The market for hybrid vehicles has boomed in the past few years. Drivers want to find cars that are more eco-friendly than those older predecessors. However, there are few things you will want to know about these cars. For example, if your vehicle is involved in a collision, it can present some challenges for your auto body shop. Restoring a damaged hybrid does have some unique challenges. Here are some ways that an auto body shop will repair your vehicle and get it back on the road.
What Is a Hybrid Vehicle?
Hybrid vehicles (HV) were first introduced in the 1990s. These vehicles use a diesel or gas engine with an electric motor. As a result, the vehicle emits less CO2 and consumes less gas. You can purchase a hybrid vehicle as a “plug-in” or conventional model.
Most major automobile manufacturers offer the conventional hybrid. They have a gasoline engine that will charge up the modestly sized battery as you drive. Since the engine only charges the battery, you will not be able to charge it from an outlet. These cars can only drive a short distance on electric power.
The second type of hybrid vehicle is the “plug-in.” These types of cars are only available from a few automakers. They have a large battery that can be charged by plugging into a charging station or standard wall outlet. Once the battery is fully charged, it can run without any gas. This hybrid can also operate in a mode that consumes both electricity and gasoline.
Some Challenges To a Hybrid Vehicle Repair
Both types of hybrid vehicles have complex electronic systems with complicated equipment. If you need to get your car repaired, you want to stick with an auto body shop that has experience with these vehicles. Since the electric systems are vital, one wrong move could damage several essential components.
The battery is another vital piece of the hybrid vehicle. Over the lifetime of the car, you will save money on those traditional repairs. However, if you need to replace the battery, it can cost you a few thousand dollars. For those severe collisions, you will need to have your battery inspected to make sure it is operating at an efficient level. Once again, you want to take your vehicle to a certified and experienced auto body shop that can handle these hybrid repairs.
Finally, the biggest challenge is finding the right mechanic for your car. These components require a particular set of skills. Many repairs require more technical expertise than the standard car repair. If your mechanic doesn’t know what he or she is doing with your vehicle, it could cost you several thousand dollars in additional repairs.
I-CAR Hybrid Repair Recommendations
Since hybrid vehicles have unique safety concerns, the Inter-Industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair (I-CAR) has established safety protocols to protect auto body shop technicians,
insurance adjusters, and the hybrid vehicle. These recommendations provide set safety standards for both plug-in and conventional hybrid models.
Before Starting a Repair
Since the hybrid’s system can be damaged from standard towing methods, it cannot be moved on its own wheels. The vehicle must be placed on a flatbed to prevent any damage. Those system components are sensitive. Any of these parts must immediately be inspected for signs of damage. A trained technician will examine specific areas of the vehicle, such as the cooling system of the engine. Due to the particular service requirements of these systems, the technicians must be trained and certified to work on a hybrid vehicle.
With standard cars, the body panels can be removed from the vehicle. However, in a hybrid, system batteries, connectors, wires, and modules are often placed in the panels. Your technician will inspect these areas for damage. If certain areas of the hybrid car are damaged, it can cause more issues with your vehicle. Your technician will use the right equipment and service oils to protect these valuable parts.
Wearing Proper Protective Gloves
Since a hybrid has a delicate electrical system, your technician will wear protective gloves to work on the vehicle. If a compromise is detected in the car, the built-in safety interlocks and circuit monitoring system will shut down.
The gloves also protect the technician from any injuries. There are plenty of high-voltage components in the vehicle, including the inverter assembly, electric drive motors, PHEV charge ports, and the service plug fuse and receptacle.
The Teardown and Reassembly Stages
Before the electrical propulsion system can be touched, it must be disabled for safety reasons. Your technician will shut down the engine to prevent damage and injuries to those around the vehicle. A digital volt-ohm meter is used to confirm that the car is completely disabled.
Trained technicians will never place their fingers directly on the system connectors or parts. It is important to keep these elements free from fluid, dirt, or other contaminants. A scan is used to detect any potential issues with the system. These issues come in the form of an error message, and the vehicle might also present DTC or MIL codes.
Once the technician has inspected the hybrid’s system, you will know if there have been any compromises to the vehicle. If the hybrid needs to be repaired, the technician will fix the components and parts according to your auto manufacturer’s specifications.
Repairing a hybrid car can be tricky. Without the proper training, an inexperienced technician can cause additional damage to your vehicle. If you want to avoid all those hassles, make sure to find a professional hybrid technician for your vehicle.
The Right Auto Body Shop Near Me
No matter what car you drive, you want to find a qualified and experienced technician for any repair job. Elmer’s Auto Body has been serving the South Jersey community for over 70 years. We have I-Car Gold Class and Assured Performance certifications. Along with that, we are certified by several manufacturers, such as Chevrolet, GM, Ford, and Nissan. You can count on us to bring back the original look of your vehicle. If you would like to schedule a consultation, call us at (856) 218-0202.