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How Expensive Is EV Maintenance? The Answer May Surprise You

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Driving an Electric vehicle (EV) is 60% cheaper than driving an Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) one, but this is not the only important cost of owning an electric vehicle. Just like ICE vehicles, EVs require regular maintenance and this adds up to the electric car total cost of ownership, this is why it is important to analyze these cost differences in detail

If you are looking to read detailed and accurate information on the known and hidden costs of owning an electric car, this is the right article for you. Here you will learn about the cost differences between EVs and ICE vehicles, the type of maintenance required for EVs, the source of the savings on EV maintenance, and even the hidden costs that are usually overlooked by most EV drivers

What’s the Cost Difference for EVs?

The first cost difference to own an electric car compared to ICE vehicles is the driving cost A study performed by the University of Michigan found that driving an ICE vehicle annually for 11,443 miles ranges in cost from $993 up to $1,509, depending on the State, with an average of $1,117. The driving cost for an EV for that same distance goes from $367 to $1,106 with an average of $485

EVs, just like ICE vehicles, require repairing and regular maintenance, but the average cost is much lower for EVs. A study performed by Consumer Reports (CR), illustrated that an EV requires on average $0.031 for repairing and maintenance per mile driven, this same report placed the cost for ICE vehicles at $0.061, while AAA places this repairing & maintenance cost at $0.09 per mile

Considering these studies, we can estimate the ICE and EV cost of ownership. Fueling cost for an ICE vehicle for 11,443 miles is estimated at $1,117 and repair and maintenance costs at $698, resulting in an overall cost of nearly $1,815. On the other hand, the charging cost for an EV is estimated at an average of $485, repairing and maintenance costs at $355, resulting in an overall cost of nearly $840, this is about $975 cheaper than ICE vehicles

What Kind of Maintenance Do EVs Require?

EVs do not have as many moving parts as ICE vehicles do, which is why they require less maintenance and repair than their combustion counterpart. Aside from that, EVs require a different type of maintenance for some components that add to the electric car service cost

Regularly (at least once a month), you should check tire pressure and windshield washer fluid to make sure the levels are in ideal condition. Considering an annually driven distance of 15,000 miles, you should get your EV twice a year to have the tires rotated and verify operability for vehicle system components like the power inverter, battery health, brake functionality, and more

There are other repairs and part replacements that you should consider regarding the maintenance cost on electric cars. Some of these are the following:

  • 15,000 miles: Windshield wiper blades replacement
  • 36,000 miles: Cabin air filter replacement
  • 75,000 miles: Hood and body lift support gas struts replacement
  • Every 5 years: Brake fluid and coolant replacement
  • Every 7 years: Air conditioning (A/C) unit desiccant replacement

Aside from scheduled maintenance, it is important to consider regular vehicle parts that might need maintenance or replacement like the tires, suspension, headlamps, taillights, door locks, and more. There is another important replacement cost of owning an electric car: EV battery pack replacement. We will explain this one further down the article

Unlike traditional ICE vehicles, EVs do not require maintenance at the motor, because most EVs used brushless DC motor technology that is highly efficient and designed to work in optimal conditions, requiring close to no maintenance. Some high-performance EV applications like trucks and buses, might feature inductance or reluctance motors that might require a little maintenance

Where Do the Savings Come from?

Now you know about the lower cost of ownership for an electric car when compared to an ICE vehicle. However, why is it less expensive? In this section, we explain how EVs get to save you money compared to ICE vehicles

Fewer Fluids

ICE vehicles contain a large number of fluids which can cost a lot of money over time, and we are not only talking about gas. The most important fluid change is the traditional oil change that can cost from $35 to $125 per year depending on the type of oil you use and your driving habits. For EVs you will not require to expend money on gas or motor oil change, which is how by reducing the number of fluids, the true cost of owning an electric car is also reduced

Driveline fluids are highly similar to Automatic Transmission Fluids present in automatic ICE vehicles. These are composed of synthetic oils featuring the right electrical, thermal, and lubricant properties. This fluid improves performance and protects the power transmission for an EV

EV coolants are extremely necessary to maintain EV battery temperature levels optimal, reducing the possibility of a thermal runaway. This fluid is implemented on both, Battery EVs (BEVs) and Hybrid EVs (HEVs)

Simpler Structure

There is no hiding that ICE vehicles are manufactured with a complex design of mechanical and electromechanical pieces that are constantly moving. As these pieces move, they deteriorate faster, unless they have regular maintenance

Electric vehicle maintenance costs are much lower since these vehicles feature only three main parts: the DC or AC engine (depending on your type of EV), the inverter, and the onboard charger. There are indeed many other parts that have to be checked, but they are smaller and have a lower probability of failure, while ICE vehicles feature many parts that have to be maintained regularly

Battery Lifespan

Another important aspect that reduces the cost to maintain an electric car is the lifespan of the battery. First, ICE vehicles feature a battery that has to be replaced at least every four to five years, secondly, the gas pump also has to be changed after 6 to 7 years (100,000 miles)

Since EV batteries last from 15 to 20 years and replace the need for a DC starter battery and a gas pump on EVs, this cost is greatly reduced. We should still note, that the EV battery is one of the hidden costs of owning an electric car that we will explain in this article

Regenerative Braking

EVs feature an impressive breaking system known as regenerative braking. This is a unique system that allows EVs to capture kinetic energy and convert it into electrical energy. This converted energy is stored in the batteries, helping EV drivers increase their energy efficiency and save a little money on the battery charge

ICE vehicles feature no similar system to help them save money this way

Hidden Costs of Owning an Electric Vehicle

Finally, we reached one of the most groundbreaking sections of the article: the hidden costs of owning an electric car. Here we will talk about some important costs of owning an EV

The first and perhaps most important cost is a battery replacement. EV batteries indeed last 15 to 20 years, but what happens after that time? The battery replacement for popular EV models ranges from $5,000 up to $9,000, however, some high-end and more exclusive EVs feature battery replacements that go over $20,000

Another hidden EV cost of ownership is the cost to charge at public charging stations. Not every EV driver can install a level 2 EV charging station at home, which is why this is an important cost to consider. Some public charging stations charge you up to $0.70 per kWh consumed, this is almost 5 times the cost you would expect to pay when charging your vehicle at home

Finally, a surprising hidden cost to own an electric car (specifically a Tesla one) is the cost to unlock certain add-ons for features that use hardware drivers already paid for. One of the most important ones includes the acceleration boost that costs $2,000, but definitely, the most important one is the Full Self Driving mode that costs $15,000. An impressive yet expensive feature to pay for.

Nick Zamanov
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Nick Zamanov is a head of sales and business development at Cyber Switching. He is an expert in EV infrastructure space and he is an EV enthusiast since 2012, Since then Nick strongly believed that electric vehicles would eventually replace Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) cars.

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