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5 Ways To Care For A Hybrid Or Fully Electric Car

5 Ways To Care For A Hybrid Or Fully Electric Car

By now everyone will know the difference between a fully-electric and a hybrid vehicle. The hybrid’s electric motor is supported by a conventional engine; the EV runs on electricity alone. The choice as to which is best comes down to individual need. A hybrid is perhaps more convenient for long trips; the battery electric car (BEV) is great for around town and local driving. Each system has merit and both now require a change in car servicing needs when dealing with this new technology.

No DIY

Electricity is dangerous, that much is obvious, and any electric vehicle works at high voltage so no tinkering; it’s not like changing an air filter. Leave any maintenance work to a professional car servicing garage that understands this technology. By and large, there being less moving parts, a BEV should cost less to service, but many servicing items still apply as usual.

The Battery Pack

It is clear now that vehicle battery packs, properly cared for, are long-lasting and generally reliable, just like the small battery under the bonnet. Most car makers these days will offer a 100,000 mile warranty on the battery pack. How long it lasts is up to the owner.

It’s a good idea, with a BEV or plug-in hybrid (PHEV) to charge often where possible. By this we mean keeping them topped up between 50% and 80%. It’s not always possible, but it does help long term, by reducing the impact on the pack of heat generated by charging.

Tyres

Tyres are always critical on any vehicle so the same rules apply on hybrids and fully-electric vehicles. There is however an additional point to note. The weight of the battery and the electric motor(s) increases wear and tear on tyres. Thus, inspection should be carried out more often, just to be on the safe side. It’s possible tyres will need to be replaced more often. Tyre manufacturers are aware of this and new compounds are being developed to counter this: Watch this space.

Brakes

One positive outcome of the electric revolution is regenerative braking. On a BEV, because throttle response is immediate, then lifting off has the same effect, slowing the car. Some skilled operatives can even drive normally, without resorting much of the time to the brake pedal. Regeneration is augmented by any application of the brakes too, that surplus energy topping up the battery.

Overall, this may mean that the traditional brakes are likely to need fewer disc and pad changes, although because of the extra weight they may need to work harder. In short, the brakes must be maintained as usual as part of the annual service, say, and the brake fluid changed routinely.

Charging

As the infrastructure for public vehicle charging develops (albeit slowly) so the easier it will become to charge a car. The addition of domestic wall chargers for homes is becoming more viable, especially as utility companies are offering tariffs which may help householders who charge an EV. Slow charging is best to help preserve battery life. Fast chargers are great, but a slow charge, overnight say, is less demanding on the pack, generating less heat. With most systems today, the charging rate slows down near the end of the cycle and it’s the last bit that takes longer, allowing the batteries to cool. That’s why fast chargers only state a speedy charge to 80% over perhaps half-an-hour. Still, that’s probably enough to get home.

Servicing

A hybrid vehicle, PHEV or self-charging, driven appropriately, will add mileage benefits, but a fossil fuel, usually petrol, will still be needed. That means there is still an engine, with its many moving parts, to service as normal with oils and fluids and driving belts, and there’s also still a gearbox which also needs routine, if rare maintenance. In other words, don’t expect a hybrid to be cheaper to maintain. Balance this against lower fuel bills and reduced road tax.

BEV’s are different. There’s no conventional gearbox; just push and go with nothing more than a single reduction gear and differential. It’s a really simple system. Although it is conceivable that the ‘gearbox’ may need attention, commonly they are sealed for life and it’s the same with the electric motor(s) saving money on car servicing.

And Finally…

PHEV or BEV, it is understandable that people are concerned about electrical safety but there’s really nothing to worry about. Charging systems on the cars and at the wall are designed to be safe in all weathers, even outside in winter. Leave the maintenance side of things to your local profession car servicing garage and get to know electric motoring.

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