Do Electric Cars Need Oil?

Electric cars don't have moving parts in their engine. Instead of the 2,000 or so component parts that go into an internal combustion engine (ICE), an electric vehicle (EV) motor can be built with just 20 parts or thereabouts.

Because of this, an electric car doesn't have engine oil in the same way that an ICE does. You usually won't have to check oil levels with a dipstick, top up your oil under your bonnet, or replace the oil periodically.

So is there oil in an electric car? Actually yes, you're likely to find oil in the transmission, which is where the speed of the motor is converted to the rpm the EV needs in order to work.

Because EVs don't have a multi-speed manual gearbox, the transmission has a fixed gear ratio. Again, that means fewer moving parts, so in many cases, the oil will last the lifetime of the vehicle, and especially the lifetime of any leasing arrangement.

 

What Fluids Do Electric Cars Need?

As the driver of an electric car, you're unlikely to need to replenish any fluids other than the screen wash on a regular basis. Just like an ICE vehicle, you should find a reservoir under the bonnet where you can top up with water or a diluted screen wash fluid.

EVs do have some hydraulic systems, such as the brakes, so it's likely that during the vehicle's MOT or routine service, the engineer will check the level of the brake fluid reservoir and may top it up if needed.

If your vehicle has air conditioning, the coolants used by the AC system will also need to be 'recharged' from time to time. If you notice your car's interior isn't as cool in summer as you'd expect with the AC running, it's a good idea to get this checked.

 

Electric Car Coolant Levels

Different EVs use different systems to cool the battery pack and motor stack. This can range from aerodynamic cooling on older models — literally just directing air through the engine bay while in motion — to water cooling systems and dedicated coolant fluids like those used in air conditioning.

If you look under your vehicle's bonnet, you should see a radiator grille similar to that on an ICE vehicle. This acts as a heat exchanger, helping to get the hot air out of the engine bay and away from the motor.

EVs that use coolants or water cooling may need to be topped up from time to time. The cooling system is normally sealed, and should only be accessed and serviced by a qualified engineer.

 

Electric Cars vs. ICE Oil Changes

Overall, EVs have fewer fluids — some even use the same air conditioning system to cool the motor and battery that they use to cool the interior cabin of the vehicle — and the fluids they do have the need to be checked, changed and topped up less often, or not at all.

This means less to do as an owner, and less to go wrong in between services. No more oil leaks on your driveway or workplace car park, and no more seized engines and crunchy gearboxes — just smooth, quiet, reliable driving on the vast majority of day-to-day journeys.