GreenCars 101
Vehicle Basics

Maintaining Electrified Vehicles

Chad Yee
Jun 2024
Driving a hybrid, plug-in hybrid, or electric car can help you save a lot of money over time, thanks to their reduced energy costs. But what about maintenance? Different types of electrified vehicles have different maintenance requirements and costs, and we outline the differences here.
EV driving on the road

How Much Does It Cost to Maintain an EV or Hybrid?

You may have heard that one of the many benefits of owning an electrified vehicle is lower maintenance costs. While this may be true for some type of electrified vehicle, maintenance costs can actually vary depending on the type of electrified vehicle you choose.

Whether you’re considering a conventional hybrid-electric vehicle (HEV), plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), or battery-electric vehicle (BEV), it’s important to look at the maintenance requirements for each. Each type of electrified vehicle has certain areas to consider for overall maintenance. This will impact your operating costs and total cost of ownership (TCO).

Common Types of Maintenance for All Hybrids and EVs

Regardless of the type of electrified vehicle, there are common maintenance areas to keep in mind as part of any vehicle ownership.

Scheduled maintenance is important. Each vehicle manufacturer outlines the service intervals, required replacement parts, and inspection areas for each of its models. Following the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule not only helps honor your vehicle’s warranty, but also proactively identifies any potential problem areas before they arise.

Scheduled maintenance ensures that your vehicle is operating within the normal expected specifications in many areas, including heating, air conditioning, safety equipment, driver assistance technology, and even software updates. It also helps ensure that you’re getting the optimal range and efficiency from your electrified vehicle.

Remember that all vehicles experience wear and tear on certain items. Items like wiper blades, tires, brakes, suspension, filters, and fluids need to be replaced and checked on a regular basis – o matter what kind of vehicle – to ensure safe and optimal driving characteristics.

inside of toyota EV engine

Maintenance for Hybrid Cars

Conventional hybrids, like the Toyota Prius, combine a gasoline engine with an electric motor(s). Hybrids have been around for over 20 years and were originally designed to help reduce fuel consumption by adding a small battery and electric motor to assist the gas engine. If you’re coming from a gas-powered vehicle, owning and maintaining a hybrid is relatively similar.

A conventional hybrid relies more on the gasoline engine compared to a plug-in hybrid. In hybrids, the gas engine is the main source of propulsion, while the electric motor and battery essentially provide assistance to the gas engine. Maintenance for a hybrid’s gas engine is similar to that of a regular gas-powered vehicle. Regular oil changes, fluid changes, spark plugs, and coolant changes, for example, all need to be performed and checked at regular intervals. Some hybrids also use a unique transmission or power split device, that combines the gas engine and electric motor(s), which also requires regular checks.

Similar to other electrified vehicles, hybrids use regenerative braking systems that use the electric motor to help slow down the vehicle. Unlike plug-in hybrids and battery-electric vehicles, however, conventional hybrids mostly depend on conventional friction brakes. You’ll likely experience reduced brake wear and tear compared to a conventional gas vehicle – but the brakes will wear more than with a plug-in hybrid or battery-electric vehicle.

While conventional hybrids don’t use an external plug-in charging system like other electrified vehicles, they still use high-voltage battery systems that need to be regularly checked and maintained. Hybrid components, such as the inverters, electric motors, high voltage lines, and the high-voltage battery pack need to be checked per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

In addition to a vehicle’s basic and powertrain warranties, many manufacturers offer a separate warranty for hybrid and battery components. Toyota, for example, offers a hybrid-related component coverage that includes the hybrid battery, battery control module, hybrid control module, and inverter with converter for eight years or 100,000 miles.

white vehicle charging

Maintenance Costs for Plug-In Hybrids

Similar to conventional hybrids, plug-in hybrids like the Toyota RAV4 Prime, combine a gas engine with an electric motor(s). However, plug-in hybrids have much larger batteries for extended electric-only range as well as the capability of being charged by an external charger. Some plug-in hybrids, like the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV and Range Rover Sport PHEV offer Level 3 DC Fast Charging capabilities.

