A Closer Look: Servicing Electric and Hybrid Vehicles

A Closer Look: Servicing Electric and Hybrid Vehicles

Hybrid vehicles have been sold in the U.S. for over 20 years. As hybrids continue to grow in popularity, and as fully electric vehicles have entered the market in the past several years, they have brought with them numerous service opportunities for aftermarket repair facilities. Whether shops dive in and get involved with replacing batteries, inverters, or other high-voltage components, or they stick to light-duty servicing, there is plenty of work to go around.

Safety First

One of the first things required of anyone working on a vehicle with a high-voltage drive system is an understanding of how the system works. Standard® Pro Training has been offering training classes on hybrid vehicles since 2002 and continues to offer classes on this topic On-Site, Live-Virtual and On-Demand.

Once a technician is armed with a good understanding of how these systems work and how to safely disable the high-voltage system, there are tools and safety equipment that they’ll need. These include high-voltage gloves, insulated sole work boots, face shielding, shepherd’s hook, rubber mats, and proper fire extinguishers for electrical fires. The technician should also be familiar with performing a “Live–Dead–Live” test on the vehicle.

It's important to keep in mind that because working on high-voltage applications can be very dangerous, you should refer DIYers to professional shops with experience working on hybrid and electric vehicles.

Standard® Tesla Charging Adapter

Powertrain Neutral

Like internal combustion engine-powered vehicles, each electric or hybrid vehicle has a 12-volt system. This system runs components such as the instrument cluster, entertainment system, lighting, internal controls, and additional systems like ADAS, power windows, power locks, and more. Failure of these systems is possible regardless of which powerplant is under the hood, and there is no difference replacing the window regulator on a hybrid Honda Accord or gas-powered Accord. The same can be said for many of the other components and service opportunities.

Close, But Not Quite the Same

Some systems on vehicles with a hybrid or EV powertrain will be serviced similarly to those on an ICE-powered vehicle, but not quite the same. Take an HVAC system, for example. The compressor is typically run by its own high-voltage motor, so extra precaution needs to be taken when servicing the AC system. An electrical compressor can be used to cool the cabin and control the output of the compressor to maximize the system’s performance. When the system needs to be serviced, the high-voltage system will likely need to be disabled. Technicians should always use a dedicated refrigerant machine or set of gauges and recovery equipment. This will help prevent cross contamination of oil from other systems with the non-conductive oil in electric compressors, helping to avoid a high-voltage leak fault.

Standard® Battery Charging Cable for Toyotas

New Opportunities

Beyond the obvious big-ticket items such as batteries, inverters, and motors, there are new items required to keep hybrid and electric vehicles on the road. Since the discharging and charging of the battery creates excessive heat, there are additional systems required to keep them cool. Some systems have extra cooling fans, coolant pumps, and various valves to accomplish this critical cooling. As with many components, these fail over time and need to be replaced so that the vehicle is able to “ready up” and power its way down the road.

Standard®, along with Four Seasons®, already has over 4,600 parts for hybrid vehicles with coverage for more than 150 different hybrid vehicles. Additionally, Standard® and Four Seasons® have another 2,500 parts cataloged for electric vehicles. These include Tesla Charging Adapters, Battery Charging Cables, ADAS components, Hybrid Drive Coolant Pumps, Battery Cooling Fan Motors, Battery Current/Volt Sensors, and much more. So, when your customers are looking for high-quality replacement parts for hybrids and EVs, look to Standard® and Four Seasons®.

For more information on diagnosing and replacing these components, search “hybrid” on the Standard Brand YouTube channel.