Do Electric Cars Use Oil? A Guide for Drivers Considering an EV

So you‘re thinking about getting an electric vehicle. One question likely on your mind – do electric cars still need oil? As more automakers unveil new EV models boasting both environmental and performance benefits, many drivers realize they operate fundamentally differently than gas-powered cars in areas like refueling and maintenance.

Let‘s explore if EVs require traditional engine oil and break down their key distinctions.

How Electric Cars Work – No Engine, No Oil

While most are familiar with the explosions happening under their hood to move a gas car, electric vehicles have a completely different powertrain design. Instead of an engine, they use:

  • Electric motors to turn the wheels
  • Batteries to store electricity
  • A controller to manage power flow

With no large internal combustion engine requiring lubrication and cooling, the design is simplified. Say goodbye to oil changes, but also related maintenance like tune-ups, fuel filters, oxygen sensors, and more. Consumer Reports found a typical EV owner may spend $700 less per year on scheduled maintenance and repairs versus a gas car owner.

Now oil is still used in producing electricity, but EV motors themselves are oil-free zones.

What Fluids Do EVs Still Need Serviced?

EVs aren‘t completely liberated from garages yet. A few components still require fluid upkeep:

Brake Fluid
Brake fluid needs flushed every 2-3 years as it absorbs moisture over time. Thankfully, EVs mostly use regenerative braking converting motion to electricity instead of friction pads. This extends brake life significantly.

Battery Coolant
Some EV batteries utilize liquid cooling/heating to maintain ideal temps for maximum performance and longevity. Coolant loops prevent overheating.

Windshield Washer Fluid
Topping off fluid for cleaning winter salt and grime off windshields remains essential.

Tire Rotations
Rotating tires helps them wear evenly and should be done every 6,000-8,000 miles.

Dramatically Slashed Maintenance

To quantify the maintenance savings, here is a comparison of major service intervals for an EV with equivalent gas car:

ServiceElectric VehicleGas Vehicle
Oil ChangesNever5,000-10,000 miles
Air FilterNever15,000-30,000 miles
Spark PlugsNever30,000-100,000 miles
Transmission FluidNever30,000-60,000 miles
Coolant Flush100,000 miles30,000-60,000 miles
Timing BeltNever60,000-100,000 miles

As this makes clear, an EV owner can joyfully cross out considerable expenses and headaches from their maintenance calendar!

More Savings Over Time

Reduced maintenance is just one way EVs start paying dividends for owners in the long run. Lets analyze total ownership costs over 10 years for two theoretical mid-size sedan examples – a 2023 Hyundai Ioniq 5 EV versus gas-powered Hyundai Sonata:

Vehicle Price
Ioniq 5: $47,000
Sonata: $24,000

Ioniq 5: -$7,500 tax credit

10 Year Fuel Cost
Ioniq 5: $6,500 (electricity)
Sonata: $19,000 (gasoline)

10 Year Maintenance
Ioniq 5: $2,800
Sonata: $5,500

Total 10 Year Cost
Ioniq 5: $48,800
Sonata: $48,500

Breaking even on total cost while producing zero emissions? Sign me up! And costs tilt even further in favor of EVs over 15-20 years.


So in the end, no – you‘ll never face an anxiety-inducing engine oil change or related repairs with an electric vehicle. EVs operate oil-free with vastly reduced maintenance requirements. While upfront prices can still be higher, not fueling up at gas stations and simplified upkeep pays dividends for your wallet and the planet over time. Just beware of any EV owners challenging you to street races given their "instant torque" advantage!

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