Mechanic Tips

How Electric Vehicles Differ from Traditional Car Repairs

John was driving his new electric vehicle home from work when suddenly the battery warning light came on. He knew electric cars required less maintenance than traditional gas-powered cars, but he had no idea how to handle an issue with the EV battery. As John pulled into his local auto shop, he wondered what challenges lay ahead in repairing his high-tech ride.

Many drivers are making the switch to electric vehicles for their lower environmental impact and long-term cost savings on fuel. However, when it comes time for repairs and maintenance, EVs present some unique challenges compared to their gas-powered counterparts. Understanding the key differences will help drivers know what to expect from EV servicing.

Fewer Fluids to Change

One major difference between electric and traditional vehicles is the lack of engine oil, coolant, transmission fluid and other lubricants that need changing. An EV has far fewer fluids to service, given its simpler drivetrain. With no engine oil or transmission fluid to replace, some of the most common maintenance items for gas vehicles are eliminated.

EVs do still require brake fluid changes, along with windshield washer fluid and AC refrigerant top-offs. But overall, the total fluids required are greatly reduced. This translates into fewer maintenance appointments and lower operating costs.

Brake Maintenance Differs

The braking system functions quite differently in an electric vehicle. EVs use regenerative braking, where the electric motor helps slow the car and recharges the battery. This regenerative braking reduces wear and tear on the friction brakes.

EV brake pads tend to last much longer as a result, often needing replacement only once during the total lifespan of the car. Rotors may never need replacement at all. Less frequent brake maintenance is a nice benefit for EV owners’ wallets.

Battery Monitoring is Crucial

The high-voltage lithium-ion battery pack is the most important component of any EV. Proper care and maintenance of the battery is essential to maximising range and performance.

EV batteries require monitoring of charge levels and cell performance. Many EVs can assess individual battery cell health and report issues. Temperature control of the battery pack is also critical. Battery maintenance is a prime focus for EV technicians during regular servicing.

Over-the-Air Software Updates

Unlike traditional cars, electric vehicles rely heavily on software to manage motor control, battery performance and other key systems. This software is regularly updated over the air via the car’s internet connectivity. Updates can improve efficiency, add new features or fix bugs.

These remote software updates are reminiscent of maintaining a smartphone. For the owner, keeping software current is important and requires an internet-connected EV charging station. Technicians may also need to access software logs during troubleshooting.

High-Voltage Safety Precautions

The battery packs and motors in electric vehicles use extremely high voltage – up to 400 volts. This produces hazards unlike any faced with a gas engine. Special training is required for working on EV high-voltage systems, where deadly electrical shock is possible.

Lockout/tagout procedures isolate and discharge voltage before component removal. Insulated tools prevent currents flowing through technicians’ bodies. Personal protective equipment, like voltage-rated gloves, face shields and arm covers, provides another layer of safety. These precautions protect technicians when performing maintenance and repairs.

New Specialised Tools and Equipment

Electric vehicles require some unique tools not found in standard toolboxes. For example, technicians need non-conductive pry bars to prevent electrical shorts while removing battery components for access. Plastic-coated tools prevent voltage transfers as well.

Heavy-duty jack stands, lift arms and wheel dollies help support the weight of battery packs safely. Specialised computer scan tools link to EV systems for data access and diagnostics. As EVs gain popularity, more specialised tools will be essential for proper service.

Parts Availability Issues

One current downside to EV maintenance is sourcing replacement parts. Original manufacturers control the production of many components without aftermarket options available yet. For uncommon EVs, parts sourcing can mean long delays for maintenance projects.

Body panels, suspension parts, brake components and filters have more supply options. But electronics like control modules and DC-to-AC inverters may only be obtainable from the original maker. Limited parts production for EVs is an ongoing challenge facing repair shops.

Lower Overall Operating Costs

While battery pack replacement represents a large future expense, routine maintenance costs for EVs are quite low. With minimal fluids and brakes to service, and no tune-ups needed, repair bills are infrequent. The electric motors and gearboxes are very durable, with few wearing parts to replace.

Of course, tyre rotations, wheel alignments and wiper replacements are still needed. However the total cost of ownership over an electric vehicle’s lifetime is remarkably low compared to gas-powered cars. Lower maintenance requirements make EVs cost-effective over the long haul.

As electric cars become more popular, drivers should understand how EV service and repair differs from traditional vehicles powered by internal combustion engines. While exciting innovations come with some new challenges, EVs offer simpler maintenance and lower operating expenses for savvy owners. Contact your certified EV repair shop to learn more about maximising your electric vehicle’s performance.

Why Choose SNC Automotive?

With over 20 years of experience, SNC Automotive offers trusted electric vehicle servicing in Brendale. Our certified EV technicians receive ongoing training on rapidly advancing EV technology. We have the tools and expertise to properly maintain your electric vehicle for peak efficiency and reliability. Contact us online or call today to schedule an appointment tailored to your EV’s needs.

Frequently Asked Questions

How often should I have my electric vehicle serviced?

Most experts recommend annual servicing to inspect critical components like brakes, tyres, steering, suspension, and electrical systems. The onboard computer software should also be updated. Additional fluid checks and tyre rotations can be done every 6 months.

Do EVs need tyre rotations?

Yes, regularly rotating your EV’s tyres promotes even treadwear. Rotations should be done every 6,000-8,000 miles. Alignments may also be needed periodically to maximise tyre life.

What happens when an electric vehicle’s battery dies?

If the lithium-ion battery pack fails, replacement is the only option. Battery replacement costs currently range from $5,000-$15,000, including labour. Proper maintenance helps maximise battery lifespan.

Can I take my EV to any repair shop?

EV maintenance requires specialised tools, training and expertise. While some routine services can be performed elsewhere, major issues should be addressed by qualified EV repair technicians for safety and proper repairs.

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