Audi e-tron electric SUVs tell owners they need an oil change

An oil change is one of several maintenance items that electric vehicle owners don’t have to worry about. So it’s rather surprising that Audi e-tron electric SUVs are warning their owners that they are going to need oil changes.

The Audi e-tron has been on the market in the US for almost a year now, and some owners are starting to put some decent mileage on those electric SUVs.

Carey Trost is one of those owners, and he’s nearing 10,000 miles on his Audi e-tron.

The other day, he was surprised when he got into his electric SUV and received an “inspection due” message telling him that his car needs an oil change:

“Oil change and inspection in 200 miles.”

Here’s a picture of the dashboard that Trost sent to Electrek yesterday:


Several owners in Europe have also reported similar messages prompting them to get a service that they clearly don’t need.

Despite the mistake, Trost says that he is “very happy” with the e-tron, but he had an interesting comment about the implication for car dealers:

Beyond the humor of the stupidity of this mistake, it does highlight how the traditional car companies still don’t really get BEVs. Why does it need a 10k maintenance check-up at all? That’s an old requirement from gas cars that they carried over to the EV by default so their dealers can keep making money on service, even if no service is needed. I pulled out the owner’s manual and read what Audi says is required for a 10k service, and it amounts to a whole lot of absolutely nothing (and BTW the manual doesn’t mention anything about changing oil…). But I’m sure they’ll charge me at least $500 just to get the stupid message to stop popping up every time I get in the car…

Here’s Audi’s checklist for the 10,000-mile maintenance:

  • Brake system: Check the thickness of the brake pads
  • Connected box battery: Check state of health with Vehicle Diagnostic Tester in Guided Functions
  • First aid kit: Check and enter expiration date YYYY / MM _________ (if applicable)
  • Front and rear axle/suspension components: Check dust seals on ball joints and tie rod ends; check for excessive play
  • Instrument cluster: Check warning and indicator lights
  • Service reminder indicator display: Reset display
  • Space saver spare wheel and tire: Check condition and tire inflation pressure, adjust if necessary (if equipped)
  • Tires: Check condition and tire tread wear; Check and record the tread depth
  • Tires: Check tire inflation pressure and adjust if necessary
  • Tire repair kit: Check and record the completeness and expiration date (if equipped)
  • Wiper blades: Check condition and replace if necessary

Electrek’s Take

The mistake in itself is not very important. Audi apparently carried over their “inspection due” warnings to the e-tron without removing the mention of oil changes.

It’s not that big of a deal. They’re trying.

But I think Trost’s comment about dealers is interesting.

Electric vehicles indeed require less maintenance, and it’s going to be harder for them to justify expensive maintenance schedules. Virtually all the things in this checklist are or should be things that can be done yourself or automatically, like resetting service reminders.

The franchise dealership model, which gets most of its profit from service, is going to have to adapt to electrification.

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