E-cars: You can do this maintenance work yourself

What maintenance work can you still do yourself as an owner of electric cars? And what is the most common cause of breakdowns in electric vehicles? An expert explains.

Long gone are the days when car owners could tweak their wheels themselves almost to their heart’s content. Modern cars are too complicated, in particular the electronics and IT installed in the cars impose narrow limits on car hobbyists. When it comes to electric cars, the question arises as to what a layperson can do with the car, particularly because of the high-voltage system. Rene Kleesattel, e-mobility expert at the ATU workshop chain, gives tips.

On-board battery: it also causes most breakdowns in e-cars

According to ATU, the number one cause of breakdowns in e-cars is discharged or defective 12-volt on-board batteries. The on-board battery powers the on-board electronics in electric cars just like in conventional cars: it can be used, for example, to open windows, switch on lights or infotainment systems. To avoid breakdowns, the performance of the 12-volt battery should therefore be checked regularly.

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Combustion engines and e-cars: How different is maintenance?

E-cars have to be serviced regularly, just like combustion vehicles. However, there are far fewer maintenance-intensive components in an e-car and certain – expensive (!) – work such as changing the oil (with the exorbitant prices per liter of the authorized workshops) are even omitted entirely. You will also look in vain for spark plugs, clutches, exhaust systems, turbochargers, cylinder head gaskets, etc. on an e-car. This reduces maintenance and repair costs.

Nevertheless, e-cars also have wearing parts such as tyres, brakes, windshield wipers or the 12-volt on-board battery already mentioned. The chassis, bearings and hubs as well as lights and headlights should also be checked.

Less brake wear

According to the ATU, the brakes of e-cars need to be serviced less often than with combustion engines – this is because they are used less frequently: the driving speed of electric vehicles is not only throttled mechanically, but also with the electric motor, which generates energy during this process and recharges the battery – also known as brake recuperation. However, the brake discs of e-cars also rust, so they have to be checked. Because of corrosion in connection with low stress, the brake discs can wear out faster, especially in electric cars.

What can drivers do themselves?

“The electric motor and the high-voltage system, including the traction battery, are taboo for laypeople. Only specialists with the appropriate high-voltage training are allowed to work here,” emphasizes Kleesattel. However, vehicle owners can do some work themselves: For example, they can change tires or fill up liquids themselves.

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