The increase in sales in the electric car industry raises many questions. Like, for example, is repairing an electric car cheaper or more expensive? Will I have to visit the garage more or less often? Are garages adapted for the change? What should an electric car garage be like? Are mechanics trained to meet this demand?
To answer all these questions, we contacted the Barcelona Provincial Guild of Automobile Repair Workshops, an association of 2,749 workplaces in Barcelona.
First of all, it should be understood that the electric car and the traditional car have common mechanical elements, such as shock absorbers, brake pads, steering and tyres. This doesn’t change. What does change is the engine. The combustion engine has oil, spark plugs, cylinders, pistons, cylinder heads, crankcases and other necessary elements such as the clutch, belts, filters and gearbox. Parts subject to movement, vibration and friction that require regular maintenance.
Electric vehicles have four basic elements, which barely need maintenance: the battery, the inverter, the rectifier and the regulator.
Are garages equipped for repairing electric cars?
The General Secretary of the Barcelona Provincial Guild of Automobile Repair Workshops, Ramón Casas, tells us that, bearing in mind that the components of the electric propulsion system, being new, currently require few interventions, garages are already equipped to provide service to the rest of the vehicle’s elements which, after all, do not differ from those of an internal combustion engine.
Looking forward, there is a new provision of repair services on electrical components where garages need to access technical information from the manufacturer and be trained specifically in the operation of these elements.
How will garages adapt to the electric future?
Basically, adaptation will depend on safety training for the handling of these vehicles and the identification of their components in order to avoid risks. The EU obliges manufacturers to make all technical information of vehicles available to all independent garages as a way to guarantee the consumer’s right to free choice when choosing their mechanic.
In short, garages have to adapt to the electrification of the automotive sector, which should start with the installation of different loading points distributed around the garage, essential for working on vehicles. There must be several spaces that provide all the specific tools that are needed for these vehicles and garages must have well-trained mechanics to carry out all these tasks.
Is it true that the electric car has to go to the garage less often?
It all depends on the kilometres travelled. It is advisable, and thus stated by most manufacturers, to perform an annual review. It is also true that, in the case of pure electric cars, visits to the garage could be less frequent but you will always have to carry out the necessary preventive maintenance that will help extend the life of the vehicle’s components. According to Ramón Casas, General Secretary of the Barcelona Provincial Guild of Automobile Repair Workshops, all vehicles should be checked once a year.
The essential thing is to be aware of the need to carry out this maintenance for reasons of safety, for ourselves and other users of public roads, and not see it as an unnecessary expense.
How much does an electric car cost to repair?
The paradox is that electric cars have more technology (compared to combustion engine cars) but, at the same time, are simpler.
The electric car has 60% fewer components than any combustion engine vehicle, its engine is smaller and lighter, and its maintenance, therefore, is simpler.
Garages diagnose, assess and repair.
The focus is on the tyres, the particle filter and the brakes which are the most recurrent replacements in all vehicles. For the specific case of batteries, it will depend on the manufacturer or the type of contract specified with the make. In the case of Renault, they offer rental of their batteries, which lowers the initial cost of the vehicle. However, they have very little annual maintenance beyond trying to extend their useful life by carrying out cycles of charging and discharging correctly according to their range.
The tyres will have to be changed depending on the wear caused by kilometres travelled and pressure settings. They should be checked at least once every two weeks. The particle filter or pollen filter must be changed once a year. The brakes wear out much less since electric cars have regenerative braking that acts as an engine brake; therefore, the change of pads will be less frequent. The brake fluid should be changed at 50,000 kilometres.
And the most common problems?
Apart from wear and tear, which we’ve already mentioned, the most common faults that garages have to deal with are the result of human error, based on unfamiliarity with the electrical plugs and cables. When the salesman is explaining how everything works, don’t be playing with your phone; pay special attention at this point.
If you have already decided to take the step towards sustainable mobility, do not hesitate to consult our page of grants and subsidies.
- Spanish Association of Car and Lorry Manufacturers
- Motor Guild (Joan Blancafort, General Secretary)
- Barcelona Provincial Guild of Automobile Repair Workshops (Ramón Casas, General Secretary)