EV safety: How to prepare your shop for the future of EVs

Nov. 7, 2023
Does your shop have what it takes to service EVs safely? Here are factors to consider.

While on the AAPEX EV Experience Stage, TOPDON’s Manager of Training and Development Haakan Light shared valuable insights on how automotive repair shops can prepare for the expected growth of electric vehicles (EVs). Here are some key considerations he emphasized:

Safety training: The first thing shops need to consider is safety training. Shops need to ensure their technicians are familiar with the specific safety procedures and precautions related to EVs. 

“You need to start training now so that you can get comfortable and confident with the subject matter before it starts to hit your shops in a major way,” Light said. “I encourage you to [get safety training] in addition to technical training.”

Safety equipment: Proper safety equipment is essential when working on EVs. This includes personal protective gear such as gloves, boots, jackets, and pants. Additionally, shops should have fire blankets on hand to extinguish EV-related fires. It's also important to be aware of the replacement intervals for safety equipment and adhere to manufacturer guidelines.

Diagnostic tools: EVs have specific diagnostic needs that may require additional tools. Automotive repair shops should invest in diagnostic tools capable of communicating with the various systems in EVs. Access to the right information from the vehicle side is critical for accurate diagnosis. Some specific diagnostic examples include testing the EV drive motor, checking for battery enclosure leaks, and monitoring battery cell charging and discharging. Light also noted that having an insulation test meter, thermal imager (used to find electrical resistance and verify battery safety), and EV battery lift table are also necessary. 

Other EV service considerations for shops: 

Light also shared several more important factors for automotive repair shops to take into account when preparing to service EVs:

Workshop layout: Allocate a larger area than usual for servicing EVs to mitigate thermal runaway risks. EVs contain large battery packs that can pose a fire risk in the event of a malfunction, so providing extra space and fire suppression equipment is crucial for safety.

Storage and charging: It's advisable to store EVs outside the workshop when they are not being actively serviced. This minimizes the risk associated with having EVs indoors, particularly in terms of fire safety. Additionally, consider installing charging stations on-site to ensure that you can return the EV to the owner fully charged after servicing.

Vehicle lift capacity: EVs tend to be heavier than traditional internal combustion engine vehicles due to their large battery packs. Ensure that your shop has appropriately rated vehicle lifts capable of safely lifting and supporting the weight of EVs, which can often exceed 10,000 lbs.

Insurance coverage: To protect your business when servicing EVs, consider investing in the appropriate insurance coverage. The unique risks associated with EVs may necessitate supplemental insurance coverage, given the higher costs and potential liability concerns related to battery packs and electrical systems.

By addressing these additional considerations, automotive repair shops can establish a safe and efficient environment for servicing EVs, thereby offering quality service to their customers and taking advantage of the growing market for EV maintenance and repair.

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