Knowing How to Diagnose and Repair EVs

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Denis Pageau, Partner Relations Advisor for CAA Quebec's recommended garages. Photo Autosphere

Some electric car owners experience chronic problems with their vehicles.

Whatever the model, most of these problems occur at certain key moments. That’s why these problems are actually a by-product of the symptoms. In order to assimilate the complexity of technical procedures, the mechanic has no choice but to interpret the overall situation in order to solve the problem.

To illustrate what a chronic problem is, let’s take the famous turtle-shaped pictogram on the vehicle dashboard as an example. When it lights up, the driver has no choice but to park safely.

The car protects itself

The reason is simple: the vehicle’s module management will take control of the situation and force the vehicle to slow down to a complete stop, depending on road conditions.

Then it’s off to the workshop, in a hurry, and with the health of his battery as a symptom in mind. As a result, vehicle owners are now faced with a technology that doesn’t focus on symptoms, but on behavior.

For our part, apart from solid anomaly codes, the most useful way to take a diagnostic approach is to capture real-time parameters in recording mode on our scanner. The analogy makes perfect sense to follow up this explanation.

The complexity of the search here is explained by the presence of a large number of interacting independent elements, in contrast to the indications of a solid anomaly code, where simplicity is based on a predictable symptom dictated by a written search procedure (flow chart).

The relationship between our daily work and electronic and electrical technology also requires instinctive reflexes. When it comes to repairing these systems, things are different from a gasoline-powered vehicle. The actions required when working on a hybrid or electric vehicle are carried out in real-life conditions, and the risks of electrocution or accidents are real.

In fact, when removing a high-voltage battery, you must always protect yourself against electric shock by applying system deactivation procedures. Please note, however, that the high-voltage battery will remain charged.

Having what it takes

It’s also important to protect yourself when carrying out diagnostic work on an EV, because the actions involved are carried out under real-life conditions. For these reasons, it will require a highly qualified technician, the presence of a customer-friendly advisor, and certified equipment (CAT III) to become a safe, compliant workshop.

Finally, think about charging stations to complete your service offering. These can be used not only to attract customers, but also to diagnose and solve handling problems. It is also useful for returning the fully-loaded vehicle to the customer.

So electric vehicles offer opportunities you can’t ignore. These opportunities include tires, suspension, brakes and the maintenance of many systems.

After talking to many people at electric vehicle shows, I can say that consumer anxiety is rife when it comes to battery health, maintenance and repair.

Install the charging station in full view of the customer, display your credentials, and believe me, when they see the beaconed area, they’ll be impressed as your services win them over.