Electric car being serviced

How Do You Service an Electric Car?

Servicing an electric car typically revolves around tyre maintenance, brake fluid change, battery checks, and software updates.

With over 20 years of experience as an auto electrician, I’ve seen firsthand the evolution of the automotive industry, particularly with the rise of electric vehicles (EVs).

Drawing on my background and expertise, I’m here to guide you through the process, ensuring your EV maintains its peak performance and longevity.

Key Takeaways

  • Typical Service Areas: Typical areas for EV servicing include tire inspection, brake fluid changes, battery health checks, and software updates. These are critical for maintaining the vehicle’s performance and safety.
  • Reduced Servicing Needs: Electric vehicles have fewer moving parts than their ICE counterparts, resulting in less frequent service requirements. This not only saves time but also reduces maintenance costs over the vehicle’s lifespan.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Over the life of the vehicle, electric car servicing presents a more cost-effective solution due to the reduced need for mechanical maintenance and the absence of oil changes.
  • Annual Service Recommendation: For most electric vehicles, an annual service check or one every 15,000 to 20,000 km is advisable to ensure optimal performance and vehicle longevity.
  • Electric vs Non-Electric Differences: Electric vehicles shift the maintenance emphasis towards the battery system, electric motor, and software updates, contrasting with the engine, transmission, and exhaust system focus of ICE vehicles. This difference highlights the unique expertise required for EV servicing, reflecting the evolving nature of automotive care in the era of electrification.
  • Electric vs Non-Electric Similarities: Despite the technological differences, EVs share common servicing needs with ICE vehicles, such as tire maintenance, brake checks, and safety inspections, underlining the universal aspects of vehicle care.

How Do You Service an Electric Car?

Servicing an electric car involves a few key steps to ensure everything runs smoothly.

Having worked on countless EVs, from the BYD Atto 3 to the Tesla Model Y, I’ve refined a comprehensive service checklist that includes:

  • Tyre Wear and Tear & Pressure Check: Tyres are crucial for safety and efficiency. I always start with a thorough inspection to ensure optimal condition and pressure.
  • Windscreen Wiper Replacement: Visibility is paramount. Wipers should be checked and replaced regularly.
  • Brake Fluid Change: Despite EVs using regenerative braking, traditional brake systems still need attention.
  • Battery Maintenance Checks: The heart of an EV. Battery health is crucial for range and performance.
  • Coolant System Check: Even EVs need coolant for their battery systems.
  • Oil and Coolant Top-up or Change: For the cooling system and any mechanical parts still requiring lubrication.
  • Suspension Check: To ensure a comfortable ride.
  • Air Conditioning and Air Filter Check: Essential for comfort and air quality.
  • Software Updates: Possibly the most distinctive aspect of servicing EVs, ensuring the latest features and optimisations.

Electric vs Non-Electric Car Servicing

Differences

The key differences lie in the complexity and focus of the servicing.

Electric cars, with their fewer moving parts, shift the maintenance focus towards the battery and electric motor, while non-electric cars require attention to their engines, transmissions, and exhaust systems.

Below, I’ve created a table outlining these differences in more detail:

Service Area Electric Car Servicing Non-Electric Car Servicing
Mechanical Complexity Lower complexity with fewer moving parts. Focus on electric motor and battery. Higher complexity with intricate engines, transmissions, and exhaust systems.
Servicing Frequency Less frequent due to fewer mechanical parts and no oil changes. More frequent servicing for oil changes, spark plug replacements, etc.
Maintenance Focus Concentrated on battery health, software updates, and electric drivetrain components. Focuses on engine and transmission maintenance, including fluid and filter changes.
Diagnostic and Software Updates Relies on software for performance, benefits from periodic updates often delivered remotely. Less reliance on software updates; maintenance is more mechanically oriented.
Environmental Impact Offers a cleaner alternative with reduced need for consumables like engine oils and filters. Servicing involves disposing of oils and filters, contributing to environmental pollution.
Servicing Costs Over Vehicle Lifetime Generally lower over vehicle’s lifetime. Battery replacement can be costly but is infrequent. Higher due to regular engine maintenance and part replacements.

Similarities

Despite the significant differences in their operating mechanisms, electric vehicles (EVs) and non-electric vehicles share some common ground when it comes to servicing.

Having worked on hundreds of EVs, I’ve identified several servicing aspects where EVs and traditional cars are quite similar:

Safety Inspections

Both EVs and traditional vehicles undergo rigorous safety checks. This includes inspecting the braking system, lights, horn, and steering mechanisms.

