Due to the electrical systems that hybrid vehicles have, restoring a damaged one does have some unique challenges associated with them. The following are some of the most important precautionary steps that an auto body shop takes in order to protect your vehicle and its employees.
There are two main types of hybrids, “plug-in” and “conventional”:
Conventional Hybrids. Most auto manufacturers offer these. They have a gas engine that keeps a moderately sized battery charged while you are driving. Available in different models and makes, you cannot plug in a conventional hybrid to recharge its batteries, and therefore can only be driven sporadically on electric power alone.
Plug-In Hybrids. Some automakers offer plug-in hybrids. These vehicles have large batteries that can be recharged by plugging in the vehicle into a recharging station or standard wall outlet. After the car is charged, it runs solely on electricity without any fossil fuel being burned. However, even without ever plugging it in, a plug-in HV still can run.
HV Car Repair Recommendations From I-Car
In order to protect uyor vehicle, technicians, auto body shop estimators, and insurance adjusters, safety protocols have been established for working on both kinds of HVs by the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR).
Before Repairs Start
The car cannot be moved or towed on its road wheels in order to reduce any possible shock hazard and to prevent potential HV system damage.
All of the HV system components need to be first be found and inspected for any potential signs of damage.
All of a vehicle’s service requirements for different systems need to be fully understood first, such as the cooling system on the engine.
Damaged body panel(s) need to checked from behind to see if any HV system batteries, modules, connectors, or wires that may have sustained damage as well.
The right air conditioning system service oils and equipment needs to be used in order to prevent the system from becoming contaminated.
Wear Protective Gloves
Although the electrical system of an HV has been designed to include circuit monitoring systems and built-in safety interlocks that will initiate a shutdown when a compromise is detected, it is highly recommended that protective electrical lineman’s gloves be worn.
The gloves protect the technician who is working near or on high-voltage vehicle components such as PHEV charge port, electric drive motors, inverter assembly, orange-colored cables, service pug fuse and receptacle, etc.
Throughout The Teardown And Reassembly Stages
The electrical propulsion system on an HV needs to be disabled before it is touched or before prying on other system components.
If there is any engine damage or anyone in the vicinity of an HV system, it must be completely disabled before doing anything else.
A quality digital volt-ohm meter should be used to confirm that the HV system has shut down.
Technicians should ever put their fingers directly on or in any HV system parts or connectors.
All connectors that are disconnected need to be kept free of contamination, fluid, or dirt.
If the HV system appears to be intact without any compromises and seems to be safe to be powered up, then the vehicle first needs to be scanned by the technician to identify any potential HV system issues. They will be displayed as HV system error messages or if there are any DTCs or MIL present.