As electric vehicles become more popular, one of the things that are going to change quite a bit is the number and percentage of electric vehicles in the used car market. Used EVs, right now, are pretty much a rare find on a used car lot or even a new car dealer’s inventory.
You may find that used EVs become more common to be something seen in an inventory but the question is if you’re looking at a used electric vehicle, do you have to look at the odometer mileage in the same way you would as a used gasoline vehicle? Does it even matter how many miles are on the odometer of an electric vehicle?
When electric vehicles are operating, there are not as many moving parts. There are no engine transmission pumps or hydraulic systems, it’s all in the electrical components. Electric engines are much less prone to wear and tear than internal combustion engines. An internal combustion engine has a lot more moving parts. There are fluids, there are lubricants, and there are a lot of things that can break inside that engine. One of the things that you’ll find also on electric vehicles is there are no oil changes. There are no spark plugs, there are no belts and hoses which are the things that wear out most of the time. One of the most expensive and common repairs on a gasoline engine is an O2 sensor. This senses the amount of oxygen and mixtures of gas to know how much fuel to put into the engine. This is not necessary for an electric vehicle.
One of the biggest parts of a car that’s in the news these days is catalytic converters. They’re stolen very frequently off of gasoline vehicles. It’s an expensive repair that can cost several thousand dollars and your car could be off the road for weeks if, not months. Guess what? Used EVs do not have catalytic converters. You don’t have to worry about it.
What do you need to worry about on an electric vehicle? Obviously, the biggest factor is battery longevity. How much longer is that battery going to last? That’s why you want to have that battery checked out. It’s not so much the mileage it’s how much lifespan is left on that battery. Just because an electric vehicle has high miles and might have 200-250,000 miles, there were no mechanical moving parts that are prone to wander 250,000 miles. Certainly, there are electric motors that drive the wheels, but those are much more durable than reciprocating lubricated combustion engines.
Think about it. Combustion is exactly what it sounds like. Something is burning, there are explosions in that engine every single time it revolves. There are thousands and thousands of explosions in a gasoline engine, every single minute. With an electric vehicle, it’s simply an electric motor. There are electric motors in industrial equipment even in your house that last 15 – 20 years that you never even see. So those moving parts really aren’t at risk, it’s the battery. That’s the problem. Same thing with your phone. How often is the battery failure the thing that makes your cell phone your mobile device need to be replaced?
So how do you ensure you’re getting an electric vehicle with a good battery? Well, there are ways to test it, to make sure that it was maintained properly, that it’s not worn out. Most batteries have a warranty of 150,000 miles. Some of them have a year limit on them. You have to be careful of that because if a battery has a 150,000-mile warranty, and your vehicle only has let’s say 80,000 miles, you might think Well I have another 70 to go, but if it is a five-year warranty, and there’s only a year left on the time that could be a problem.
So you have to look at it both ways. Electric vehicles are much less determined a value by the miles on the odometer than gasoline vehicles. So while you don’t have to necessarily scrutinize the miles on the odometer, you do want to make sure that you’re checking the basic functions of that electric vehicle battery to make sure it charges close to a hundred percent capacity. You still have the range you’re supposed to have. One of the other things that are going to wear out on electric vehicles faster than gasoline vehicles are the tires. Tires on a gasoline vehicle really only experience pressure when you’re accelerating, when you’re pushing on the gas pedal. And of course, a little bit when you’re breaking. Electric vehicles are always doing something with resistance to the tires. You’re either accelerating or you’re adaptive braking when you let off the gas. That deceleration is used to recharge the battery So the tires always have scrubbing on those treads. So tires on an electric vehicle probably wear out faster but the good news is as a buyer of a used electric vehicle, that’s something you can see. You can look at the tires and see how much tread is on them. Just be aware that your maintenance costs may be slightly higher for tires than on a gasoline vehicle. So the moral of the story is this: electric vehicle mileage on the odometer is certainly much less of a factor in the value and usability of that vehicle than it would be on a gasoline engine. Just make sure that that key component the battery is in good shape and you’ll be in good shape.