Electric cars help the environment in many ways, but do electric cars still need oil changes? These vehicles are popular for a reason—and one of those is minimal maintenance. We’ve researched the subject in-depth to find out the answer to whether you need to change the oil on an electric car, so you don’t need to wonder anymore. We've also learned a lot about electric car services and maintenance concerns.
Because they don't have engines with moving parts, battery-powered electric cars do not need an oil change. Hybrid cars have both an electric motor and a regular gasoline engine, so they still need to have a scheduled oil change. Keep in mind that BEV's (Battery Electric Vehicles) do require other types of maintenance procedures though.
When it comes to overall vehicle maintenance, electric cars are not entirely worry-free. Plus, hybrid vehicles do require oil changes, a crucial caveat when shopping for a new electric vehicle. Fortunately, we have the answers to all your electric (and hybrid) vehicle care questions, so keep reading to learn more.
Do Electric Cars Need Maintenance?
Though your electric car may not need oil, it may require maintenance, albeit infrequently. Electric motors are more straightforward than conventional gasoline types and have fewer parts. The fewer parts an engine has, the less likely it is that something will break down. Plus, if something wears out, you can likely replace it for less than what you’d pay to fix a gasoline-powered auto.
While electric cars require very low maintenance, automotive experts agree that you should routinely check on the following systems:
Electric cars do use fluids that could use topping-up or need to be flushed and replaced namely; brake fluid, coolant, and windshield washing fluid. Refer to the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding how often to check or replace the fluids for your EV.
- Coolant - Electric cars rely on coolant flowing through a thermoregulation system to prevent the batteries from overheating. You might need to add coolant or flush and replace the coolant. The manufacturer will provide a recommended coolant maintenance schedule and procedure.
- Brake Fluid - The braking system relies on the fluid to operate smoothly. Replace brake fluid per manufacturer’s recommendations. Typically, the brake fluid in EVs needs to be replaced every two (2) years.
- Windshield Washing Fluid - Refill windshield washing fluid as often as needed, depending on usage. NOTE: There are summer blends and winter blends of windshield washing fluid. Selecting a winter blend during cold temperatures will prevent the fluid from freezing.
By using a regenerative braking system, EVs experience very little wear on the brakes because there is no friction between the brake pads and rotors. Maintenance intervals for brakes can last twice as long as that for ICE cars.
For any type of vehicle, the tires should be routinely checked for wear to avoid unnecessary damage. It is important to check:
- Tire Pressure
- Tread Thickness
Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for the frequency of tire rotation. If you observe uneven wear on the tread, consult a reputable mechanic to check the tires’ balance and the wheel alignment.
Cabin Air Filter
Electric vehicles produce zero emissions, keeping the outside air clean and come equipped with a cabin air filter to keep inside air clean. Cabin air filters significantly reduce the amount of pollen, industrial fallout, and road dust that enter the cabin. Even unpleasant, outdoor smells are eliminated. Follow manufacturer’s recommendations for when to change the cabin air filter, typically every two (2) years or 30,000 miles.
EVs and ICE cars use the same type of windshield wiper blades although, the blades' style will vary by model. You should replace the wiper blades when they demonstrate excessive wear or twice annually.
Periodic software updates are available for EVs to enhance existing features, provide new features, and improve safety and security. Some EVs require a visit to the dealership for a software update. Others, like Tesla, have over-the-air software updates that happen automatically.
What do Electric Cars Use for Lubricant?
Gasoline-powered engines need oil to lubricate the parts and disperse heat. But electric cars don’t have the sheer number of moving parts that gas automobiles do. Instead, they have gears and other components that work without oil.
Most models do require some lubricant to grease up their gears because the chassis, wheels, and differentials on electric cars still need fluids to operate. That said, you won’t find a ton of other liquids on an electric car—just a few like the brake, windshield washer, and coolant fluids.
Do Hybrid Vehicles Need Oil Changes?
Hybrid cars still have combustion engines, not battery-powered ones, so they do need regular oil changes. And while you might expect to schedule fewer shop visits for a hybrid that uses its battery power in traffic and while at low cruising speeds, you still must count your gasoline engine’s life by the mile.
That means you can expect to see your mechanic for an oil change every 5,000 to 10,000 miles on your hybrid, depending on factors like synthetic versus regular oil.
Are Electric Cars Lower Maintenance?
Though most vehicles wind up in the shop for regular maintenance at specific mileage points, electric models don’t. The simplified engine build and battery system is self-contained and leaves very little room for things to go wrong. That’s not to say your e-vehicle can’t have system failures, but it’s less likely than with a conventional car or truck.
Do Electric Cars Need Coolant?
Most electric cars do need a form of coolant. Because the battery cells generate heat while charging and discharging, coolant or a more elaborate thermal management system must take over to cool things down. These measures help avoid overheating and protect your car’s battery system from damage.
You might need to fill the coolant from time to time. But the batteries and their accessories can be in weird places in e-autos, so it helps to have help from someone who knows their way around under the hood.
What is an Electric Car Maintenance Shop?
Electric cars don’t need oil, fuel filters, radiator fluid, timing belts, spark plugs, or many lubricants. But they do require repairs from time to time. However, not all mechanics are knowledgeable about working on battery-powered cars.
An electric car maintenance shop will have mechanics who understand how to work on high-voltage electric vehicles. Most brands that offer an e-vehicle also provide repair services, but if there isn’t a dealership near you, finding expert assistance can be tough.
