordinary 373 miles in the Long Range trim.

Electric Car Finance With Creditplus

We’ve established electric cars are more cost-effective in the long-term, but the difficulty for most drivers is overcoming the initial upfront cost. However, with Creditplus’s flexible finance options, you can spread the cost of an electric car into affordable monthly payments. To discuss your options with an electric vehicle finance specialist, simply complete our 2-minute no-obligation Application Form today.

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