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Maintaining and servicing an electric car: everything you need to know

Is it more expensive to have an electric car serviced? How often should you service your electric car? Your one stop guide to servicing and maintaining EVs.

Cars, like anything, work best when you take good care of them, and you’d think that with all the technology onboard an electric car, it would cost you an arm and a leg to have it serviced. But what if we told you that you could as much as halve your maintenance bill compared with an equivalent petrol or diesel ICE (internal combustion engine) car?
As with any vehicle, your brakes, suspension and tyres need to be checked regularly to keep both you and other road users safe, but the great news is electric vehicles can often require less maintenance than ICE variants, and servicing an EV (electric vehicle) is generally quicker and less finicky than servicing a petrol or diesel alternative, too. The general idea is the same, though. After choosing a suitably qualified and convenient workshop you drop your EV off, leave it with them (or wait while they do the work, as advised) and then drive home in a freshly serviced car. Beyond that how does looking after an EV differ from looking after a petrol or diesel car? What actually happens during an electric car service? And what exactly are you paying for?
Diagnostics check
Diagnostics check
Blue Ford Mustang Mach-E
Blue Ford Mustang Mach-E

What needs servicing in an EV?

Electric motors are relatively straightforward and most are composed of fewer than 20 parts, making your electric car far simpler to service than a petrol or diesel equivalent. As a result, in certain electric models you could save as much as 50 per cent in comparison to servicing ICE (internal combustion engine) vehicles.
This is because a petrol or diesel engine comprises many and various parts and systems, including belts, filters, seals, cooling circuits and more, all of which wear out or need replacing over time. Because EVs have fewer of these expensive components they can, in theory, cost less to keep running. Most servicing typically involves plugging into a diagnostic machine, which will flag any issues that might need attention and ensure that everything is running smoothly. Your battery’s health will also get checked, to establish any deterioration and verify that it is up to scratch. Some manufacturers insist on this being done at a main dealer to validate extended warranties. Your heavy-duty high voltage electrical cables will receive a visual inspection to check for any damage or dodgy connections, but the reality is that these components are generally well protected and out of the way, so it’s unlikely you’ll have many issues with them. As with petrol, diesel and hybrid cars, wheel bearings, transmissions and other mechanical components still require lubrication and, while some manufacturers claim a lifetime guarantee for some of these parts, they will likely receive a quick check over to make sure there aren’t any leaks. We’d recommend consulting your paperwork to understand what is and what isn’t covered by their guarantee before heading to a garage. Much as an ICE car requires a radiator and cooling system for the engine, electric cars need a similar arrangement for managing battery temperature. All it requires is a visual inspection from the technician to ensure that levels are optimal and a top-up if necessary. The rest of the service isn’t dissimilar to that of an ICE vehicle. Thanks to modern technology, all EVs have a form of regenerative braking, which uses the motor to reduce the speed of the car whilst returning some energy back into the car’s battery. This means that the traditional friction brakes will likely require fewer disc and pad changes over their lifetime and will save you money over years. That said, as with all hydraulic systems, your brake fluid will need to be monitored and changed, which generally happens every couple of years.
Servicing an electric car
Servicing an electric car
Hyundai Ioniq 5
Hyundai Ioniq 5

Where can I get my EV serviced?

Getting your electric car maintained isn’t too different from maintaining a petrol or diesel model. Big name franchised tyre and exhaust outfits are perfectly capable of doing basic mechanical checks on tyres and brakes but for anything more than this you need a properly certified service centre, whether as part of the manufacturer dealer network or an approved independent.
Servicing an EV requires the use of high voltage electrical systems, which may be beyond the scope of smaller independent garages. Given the cars are still new in the market many EV owners therefore stick to their authorised main dealer for servicing and maintenance, as it provides peace of mind knowing that your car is in the hands of a dedicated professional who has the specific training and experience to check it over safely. However, many early electric vehicles, like the Nissan Leaf, have now been around for over a decade, so there are more and more EV-specialist workshops popping up and down the country who will be more than happy and able to service your electric car. It’s entirely your choice who you go with to service your EV, but in a world where everyone’s searching for the best deals, it pays to have all the information at your disposal when shopping around. Although you have the right to visit any garage manufacturers may stipulate their warranty can be voided if non-manufacturer-approved parts are used during servicing, so thoroughly check the manufacturer’s manual and refer to your warranty before booking your service in. Check that your chosen garage is using the approved parts, and if not, there are plenty of others out there to choose from.
Electric car diagnostics
Electric car diagnostics
Electric Fiat 500 in light pink and light blue
Electric Fiat 500 in light pink and light blue