Fortunately, more and more modern mechanics are preparing to wrench on electric vehicles. They’re purchasing equipment and undergoing training so as not to lose business from e-car drivers. Of course, in many cases, you can also use an at-home diagnostic tool to read computer codes from your car.
Compatibility with OBDII diagnostic scanners varies based on the vehicle design and manufacturer. But a device like the NEXPEAK OBD2 Scanner can turn back codes that highlight what your car’s issue may be.
See the NEXPEAK OBD2 Scanner on Amazon here.
How Long Does an Electric Car Battery Last?
While a conventional gas-driven engine might wear out around 200,000 miles, electric motors are different. The good news is, each electric vehicle battery typically comes with a warranty that lasts about eight years and 100,000 miles.
An electric vehicle’s battery should not need maintenance throughout the life of the car.
The bad news is that electric vehicle batteries are expensive to replace. For example, a battery for a Chevrolet Bolt EV is $15,000. Prices vary based on vehicle make, model, size, and range. But you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $6,000 on average.
How Far Can an Electric Car Go on a Charge?
The longevity of an e-car battery system aside, how far can you drive on one charge? It varies based on brand and model, but most electric vehicles have a range of about 100 miles per charge. Of course, newer Teslas double that figure, and then some. Other competitors are always entering the market, too.
As far as kilowatt-hours (kWh) per mile, the average falls somewhere around 30 kWh per 100 miles. You can also use a vehicle’s energy consumption to calculate how much it costs you per charge or trip to power up.
Are Electric Cars Cheaper Than Gas?
When comparing kWh per 100 miles to the price per gallon of gas, it is cheaper to operate an electric car. But beyond the per-mile costs, you also need to consider the sticker price plus maintenance costs to get an accurate figure of overall expenses.
Charging an electric car may be friendlier to the environment than filling up with gasoline. But charging a car at peak times can cost more in electricity. In contrast, charging your e-car at work or in public areas reduces your electricity cost to nil, effectively making an electric car a smarter investment—at least if you have an outlet you can use away from home.
What Kind of Upkeep Does an Electric Vehicle Require?
In addition to the battery and coolant system, what else does an electric vehicle require to keep running properly? You still need to think about typical maintenance like tire rotations, filter replacements for the AC/heater, and brake pad replacement.
But for most regular upkeep, you can still visit your favorite mechanic, whether they learn to work on electric components of your vehicle or not. Sometimes, your local mechanic can even run diagnostics on your e-car, thanks to the same onboard computer systems that older, conventional cars use.
Do Tesla Cars Need Oil Changes?
Tesla cars are completely electric and do not use oil or have any oil-related parts. Teslas do not need oil changes or oil filter changes/replacements simply because these parts do not exist.
Do Tesla Cars Require Annual Maintenance?
According to Tesla Support, the company’s cars do not require annual maintenance or routine fluid changes. The owner’s manual for each model will provide maintenance recommendations for Tesla’s cars.
Does Tesla Have a Recommended Maintenance Schedule?
Maintenance for Tesla cars is very low, similar to that for other EVs. Recommended maintenance and frequency can vary slightly, depending on the model. Tesla’s recommended maintenance schedule includes the following:
- Brake Fluid - test for contamination every two (2) years, replace as needed.
- Tire Rotation, Balance, and Wheel Alignment - check every 10,000 to 12,000 miles.
- Cabin Air Filter - replace every two (2) years.
- High-Efficiency Particulate Air Filter (HEPA) - if equipped, replace every three (3) years.
- Air Conditioning - service every two (2) years for Model S, four (4) years for Model X, or six (6) years for Model 3.
- Winter Care - clean and lubricate brake calipers once annually or 12,500 miles for models in cold climates.
- Over-the-Air Software Updates - automatic, with remote diagnostics via Mobile Service technicians available as needed.
How Do Tesla’s Over-the-Air Software Updates Work?
You will be notified of a software update by receiving an alert on the car's touchscreen display and an alert on your Tesla App. You can install the update immediately, or schedule for a later date/time.
Once started, an update cannot be paused or canceled. During Tesla software updates, the EV cannot be driven and does not charge. Tesla recommends connecting the car to WiFi to ensure a fast, comprehensive update.
How To Schedule Service for My Tesla?
You can schedule a service for your Tesla using the Tesla App. Tesla provides the following instructions:
- Select ‘Schedule Service’ - ‘New Appointment’ from the car’s home screen.
- Provide a short description of your Tesla issue for the Service Team to review.
- The closest service location will be selected for you; confirm or edit the location.
- The first available service date/time will be provided; confirm or edit the date/time.
How to Replace Tesla’s HEPA Filter?
Tesla Model S and Model X are equipped with HEPA Filters. Tesla Model 3 is equipped with a Cabin Air Filter without high-efficiency due to the smaller size of the filter.
You can remove and replace the air filter with an aftermarket, HEPA filter. All you need is a bit of technical expertise and the right tools. We found this informative, ">YouTube demo from Tesla Owners Online to help you replace the HEPA Filter for Model S or Model X.
Now you know that Tesla cars and most EVs are remarkably easy to maintain. Low maintenance saves you time and money over the life of the car. You might consider a Tesla for your next car.
We hope we've managed to cover all of your concerns where it comes to oil changes and regular maintenance on electric vehicles, including the Teslas!
George S. William
Saturday 27th of March 2021
Very informative and comprehensive article. I have been looking for a such detailed explanation for some time. Thank you