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Do electric cars need grease?

Do electric cars need engine oil?

Unlike gas-powered and hybrid cars, electric vehicles do not need engine oil. Electric engines generate much less friction than the other types of engines. Thus, engine oil is not necessary in an electric car. But other fluids are.

Electric engines do not need engine oil

To better understand why electric cars do not need engine oil, it is necessary to look at the differences between combustion and electric engines.

Combustion engines are deeply complex. They consist of many metallic parts that keep on moving: crankshaft, valves, pistons, connecting rods, camshafts, etc. The role of these mechanical components is to turn the pistons’ vertical movement, that is produced by the air/fuel explosion in the cylinder, into a rotational movement, which will be transferred to the wheels.

The friction between these different parts causes a loss of energy efficiency, a heat release, and the development of deposit. In more simple terms, the engine wears out. The role of engine oil is precisely to reduce this friction, slow down the increase in temperature and the metal erosion.

To this end, oil is essential in classic combustion engines. Otherwise, the engine could be seriously damaged after only a few miles.

Mechanically speaking, electric engines are far less complex than combustion ones since they generate a rotational movement (rotor’s circular movement which is produced by magnetic field). Thus, electric engines can drive the wheels without relying on the various mechanical parts combustion engines need. That’s why electric cars do not need engine oil. Yet, they require other fluids to work properly.

What fluids do electric cars need?

Although they work without engine oil, electric cars need other types of lubricants to remain in good operating condition.

  • Transmission fluids: electric cars are less complex than gas-powered cars, but they still have some mechanical parts (e.g., in the transmission block). To efficiently lubricate the components, it is necessary to use fully insulating fluids with thermal properties suitable for electric engines. The Quartz EV Fluids have been conceived to meet the electric cars’ needs. Transmission fluids should be replaced rarely: once or twice during the vehicle’s lifetime.
  • Engine coolant: this fluid will reduce the risk of battery and inverter overheating. Ideally, the first replacement of the coolant should take place after the car has travelled approximatively 49,000 miles.
  • Brake fluid: although regenerative braking plays a major role, brake fluid is also essential in electric cars. When the electric car has enough brake fluid, the brake pads, and the disc brakes work properly and guarantee the passengers’ safety. You should replace it every two years or every 24,000 miles.

How does regenerative braking work?

Regenerative braking is used in both electric and hybrid cars. When you press the brake pedal, the electric engine becomes an electric generator which is powered by the kinetic movement of the braking wheels. The advantage is twofold. First, the engine participates in braking. Secondly, the electricity generated by the engine is immediately stored in the batteries.

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    Do Electric Cars Use Oil? EV Maintenance Tips

    How does EV maintenance compare to that of gas-powered cars?

    • Wesleyan University, University of California, Berkeley

    David Kuchta, Ph.D. has 10 years of experience in gardening and has read widely in environmental history and the energy transition. An environmental activist since the 1970s, he is also a historian, author, gardener, and educator.

    Updated September 17, 2021
    Fact checked by

    • University of Tennessee

    Elizabeth MacLennan is a fact checker and expert on climate change.

    The open hood of an electric Volkswagen e-Golf reveals its motor.

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    No, electric cars do not use oil. Since they use electricity stored in batteries to rotate the car’s motor, they do not use motor oil. One of the key benefits of owning an electric vehicle (EV) is that fewer moving parts mean lower maintenance costs.

    Electric Vehicle Maintenance

    EVs do require other lubricants with maintenance needs. It’s best to refer to your owner’s manual for proper scheduling of fluid maintenance.

    Transmission Fluid

    Most EVs have motors with only one gear, which can spin up from 0 to 10,000 RPMs, whereas a gas-powered car needs multiple gears to shift from lower to higher RPMs. EVs have transmission systems that require fluid maintenance, but because of the specialized fluids, drivers shouldn’t try to replace them themselves.

    Battery Coolant

    The lithium-ion batteries in EVs need coolant to keep them from overheating and potentially catching fire. EV battery maintenance must be done by a dealer according to the vehicle’s maintenance schedule. Tesla no longer recommends battery coolant replacement on its vehicles as it did on older models, while the Chevy Bolt has a recommended replacement rate of every 150,000 miles.

    Brake Fluid

    Like gas-powered cars, EVs have brake fluid (also known as hydraulic fluid). In an EV, however, the brakes are used less frequently because of regenerative braking.

    Regenerative braking reduces wear-and-tear on the brake pads, but not necessarily the need to replace brake fluid on a regular basis. For electric vehicles, the range is recommended brake fluid change is roughly the same as for gas-powered cars, with Tesla and Nissan recommending fluid changes every five years.

    Common Lubricants

    Windshield washer fluid replacement is the same in EVs and gas-powered cars and should be refilled regularly. This also applies to steering fluid (for vehicles with hydraulic power steering), air conditioning fluid, as well as grease for suspension systems, door locks, wheel bearings, and other small moving parts.