Just like a gas vehicle or conventional hybrid, a plug-in hybrid’s gas engine needs regular and routine maintenance. Since many plug-in hybrids can operate on electric-only for up to 25-40 miles, they may use the gas engine less frequently than conventional hybrids, depending on how it’s driven. Therefore, the service intervals and replacement part intervals for the gas engine can be extended.

If you operate your plug-in hybrid mostly on electric-only power and charge frequently, you may be able to extend the service interval of the gas engine. Since you are not operating the gas engine frequently, it may also be wise to ensure that the gasoline in the tank does not sit for extended periods of time. However, if you use the gas engine frequently in your plug-in hybrid, service and maintenance may be similar to that of a conventional hybrid.

Plug-in hybrids have similar hybrid high voltage systems that need regular maintenance and checks. Batteries can be up to 10 times larger than that of a conventional hybrid. Therefore, checking the state of health of the battery and the battery management system are important to ensure that you’re getting the optimal electric range and efficiency. Additionally, plug-in hybrids also benefit from regular maintenance of their regenerative braking systems, charging systems, and charging ports.

How Much Do EVs Cost to Maintain?

Battery-electric vehicles (BEV) completely eliminate the internal combustion engine (ICE). Compared to gas-powered vehicles, conventional hybrids, and plug-in hybrids, which have thousands of moving parts and potential failure points, battery-electric vehicles only have a handful of moving parts.

Removing the gasoline engine completely eliminates the need for oil changes, turbos, radiators, most fluid changes, transmissions, spark plugs, and other ICE-specific parts. This translates into significant cost savings due to the reduced need for maintenance and repairs.

In addition to the savings from maintaining a gas engine, brake wear and tear can be significantly reduced. Battery-electric vehicles have a much stronger regenerative braking system than hybrids and plug-in hybrids. Many battery-electric vehicles offer a one-pedal driving feature that uses the electric motor(s) to slow and stop the vehicle, and can almost completely eliminate the need for using the conventional friction brakes. This translates into extended intervals between brake replacements, which can easily cost over $1,000 to replace a set of four brake pads and rotors. The reduced usage of friction brakes, however, does mean that regular checks are needed to prevent any binding or seizing from reduced use.

Tires and suspension are areas to keep an eye on with a battery-electric vehicle. These vehicles usually weigh much more than gas-powered, hybrids, and plug-in hybrids, due to their larger battery packs. The increased weight means that items like the vehicle’s suspension and tires may need to be checked more frequently.

A battery-electric’s weight, combined with instant power, means that it can potentially lead to faster tire wear. In some studies, tires on battery-electric vehicles can wear up to 40% faster than a gas-powered vehicle. It’s important to regularly check your tire pressures and inspect for premature tire wear. Avoiding quick acceleration, and the use of winter tires in cold climates, can help extend the life of your tires. When replacing your tires, it’s often recommended to replace them with the same size, brand, and model that originally came with your battery-electric vehicle.

Battery-electric vehicles have a more complex battery management system (BMS) to keep the battery at the optimal temperature for driving, range, charging, and battery longevity. It’s important to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule to ensure that the BMS is operating within specifications. Most battery-electric vehicles have a warranty for batteries, BMS, and electric motors for up to eight years or 100,000 miles.

Electric Vehicle Maintenance: Summary

Regardless of the type of electrified vehicle that you’re considering, it’s important to understand the differences in maintenance between hybrids, plug-in hybrids, and battery-electrics. You’ll find the biggest cost savings from maintenance with a battery-electric due to few moving parts. In all cases, it’s always best to follow the manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule to ensure that your warranty is honored and your vehicle is operating with specifications.

Front view of a Tesla Model 3 driving through canyon roads

Join the sustainable transportation evolution.

Subscribe to receive the latest GreenCars news, products, and updates

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.