Part of the promise of electric vehicles is that they require less maintenance than their gasoline-powered siblings.
Research from Consumer Reports, in fact, projected that drivers of EVs can save an average of 50% on maintenance costs, or about $4,600, over the life of a vehicle, compared to owners of gas-powered models. Even by the fifth year when more items need replacement, EVs cost about $900 annually to repair and maintain, whereas comparable gasoline-powered car costs are around $1,200.
While those savings are sizable, the question for many EV owners is whether performing routine maintenance on their own is a good idea. Can it be unsafe to work on the vehicles? Should maintenance be left to professional shops?
Bob Lacivita, an ASE and General Motors auto technician and automotive technology educator, wrote about DYI EV maintenance in The Family Handyman. Many items are simple tasks comparable to traditional vehicles that any DIYer can do, he noted. Those include:
- Checking fluid levels and lights, and battery, cabin, electrical, steering, suspension and chassis systems for excess wear or damage, as well as hoses and fittings for leaks.
- Replacing wiper blades and cabin air filters.
- Changing brake fluid.
- Lubricating door hinges, latches and anchors.
- Checking tire air pressure and looking for abnormal wear.
Tires on EVs are one area of special concern and do require more attention. That’s because batteries and electric motors make EVs much heavier than gas-powered vehicles, and the extra weight alone can cause tires to wear out faster. Additionally, tire wear on EVs can be accelerated because electric motors deliver instant torque to the wheels.
There are also some specific services unique to EVs you should leave to the experts, such as all battery service – even adding coolant. In general, only a trained, certified technician with the proper PPE and tools should work on high-voltage EV batteries and electrical systems. However, there are still things you can do or avoid to get the most out of your EV battery. For instance, repeatedly fully charging the battery will cause it to degrade more quickly, as will leaving the battery at a low state of charge for an extended time.
Batteries don’t like extreme temperatures, so don’t leave your EV parked in the hot sun. Likewise, while cold weather won’t speed up your EV battery’s degradation it will temporarily reduce its range, so parking in a garage if possible is a good habit.
Regardless of whether you opt for DIY maintenance on your EV or take it to a dealer or independent shop, following the manufacturer’s suggested service schedule is always advisable.