Electric vehicles pose new dangers to technicians and one mistake could be costly, warned an expert from Mitchell 1.
Dealing with EVs is going to be new for everyone. But with all the extra voltage flowing around, Ben Johnson, director of product management at Mitchell 1, advised that technicians practise a little extra care when poking and prodding around such vehicles.
“We don’t need to be scared, but we should be respectful,” he said during the presentation Preparing for Electrification — What Shops Need to do to Get Ready at AAPEX last month. “There is a lot of voltage in certain areas of these vehicles. There’s a lot of areas that are perfectly safe and you can muck around with.”
Mitchell 1’s Ben Johnson speaks at AAPEX 2021
Johnson’s presentation was part of the Let’s Tech series on the AAPEX Stage at the Sands Expo in Las Vegas. He warned that SAE created a standard around orange sheathing which basically means to not mess around with it.
“Don’t do what I used to do. We think, ‘It’s fine. Here’s my very sharp test light. Let me just puncture that and see if there’s a reading.’ Well, first of all, it’s probably going to pop your bulb. Second of all, you might have up to 800 volts there that’s going to try to find a path to ground. And if that’s through you, then so be it; that’s where it’s going to find it,” he told attendees. “Just need to have some common sense.”
As for his biggest advice to technicians, he recommended getting to know your service information. The original equipment manufacturers “have done a pretty good job” of telling technicians to disable the high voltage systems before they do a particular task.
“Sometimes it’s not just pulling that connector,” he explained. “It’s waiting some period of time, usually around 10 minutes, for the supercapacitors to settle down and to discharge so that you’re not going to get an unwanted surprise when you start probing a circuit.”