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These days, more and more hybrid and electric vehicles (EVs) are hitting the road. Nearly every automaker is expanding its lineup of electrified vehicles to meet more stringent government regulations.

Perhaps you’re a driver who already has a hybrid or EV parked in your driveway, and you’re looking for tips on how to maintain it. Or maybe you’ll be in the market for an electrified vehicle soon, so you’re researching how to care for it now.

Either way, the following tips will help you keep your eco-friendly ride running better, longer.

electric vehicle
Hybrids still need routine oil changes just like regular cars do. Pure battery-electric vehicles are a bit different. Because EVs don’t have an internal combustion engine, they require very little maintenance.

Tips for Maintaining Your Hybrid or EV

Because hybrid cars have an internal combustion engine (ICE), they require much of the same maintenance as traditional vehicles. For example, hybrids still need routine oil changes just like regular cars do.

But pure battery-electric vehicles are a bit different. Because EVs don’t have an ICE, they require very little maintenance. For example, the only significant services Chevy specifies for its Bolt EV are a coolant exchange every 150,000 miles and a brake fluid flush every five years.

Still, regardless of whether you have a hybrid, an EV, or a regular car, there are certain things you should do to keep it running right. The following tips will help you extend the service life of your electrified vehicle.

1. Check the Fluids

Since hybrids have an ICE, they also have all of the fluids that go along with it. You should regularly check the underhood fluids (i.e., engine oil, coolant, and brake fluid) on a hybrid car. EVs also have coolant (for the high-voltage electronics and heating system), as well as brake fluid that you should check periodically.

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Warning: Never remove the cooling system cap when the engine is hot. Severe injury may result. Only check the coolant level and condition when the engine is cool.

Most hybrids also have transmission fluid that should be checked from underneath the vehicle. EVs may have reduction gear oil that needs to be inspected in a similar fashion.

If you have the know-how, you can check these under-car fluids yourself after safely raising and supporting the vehicle on jack stands. Otherwise, you can ask your mechanic to do the job for you whenever you’re in for routine service.

coolant of a vehicle
Regularly check the underhood fluids of your hybrid car or EV.

2. Inspect the Tires

Just like any other type of vehicle, EVs and hybrids have tires that eventually wear out. To help your car’s tires last as long as possible⁠—and to keep your vehicle safe⁠—you should inspect the tires on a regular basis.

Be sure to check both the pressure and condition of your tires. While you’re at it, you should also check for obvious signs of damage, such as bulges, cuts, or cracks.

Even if your car has a tire pressure monitoring system (as most do), you should check the tire pressure with a dedicated gauge. All of your tires should be inflated to the specification listed on the placard inside your door jamb. You do NOT want to set the pressure to the reading on the tire’s sidewall, since that’s the maximum pressure.

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Next, check the tire tread with a tread depth gauge. Take the measurement at three points across the tire: the outer tread, the center tread, and the inner tread. If there’s 4/32” of tread remaining at any point, most professionals recommend replacing the tires. A tread depth reading of 2/32” or less indicates the tires are a safety hazard and should be replaced immediately.

3. Check the Brakes

Even though most electrified vehicles have regenerative braking, they also have a traditional friction brake system with pads and rotors. You (or your mechanic) should check the brakes at least twice a year to ensure they’re in good condition.

When there’s 4mm of friction material remaining, most professionals recommend replacing the brake pads (and usually replacing or resurfacing the brake discs). A reading of 3mm or less indicates the brake pads are a safety hazard and should be replaced immediately.

mechanic doing car maintenance
Check the brakes of your EV at least twice a year to ensure they’re in good condition.

4. Monitor the 12-Volt Battery

Hybrid and electric vehicles use a 12-volt battery to supply power to the low-voltage electrical system, which includes everything from the radio to the onboard computers. Many hybrids also rely on the 12-volt battery to power the starter motor and crank the engine to get it going.

A dead 12-volt battery will prevent an electrified vehicle from starting. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on the battery in the same way you would with a traditional vehicle. If the battery is getting weak, you’ll want to replace it right away to avoid getting stranded.

5. Keep the High-Voltage Battery in Mind

The high-voltage battery is one of the most expensive (if not the most expensive) part of a hybrid or EV. Even though the high-voltage battery is typically maintenance-free, you can help extend its service life by ensuring the state of charge remains within a certain range.

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If you plan to store your vehicle for an extended period, consult your owner’s manual for instructions on how to keep the battery properly charged during that time. It’s also a good idea to store the vehicle somewhere temperate, as extreme temperatures can cause the battery to degrade more quickly.

6. Follow the Vehicle Manufacturer’s Recommended Service Schedule

As with any vehicle, following the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule is of the utmost importance. The schedule tells you what services (e.g., filter replacements and tire rotations) are required and when. You’ll find the schedule listed in your owner’s manual or supplemental service booklet.

scheduled oil change
As with any vehicle, following the manufacturer’s recommended service schedule is of the utmost importance.

7. Fix Any Known Problems Right Away

Electrified vehicles are chock-full of sensors and modules that monitor various parts of the vehicle. In many instances, when there’s a problem—especially within the high-voltage electrical system—one of those modules will turn on a warning light (or multiple warning lights) on the dashboard.

Do NOT ignore these warning lights. Doing so could leave you stranded and/or possibly lead to more significant repairs down the road.

You also don’t want to ignore other issues, such as abnormal noises or poor performance, that could signal a problem with your vehicle. Staying on top of repairs is one of the best ways to ensure your car lives a long service life.

Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.

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