Do Electric Cars Need An MOT And Maintenance?
Electric cars that are more than three years old require an annual MOT by law. Unlike regular cars however, electric vehicles (EVs) have fewer moving parts in the drive train and therefore maintenance for expensive components (i.e. the battery and electric motors) is rarely needed.
Discover what electric car MOTs and maintenance involves – and how much it costs – in this guide.
What happens during an electric car MOT?
Taking an electric car for an MOT is a very different process to when you go to a garage with a standard vehicle.
For starters, there’s no need to change fluids such as engine oil or transmission fluid in an EV. It doesn’t have an internal combustion engine (ICE) and only has a single-speed gear setup, making it unnecessary to add either.
In terms of what tests mechanics perform on the car, here’s a step-by-step guide to how your EV goes through an MOT.
- The vehicle is logged onto the official MOT test system, but no initial emissions checks are needed like on a regular car.
- All lights on the vehicle are tested to ensure they’re working to their full capacity.
- Other basic safety/convenience features are checked (e.g. windscreen wipers, seatbelts, windows/windscreens for chips or cracks).
- The steering system, suspension and tyres of the car are checked to ensure they’re working correctly on the bearings and there’s no damage to any tyre.
- Mounting points and brackets are inspected for any rust.
- A brake test is then carried out to determine whether any of the mechanical elements (i.e. discs or brake pads) need repairing/replacing.
- At some point the electrical systems of the car (including the battery health and condition of the electric motor) will be checked to make sure they’re working safely.
Where do I go to get an electric car MOT?
You can choose whether to have an electric car MOT at a dealership or your local garage.
Remember: You should get a service log book with your lease car. Be sure to have this stamped by the mechanic each time you have any work done to show the finance provider that you’ve stuck to the manufacturer’s service schedule. This could save you a lot in end-of-lease damage charges if you have evidence which proves the car was kept in good condition.
Electric car leasing MOT
If you’re leasing your EV and need to take it for an MOT, be sure to check with your finance provider whether they require you to have the car tested at a particular centre.
Most car lease agreements will stipulate in the contract which centres they approve of. Finance providers won’t recognise any MOT or service work done to the car if it’s carried out by a centre which isn’t approved, and the chances are that you’ll have to pay for it to be tested again.
How much does an electric car MOT cost?
An electric car MOT costs no more or less than a standard car. The latest government information shows that test centres can’t charge anymore than £54.85 for a single MOT.
You’re likely to get a cheaper price than this if you shop around online and contact your local garages.
How often will my electric car need maintenance?
Just like on a normal car whereby you would perform regular maintenance between its annual MOT and services, it’s important that you do the same for an EV.
It’s good practice to get into the habit of doing daily and weekly maintenance on common wear and tear items such as:
- Body condition
Find out how you can easily look after your electric car with our top X maintenance tips for EVs below.
Top 3 electric car maintenance tips
Research by automotive experts Cap HPI showed that electric cars are on average 23% cheaper to maintain than standard petrol or diesel models over three years/60,000 miles.
These stats certainly look good in terms of keeping running costs down if you’re considering an EV for your next car. But there are still ways you can keep on top of maintenance on your electric car for little cost and effort, before it goes in for an MOT/service.
1. Look after your tyres
Electric cars tend to be heavier than normal cars and therefore more rugged tyres are needed to support the weight. However, this also means that you’ll need to regularly check the tread depth, condition and air pressure in them to prevent them wearing out sooner than normal.
Most of the additional weight of an EV compared to a regular car is down to the drivetrain components (i.e. the battery and electric motor) being around 125% heavier than an ICE.
Here are three ways to easily keep your tyres in check.
- Keep the right pressure in your tyres by checking the correct pounds per square inch (PSI) levels for your car when it’s weighted and unweighted. This will usually be displayed on the inside panel of the driver’s door.
- Insert a 20p coin across the whole tyre tread of each one to make sure the tread depth is the legal minimum 1.6mm. If the coin isn’t slightly obscured when you place it in, it could mean that your tyres need replacing.
- Inspect the walls and sidewalls of each tyre regularly for any damage (i.e. scuffs, cuts, bulges, nicks etc.) and call a mobile mechanic to come to you as soon as possible if you spot any. Driving on tyres with these problems could lead to a blowout.
2. Make use of slow charging
It can be easy to become obsessed with the headline fast charging times manufacturers put out about their electric cars.
The truth is that you’re best off making use of slow charging most of the time, especially if you’ve got access to a home charge point for your vehicle. This is because the reduced voltage of slower chargers doesn’t cause cell degradation (where a battery loses its capacity to hold a charge) whereas regular fast-charging does.
Even if you don’t have a home charger, you could still make use of the network of slow charging points at fuel stations, public car parks or workplaces. Not only is this better for improving your battery’s longevity, but it’s cheaper too.
Remember: Occasionally charging at a fast or rapid charging station won’t be detrimental to your battery’s health. It’s best to save this type of charging for longer journeys, where you can usually get around 80% charge in 20-30 minutes.
For more information on EV charging, check out our other guide to find out where you can charge your electric car.
3. Check your lights and electrical systems regularly
Make sure that you check headlights, brake lights, reverse lights and indicators on a weekly basis. Not just to see that they turn on, but also to be sure that they’re not dimmed (especially headlights) as this would suggest that they need changing.
Just as important as your lights are the entire electrical systems which are onboard your EV. Luckily, most modern electric cars have diagnostic settings housed within their infotainment systems. For example, the Nissan Leaf has a dongle available which is plugged into the car and has a companion smartphone app to feedback reports on battery health and the other systems using Bluetooth.
If your vehicle doesn’t come with this advanced tech then many dealerships and car garages offer complimentary EV health check ups. BMW and Jaguar are just two examples of manufacturers offering this at their dealerships.
See our all-in-one electric car guide for more information
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