Federal government mandates electric vehicle warranties, but what’s covered?

Oct 5, 2023, 12:00 PM

A gold electric vehicle plugged into a charging station....

An electric vehicle charges at a charging station at the Capitol in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, March 29, 2022. (Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

(Spenser Heaps/Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – Federal law requires vehicle manufacturers to warranty electric vehicles for eight years or 100,000 miles, according to Sloan Schrage, a consumer investigative reporter for KSL TV. 

“The batteries … are very, very expensive,” said Schrage. 

The long warranty is mandated by the federal government, however, it can be invalidated. Buyers should be sure they know how to properly maintain their vehicle before purchasing. 

Failing to install software updates is one way the warranty can be invalidated, Schrage said. 

According to Schrage, the process for installing updates may vary from brand to brand. Those who are interested in purchasing an electric vehicle should consult the manufacturer for details. 

Unless an electric vehicle is made for towing, Schrage said pulling another vehicle will invalidate your warranty. 

Like gas-powered cars, making aftermarket modifications can also invalidate your electric vehicle warranty.

Dismantling the battery or opening the coolant reservoir, even out of curiosity, could also void the warranty. 

Schrage said some people use the battery in their electric vehicles to get power to their homes. This is an unintended use, and will also invalidate the warranty. 

“Don’t use it to power your home, don’t use it to cook bagels, whatever it may be. Drive it as is intended,” said Schrage. 

Schrage said the used electric vehicle market is “pretty strong right now.” The U.S. government offers a $4,000 rebate on the purchase of specific used vehicles. However, they must be purchased through a dealership to qualify. 

The government’s rebate website said that the vehicle must undergo final assembly in North America. There are other criteria the vehicle and its purchaser must meet to be eligible, according to the IRS Clean Vehicle Credit website.

Specific new electric vehicles are also eligible for a higher rebate. 

Electric vehicle purchase

Research is crucial when buying any car. It is especially important when buying an electric vehicle, as they are so new to the market. Furthermore, if you are buying used, make sure you take important steps to protect your purchase. 

“The best thing you could probably do is maybe contact the automaker and find out what sort of warranty is left on the battery for that specific car,” said Schrage. You should also have the battery tested. 

Electric vehicle batteries degrade over time, like a cell phone battery. Schrage said it is important to know how much life it has left. 

The cost of replacing the battery is steep. It can sometimes exceed the value of the vehicle. Schrage said that the average cost is between $5,000 and $20,000. Some can cost more. 

Schrage worked alongside KSL TV’s Matt Gephardt on an investigative report into one man’s warranty. That investigation revealed an estimated $30,000 repair cost. That was more than the car’s value. 

Schrage said you need to know the exact history of a vehicle before you purchase. Use the car as intended to avoid voiding its federally mandated warranty. 

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Federal government mandates electric vehicle warranties, but what’s covered?