If you are turning away hybrid vehicle service, change that mindset right now. With more than 4-million hybrid vehicles sold through April 2016, service opportunities exist if you welcome them and are prepared with training, education and resources. The hybrid vehicle owner is a sophisticated customer, and servicing these cars can help bring additional revenue into your service bays — plus you can benefit from repair opportunities afforded by the other cars in your customers’ driveways.
It all starts with education and the proper training, and this article will provide a few pointers. Warning: this article is not intended to provide detailed repair information. Follow all safety requirements and get adequate training before servicing a hybrid vehicle.
Technicians need to know how to service the basic systems safely, and while there are a number of resources available to get them properly trained, they will widely vary. So, do your research and choose the program that best fits your shop’s needs, and make sure it’s one you and your techs can grow into.
Below are some important nuances with which techs will need to be familiar.
• Learn to locate and use the high-voltage disconnect feature so that the high-voltage systems are isolated.
• Know that there are two cooling systems, how to service them and how to test the various components like the inverters and cooling system pumps.
• What service is needed for the brakes? While not used that much, these cars use regenerative braking where the electric motors are used to recharge the battery. That load is then used to help slow down the car.
Using the correct scanners and test equipment to accurately test batteries, the electric motors and generators is very important. Did you know that a high-voltage battery could be underperforming, causing a loss in fuel economy, but won’t set a diagnostic code or warning light? How are you going to have a discussion with the customer about this if you don’t understand the system? Trust me, hybrid owners know their exact fuel mileage and will be looking for answers if they experience a drop in fuel economy.
Testing and servicing the batteries is not difficult after you get the right training and tools. With the proper training, it’s also possible to test and service the electric motors and the generator.
While most service providers and dealers are replacing complete battery packs or the transmission as a unit, there are ways to test the parts before they’re installed (or replaced) — essentially opening the door for using a recycled part. This will set your shop apart as the expert and save your clients’ money with a good high-quality repair you can stand behind. You don’t even need to remove the transmission to verify a needed repair, and you can provide a report as to the condition of the motor or generator.
Your service advisors also need to learn how service procedures differ on hybrids and how to communicate what needs to be done and why to your customers. I would imagine it was the same when cars went from a cable brake system to hydraulic. I’m not that old, but I’ve read enough about them to know it was a game changer.
They need to be trained to explain to the customer why they may need a brake caliper slide service, when the brakes are OK, how to sell a battery stress test for the high-voltage battery, and the importance of checking and replacing battery box/compartment air filters. The reason: some cars have air-cooled batteries and others have liquid-cooled systems.
A focused effort complemented by an investment in equipment and training will give you and your team the confidence they will need to effectively and profitably service this growing vehicle population.
Article courtesy ImportCar.