Safety is paramount, regardless of the vehicle’s power source, ensuring that all occupants are protected.

Tyre Maintenance

The condition of the tyres is critical for both types of vehicles. Regular checks for wear and tear, alignment, and tyre pressure are essential.

Proper tyre maintenance ensures optimal performance, safety, and fuel efficiency for traditional cars and energy efficiency for EVs.

Brake System

While EVs benefit from regenerative braking, which can reduce wear on the brake pads and discs, both electric and non-electric vehicles require regular brake system checks.

This includes inspecting the brake pads, discs, and fluid. Ensuring the braking system is in top condition is vital for the safety of the vehicle.

Suspension and Steering

The suspension system, responsible for a smooth ride and handling, needs regular checks in both EVs and traditional vehicles.

Similarly, the steering system’s maintenance is crucial for the vehicle’s control and safety.

Wear and tear in these systems can significantly impact the driving experience.

Lighting and Electrical Systems

Lights, indicators, and electrical systems play a crucial role in both vehicle types. Regular checks ensure that all electrical components, including the battery in non-electric vehicles, are functioning correctly.

In EVs, this extends to the battery management system, which is crucial for the vehicle’s performance.

Air Conditioning and Ventilation

The comfort of the vehicle’s occupants is important, regardless of the type of vehicle.

The air conditioning and ventilation systems need regular checks and maintenance to ensure they are operating efficiently, providing a comfortable environment inside the vehicle.

Fluid Levels

While EVs don’t require oil changes, they still have fluids that need to be checked and maintained, such as brake fluid and coolant for the battery and electrical systems.

Traditional vehicles require more frequent fluid checks, including engine oil, transmission fluid, and coolant levels.

How Often Do EVs Need to Be Serviced?

Generally, EVs should be serviced every 12 months or every 20,000km.

However, this differs between models, with service intervals ranging between 10,000km and 15,000km per year, or between 12 months and 2 years.

To help paint a picture of the standard EV service intervals, I’ve prepared a list of the service intervals for some of Australia’s most popular EVs below:

Vehicle Service Interval
BYD Atto 3 Every 12 months/20,000km
Hyundai Kona Electric Every 12 months/15,000km
Kia EV6 Every 12 months/10,000km
Mercedes-Benz EQA Every 12 months/25,000km
MG4 Every 24 months/40,000km
Polestar 2 Every 24 months/30,000km
Tesla Model 3 Every 12 months/15,000km
Tesla Model Y Every 12 months/15,000km
Volvo C40 Recharge Every 24 months/30,000km

FAQs

What does servicing an electric car involve?

Servicing an electric car typically includes checking the battery health and connections, inspecting the electrical system, updating the car’s software, and examining the brakes, tyres, and suspension.

Unlike traditional vehicles, electric cars do not require oil changes, making their maintenance generally simpler and potentially more cost-effective.

Do all EVs need servicing?

Yes, all EVs need to be serviced, albeit less frequently than petrol cars.

For more information, read our blog on whether electric cars need to be serviced.

Can I service my EV at home?

While some basic maintenance tasks can be performed at home, professional servicing is recommended for comprehensive checks and software updates.

Is EV servicing more expensive than for traditional cars?

EV servicing can actually be slightly cheaper than traditional servicing. We offer a comprehensive EV service for as little as $160.

How do I know when my EV needs servicing?

Most modern EVs will alert you through their dashboard display or associated smartphone app. It’s also good practice to adhere to the recommended service intervals.

Can any mechanic service an electric car?

Servicing an EV requires specific knowledge and equipment. Always choose an auto electrician or service centre with expertise in electric vehicles such as ours.

What can I do to maintain my car’s battery health?

To maintain your electric car’s battery health, avoid regular use of rapid charging, try to keep the battery charge between 20% and 80%, and avoid exposing the car to extreme temperatures for prolonged periods.

Regular, moderate use and proper charging habits can significantly prolong your battery’s lifespan.

Conclusion

Servicing an electric vehicle might differ from what many are accustomed to with traditional cars, but the principles of ensuring safety, performance, and longevity remain the same.

With the automotive industry increasingly leaning towards electric, understanding and embracing these differences is key to a smoother, more efficient future on the roads.

Remember, whether it’s a routine check-up or a specific issue, always rely on professionals who specialise in electric vehicles such as us to maintain your EV in top condition.

If you have an EV that is due for a service, please feel free to get in touch with our friendly team to book your electric car service.

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