Got an EV Repair Concern? Learn How to Tackle It
May 27, 2020—The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence hosted a free webinar on Friday, offering education on hybrid electric vehicle safety.
Coordinating Committee for Automotive Repair (CCAR) safety author and ASE master technician Bob McGinn shares the areas of concern when servicing today’s hybrid and electric vehicles.
Any repair shop and body shop might encounter hybrid electric vehicles, whether an existing customer acquired one or the shop focuses repairs on those specialized cars. According to CCAR, it's estimated that about 3.8 million of these cars are traveling roads worldwide. So, it's likely if you haven't seen one yet, you will.
For hybrid electric vehicles not involved in a collision, they can encounter some of these safety problems depending on the way they cool. Some of the legacy vehicles cool differently and some cool with air. They could self-heat if they get out of control.
If the customer comes into a shop with a "compromised hybrid vehicle" then the customer has an issue and the shop is also facing a problem.
What are Hybrids Comprised Of?
A hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) uses some type of high-storage battery. This could be a lithium-ion battery or nickel-metal hydride.
Warning signs from HEV batteries include leaking or dripping fluids, popping noise, sparks from the battery area and smoke or hissing noises.
Concern #1: Stranded Energy
This is the inability to remove stored energy from the battery pack after a collision. The technician is vulnerable to shock hazards from either battery chemistry and fire from lithium-ion batteries.
Technicians need to approach the car with the mindset that the battery is unstable until an inspection indicates otherwise. Avoid contact with any type of battery.
If the vehicle has damage to the battery, isolate the vehicle at least 50 feet away from any other flammable or combustible material. The battery should be monitored with thermal imaging until it cools below ambient.
Concern #2: Thermal Runaway
Thermal runaway describes a process which is accelerated by increased temperature, in turn, releasing energy that further increases the temperature.this could take place if a car landed in water, or the battery was reignited from a fire. This can occur any time without warning.
To put this out, fire fighting operations may require an excess of 2,500 gallons of water to sufficiently cool and extinguish a high-capacity lithium-ion battery.
Concern #3: Liquid Fire
Hybrids also have gasoline. Careful consideration must be given to the vehicle's liquid fuel charge if possible.
It may not be possible to conduct repair operations on an HEV safely.