Servicing an EV bought on finance or PCH leasing

It’s important to note that if you’re running your car on finance you may have obligations to preserve the standard warranty, including the requirement that you have your car serviced at a main dealer to avoid extra end-of-contract charges.
Some manufacturers are now heading towards condition-based servicing and maintenance, which means your car could eventually just tell you when a service is required dependent on its individual deterioration. This could ensure that only essential replacements are actioned, rather than general repairs at fixed intervals, which in turn would work out better for your bank account in the long run. Oh, and make sure that wherever you go, only approved parts are used! Find out more about PCP and which type of finance could be right for you here
Electric Tesla Models
Electric Tesla Models
Red Kia EV6
Red Kia EV6

EV service intervals

Depending on what you’ve read online, you may have stumbled across conflicting accounts on whether EVs need servicing regularly or not, if at all. Rest assured, though, your electric car definitely needs servicing. However, how often and to what extent will entirely depend on the make and model.
Many manufacturers require electric car owners to visit a dealership on a time and/or distance basis. For example, Porsche requires Taycan owners to have their car attended to every two years or 20,000 miles, whichever comes first. Nissan, on the other hand, requires that Leaf owners get their EV serviced once a year or every 18,000 miles. If in doubt, always refer to the manufacturer’s guidelines and consult your warranty.
Porsche Taycan driving in snow
Porsche Taycan driving in snow
Skoda Enyaq in Arctic Silver
Skoda Enyaq in Arctic Silver

How much does it cost to have your EV serviced?

Electric cars, like their combustion engine counterparts, will require both major and minor services throughout their lifetime. Fewer checks are required during a minor service, meaning the costs could be lower than if a major service is needed.
Moreover, servicing costs may differ from region to region and will also depend on the place you go for the service to take place. Suffice to say, it pays to shop around and your nearest workshop may not be the most affordable. Against that you may be willing to pay a little more for the convenience, so consider what is most important to you. The cost of the service can also vary depending on the manufacturer and model of the car. For instance, a three year or 30,000-mile manufacturer’s servicing plan for a Renault Zoe costs £299, whereas the exact same plan for a Kia E-Niro would cost you £479. It’s therefore worth checking what’s affordable for you over the course of your ownership.
White BMW i4
White BMW i4
Porsche Taycan in white
Porsche Taycan in white

Is it more expensive to maintain and service an electric car?

Whilst servicing EVs is generally cheaper over a longer period of time, there can be instances where an expensive one-off payment may inevitably crop up. One concern for EV owners is the longevity of battery life, especially in older trailblazers such as the Nissan Leaf.
Car batteries outside of their warranty period can be very costly, but the good news is that many manufacturers provide cover of up to 100,000 miles or eight years so you won’t need to worry about forking out anytime soon. If costly one-off payments don’t work for your budget, we’d recommend exploring different makes and models that have warranties to suit your needs. Remember to always check the warranty and manufacturer’s information for peace of mind.
Servicing a car in a garage
Servicing a car in a garage
Tesla Supercharger electric car charging network
Tesla Supercharger electric car charging network

Servicing a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle

PHEVs (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles), as you would expect, use a combination of EV and ICE technology, making the servicing a tad more complex than if it was a regular electric or petrol/diesel model. Not only does the engine (and its many parts) need checking over and potentially repairing, but so do the battery and the electronics which make the PHEV functional.
Depending on where you have it serviced, it could cost you the same or more than your standard ICE car or EV, so we’d recommend shopping around for the best deal for you alongside consulting your warranty and manufacturer’s guidance.
Black Ford Mustang Mach-E
Black Ford Mustang Mach-E
BMW iX black interior
BMW iX black interior

Buy your next electric car through AutoTrader

Are you looking for your next electric car? Whether you’re at home or on the go, you can browse the largest online selection of electric vehicles today on AutoTrader.
Want to find out more about electric cars before you make the switch? Check out these handy links: - How to charge an electric car at home - How far electric and hybrid cars can travel - What’s an electric car and how does it work? - Everything you need to know about charging on the go - Electric car jargon explained - Electric car batteries explained

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