    The main fluid that distinguishes an EV from a gasoline-powered car is—you guessed it—gasoline, and it’s here that cost savings are the greatest. Calculating the cost of the electricity needed to drive an electric vehicle can be complicated, compared to the cost of gasoline. Just as those costs can vary depending on the efficiency of gas-powered cars, the efficiency of electric vehicles varies from model to model. And like gasoline prices, electricity costs vary from state to state as well.

    But consider this statement from the U.S. Department of Energy: “The cost to run your [electric] car over the course of a year can be less than running an air conditioner.” According to a 2020 study from Consumer Reports, electric vehicles “were estimated to save consumers about 60% on fuel costs compared with the average vehicle in their class.” The study also points out that as vehicles age, those savings increase even more, as the efficiency of a gas-powered engine decreases more quickly than the efficiency of an electric motor. A five- to seven-year-old used EV saves an owner two to three times more in fuel costs than a comparable gas-powered vehicle. The study estimated that electric vehicle owners could save between $6,000 to $10,000 over the life of a vehicle.

    Frequently Asked Questions
    What fluids do electric cars require?

    EVs require coolant, brake fluid, and sometimes transmission fluid, but none need to be topped up as frequently as they would in a gas-powered car.

    How often does an EV need maintenance?

    Even though they don’t require oil changes, EVs do need to be serviced regularly—about twice annually is recommended. Services should include tire rotations and pressure checks, windshield wiper replacements, and general battery checks.

    Are EVs cheap to maintain?

    EVs are a lot cheaper to maintain than gas-powered cars because they contain fewer parts. They don’t even have engines or require oil to run.

    All there is to know about electric car maintenance

    One of the advantages of owning an electric vehicles lies in its easy maintenance. With a small number of parts to keep an eye on, maintenance for this type of car is neither demanding nor particularly hard on the wallet. These advantages are due to the very nature of electric power, but also thanks to certain innovations —Renault’s wound rotor motors being a good example.

    by Renault Group

    What are the particularities of electric vehicle maintenance?

    A vehicle that needs few consumables

    An electric motor requires much simpler maintenance than an internal combustion engine. With no friction between any moving parts or exchanges between liquids and gases, it needs neither lubricant nor exhaust. This means no oil, filter or exhaust system changes. All this can be taken off the cost of the car’s upkeep. Maintenance therefore involves far fewer mechanical elements than in a combustion-powered car. In fact, the tires, windshield washer fluid, brake pads and air conditioning filters are the only consumables that require regular changing in an electric car.

    A small number of parts

    The design of the electric car’s motor considerably reduces the number of parts required for it to function. Among these, none are what’s known as “wear parts”, which can affect the running of the motor. So, in an electric vehicle, there’s no timing belt, no cylinder head gasket and no cooling hose — which can all cause engine breakdown when worn. As for traction, these vehicles are reliable over hundreds of thousands of kilometers. For drivers looking for peace of mind as well as easy maintenance, the electric vehicle is an obvious choice. Especially because simplified maintenance doesn’t mean it’s any less thorough: every part in the vehicle is checked by experts within the manufacture’s network.

    Less wear on the brakes

    Electric cars use two braking systems: first, regenerative braking, which uses the motor as a generator to charge the battery from time to time, then standard braking — with discs or drums and brake pads — which is activated afterwards. This therefore lightens the load on the mechanical braking system and tires, which means that the parts involved need to be replaced less frequently.

    A simplified transmission

    With no manual gearbox or clutch, the transmission of an electric vehicle is much simpler: unlike a combustion engine, an electric motor delivers direct drive. When the driver presses the accelerator, the battery generates a magnetic field within a fixed part, which then causes a mobile part to rotate. In the electric vehicles produced by Groupe Renault, this latter part is a wound rotor synchronous motor, which increases the energy efficiency of the motor. All breakdowns related to the traditional transmission are therefore avoided, reducing the overall costs of maintenance.

    Standard inspection points

    Maintenance work on the chassis, bodywork, tires, steering and suspension of an electric vehicle is carried out in the normal way, as are checks on the air-conditioning system, comfort features and windshield wipers. These inspection points are essential for vehicle safety and driving comfort.

    Less maintenance to carry out oneself

    On an electric car, the levels of brake fluid and coolant need to be checked and possibly changed or topped up. Tire pressure should also be monitored regularly, like for a combustion-powered car: before leaving on vacation, before a vehicle safety inspection, etc. Another task that can be achieved without the need for a mechanic is the replacement of the 12 volt battery that powers the lighting and electronics every three years, like that of Renault ZOE.

    Does an electric vehicle battery require maintenance?

