EV MAINTENANCE: BEYOND THE ELECTRIC MOTOR
(Article published in L’Automobile Innovations magazine, October 2023)
By Éric Descarries
One of the most appealing features of an electric vehicle (EV) is that it promises to be mechanically low maintenance. This is true for the engine and transmission, and even the differential, the major targets of maintenance in the past. But a vehicle remains a moving object, with many other parts still requiring some form of servicing.
Too many people imagine that, in the not-too-distant future, the mechanic’s profession is doomed to disappear, since tomorrow’s vehicles, especially electric ones, will require very little maintenance. Well, they’re wrong!
Even if electrification simplifies driving mechanics, there will always be components that wear out or are damaged. Take brakes, for example. While they operate with electrification, just like today’s power steering, worn brake pads will have to be replaced sooner or later. The same is true when it comes to steering parts, which are subject to wear and tear from road imperfections and Mother Nature’s wrath. The same applies to suspension parts, including shock absorbers, bushes and other moving parts.
Do you think automakers will ever eliminate certain fluids involved in the functioning of a vehicle? We can think of no more obvious examples than brake oil or the antifreeze needed for certain cabin heating or battery cooling functions. The simplest example is windshield washer fluid, one of the first things to look for when a customer entrusts their car to a garage for regular maintenance.
In the same vein, filters won’t disappear with internal combustion engines (if that ever happens!) There will always be filters for the operation of certain parts, in addition to those increasingly used to purify cabin air.
Of course, one of the most talked-about maintenance items in the business will be tires. Unless we see the arrival of flying cars in the next few years (and we certainly won’t!), vehicles, whether gasoline-powered or electric, will always need tires. And since there are a wide range of products on the market for all types of use, as specific as they may be, including winter use, our industry will always need specialists not only to advise customers, but also to take off, mount and install tires and wheels. To this must be added the alignment, balancing and even (possible) repair of tires, steering and suspension components, and so on.
And we haven’t even tackled the “electrical” dimension here! We mustn’t discourage young people who want to study auto mechanics. There will always be plenty of work for them!