How is the Maintenance Different on an Electric Car vs a Standard Car?

August 11th, 2023 by

Electric cars and standard cars have some stark differences, and maintenance is no exception. There are a few different reasons for this contrast. Keep reading to get the answers to some of your burning questions about cost, parts, longevity, and more.

What Maintenance Is More Expensive?

The first thing to consider when you’re comparing electric cars and standard cars in terms of maintenance is engine components. Standard gas-powered engines have over 2,000 moving parts, with many working together to achieve a specific result. With so many parts, the chance of an issue popping up skyrockets. When you look at an electric car’s engine, the number of moving parts plummets to a minuscule average of 17 to 18 parts. Having fewer parts means fewer issues are likely to occur.

The engine isn’t the only place to look. Electric vehicles use a regenerative braking system, meaning the energy from the act of braking is turned into electrical power that feeds the vehicle’s battery, increasing its charge. This system puts less wear and tear on the vehicle’s brakes, so they don’t have to be replaced as often as a standard gas-powered car’s brakes.

The actual numbers tell the same story. According to AAA, yearly maintenance including tires and repairs for an electric vehicle is approximately $949, which is $330 less than a standard car’s $1,279. Car and Driver looked at maintenance costs over 45,000 miles and found similar results, with the electric vehicles they tested being approximately $740.50 cheaper to maintain over that distance.

If we consider fueling and charging in the maintenance category, we see significant differences here as well. Using a baseline of 15,000 miles per year, an electric vehicle’s charging costs about $546, while a standard gas-powered car’s fuel costs about $1,255, a difference of $709 per year.

Comparing this data ultimately results in electric cars being less expensive to maintain than standard gas-powered cars.

What Maintenance Is Easier To Work On for Mechanics?

man checking the underneath of a car

All signs point to electric vehicles being easier to work on for mechanics than traditional gas-powered vehicles. The type of maintenance is also different between the two. With gas-powered vehicles being the norm for so long, there’s something to be said for a mechanic’s familiarity with that construction. However, all those moving engine parts can make maintaining the engine more time-consuming, especially if you consider multiple parts could be working together to cause one issue. And with so many parts, it’s likely not all of them are in stock at the shop.

Electric vehicles have significantly fewer parts and, as such, are easier for mechanics to perform maintenance on. An electric vehicle’s main components are its battery and motor. When one of those things is the issue, it typically requires replacement instead of repair, which is a simple fix for a mechanic. Mechanics also don’t have to worry about checking things like engine oil.

What mechanics don’t have as much control over is an electric car’s software. This software is typically safeguarded by the manufacturer, so issues with this are going to be more challenging for a mechanic to manage. However, manufacturers employing this software often push updates over the air, which means they’re automatically downloaded to your vehicle without having to take it anywhere.

What Parts Are More Common To Order?

Considering standard cars have been the dominating force for so long, those parts are naturally going to be more commonly ordered. It’s standard practice to order parts for cars with internal combustion engines. Outside of the engine, there are many similarities between gas-powered and electric cars, and those parts are ordered in similar measure.

It really comes down to the availability from the manufacturer and whether you want original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts or are okay with off-brand parts that do the same job. It’s worth noting that many parts for both standard and electric vehicles require OEM parts to match, fit, or work perfectly. Because the number of electric car models is significantly lower than standard car models, those parts aren’t going to be as in abundance or as interchangeable as with a standard car.

Some parts for standard cars may be interchangeable across the make. For example, if you have a Chevrolet Tahoe and need a part, Chevy may have parts that work with all of its SUVs that could do the job you need, or maybe a part for a Suburban can be used in place of a Tahoe part. The sheer quantity of gas-powered models available gives them a leg up.

However, it’s important to remember that standard cars also have thousands of moving parts, whereas electric cars have much fewer. If you need a part for your electric vehicle, it’s likely those are already around and ready to install.

What Parts Last Longer in Each Car?

Parts for standard and electric cars are different, so to answer this question we’ll look at how long certain parts last. Let’s start with the brakes. Electric cars use a regenerative braking system. This allows the brakes and associated parts to last longer than the brakes of a standard car. It’s commonly understood that brakes on an electric car can last up to twice as long as on their gas-powered counterparts: up to 100,000 miles.

Let’s open the hood. For a standard car, an engine that gets the right maintenance and care can last a long time. However, there are many factors that can quickly and easily contribute to the engine’s deterioration. These include not having frequent enough maintenance and putting extra pressure on the engine by doing things like driving at consistently high speeds.

An electric car’s battery typically lasts about 10 years before needing to be replaced. And while battery costs range from $4,000 to $20,000, they’re often more reliable than internal combustion engines. If your engine and transmission go out, you’re looking at high prices there as well.

Maintenance Matters

At Cochran Chevrolet Youngstown, we know that regardless of whether you need standard or EV maintenance and service, each one needs the maintenance recommended by the manufacturer. Though electric cars are overall easier and cheaper to maintain, don’t let that lull you into complacency. Schedule your next service with us today.

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