What Is The Most Reliable Electric Car? You May Be Surprised

Many people’s hesitation with electric cars is the unknown reliability with a type of technology that is so new. Aside from the worry about the range of electric cars, the reliability of the car components can be worrisome for people as well. No one wants to get stranded on the side of the road, so what brands and makes of electric cars can you really rely on? 

What is the most reliable electric car? The Chevrolet Bolt EV is reported to be the most reliable electric car by multiple credible consumer sources. The Nissan Leaf, as well as the Tesla Model 3 are also reported to have high reliability by consumers and many websites. These three electric cars are the most reliable based on millions of reviews.

Electric car technology is continuing to improve and become even more reliable. More and more companies are going to improve the engineering of electric cars to help make them more durable, long-lasting, and reliable overall. As understanding of the weaknesses of current electric cars increases, so will the reliability of electric cars in the future increase as engineers will be able to look at these weaknesses and figure out how to overcome them.  

What Is The Most Reliable Electric Car?

From all of the sources checked and researched, the most reliable electric car seems to be the Chevrolet Bolt EV with the Nissan Leaf following at a close second. This is very surprising, seeing that both Chevrolet and Nissan are not known for making incredibly reliable cars. Historically, manufacturers like Honda or Toyota are the ones known for making long-lasting reliable vehicles but seeing as neither of these car manufacturers has put mentionable electric cars on the market, Chevrolet and Nissan have taken that title for electric cars at the present. 

Owners and critics of Teslas have given mixed reviews on the reliability of Tesla vehicles. For the most part consumers and critics seem to favor the Tesla Model 3 and Tesla Model S, stating that both of these cars are reliable and good working cars.

The Tesla Models X and Y however have not received as good of reviews. Most of the complaints with Tesla vehicles seem to be with non-engine electricals or bodywork details. Tesla has been working to resolve these issues and there seem to be fewer complaints with the newer Teslas than with the older models. 

Many other companies like BMW and Kia have also made electric cars that have high reviews when it comes to reliability. The BMW i3 is one that has good reviews from many sources. Many other electric car companies like Polestar and MG have also received good reliability reviews on electric cars that they have released.

Though electric cars have been around for over ten years, they are still considered very new. So there are still many changes being made to electric vehicles every year to help make them more reliable. The reliability of electric cars will continue to improve as the technology with electric cars and understanding of current issues with electric cars improves. 

Which Criteria Determines Reliability?

Car reliability is usually determined by the number of repairs that are needed to a vehicle per year that are outside of the scope of standard maintenance (oil changes, tire rotation, etc.) Some companies go into more depth when collecting data to determine the reliability of a vehicle than others. For example,  Consumer Reports, a wide renowned source for reliability information in the car industry, looks at many different aspects of reliability apart from the number of repairs a car needs. 

Consumer Reports bases its reliability rating on data gathered from car owners. Car owners report any repairs that were needed on cars that weren’t caused by accidents or were included in mass recalls. Consumer Reports then categorizes these repairs into different categories like air conditioning systems, electric systems, engine system, transmission, wheels, etc. Based on these reports, experts then give each car a reliability rating. 

Many other companies and websites that do car reliability ratings follow similar criteria when they determine reliability ratings for cars. Another thing that goes into the criteria for determining the reliability of a vehicle is a vehicle’s longevity. Most conventional cars keep running to anywhere between 150 to 200 thousand miles and most electric cars are estimated to have a similar lifespan. Cars that can keep running over that mileage without breaking down can definitely be counted as reliable. 

Reliability is also more than just numbers on a page. When you say a car is “reliable” you are talking about a car that can go and you don’t have to worry about it giving up on you. Part of having a reliable car is if that car is able to travel over a long distance without the engine stalling, parts giving out, or breaking down. Having a car that is dependable in the cold or heat can also be the criteria used to help determine if a car is truly reliable. 

How Much Is The Annual Maintenance Costs Of The Chevy Bolt?

Now getting back to the Chevy Bolt. According to Edmunds, the average price of maintenance for the first year of ownership of a Chevy Bolt EV is going to be around $160. After five years of ownership you could probably expect the total cost of maintenance to be somewhere around $2700. This is going to vary of course depending on what breaks down in your Chevy Bolt. The annual cost of maintenance will most likely be somewhere between $150 and $750. 

The Nissan Leaf has a first-year maintenance cost of around $200 and by year 5 it will have cost you a total of around $2800 for maintenance. On average you will be paying between $500 and $750 on maintenance each year. Though the Nissan Leaf might tend to cost a little bit more for yearly maintenance, it really is just a chance of what breaks on your car. Little things like problems with electrical circuitry can be easily and cheaply fixed but problems with things like the car’s battery can be more expensive to fix. 

Electric car repairs are usually more expensive to fix than conventional car repairs. Part of this is due to the fact that electric cars are newer and there aren’t as many mechanics that know how to fix these problems, a lot of time an electric car needs to be taken to the dealer to get needed repairs.

Also since the electric car doesn’t have a lot more of the small parts that make up a conventional car’s engine, transmission, etc. a repair could require a major component of the car to be replaced and may not be as simple as replacing a small part.

The upside of electric cars however is that they generally don’t break down nearly as much as conventional cars do. Most repairs that are needed for electric cars are non-motor electric problems like maybe a wire went bad or a specific piece got fried so for the most part, you don’t need to stress over major repairs. As with many other aspects of electric vehicles, it is very likely as electric cars become more popular the prices of repairs will decrease over time.

