Ask any car owner about maintenance, and they will always complain it costs an arm and a leg. But that’s when we’re talking about the trusty old gas guzzlers. The older the car, typically the more expensive it is to look after. But, let’s face it, most people won’t dare take their beloved Pontiac Firebird to a mechanic until they hear the right combination of scratches, screeches, and the exhaust dragging against the asphalt. But we now live in an age of electric vehicles. Sleek, silent, and sustainable, they seem to be the solution, but when you compare the two side by side, which one comes up trumps?
What Are the Differences in Maintenance Between Electric Versus Gas Cars?
Gas cars are fickle mistresses at the best of times. They require oil changes every few thousand miles, filter replacements, and tune-ups more than a Stradivarius violin. Old gas guzzlers are certainly representative of a time that subscribes to the “make do and mend” philosophy. But if you compare this to electric cars, they have fewer moving parts. While electric vehicles will need the standard components upgraded and/or maintained on a regular basis, such as tail lights, headlamps, hoses, steering and suspension, brakes, tires, and so on, the main difference in maintenance is the battery pack.
Older electric vehicles can barely manage 80 miles on a charge in comparison to the modern electric vehicle. There are a handful of electric vehicles manufactured that have batteries that have degraded to the point where they need to be replaced. But despite this issue, because there’s no more exhaust system repairs, oil changes, or figuring out where that rattling is coming from, this makes electric cars the winner when it comes to those main differences.
Are Electric Cars Easier to Maintain Than Gas Cars?
The simpler answer to this is most definitely yes. Because fewer components are prone to wear and tear, this means that the average driver will spend a lot less time in the garage. Complicated transmissions are a thing of the past.
While you may hear that an electric car has no transmission, it’s more likely referring to a vehicle that has what is called reduction gearing. This means it performs the same functions as a transmission.
In essence, most electric cars will use a single-speed transmission with this reduction gear mechanism. This works to slow down the high revolutions per minute (RPM) of the electric motor and match the RPM to the wheel rotation. The transmission has different terms depending on the vehicle manufacturer, so here’s a little cheat sheet for you:
- Nissan Leaf refers to it as a “single-speed gear reducer.”
- Volkswagen ID.4 calls it a “one-speed gearbox.”
- Tesla Model 3 refers to it as a “single-speed fixed gear.”
- BMW iX says it’s a “one-speed transmission.”
- Mercedes EQS SUV calls it a “single-stage transmission.”
Do Electric Cars Need More or Less Maintenance?
There are so many things that you don’t need to look after in an electric vehicle. There’s no oil changes or exhaust system repairs. When it comes to transmission problems that are rife in gas vehicles, they are costly and time-consuming to fix. Because electric cars have fewer components, it stands to reason they need less maintenance. However, an electric vehicle is not maintenance-free. Every vehicle supplier insists on a series of periodic checks. These include some of the following:
- Every month, check the tire pressure, examine the tires for any wear and tear, and check the windshield washer.
- Approximately every 7,500 miles, rotate the tires, check for fluid leaks, inspect the brakes, lubricate any body components, visually inspect suspension, and check the coolant level of the numerous modules, including the battery charger and power inverter.
- Twice a year, flush any corrosive materials from the underbody.
- Every 15,000 miles, replace the wiper blades.
- Every 36,000 miles, approximately replace the cabin air filter.
- Every 75,000 miles, replace the hood or body lift support gas struts.
- Every five years, drain and fill the vehicle coolant circuits and replace the brake fluid.
- Every seven years, change the air conditioning desiccant.
This is just a general guide as to how often things should be changed; it will all depend on the vehicle and the manufacturer in question.
How Much Does It Cost to Maintain an Electric Versus Gas Car?
In terms of overall car maintenance, an electric vehicle is also cheaper to maintain. For example, the average cost of an oil change for a gas car can be between $50 and $100, taking into account a number of different factors, such as where you live or the vehicle make.
You need to change the oil between every 3,000 and 5,000 miles, meaning that if you drive as per the Federal Highway Administration’s statistical average of 13,476 miles every year, you are, at the very least, changing the oil twice, if not three times a year. Multiply this over the course of the lifetime of your car, approximately 10 years, and this is a major dip into your wallet.
An electric car is far easier to maintain because you are only charging it. Consumer reports, based on hundreds of thousands of drivers, suggest that electric vehicle maintenance costs are lower. On average, during the lifetime of a vehicle, an electric vehicle owner can expect to pay approximately $4,600 on lifetime maintenance compared to $9,200 on gas cars, meaning a cost difference of $4,600.
Do Electric Cars Wear Tires Faster Than Gas?
There’s a couple of conflicting statements here. Electric cars have regenerative braking systems, which can be kinder on your tires, so you can stop smoothly and leave your tires in better shape, as it saves on brake wear. However, electric vehicles go through tires approximately 30% quicker than gas-powered vehicles.
Electric vehicles like a 2017-2019 Tesla have been in the market long enough to see that the tires are wearing. There are specific factors that play here, depending on how often the tires are used, what types of tires they are, and if the driver operates with their foot hovering over the brake more than the accelerator. But tires have been rolled out, pun intended, onto the market to solve the wear and tear problem, such as Bridgestone’s PeakLife and Continental have an electric vehicle-specific tire known as the EcoContact 6.
So as you can see, when it comes to the electric versus gas car dilemma, it’s not so much of a shock to see that electric cars actually win hands down. While you may have many fond memories of your gas guzzler, it might be time to leave it behind once and for all.