Servicing an EV vs petrol/diesel cars vs hybrids

Because of the simplicity of an EV compared to that of a petrol or diesel-driven car, servicing a purely electric vehicle is, indeed, a simpler process. There are fewer costs for replacement parts and consumables, there are fewer long-term maintenance issues, so you’d like to think service would be considerably cheaper. For the most part, they are, but there are a few points to note that throw a few proverbial tiny flies in the EV ointment.

There’s a rumour that there’s a lot more work with hybrids services—both self-charging and plug-in models—because they run on electric and traditional drivetrain systems. However, a hybrid service shouldn’t cost a great deal more than the traditional service. Of course, there are a few extras to cater for, such as additional battery coolant and a few extra checks to carry out. However, on the flipside, maintenance costs on brake discs and pads and engine consumables can be cheaper, given they perform less work when the electric drive takes over.

Diesel cars tend to be costlier to service than petrol engine cars due to the complex engine operation and emissions control systems; they still lead the charge for the priciest services.

Interim and full services intervals

Service intervals, so far, tend to be recommended at the same yearly options as our petrol and diesel-driven vehicles or after 10k miles for most EVs. We recommend a full service every 12k miles for combustion engine cars, so the difference isn’t vast. However, with fewer moving parts to cater for, your EV services should be a little less intensive, faster to carry out, and kinder in your pocket.

An interim service aimed at those high-mileage motorists provides a quick check-up at six months for drivers covering up to 2k miles each month. Following the routine inspection, the interim service includes an oil change and a few other replacements for traditional cars. As you can see, for EV owners, that’s a good chunk of the work out the window, right there.

The difference between EV and combustion engine servicing

Engine, clutch, gears, and transmission

A car engine has hundreds of moving parts. Comparatively, an EV runs on a motorised system with fewer than twenty. There are barely any moving parts introducing the friction of metal on metal into play. With that in mind, far less can go wrong, with less wear to contend with.

Take away the clutch and the gears, and there isn’t an awful lot to monitor by comparison. The biggest concern for EV drivers in the powertrain is the battery, and we’ll get to that in a minute.

Filters and oil changes

Without the traditional combustion engine under the hood, the consumables usually checked, topped up or replaced (think oil, air and oil filters) can be forgotten.

However, don’t think you get away with all the fluid changes; you still need to check coolant levels and quality as your EV utilises a coolant to prevent batteries from overheating.

Batteries

The most significant component in the EV drivetrain is the battery, and that’s the part most drivers are most concerned with. The longevity of an EV battery is one of the critical features drivers look for when buying a new model. So, with an EV service, your engineer will hook the battery up to the latest tech to determine its condition.

However, unlike traditional car batteries, where there are problems, it’s not a case of new for old, but changing internal elements. As a result, the process is more akin to working on an ill-performing engine but given battery efficiency, far less likely to happen.

The good news is that since their inception, the batteries fitted in EVs are outperforming experts’ expectations, with many manufacturers now predicting their batteries should outlive the rest of the vehicle. For example, Tesla expects only 7% degradation after 250k miles.

Regenerative braking

Most EV braking happens via the motor, slowing down the car and capturing charge to feedback into the battery. The conventional braking system is generally use