EV Servicing by Diane Freeman

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Diane freeman AARO president portrait
Diane Freeman PHOTO Diane Freeman

The demand for cleaner vehicles is clearly growing among consumers.

You don’t have to look very far to see that manufacturers are offering more Electric Vehicles and in some cases that is all they will be producing within the next few years.GM plans to be all-electric by 2025, introducing 30 new EVs by then.

In addition to that, the type of EVs that are being offered is changing, in an effort to broaden their appeal. Up until recently, most have been passenger cars, but that is starting to change, with more trucks and SUV models becoming available.

Besides the Tesla Cybertruck, Ford has already announced its F-150 Lightning all-Electric pickup for the 2022 model year, while by 2023, Chevrolet plans to introduce a Silverado EV with a battery pack that should give up to 643 km (400 miles) of range per charge.

Only the beginning

These vehicles are seen as only the beginning of a future where EV pickups will be mainstream and lining our roadways across the country. And with more of these vehicles on our roads, that means more shops will have to be able to service them.

Consumers often think that because EVs don’t require oil, they will require virtually no maintenance.This is where we, as an industry, need to educate consumers on what type of service is actually required with EVs.An electric vehicle still requires maintenance, just like any other car or truck.

For example, Nissan LEAF owners will require a Schedule 1 Service. As with the Chevrolet Bolt, this comes down to assorted periodic mechanical inspections, having the tires rotated every six months or 12,000 km (7,500 miles), and changing the cabin air filter every 12 months or 24,000 km (15,000 miles). Overall, when it comes to educating your customers on EV maintenance, here are five things to consider.

Battery inspection/maintenance
  •  In an electric vehicle, the battery takes up a great deal of space. While it may be bulky, heavy and complex, and doesn’t require day-to-day maintenance, it still requires upkeep.
  • Most plug-in hybrids and pure EVs currently use lithium-ion batteries.
  • These require specific maintenance procedures, including removal, storage and replacement, along with specialized tools and equipment.
  • It is therefore important that your technicians are properly trained to service and handle these batteries.
  • Because Hybrids and EVs use a regenerative braking system—a process involving harnessing energy from the parts stored in the battery system for later use—brake wear on your vehicle’s pads and rotors are very limited and they will probably last twice as long as they would on a conventional car.
  • Yet because they aren’t used as much, they are also more likely to corrode and seize, so this is something to bear in mind for both EV owners and service shop service advisors and technicians.
  • Although tire wear affects every vehicle, because many current EVs are 20-30% heavier than ICE cars due to the weight of their battery systems and deliver instant torque from their electric motors, they place more strain on the tires, meaning they tend to wear out faster than those on a regular car or truck.
  • Technicians should pay attention to the inside edge of the tread since this area of the tire is often the one most exposed to wear.
  • Maintaining the OEM recommended tire pressure is also essential to ensure a smooth ride and longer tire lifespan.
  • Additionally, tires should also be rotated at recommended intervals and if they are uni-directional, they must be mounted on the correct wheels to avoid uneven and excessive wear.
  • On EVs with a liquid thermal management system, you will need to check and replace the coolant regularly following the owner’s manual, just like with ICE cars.
  • The reason is that, unlike ICE vehicles, EVs with lithium-Ion batteries require them to operate at a specific temperature and if they overheat it can cause significant damage to the battery system.
  • EVs also require special E- transmission fluids and E-Greases and although the brakes are used less than on regular vehicles, brake fluid still requires regular inspection and will need to be flushed and replaced periodically.
Cabin air filters
  • Besides keeping the air outside cleaner, keeping it clean inside the cabin is also a priority for many EV owners.
  • Several EVs now come with special filters that create positive pressure inside the cabin and are capable of making and keeping the air as clean as a hospital room.
  • Not only are outside smells reduced to a minimum, but so are sub-particles and allergens that could enter the cabin.
  • To keep such a level of comfort and health, it is recommended that these filters be changed once a year.

Although specific EVs will require specific maintenance procedures, the above five categories are some of the key things your customers need to consider when it comes to maintaining their electric vehicle to ensure safe and proper operation.

Diane Freeman is President of the Automotive Aftermarket Retailers of Ontario (AARO). You can reach her at [email protected]


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