    The battery of an electric vehicle is one of its most important components. The motor is powered by what’s called a traction battery. It defines the range of the electric vehicle, sometimes in the hundreds of kilometers depending on the model.

    When it comes to the durability of a lithium-ion battery in an electric vehicle, Groupe Renault, pioneer in electric mobility, estimates its automotive life span at 10 years. But this doesn’t mean that the battery can no longer work. On the contrary, it still has a good dozen years to be used in its “second life” in other fields from stationary electricity storage to vehicle electrification, local distribution of green energy and more.

    The way a vehicle is used also affects battery life, which is why it’s essential to have check-ups carried out by a Renault dealer. To ensure optimal longevity, they will verify the lifespan of this crucial part. In addition, Renault guarantees its batteries for a period of eight years or 160,000 kilometers for ZOE, five years or 100,000 kilometers for the Kangoo Electric, and three years or 60,000 kilometers for the Twizy, in order to conserve a charging capacity of at least 66% under all circumstances.

    How much does electric car maintenance cost?

    Considerable savings

    Several converging studies show that the cost to maintain an electric city car is 20-35% lower than that of an equivalent combustion-powered car*, for which repairs, servicing and oil changes can drive up the bill. These notable differences in maintenance costs can be explained, when it comes to the electric vehicle, by the absence of wear parts that require changing regularly as well as no need for major engine repairs.
    These advantages apply to everyone, and are all the more obvious for those who drive a lot. Businesses, for example, have good reason to choose electric vehicles for their company cars or utility vehicles. Fleet maintenance — depending on the type of vehicle, mode of acquisition and type of use — represents between 7-12% of the TCO (Total Cost of Ownership.

    Far fewer inspections

    It’s recommended to have your electric vehicle checked every 30,000 kilometers by a certified professional, compared to every 15,000 kilometers for a gasoline-powered car, and 20,000 kilometers for a diesel. Nevertheless, throughout the European Union, electric and hybrid vehicle are subject to an obligatory inspection every two years after their fourth birthday.
    Other maintenance costs to expect involve changing the tires and the brake discs according to their condition and distance traveled.

    Steering, suspension and shock absorbers are also integrated within the maintenance budget, which depends, once again, on how often the automobile is used.
    Not to mention the savings made “at the pump” or, rather, “at the plug”! All this explains the financial advantages of running an electric vehicle, and allows drivers to precisely calculate the savings that can be made with this type of vehicle.

    Who should carry out the maintenance of an electric vehicle?

    Not all garages are authorized to carry out maintenance on electric vehicles. Electric vehicles require qualified professionals for checks and any repairs. The high voltages and amperage in the traction system (between 400-700 volts) necessitate a safety procedure so that maintenance can be carried out under the best possible conditions.

    Also, when having your vehicle serviced, or even for routine maintenance procedures, it is strongly recommended to contact a certified mechanic to take care of your vehicle. The law requires that they be certified to work on electrical systems, and the qualification must be renewed annually. For more convenience, manufacturers offer packs with maintenance included. You are therefore guaranteed to receive the best parts when required, and on short notice. With a decade of electric experience to its name, the entire Renault European network is trained in all the particularities of electric vehicles.

    How to maintain a hybrid car

    Because it uses the combustion engine less frequently, a hybrid car requires less maintenance than a 100% gasoline- or diesel-powered vehicle, but more than an electric car. This is because an internal combustion engine goes hand in hand with regular oil changes. While it’s used less on a hybrid vehicle, the engine still needs to be checked regularly.

    A hybrid car (and plug-in hybrid) fueled by gasoline requires an inspection every 15,000 kilometers. For a diesel hybrid, an inspection is carried out every 10,000 kilometers. But the frequency of visits also depends on the vehicle and the specifications found in its service record. During the inspection, the mechanic also empties and changes the oil, and replaces the oil filter.

    Compared to gasoline and diesel combustion-powered cars, electric vehicles benefit from reduced maintenance. Peace of mind guaranteed for the driver! In addition, while an electric car is currently more expensive to buy than a car with an internal combustion engine from the same segment, the gap is becoming smaller. The cost of an electric car is getting closer to that of a combustion-powered vehicle, notably thanks to government incentives. Electric cars provide financial savings over time, both in terms of maintenance as well as energy consumption. These advantages are added to the other qualities of 100% electric mobility, like the lack of emissions during use** — beneficial in the fight against global warming and pollution — and a lower energy bill thanks to particularly affordable charging stations in certain places. And, of course, there’s the pleasure that comes from the silent and dynamic drive of an electric car.

    * Studies UFC Que Choisir (France, 2018), Consumer Reports (United Kingdom, 2020) and ADAC (Germany, 2020)

    ** Neither atmospheric emissions of CO2 nor pollutants while driving (excluding wear parts).

    Copyrights : gilaxia, Jean-Brice LEMAL

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