As an engineer with more than 10 years of experience in car design, I often come across the question: “Do electric cars use oil?” and “Do electric cars need oil changes?“. In this blog post, I will give you a detailed answer.
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Do electric cars use oil?
Electric cars, also known as EVs, do not use oil. Unlike hybrid vehicles, which use both a gasoline engine and an electric motor, EVs rely solely on a battery and an electric motor to power the vehicle. Because there are no moving parts that require lubrication, such as pistons and valves, traditional engine oil is not necessary to maintain these parts. As a result, EVs are a more efficient and sustainable alternative to traditional gasoline-powered vehicles.
Do electric cars need oil changes?
While electric cars like Teslas don’t need traditional engine oil changes, they still have other oils and lubricants that may need servicing from time to time according to the manufacturer’s schedule. In particular, they need special fluids such as battery coolant and gearbox oil.
For example, at some point, you may have to change the gearbox oil (reduction gear oil). However, electric cars also have a much simpler transmission with fewer moving parts compared to hybrids and gas cars, so the frequency of those oil changes will be reduced compared to a traditional car.
Electric Cars Maintenance & Frequency of Service
When it comes to electric car maintenance, there are a few things to keep in mind. While electric vehicles (EVs) are generally less maintenance-intensive (for example, they don’t even have alternators) compared to traditional vehicles that run on gas or diesel, they still require some level of regular care.
The frequency of maintenance depends on the vehicle, but manufacturers usually recommend that an electric car receives a minor service check every 12 months or 15,000 – 20,000 miles, whichever comes first.
- The minor service check is less expensive and involves fluid level checks, tire checks, brake component checks, and more.
- The major service check typically occurs during the second year and involves changing the brake fluid and cabin pollen filter.
Here’s the typical maintenance needed for an electric truck or car:
1. Tire Rotation
One of the main maintenance tasks for an electric car is tire rotation. It’s even more important than a regular car due to the heavy battery that exerts a lot of load on the tires. Tesla recommends rotating the tires every 6,250 miles for Model 3 and every 7,500 miles for Chevy Bolt and Nissan Leaf.
2. Brake System
While electric cars use regenerative braking to slow down, the braking system still needs maintenance. Brake fluids need to be checked for water contamination and pollution. On a Model 3, the brakes need servicing every 2 years or 25,000 miles, and for a Chevy Bolt, it’s every 5 years.
While electric cars use regenerative braking, the friction components, such as pads and rotors, are still used. How often they need to be replaced varies depending on driving habits and conditions, but they tend to last longer on electric cars.
3. Coolant Fluid
An electric car doesn’t have an engine, but it still has a coolant system. If the coolant doesn’t function correctly, it can lead to overheating, which can be dangerous. The Nissan Leaf’s coolant must be changed every 125,000 miles, on a Chevy Bolt every 150,000 miles, and for Model 3, every 4 years or 50,000 miles.
4. Reduction gear oil changes (“Gearbox”)
Reduction gear oil changes are another important aspect of electric car maintenance that shouldn’t be overlooked. Reduction gears are used to reduce the speed of the electric motor to the wheels, and they require lubrication to operate properly. The oil in a reduction gear needs to be changed at regular intervals to ensure that the gears are properly lubricated and protected against wear and tear.
The frequency of reduction gear oil changes will depend on the make and model of your electric car. For example, Tesla cars require a reduction gear oil change about every 100,000 miles.
It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for reduction gear oil changes to keep your electric car running smoothly and to extend the life of its components. Not changing the gear oil can lead to increased wear and tear on the gears and a decrease in overall performance and lifespan. Therefore, it’s essential that reduction gear oil changes remain a part of your regular electric car maintenance routine.
The heart of an electric car is its battery. Properly taking care of the battery will improve vehicle range and performance, saving you money in the long run.
Letting the battery sit too long in hot or cold temperatures can cause damage, which reduces the battery’s lifespan. A Chevy Volt shouldn’t be parked below 32°F (0°C) or above 90°F (32°C) for an extended period. Storing the vehicle at full charge or fully discharged can also damage the battery’s cells.
