2011 Chevrolet Volt
A few months ago we asked the question, what exactly do you have to service on a 2011 Nissan LEAF? After all, the LEAF doesn't even contain many of the items that require regular attention on a regular car, such as oil changes, spark plugs, filters, transmission fluid and muffler parts. Brakes should last longer too thanks to regenerative braking assistance.
How then are dealerships expected to make money from servicing? National Oil and Lube News have asked the same question, and have detailed the service schedules not only for the Nissan LEAF, but also the 2011 Chevrolet Volt.
Chevrolet Volt servicing
Unlike the Nissan, the Volt does have its own internal combustion engine, so many of the service components required by regular vehicles may still be required eventually, if not as often as a car with no electric drivetrain.
As such, there are a few more notes on the Volt's service schedule than on the LEAF. In addition to tire rotations and brake checks required by any vehicle whether electric or fossil fuelled, the Volt requires attention to the range extending 1.4 liter gasoline engine. Oil filter inspections are required at 15,000 miles along with corrosion checks if the vehicle is mainly driven in costal areas or salted roads in the winter. Changes of the oil and filter are recommended every 24 months. Technicians will also check the electrical drive unit shift lock control function at this interval.
The air cleaner should be replaced every 50,000 miles, the spark plugs every 100,000 and coolant every five years or 150,000 miles - whichever comes first. Engine drive belt inspection or replacement is set at 150,000 miles or ten years.
One issue that people have raised with the Volt is that of the gasoline in the tank going stale if it remains unused for long periods of time, absorbing moisture, oxidizing and gumming up fuel lines and injectors. To prevent this, the vehicle periodically enters a maintenance mode, starting the engine to circulate fuel and fluids.
Nissan LEAF servicing
The LEAF doesn't have these problems, though it's not free of servicing attention altogether. Indeed, Nissan recommends two different maintenance schedules for the LEAF depending on the conditons in which the car is run.
Schedule 1 is essentially for harsher conditions - repeated short trips of less than five miles or ten miles in freezing conditions, stop and go traffic in hot weather, and low speed driving for long distances. It also includes dusty, muddy, rough or salty driving conditions, or using a car-top carrier.
Schedule 2 is for drivers who operate their car in any other conditions, putting less stress on the vehicle and components.
Like the Volt, tires should be rotated at 7,500 miles. After one year or 15,000 miles, the in-cabin microfilter and brake fluid for Schedule 1 cars will be replaced and the brake lines, cables, pads and rotors will be inspected, as will the charging port and reduction gear oil. A diagnostic check will also be done on battery condition.
After 30,000 miles or 24 months, Schedule 2 cars require brake fluid replacement. Coolant will only require replacement after 105,000 miles or 84 months, with subsequent replacement every five years or 75,000 miles.
2011 Nissan Leaf
LEAF users can program a maximum charge level for the batteries, either 80 or 100 percent. If you very rarely do journeys requiring full charge you can extend battery life by setting an 80 percent maximum. Environmental conditions and the number of fast charge cycles also affect battery life.
Volt battery life is prolonged by software limiting a minimum 25 percent discharge and maximum 90 percent charge.
As you can see then, an EV drivetrain doesn't mean a service-free schedule. In the LEAF you're certainly spared those components associated with the internal combustion engine though, which will be an attractive proposition for consumers who never do long journeys. The Volt has some impressively long intervals, and although you'll occasionally have to top up the gasoline even if you rarely use any, the servicing shouldn't cause you any problems.
Not only that, but dealerships can still rest easy that they'll be able to make money from servicing. Not least because electric vehicles are still a relatively new and specialized technology, so factory-trained technicians will still be the best people to service your new EV.