Electric Vehicle Reliability

If you are looking for a new or used electric car, and don’t want to spend thousands of dollars on maintenance, reliability is surely to be an important factor to you. Not only are the unwanted costs a headache, but the countless hours spent taking the car to the shop add unneeded stress and complications to your life and already busy schedule.

Car shoppers traditionally rely on word of mouth, reviews, opinions, and reliability surveys to try 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 recommend something they’ve purchased to others, only to validate their own purchase. To further muddy the waters, electric vehicles have made figuring out reliability even more complex.

“Reliability” can be a subjective topic, so we use data to determine the most reliable electric vehicles. To keep things simple, we’ve broken reliability down into four key components to give you an easier way to analyze the most reliable electric cars. The main components we use to determine electric car reliability are:

By analyzing basic and battery warranty information as well as complaints and recalls received by the NHTSA, we believe this gives a better estimate of how much you might spend on large maintenance costs, and also how much time you may spend taking your car to the shop. We are looking for electric cars with the best warranties, and 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 a set number of miles or years based on their confidence in the specific vehicle model. A manufacturer who extended a longer basic warranty signals they have greater confidence in their electric vehicle model and is a factor to consider.

Electric Vehicle Battery Warranty

With an internal combustion vehicle, the second form of warranty called 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 last data point we look at to determine the reliability of a specific electric vehicle model is the number of recalls the vehicle 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. When looking at complaints and recalls in particular, the more time that has passed, the greater the chance of complaints and recalls being logged with NHTSA. Therefore, we factor time into our calculations to try and put newer and older vehicle models on the same playing field.