An electric car being charged up

Top 8 electric car questions answered

Is it time for you to make ‘the switch’ to an electric car? Here are some common questions people ask.

Cazoo Editorial Team Byline Icon

By Cazoo editorial team

Published: 22 July 2020
Updated: 10 June 2022

New to the world of electric cars? If so, you’ll likely have lots of questions. Here’s our guide to the most common queries about electric cars.

1. Can electric cars drive through water?

We all know that electricity and water generally don’t mix, but you needn’t worry – car makers didn’t forget to make electric cars waterproof. You can drive them through a certain amount of standing water in the same way as you would a petrol or diesel car.

Just like petrol and diesel cars, electric cars can cope with different amounts of water depending on the model. If you want to know how much water a car can safely drive through without having problems, you need to know its wading depth, which is listed in your car’s handbook.

Generally, you’ll find that an electric car and its petrol or diesel equivalent will have around the same wading depth. However, driving through floods is risky whether your car runs on electricity or conventional fuel. It’s very difficult to know how deep standing water really is, but if you have to drive through it, be cautious, drive slowly and always test your brakes afterwards to make sure they still work.

Jaguar I-Pace

2. Are electric cars as reliable as petrol or diesel cars?

Electric cars are normally very reliable because they have fewer moving parts under the bonnet that could go wrong or wear out. However, if they do break down you’ll normally need a specialist to fix them. You won’t be able to mend an electric car on the hard shoulder as easily as you could a petrol or diesel car.

Nissan Leaf

3. Will I get to park for free if I drive an electric car?

Some towns and cities operate clean air zone initiatives, which offer you preferential parking rates if you drive an electric car. In London, many boroughs offer electric car drivers a free 12-month parking permit and many councils across the UK have similar policies. For instance, Milton Keynes’s Green CMK parking permits allow you to park free of charge in any of the council’s 15,000 purple parking bays. It’s also worth checking with your local authority to see if they offer free parking while you charge your electric car at a public charging point. Most large supermarkets now have reserved spaces for electric cars to charge while you shop, so you could snag a parking space when your diesel-driving neighbour can’t.

4. Can electric cars be towed?

Manufacturers advise against towing electric cars because they don’t have the same neutral gear as traditional combustion-engined cars. You can damage an electric car if you tow it, so if you break down, you should always call for assistance and let a recovery service load your car on a flatbed truck or trailer instead.

5. Can electric cars use bus lanes?

This really depends on the area or city. Some councils, like Nottingham and Cambridge, allow electric cars to use bus lanes, but other authorities don’t. London used to let electric cars use bus lanes, but that trial period has now finished. It’s best to check locally to make sure you are up to date with any rule changes.

6. Can electric cars tow a caravan?

Yes, some electric cars can tow a caravan and their inherent pulling power from electric motors tends to make them well-suited to hauling heavy loads. There’s a growing number of electric cars that are legally able to tow, from the affordable VW ID.4 to the more luxurious Audi E-tron or Mercedes-Benz EQC.

Pulling a caravan can use a lot of battery power, which means the range of your electric car will decrease faster. While that can be a bit inconvenient, a petrol or diesel car will also guzzle a lot of extra fuel when towing. Plan your stops at public chargers on long journeys and you can top up the battery while you stretch your legs.

7. Do electric cars need oil?

Most electric cars don’t need oil because they don’t have an internal combustion engine with moving parts. This helps to keep your maintenance and servicing costs down because you don’t have to worry about regular oil changes. That said, some electric cars have gearboxes that occasionally need oil changes, and you’ll still have to keep other fluids, such as power steering fluid and brake fluid, checked and topped up regularly.

8. Are electric cars quieter?

Electric cars will reduce road noise because they don’t have engines, which tend to generate traffic noise. While there’ll still be some sound from tyres, wind and road surface noise, the din outside your window could reduce significantly. The health benefits from less traffic noise are great, from improved sleep to reduced stress – a huge plus for everyone.

Kia EV6

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