Electric Vehicle Maintenance: What’s Different?

Electric vehicles require less maintenance than their gas-burning cousins. But as long as it has four wheels, all vehicles need routine maintenance.

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While maintenance on electric vehicles (EVs) is less costly and complicated than on vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICE), EVs are not maintenance-free. Many EV maintenance items are simple DIY tasks comparable to traditional vehicles. However, there are some specific services unique to EVs you need to be aware of. Also, make sure you’re caught up on electric vehicle FAQs that covers charger types, as well as the costs of owning an electric vehicle.

Motor Maintenance

The maintenance and service differences between EV and ICE motors are like night and day. While an EV’s main electric motor doesn’t require maintenance, ICE-powered vehicles have a significant number of mechanical parts that wear out or need regular servicing.


Avoid constantly charging an EV battery to 100 percent capacity, then letting it drop to zero charge. This can cause motor overheating and shorten battery life.


ICE components that require frequent maintenance, repair or replacement include:

Battery Maintenance

Technically, EV batteries don’t require maintenance or service. However, due to their size and high voltage, EV batteries and other critical electrical components need to be kept cool.

While some EVs cool these systems with air, many use the manufacturer’s proprietary battery coolant to keep the battery from overheating, and to warm it up on colder days.


  • First, leave ALL EV battery service, even adding coolant, to the experts. Only a trained, certified technician wearing the proper protective equipment (PPE) should work on high-voltage EV batteries and electrical systems.
  • U.S. federal regulations mandate electric car batteries be covered for at least eight years. Servicing the battery yourself will void the warranty.
  • Maintain good charging habits. Keep the battery between 20 and 80 percent charged.
  • Inspect battery coolant pump(s) for leaks.
  • Inspect battery coolant hoses and fittings for corrosion and leaks.


Brake Maintenance

Similarly, brakes on EV and ICE-power vehicles should be checked every time the tires are rotated. Change the brake fluid every 24 months or 24,000 miles on both types of vehicles.


EVs feature regenerative braking systems, meaning they use the electric motor’s resistance to slow down the vehicle (like engine braking in an ICE-powered vehicle). Because of that, their brake pads and rotors don’t get as hot. Reduced heat greatly increases the life of brake parts.


Components of friction brakes systems get much hotter and wear much quicker than those in regenerative braking systems.  Carefully check brake pads, rotors and hardware for excess wear, tear and rust, especially if the brakes are squeaky or noisy.

Tire Maintenance

All tires are expensive. Tire maintenance remains critical for both traditionally powered and electronic vehicles, not only for driving safety, but also to increase tire life and improve fuel economy.

Vibrations, even slight ones, can shorten tire and battery life. That’s why you should have your tires balanced every time they’re rotated. However, for three distinct reasons, EV tires require more attention.


  • An EV’s batteries and electric motor(s) make it much heavier than a gas-powered vehicle. This extra weight alone can cause tires to wear out quicker.
  • An EV’s electric motor delivers instant torque to the wheels and tires that is much greater than in ICE-powered vehicles. While this torque produces excellent acceleration, according to Kelly Blue Book it also causes tires to wear out quicker. Tires made specifically for EVs can handle the extra weight, torque and friction, but come with faster wear and tear.
  • According to a recent study by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), “tighter control of tire-pressure loss can lead to marked improvement in electric-vehicle efficiency.”

ICE and EV

Checking air pressure monthly and looking for abnormal tire wear on all vehicles is a routine maintenance service any DIYer can do, especially if you’re driving on run-flat tires.

Routine Maintenance

Many of these routine maintenance items for EVs and ICE-power vehicles you can easily do yourself. But some for EVs require a pro:

  • If your EV has a gearbox or transmission, consult your owner’s manual to determine the recommended service interval.
  • Inspection of all fluids, battery, cabin, electrical, steering, suspension and chassis systems for excess wear or damage, as well as checking all hoses, fittings and fluid pumps for leaks. These should be done every 7,500 miles or once a year.


EV and ICE

  • Check windshield wiper solvent monthly.
  • Check brake fluid monthly.
  • Check lights monthly.
  • Inspect and wash your vehicle’s exterior and flush with plenty of clean water monthly.
  • Rotate and match balance tires and brake inspection every 5,000 to 7,500 miles.
  • Replace wiper blades every six months.
  • Replace cabin air filter every 24 months or sooner if driving in dusty, dirty conditions.
  • Lube all door hinges, latches and anchors with a few drops of motor oil or white lithium grease annually.

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Bob Lacivita
Bob Lacivita is an award-winning ASE and General Motors auto technician, educator and freelance writer who has written about DIY car repairs and vehicle maintenance topics. His work has been featured in The Family Handyman, a Reader's Digest book and Classic Bike Rider magazine. He has been a career and technical educator for 25 years teaching automotive technology, as well as writing state, federal and organizational foundation grants. He also helped design a unique curriculum delivery model that integrates rigorous, relevant academic standards seamlessly into career and technical education.