Do Electric Cars Use Oil? Electric Car Maintenance Tips

February 11th, 2021 by

An electric car doesn’t require motor oil, as it uses an electric motor instead of an internal combustion engine. Traditional gas vehicles need oil to lubricate several moving pieces in their combustion engines. The valves, pistons, and other moving parts of an engine should glide smoothly past one another at high speeds, which is why oil is added to the car’s engine to lubricate these interactions and reduce friction.

Adding oil to an engine enables it to operate without seizing and overheating. After a while, tiny metal flakes that accumulate in the oil due to metal-on-metal contact have to be removed, so you drain the oil and add new or fresh oil to keep the car’s engine running well.

In an electric car, however, none of this takes place. Electric cars, like the Chevy Bolt EV, move using an electric motor and a battery. There are no valves, pistons, engines, or other moving pieces that require lubrication. Thus, regular oil changes aren’t necessary for electric vehicles.

2021 chevy bolt EV blue showroom

2021 Chevrolet Bolt EV

Key Components of an Electric Car

Some of the key components of an electric car include:

  • Battery: In an electric vehicle, the battery generates electricity to power the vehicle’s parts.
  • Charge port: This enables the car to connect to an external power source in order to charge the battery.
  • DC/DC converter: This converts higher-voltage direct current (DC) power from the battery to the low-voltage DC power needed to run parts of the vehicle and recharge the battery.
  • Traction motor: This motor drives the car’s wheels using power from the car’s battery. Some electric cars come with motor generators that perform both the regeneration and drive functions.
  • Onboard charger: This takes the alternating current (AC) electricity from the external power supply and converts it to DC power for charging the battery. Also, it communicates with the charging equipment and monitors temperature, current, voltage, and state of charge while charging the battery.
  • Thermal system (cooling): This maintains a proper operating temperature range of the power electronics, electric motor, engine, and other components.

How Do Electric Engines Work

electric car engine - 2021 chevy bolt engine

2021 Chevy Bolt EV Engine

An electric motor uses magnets to convert electrical currents into mechanical motions. Electrical currents are moving streams of charged particles that make their own magnetic field. Similarly, magnets on the other side of an electric motor generate a field of their own. When these fields interact, they result in a twisting force known as torque. Thus, the stronger the electrical current, the more mechanical power the engine will generate. This mechanical rotation is distributed to a car’s wheels in the same way as traditional cars. All vehicles powered by an electric motor have the same function as if the motor was powered by diesel fuel or gasoline.

An electric vehicle, like the 2021 Chevy Bolt, uses electricity stored in a battery pack to power its electric motor and turn its wheels. When the power is depleted, you can recharge the battery pack using grid electricity, either from a dedicated charging unit or a wall socket — there are many charging stations around Youngstown, Ohio, so you can keep your vehicle fully charged while you’re out and about. An electric vehicle accelerates faster than a vehicle with conventional fuel engines, so it feels lighter to drive.

electric car charging at a charging station in city
Image via Flickr by Alan Trotter

What Fluids Do Electric Cars Require?

While an electric vehicle requires less maintenance, that doesn’t mean you can neglect it. Keep in mind that there’s no such thing as a zero-maintenance vehicle. Although you won’t ever need an EV oil change, you will still need to perform a routine check on the following fluids in EVs:


Heat is a huge issue for electric vehicles, just like it is for fuel-powered vehicles. To manage the heat coming out of your electric car’s lithium-ion battery, the car needs coolant. This is one area where the process is exactly the same for an electric vehicle as it is for a combustion-engine vehicle.

The level of coolant for your car’s battery, power inverter, and cabin heater should all be checked. Although the cabin heater is not a big deal, the other two components are extremely critical.

If you have ever heard a story about an electric car catching on fire, it was probably because of an overheated battery. Thus, keep the coolant levels high to make sure the battery won’t explode.

Brake Fluid

While an electric vehicle uses brake pads, they rarely need to be replaced, due to the regenerative braking system on electronic vehicles. The system reduces the wear on the car’s brakes by turning the kinetic energy of a moving vehicle into electric energy to the battery. Essentially, the system is the primary means of slowing the vehicle down, minimizing the amount of wear on brake pads.

The regenerative braking system on an electric car is an important part of the car’s power generation equipment. Typical service for an electronic vehicle involves ensuring that the braking system is working properly, which is extremely important because along with producing power, this is also your primary means of slowing down the vehicle. Because there are major safety implications, you should have your brakes serviced regularly.

Transmission Fluid

The multi-speed or direct-drive transmission of an electronic vehicle may require fluid changes during the course of car ownership. It’s important to consult your owner’s manual to find out the recommended interval for completing this service for your specific electric car.

We at Cochran Chevrolet hope you’ve learned a lot about electric cars from reading this guide. If you need to change your electric car’s coolant or brake fluid, or if you are looking for a new or used Chevrolet vehicle, please don’t hesitate to contact us through our website or by phone at 330-685-9047. If you want to take a test drive or check out a car in person, our dealership is at your service. As a premier dealership in Youngstown, Ohio, we are pleased to invite you to visit our state-of-the-art facility.

Our Youngstown Chevrolet dealership has a huge inventory of almost a thousand new vehicles. We specialize in new Chevrolet SUVs, crossovers, cars, and trucks, so you can always find the newest models.