Right Driver

Will a battery electric vehicle (EV) cost you less to service than a petrol-powered car?

You want to take the plunge to change from fossil liquid to electrons to get around, but you’re worried that the premium price of an EV might not pay for itself over time. We’re here to reassure you that you’ll definitely get the benefit of driving a more simplistic vehicle in terms of its mechanical complexity in two ways:

  1. Reduced servicing costs
  2. Reduced servicing intervals

No one likes taking their car for a service – it’s a hassle and you end up either without a car for a day, or with some clapped-out 200,000-mile courtesy car that smells vaguely of socks.

There are more than 200 parts in a regular engine and transmission, and your BEV won’t have anywhere near that. In fact, a BEV has about 20 moving parts that need to be checked, and most are not subject to the kinds of explosive and heat-related stresses that the parts in an engine endure.

This doesn’t mean no servicing, though – there are still plenty of items to check – but it will save you money in the long run because there’s a lot less to check. Some estimate up to half of your servicing costs will be eliminated because you’ll no longer have oil and filter changes, cam belts, fan belts, engine coolant, exhaust systems, gearbox oil, and more. However, you still need to learn how to drive an EV efficiently.

Checks for your electric vehicle

  • Cables – keep an eye on the electrical wiring. They should be in good condition, no cuts or cracks. Don’t touch them!
  • Brake fluid – brakes require fluid for hydraulic pressure. Eventually this absorbs water and becomes less effective.
  • Brake pads – EVs have regenerative braking, so you should be using your footbrake rarely. Your brake pads should last tens of thousands of miles
  • Tyres – your tyres won’t last long on an EV in comparison to an internal combustion engine vehicle of the same dimensions because EVs are heavier and therefore inflict more wear and tear in the rubber.
  • Wheel alignment – if you’re noticing an unusual treadwear pattern on your tyres, it’s either the tyre pressure or the wheel alignment.
  • Windscreen wipers – these will decay at the same rate on any vehicle
  • Cabin air filter – keeps your vehicle smelling fresh
  • Desiccant – removes water from the air con system, reducing corrosion
  • Vehicle coolant – this isn’t the same as in an ICE vehicle where it needs to be replaced frequently. This is for the batteries and may not ever need to be checked, depending on your EV
  • Vehicle remote batteries – they’ll eventually run out and usually take something like a CR2025.
  • Differential oil and transmission fluids – if your EV has a transaxle, you’ll need to change these periodically
  • Gas support struts – the boot and bonnet have supports that hold them up using
  • Head and tail lamps – these should last 5-10 years. Replacing them is simple.

Your owner’s manual will give you a service schedule. So, you should be rubbing your hands in glee at the prospect of less financial outlay for your servicing, but bear in mind that if something does go wrong, there are far fewer mechanics that are au fait with electric vehicles, and parts are scarce, so you would have to weight up the cost-benefit.

Darren has owned several companies in the automotive, advertising and education industries. He has run driving theory educational websites since 2010.

Posted in Advice
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