The fewer moving parts a car has, the fewer things can go wrong. Electric vehicles (EVs) have fewer moving parts than conventional petrol or diesel cars, which makes them simpler to service.

Maintenance needs and safety requirements for hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) are similar to those of conventional vehicles, while all-electric vehicles (EVs) require less maintenance. Manufacturers designing EVs publish maintenance and safety guides.

Maintenance comparison

According to the US-based Alternative Fuels Data Center, because HEVs and PHEVs have internal combustion engines, maintenance requirements are similar to those of conventional vehicles. “The electrical system (battery, motor and associated electronics) typically requires minimal scheduled maintenance, and brake systems generally last longer than those on conventional vehicles because of regenerative braking,” the Center’s website states.

  • EVs typically require less maintenance than conventional vehicles because:
  • The battery, motor and associated electronics require little to no regular maintenance
  • There are fewer fluids to change
  • Brake wear is significantly reduced due to regenerative braking
  • There are far fewer moving parts relative to a conventional petrol engine.

Battery maintenance

The batteries used in EVs can be charged only a limited number of times. The batteries in electric-drive vehicles are generally designed to last for the expected lifetime of the vehicle. Like the engines in conventional vehicles, the advanced batteries in PEVs are designed for extended life but will wear out eventually. Currently batteries are expensive but prices are expected to fall as technology improves and production volumes increase over time.

What’s different about an electric service?

A 2018 UK study by automotive data experts Cap HPI investigated the average servicing and maintenance costs for electric cars. It shows that the cost to customers of servicing EVs is, on average, 23 percent less than for petrol vehicles over a three-year/100,000-kilometre period. For smaller cars this difference is even more pronounced.

When an EV is brought in for a service it is checked for all the usual service items and legal requirements of a roadworthy car, such as wear on the braking system, headlights and tyre condition. When servicing EVs, technicians must also inspect and replace electric-specific elements, such as:

  • Charging cable: check that cable is present and visually check its condition
  • High-voltage battery: check the charge level and recharge it if necessary
  • High-voltage components and high-voltage cables: inspect these for damage and correct routing and securing of lines.

Unlike petrol and diesel vehicles, electric vehicles don’t need an oil change.

Volkswagen UK has helpfully published the following Service Regime Comparison for a Golf.

Areas EV mechanics will need to be trained in:

  • Knowledge of Advanced Vehicle Technologies
  • High Voltage Electrical Safety Certification
  • Understanding the Development of Electric Vehicles
  • High Voltage Vehicle Safety Systems Requirements
  • Hybrid Engines
  • AC Induction Electrical Mechanisms
  • Power Inverter System Technology
  • Permanent Magnet Electrical Motors
  • Electric Circuit Systems
  • DC-AC Converter Systems
  • Gears and Cooling Systems
  • Electric Propulsion Sensing Systems
  • Battery Construction and Technologies
  • Energy/Fuel Management Hardware Systems
  • Battery Technologies Developments
  • Lithium Ion Battery Technology
  • Electric Battery Management Systems
  • Nickel-Metal Hydride Technology
  • Vehicle Battery Regeneration Braking Systems
  • Electric Car Maintenance and Common Faults
  • Design of Adapter for an Electric Motor
  • Electric Car and Hybrid Car Climate Control Systems
  • Design and Making a Fibreglass Battery Box

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