How Does Servicing an EV Differ From an ICE Vehicle?

How Does Servicing an EV Differ From an ICE Vehicle?

Electric vehicles from both Tesla and other manufacturers require a bit of a paradigm shift when considering having them serviced. While Tesla vehicles and other EVs do require less maintenance than cars powered by internal combustion engines (ICEs), there are still a handful of parts worth checking regularly — and a few products that will require routine maintenance, too.

Above: EVs from Tesla and Audi (Image: Casey Murphy / EVANNEX).

In a recent article, WIRED writer Alistair Charlton pointed to a handful of important tips for servicing an EV, from the parts that will require regular replacement to reduced fuel costs, maintaining a battery, and more. In the meantime, as EV technology is still emerging (especially for traditional OEMs), independent garages will bear the brunt of the load in finding solutions to otherwise-pricey problems.

Matt Cleevely, owner of the Independent British garage Cleevely Motors, recently began expanding auto offerings to better accommodate EVs. Affirming their ease of ownership from fuel and maintenance perspectives, Cleevely also cautions that they do require some regular maintenance.

“EVs are cheaper to maintain, look after, and certainly to service,” Cleevely said. “They have half as many moving parts and require no regular oil changes,”

“Unfortunately there are some owners that think EVs don’t need servicing just because they don’t have an engine,” Cleevely added.

Below you can see the maintenance topics discussed by WIRED, and how EV servicing requirements differ from those of an ICE vehicle.

Regular EV Servicing Requirements

Fluids and Filters

Tesla says that removing the filler cap for a Model Y’s battery coolant “can result in damage not covered by the warranty,” even though the car will sometimes warn about coolant. According to Tesla, battery coolant “does not need to be replaced for the life of the vehicle under most circumstances,” and the automaker recommends owners bring their vehicle into a service center.

For owners of the Model 3, Tesla recommends a few specific maintenance items. These include inspecting the brake fluid every two years and changing both the HEPA and cabin air filters every three years. Those who live where roads are salted during the winters, Tesla recommends owners clean and lubricate the vehicle’s brake calipers around every 12,500 miles or every year.

Other automakers typically require regular servicing, including the Volvo XC40, which the company recommends having serviced every 12 months or every 18,000 Miles. It varies from one company to the next whether the OEM recommends owners servicing fluids themselves.

Battery Pack and Electric Motor

Electric motors and battery packs require little maintenance, largely due to their use of fewer moving parts than ICE engines.

“While internal combustion engines require regular checks to change the oil and oil filter, for chain or belt drives, etc, electric drivetrains are virtually maintenance-free over their entire service life," says Otmar Scharrer, engineering lead at electric powertrain company ZF. "However, depending on the e-drive design and use, it may be necessary to check the oil level in the reduction gearbox or the oil cooling system after many years of operation.”

While some critics also warn of pricey battery replacements, most automakers offer extra-long battery warranties, typically around eight years, according to UK-based car recovery service RAC. Taking advantage of these warranties before they expire may be key in the coming years — though they also represent an important market opportunity for indie garages like Cleevely’s.


Due to regenerative braking, EVs use their brakes less frequently than ICE vehicles, resulting in less wear and tear on brakes and brake pads. Some estimates hold that they can even last twice as long on EVs. Most cars with regenerative braking also let drivers adjust the degree to which the feature works, some even letting you disable it altogether.

“As EVs use regenerative braking, wear to brake pads and discs is dramatically reduced,” writes RAC. “However, they will still need replacing periodically.”

Cleevely Motors “sees brakes seizing before we see them wearing out,” according to Cleevely.


EVs tend to go through tires more quickly than ICE vehicles. While the obvious answer may be to point toward their weights, which tend to be greater than those of gas cars, others suggest it may also be due to their punchiness when accelerating.

“EV tires are subjected to greater stresses than the tires seen on cars with conventional engines,” one Pirelli spokesperson said. “This is partly because of the huge amount of torque that an EV instantly transmits to the ground.”


Fuel is, perhaps, the most obvious place where EV owners stand to save money. Filling a gas tank is usually more expensive than charging a vehicle, and EV drivers can even increase this degree by charging at home during off-peak hours, and using renewable energy equipment such as solar panels and energy storage equipment. In one Consumer Reports study in 2020, the publication estimated that customers could save around 60 percent on fueling costs with EVs, adding that lifetime ownership savings on the electric segment could range from $6,000 to $10,000.


Source: WIRED