If you are looking for a new or used electric car and don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on maintenance, reliability is sure to be an important factor for you. Not only are the unwanted costs a headache, but the countless hours spent taking the car to the shop add unnecessary stress and complications to your life and already busy schedule.
Car shoppers traditionally rely on word of mouth, reviews, opinions, and reliability surveys to determine how reliable a car is. However, using limited owners’ feedback and surveys can be biased and give a skewed picture of true vehicle reliability. Many people will only recommend something they’ve purchased to others to validate their purchase. To further muddy the waters, electric vehicles have made figuring out reliability even more complex.
“Reliability” can be subjective, so we use data to determine the most reliable electric vehicles. We have simplified reliability analysis by breaking it down into four key components for electric cars. The main components we use to determine electric car reliability are:
- Vehicle Warranty
- Battery Warranty
By analyzing basic and battery warranty information and complaints and recalls received by the NHTSA, we believe this gives a better estimate of how much you might spend on high maintenance costs and how much time you may spend taking your car to the shop. Therefore, we seek electric cars with the best warranties and the fewest complaints and recalls.
Electric Vehicle Basic Warranty
A basic warranty, sometimes called a bumper-to-bumper warranty, covers defects in material or workmanship, many of the parts and systems of a car. Automotive manufacturers provide warranty coverage for miles or years based on their confidence in the vehicle model. A longer basic warranty from a manufacturer signals greater confidence in their electric vehicle model, which is an important factor to consider.
Electric Vehicle Battery Warranty
With an internal combustion vehicle, the second form of warranty, powertrain coverage, was provided. With electric vehicles, the powertrain is less complex. As a result, the warranty focus with electric cars has shifted to the battery, a vital and expensive component. Most electric vehicles have an eight-year or 100,000-mile warranty on the battery. Again car manufacturers that provide a longer-term warranty signal confidence in their battery products and are a factor to consider when assessing reliability.
Electric Vehicle Model Complaints
Beyond warranty information, understanding the types and number of complaints from owners of a specific electric vehicle model is important in determining reliability. We at Electric Driver use complaints received by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to help assess the reliability of a vehicle. The more complaints a specific electric vehicle model has received, the less reliable the car is, and the more you’ll probably spend in the shop.
Electric Vehicle Model Recalls
The reliability of a specific electric vehicle model is determined by the number of recalls it has received. An electric vehicle with many recalls is another signal that the electric car is less reliable.
Time is a Factor
One last point we look at to level the playing field is the dimension of time. More time passing increases likelihood of complaints and recalls being reported to NHTSA. Therefore, we factor time into our calculations to level the playing field between newer and older vehicle models.