Checking Your Low-Maintenance Ride
It’s no wonder why you’re seeing more electric vehicles (EV) on the road these days; they bypass a lot of the headaches that come with gas-operated vehicles—frequent fluid and filter changes, high fuel prices and dangerous emissions.
Traditional combustion engines need routine maintenance to ensure the safety, reliability and longevity of your vehicle. Thanks to the invention of electric motors, EVs and hybrids are seen as lower-maintenance vehicles that are easier to own, healthier for the Earth and modeled after the future state of technology. However, that doesn’t mean these types of vehicles don’t require any upkeep at all. Electric vehicles come with their own set of demands and need routine care just like everything else. Make sure you take the time to run through a basic, at-home electric vehicle maintenance inspection checklist to ensure everything is running smoothly before you hit the road.
A Freshened Cabin
Go ahead and clear out any old gym bags, fast food wrappers and other miscellaneous cargo taking up your cabin space before getting down to business, so that you have a clean slate with which to work. Take the time to wipe down the center console and clear out your USB and charger ports for better performance. You can use a compressed air duster to sweep out old food and dust particles or dab a cloth with water or rubbing alcohol to gently remove any buildup.
If you drive your vehicle often, you likely take note of any changes or issues within your cabin, like a faulty A/C system, radio or sensor. A low-performing A/C system could be due to a simple cabin air filter change behind your glove box, vehicle hood or dashboard. Changing out your filter is an easy, 15-minute process that can save your HVAC system in the long run, especially if you’ve noticed any reduced airflow or foul smells. Sometimes, a leaky or clogged A/C condensation drain hose can cause floor moisture, so don’t forget to check under your floormats for hidden leaks or wet spots.
Getting Down to Business
Make sure to check your indicator lights next by flashing your hazards and high beams to make sure they’re fully operational. To check your brake and rear lighting, get a friend or friendly stranger to watch your lights when you press the brakes or set up your smartphone to record your them in action. Once you’ve confirmed light functionality, inspect the condition of your windshield wiper blades. Have they been changed out in the last year? Turn on your wipers and watch for scratchy, dented motions that leave streaks on the glass. If you’re seeing this, then it’s time to replace the wiper blades or top-off the wiper fluid.
Support and Steering Challenges
Like gas vehicles, your electric ride utilizes a chassis frame and suspension system to support heavy weight and the shock impact of driving. Most EVs are heavier than the average gas-powered vehicle, making it extra important to ensure a reliable suspension system with absorbent shocks and struts. Pay close attention to the ‘bounciness’ of your vehicle whenever driving over bumps. You should also perform the classic ‘bounce test’ by pushing down on the bumper or hood to see if your vehicle bounces more than twice, which means it’s probably time to change out your shocks or struts.
Try driving on a flat, straight road and, when it is safe to do so, lighten your grip on the steering wheel (briefly) to see if your vehicle starts pulling to one side. Difficult steering and uneven tire wear can point to a potential alignment problem. For some quick, at-home fixes, make sure your trunk cargo is evenly spaced, your tires are pumped and you’re not abusing the steering wheel with every sharp turn. For enthusiasts who want a more detailed inspection, jack up your vehicle to examine the condition of your steering linkage and wheel bearings.
Hit the Brakes!
Electric vehicles may use regenerative braking, but they also use brake discs, pads and fluid that must be maintained. Like conventional gas vehicles, it’s important to test and flush your brake fluid over time to prevent corrosion and poor braking. Inspect the indicators on the brake fluid reservoir itself to determine the fluid levels. If you see dirty, brownish liquid, then it’s time to change out your brake fluid. However, try not to open the cap unless a fluid refill is needed. This helps to avoid air and moisture from breaking down your fluid faster.
The Nitty-Gritty of Exterior Maintenance
For an exterior inspection, start by checking the pressure and wear of your tires. Consult your vehicle’s manual for recommended psi and adjust tire pressure if necessary. This is a great monthly maintenance habit that’s quick, easy and safe for anyone to perform. You’ll also want to make sure you check the tread depth of your tires to ensure that your tires are maintaining proper traction and road legality. You can check this using the simple penny test, a tire depth gauge or inspecting the tread’s ‘wear’ bars. Keeping an eye on the health of your tires is critical for safe driving and improves your overall fuel economy.
Next, slowly walk around your vehicle and look for any chipped paint. These paint chips can leave the body of your vehicle vulnerable to rust, which reduces the investment and quality of your ride. If you catch a paint chip early, you can easily repair the damage by using some soap, water, polishing compound, primer and a dab of paint to restore your shine.
For all your electric vehicle inspection and maintenance needs, check out NAPAOnline for a range of Hybrid and EV parts. Whether you’re getting ready for a summer road trip or trying to learn more about your ride, the experts at NAPA are ready to get you back on the road with everything in check!
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