How is Electric Vehicle Maintenance Different, Part Three: Is an Electric Vehicle Cheaper to Maintain?

The process of drawing power from the battery pack and to a lesser extent, and putting it back in again generates an abundance of heat. Handling this heat by means of a liquid cooling system has become the norm. This coolant, along with the gearbox oil, shows that electric vehicles (EVs) do require regular fluid maintenance, although little.

Along with the repairs detailed in Parts 1 and 2, the onboard cargo ports; On-board chargers and adapters can be a problem for electric vehicles. For example, as your mobile phone gets older, plugging it in and charging it without having to hold the cable at a funky angle can lead you to replace the cable, but sometimes a port on the phone and a replacement phone is the only solution. The same goes for the charging port on the EV. Regular wear from everyday joints coupled with not being completely isolated from the elements allows dirt and moisture to reach and contaminate the contacts. Regular cleaning and maintenance of this outlet is required because any kind of connection problem will result in high electrical resistance. This will calculate extended charging periods and times when not charging. Port replacement is required when problems persist, which can be costly and unpredictable.

Is an electric car cheaper to maintain? As an auto repair shop owner, I look at my annual sales and group all the tasks we perform into three sales categories – maintenance, repairs and tires. Some items such as fluid replacement and brake service are subject to maintenance. In my research and consulting with a Tesla service advisor, the dollars spent on electric vehicle maintenance items are usually significantly less than on gas-powered cars. Replacing suspension components, brakes, charging ports, and owner-pocket electronics are classified as repairs. Gas powered cars seem to be the cheapest in this category. When it comes to tires, a gasoline-powered car is cheaper.

But it’s not that simple. Since I use a Tesla as my main source of information, it should be noted that it is more powerfully driven than an EV like the Nissan Leaf. Often a different type of driver is behind the wheel, the leaf-shaped owner of the car repeatedly has a subtle and non-aggressive driving style, trying to squeeze every kilometer away from the charge. Just like in gas cars, aggressive driving greatly affects fuel consumption and subsequent repairs.

The Tesla service advisor I have relied on for my information reports that on the Models S and X he sees regularly, average annual expenses range from $2,000 to $3,000, with 3 average expenses from $1,000 to $2,000. Before EV haters jump in to certify that the Tesla Models S and X are too expensive to maintain, one must first realize that both the Models S and X cater to a certain high-end market, similar to big European sports sedans. It’s a close call, but when you add up at a Tesla dealer’s hourly rate, which is significantly higher, their repair bills go up faster. The hourly surcharge makes high-end EVs a bit more expensive to repair than their gas-powered counterparts than I noticed.

In general, though, it appears that the average electric vehicle owner with average driving habits will see roughly the same combined annual costs as an ICE vehicle once both vehicles are out of warranty.

It gets really interesting when you think of electric vehicle drivers who focus on their driving style with the task of maximizing distance per charge. They easily win the annual cost contest, usually by a notable margin.

One last thought. Keep in mind that mainstream electric vehicles are in their infancy and manufacturers are working on and solving more expensive problems. In ten years, I imagine annual costs will be significantly reduced. Add to that the ever-increasing price of fuel and decision-making becomes easier.


Answer your car related questions

Salute Lowe.

The problem of my car has fluctuations, it is Mazda CX-5 2018. After two weeks of installing a new battery, problems with the electric windows appeared. The driver’s door works automatically up and down perfectly, but none of the other three windows from the driver’s door work. The lock button is not pressed. If you try to use windows from their own door buttons, each window needs three separate presses down and three presses up, as if there were built-in stops. I tried doing the reformat in the manual and on the internet to no avail. I took it to the dealer and had to pick it up hours later. The worksheet confirmed that “the buttons do not work. There is a wire entering the door from the dash. The vehicle must be returned to where the wires were installed.” They charged $133 to confirm the problem. I left a detailed letter on delivery, and the dealer ignored the fact that it started after battery replacement, and that the wire in the door was from a speaker upgrade done 2 years prior to the problem. I called the service manager who suggested I might have misplaced the battery (I’ve rebuilt several British sports cars so that suggestion doesn’t hold). The dealer offered to continue troubleshooting at $133 an hour. Sorry for the long question: I hope you have a suggestion. I upgraded the amplifier myself. Thanks.

Spicer father

I think if the problem started immediately after installing the battery it would be related, but 2 weeks it suggests to me that they are not connected.

I’m sorry, but I have to agree with the merchant on this. The vehicle must be returned to stock before the troubleshooting process can be completed in a cost-effective manner. Unlike your old British sports cars, your Mazda features a Digital Bus Network (CAN), a sensitive bus network. Any kind of electrical disturbance present on this grid will wreak havoc throughout the vehicle. Just putting an extra wire next to the CAN bus wire, right next to the added speaker wires, might be all it takes to get things off. And honestly, the wires may have moved or shifted in the two years since installation.

I hope my answer is different, but if your car just arrived for the same repair at my shop, I would first perform the basic window relearn procedures and initial checks as the dealer did. I will then look at the added door wires and use them as a starting point.


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We are the original owner of the 2015 Honda Odyssey. In the fall of 2019, with about 85,000 kilometers on the truck, the brakes developed a significant jitter. I had a complete replacement of the brakes – new pads and rotors, front and rear. The parts were a “white box,” in which the dealer would quote an amount equal to a mortgage payment to the OEMs. This solved the problem, until earlier this summer when it returned for revenge some 130,000 kilometers away. Looking at the forums, this seems to be a common occurrence for this car. What is the best way to address this? I know the brakes are worn out, but the less than 90,000 kilometers on the OEM is disappointing, and I can’t even tell you how frustrating the white box parts are. Is there a set of aftermarket rigs and rotors I can specifically order, that would give me several years of loyal service, without breaking the bank?

Thank you.

John Z, London, Ontario

John, I think you need a little bit of relevant information here. 90,000 km is the mileage most people dream of achieving – 60-70,000 km on average.

As for why this happens, the brake components are unsuspended weight which indicates the suspension is not holding them. Every time you hit bumps in the road, the brake and tire components moved up. The suspension spring then has to push it down so that the tire maintains contact with the road. Larger brakes excel at dissipating heat and stopping the car, but larger brake components also result in suspension components that should be larger. Before you know it, you’ve stepped back 40 years to drive your dad’s full-size yacht, the Caprice Classic. It had massive brakes, massive springs, and drove like a whale on wheels. Manufacturers no longer want to produce a car with this kind of driving experience, and the brake components are kept as light as possible. Unfortunately, smaller, lighter brake components lead to overheating and jerking as you and others suffer.

The cliché you get what you pay for applies to white box parts, and there is no cheap magic combination. Look for OEM brake parts made by companies like Akebono for the best results that are actually cheaper than the dealer, but still a lot more than the white box part.

Lou Trottier is the owner and operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Do you have a question about maintenance and repair? email globedrive@globeandmail.comand put “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.

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