What Are Some Other Reliable Electric Cars?

I mentioned earlier in the article, there are other companies that have also produced reliable electric cars. The aforementioned BMW i3 will show up in almost any top 5 most reliable electric car search that you do. The BMW i3 first was released in 2014 and so BMW has had almost 10 years now to refine and improve its design. The i3 is a smaller electric car similar in size to the Nissan Leaf or Chevy Bolt. The only thing is that the i3 is quite a bit more expensive than both of those cars with a price tag of $44,000 new. That is $10,000 more than the Leag or the Bolt.  

Another electric car that has earned high-reliability ratings is the Kia e-Niro. Whatcar.com rates the e-Niro as the third most reliable electric car even above the BMW i3. Even though there were some problems reported by owners of the e-Niro when it was first released, Kia quickly took it upon themselves to fix all of these quickly at no cost to the owners of the cars.

MG, a British car manufacturer, also has an electric that has positive reliability reviews. The MG Zs was released in 2019 and has shown itself to be a very reliable electric car so far. When this car first came out it was actually considered one of the least reliable electric cars out there but MG has really put in the work to improve on these issues and the Zs is now considered one of the most reliable cars on the European market. 

Now I know you are probably all wondering, what about Teslas? To be honest, Tesla doesn’t do half bad. There are quite a few Tesla models that rank fairly high on the reliability charts. There are even some websites that rank the Tesla model 3 and the Tesla Model S in the top five most reliable cars. Tesla has been making electric cars longer than anyone on the market now and they have figured out how to make their cars work fairly well. Early on there may have been problems with Teslas but Tesla has worked long and hard to overcome these defects. 

From many sources, however, I have seen that if you want reliability then steer clear of the Tesla Model X and Y and go with a Tesla Model 3 or a Tesla Model S. The Tesla Model X and Y are both newer models that Tesla has released and are still working through some kinks but the Tesla Model 3 and the Tesla Model S have been tested and proven on the road. Both of these models have a very good range, and the Tesla Model 3, in particular, isn’t too pricey compared to a lot of other high-end electric cars starting at around $44,000. 

Are EVs Generally More Reliable Than Internal Combustion Cars? 

Yes, electric cars do have the upper hand over internal combustion cars when it comes to reliability. This isn’t going to be true in every single case though. There are cars still on the road that are now 30 years old. Electric cars however haven’t been around long enough yet to truly test how long they can make it. Most likely there will be a trend like we see in internal combustion engine cars where some electric cars will last people 20-25 years while some may not make it 10 years. 

Electric cars come with a lot fewer parts than internal combustion cars and that means that they are much less likely to break down or have problems. All of the little gears and pieces that are in an internal combustion engine car make them much more likely to develop a problem. Parts in conventional cars can also become clogged and gunked up with grease and oil which can cause parts to break down more easily. 

The average internal combustion engine car should make it to 200,000 miles but it is not uncommon for a lot of internal combustion engine cars to start showing problems after 150,000 miles. This average isn’t as good as the average of electric cars which should easily make it to 200,000 miles, if not surpass that. The amount of time that either an internal combustion engine car or an electric car can also depend a lot on the care that is given to the car. An electric car poorly maintained will easily be outlived by a well maintained internal combustion engine car.

In the future, the gap between the life of an electric car and an internal combustion engine car will most likely continue to increase. Technology is continuing to be developed that will improve electric cars and their batteries. These advancements in technology will not only increase battery storage but will also increase the lifespan of batteries allowing electric cars to be driven longer than they are currently. 

Another thing I wanted to add while talking about electric cars versus internal combustion engine cars is the resale value. Electric cars may be more reliable and may last longer but they have quite a significant decrease in their value over time compared to conventional cars. Internal combustion engine cars can usually be resold for a pretty decent price even after hitting 100,000 miles. That being said if you have an internal combustion engine car that starts showing a lot of problems you aren’t going to be able to resale that vehicle for very much either. 

How Long Will Electric Cars Last? 

As I mentioned earlier, electric cars should usually last to about 200,000 miles. How quickly your electric car will reach 200,000 miles is going to depend on you. The average American drives around 13,000 miles and that average is up and down depending on what state you live in. If you are only driving 20 miles a day going to and from work and maybe doing miscellaneous errands here and there then you are only going to drive around 8,500 miles a year. Your car will most likely last longer than someone who has to drive all the way across town and is doing 40 miles a day.

An electric car should easily last you over ten years. Most electric car companies even have warranties on their car’s batteries holding out to 8 years, and seeing that the battery is usually the thing that will cause an electric car mechanical work, that is a good guarantee that you should be able to have your electric car at the very least for 8 years. Most electric cars should be able to last you 15 to 20 years. There are estimations that some electric cars should easily be able to reach 300,000 miles if they are well taken care of. 

Doing things like avoiding fully emptying your car’s battery can help maximize your car battery’s life. Another thing that can help maximize your car battery’s life is avoiding frequent usage of high-speed chargers. High-speed charging can charge your car’s battery at rates that are hard for the battery to handle and can actually degrade the battery more quickly than it would with just regular level 1 or level 2 charging. One other thing you can do to help your car last longer is keeping it out of extreme heat or extreme cold. 

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