ELECTRIFYING YOUR TOOLS

SIX TOOLS TO INCLUDE IN YOUR EV TOOL KIT

By Sarah Perkins

It’s no secret that electric vehicles present a new learning curve for the automotive industry. Look at recent reports on EV adoption and repair (or even better, check out the details from Collision Repair mag’s EV Tour, supported by Fix Network) and you’ll see that electric vehicles present both a mixed bag of fear and anticipation. While the technology itself may not be new, increase in global demand and developments in said tech means that auto shops increasingly need to adjust their practices when it comes to facilitating safe repairs.

However, regardless of advances in technology, the start of a decent repair job always comes back to the basics—having the right tools in your toolkit to ensure that you can get the job done.

Here are some must have tools and gear if you want to have EVs in your shop, and to electrify your repair potential without putting yourself at risk of otherwise shocking safety violations.

1. PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)

Before getting into the heart of a repair on an electric vehicle, it’s important to make sure that your technician is properly outfitted. Because of the high-voltage systems included in electric vehicles, regular ICE vehicle PPE will not do, and instead, your technician should have access to insulated gloves rated for high-voltage systems as well as safety glasses or goggles, and other rubberized materials such as protective clothing to reduce the risk of electric shock.

1. PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)

Before getting into the heart of a repair on an electric vehicle, it’s important to make sure that your technician is properly outfitted. Because of the high-voltage systems included in electric vehicles, regular ICE vehicle PPE will not do, and instead, your technician should have access to insulated gloves rated for high-voltage systems as well as safety glasses or goggles, and other rubberized materials such as protective clothing to reduce the risk of electric shock.

3. BATTERY ISOLATION TOOLS AND BATTERY HANDLING EQUIPMENT

Even though the high-voltage battery system is separate from the chassis of an electric vehicle, it is important to ensure that it has been disconnected before beginning any repairs—the same way that you would take certain precautions with the engine and batteries of an ICE vehicle. Some tools that your technician will need in order to do this step safely include, a battery service disconnect tool or high-voltage service disconnector, battery discharge tools, lockout or tagout equipment designed to isolate the high-voltage system, specialized lifting equipment for safely removing and installing high-voltage batteries and a battery caddy or cart.

4. BATTERY COOLING SYSTEM EQUIPMENT

Alongside item number three in this list of essentials, when it comes to an electric vehicle battery, it is also necessary to have equipment for the handling and discharging of refrigerant. Since EV batteries utilize a cooling system of mounted plates to help absorb heat generated by the battery, being able to properly handle this so that the battery is not damaged by incorrect temperatures is paramount.

5. FIRE SUPPRESSION EQUIPMENT

It is also no secret now that when a lithium-ion battery burns, it burns long and hard. Damage to the cells in an electric battery or any leakage can allow an EV to spontaneously catch on fire days after a collision. As a result, being able to contain any and all fire risks is important not just for the repair of the individual vehicle, but also for the overall safety of a repair shop. There’s no sense seeing hard work go up in flames. Some equipment to help battle a potential blaze include having fire extinguishers rated for electric fires, fire resistant blankets or curtains for containing fires and proper ventilation and exhaust systems within a work area—specifically to disperse potentially hazardous fumes and remove exhaust gases from the repair area.

6. PROPER TRAINING AND CERTIFICATION

Ultimately, having all of the tools in the world means nothing if you don’t have the correct training and certifications. To ensure the safety of both technicians and for the vehicle itself, make sure to always follow manufacturer guidelines and recommended procedures. As Canada pushes for increasing electrification, there are more and more opportunities to seek out the training needed to become EV aware. In British Columbia, for instance, one such training outlet is EVFriendly, a program designed to help ensure that “only trained and qualified industry professionals are selling, servicing, repairing, and recycling” electric vehicles in a responsible manner. Like any vehicle, EVs come with their own set of hurdles. However, staying up to date and open to changes, and equipping yourself with both the necessary tools and knowledge will help ensure that your EV tool kit is prepared to take on any repair.

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