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Do Electric Vehicles Use Oil?

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All-electric vehicles (EVs), also known as battery electric vehicles, are powered by an electric motor rather than an internal combustion engine. The electric motor is powered by a large traction battery pack, which must be plugged into a wall outlet or charging equipment, also known as electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE). 

Because it is powered by electricity, there is no exhaust from the tailpipe and no typical liquid fuel components such as a fuel pump, fuel line, or fuel tank. You can easily find courses for electric vehicles online. 

Understanding Electric Vehicles

Electric vehicles do not use oil in the traditional sense because their electric motors do not have oil that needs to be changed like gasoline engines. Still, EVs may use other lubricants that should be checked regularly.

Most EVs have some sort of transmission (nearly all have only one speed) that contains a lubricant that may need to be checked and possibly replaced — though replacement, if necessary, isn’t typically done very often. The maintenance section of the vehicle’s owner’s manual can be used to determine whether or not the transmission lubricant needs to be checked or replaced.

The Chevrolet Bolt EV, Nissan Leaf, and Tesla Model 3 are three of the most popular EVs. Only the Leaf’s maintenance schedule mentions checking the transmission lubricant level (“Reduction gear oil”). While this is supposed to be done yearly, it may only be a visual check for leakage.

Meanwhile, other manufacturers may include it as part of a dealer checkup even if it isn’t explicitly mentioned in the maintenance schedule. As far as the maintenance schedule goes, there are no recommended Reduction gear oil changes for the current-generation Leaf after eight years or 120,000 miles.

However, other fluids, besides oil, may need to be changed. One is brake fluid, which Nissan recommends replacing every one or two years (depending on model year) on the Leaf; Tesla recommends checking and “replacing if necessary” (how that’s determined is unclear) every two years, and Chevrolet recommends replacing every five years.

Chevy also recommends that you “drain and fill vehicle coolant circuits” every five years, which provides climate control for the cabin and what’s known as thermal management for the battery and charger. This coolant is frequently similar to standard engine coolant. All EVs do not mention this interval: According to the Tesla Model 3 manual, “under most circumstances, your battery coolant does not need to be replaced for the life of your vehicle.”

Because an EV has fewer moving parts than an ICE vehicle, its service schedule may differ. It’s always good to consult your owner’s manual and follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. It is always best to stick with your dealer while your car is still under warranty and find an EV specialist.


While electric vehicles require far less maintenance than gasoline vehicles, they are far from “maintenance-free,” even though traditional oil changes are not among the requirements. LS-DYNA can help you with practical applications, and one can find details for its courses online.

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