Regular maintenance helps preserve battery health and prolongs the life of the vehicle.
Electric vs Gasoline: Oil Usage in Everyday Products & Plastics in Vehicles
Even though electric cars don’t require traditional engine oil, they still heavily rely on oil and natural gas. This is because the manufacturing of modern vehicles includes materials like synthetic rubber and plastics that need petrochemicals derived from fossil fuels.
Thanks to petrochemical advancements, electric vehicles can now be lighter, faster, and more efficient than ever before.
However, the reliance on oil and natural gas for the production of EVs also has a significant impact on the environment and a reduction of their potential environmental sustainability.
The extraction and transportation of these fuels release harmful emissions that contribute to climate change. But more importantly, manufacturing EV batteries requires a lot of metals that are often extracted in open pit mines, which are very bad for the environment.
To truly achieve a sustainable future for transportation, we must continue to explore alternative resources for vehicle and battery production and limit the use of fossil fuels.
Weight of Electric Vehicles & Impact on Performance
The battery’s weight is a challenge for the electric vehicle industry, as they typically weigh around a thousand pounds, which can affect their performance. However, technological advancements have led to improvements in energy density and reduced the weight of batteries. Despite being heavier, EVs have a significant advantage over conventional gasoline vehicles in terms of performance. Electric motors can produce instant torque and speed, resulting in smoother and quicker acceleration. The use of lighter and more efficient materials in manufacturing electric vehicles also improves their overall performance.
Environmental Benefits & Economic Advantages
Electric vehicles have significant environmental benefits and drawbacks. One of the main benefits is the potential reduction of our carbon footprint and greenhouse gas emissions. Their use also reduces our dependence on foreign oil, improving our energy independence.
The shift towards renewable energy like solar necessitates the usage of electric vehicles for a sustainable future, which will decrease our dependence on fossil fuels. With their environmental benefits, electric vehicles provide great financial advantages as well.
Compared to gasoline, electricity is less expensive, reducing vehicle costs for drivers, and the simpler construction of electric vehicles means less maintenance expenses.
Safety, Convenience & Comfort of Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles offer a unique set of safety features, including improved handling and stability due to the battery’s placement at the bottom of the vehicle. The absence of an internal combustion engine also reduces the risk of fires and explosions in the event of a collision.In terms of convenience, electric vehicles offer a more comfortable and stress-free driving experience.
The smooth and quiet operation of electric motors reduces noise pollution, and the instant torque and acceleration result in a more enjoyable driving experience. Additionally, the availability of public charging stations is increasing, allowing for more extended road trips without the need for fuel stops.
Here you can read a comprehensive analysis of the pros and cons of electric cars and if they are worth the additional price. The guide is packed with everything you need to know!
Are brake fluids used in electric cars?
Electric cars operate on a different drivetrain system than traditional gas-powered vehicles. While they don’t require oil changes, they still rely on other vital fluids such as brake and transmission fluid for safety and performance. Therefore, it’s crucial for electric vehicle owners to perform routine checks and maintenance on these fluids to ensure continued optimal driving experience.
Do electric vehicles require fluid maintenance?
Electric vehicles have different maintenance requirements compared to traditional cars. Although they do not require oil changes, it is essential to perform routine checks on brake and transmission fluids to ensure safety and optimum performance. While the drivetrain of electric cars operates differently, they still need regular vehicle fluid checks. Therefore, maintaining these fluids is critical to preserve the longevity of an electric car.
So, to answer the burning question – does an electric car need oil? And, do electric vehicles need oil changes? The answer is a resounding NO! EVs operate on a completely different mechanism than traditional gasoline-powered engines, making their maintenance a lot simpler and eco-friendlier.
Gone are the days of frequent oil changes, oil leaks, and engine related headaches. With an electric vehicle, you can enjoy a smooth and hassle-free driving experience, knowing that you’re not contributing harmful emissions to the environment. So, if you’re considering making the switch to an EV, rest easy knowing that your carbon footprint will be considerably lower- and your wallet will thank you too!