Tips for Caring for Your Electric and Hybrid Vehicle

Electric and Hybrid Vehicle Care Guide

Whether you've decided to invest in an electric vehicle and do your part for the environment, or a hybrid seems to be the perfect compromise for your lifestyle, both types of vehicles have particular specifications when it comes to routine maintenance.

While there is some crossover with a standard vehicle, it's best to educate yourself as much as possible about your new car so you can truly take the best care of it as possible. To help you prevent emergencies and costly repairs, the team at Morison Insurance put together this helpful guide to both electric vehicle and hybrid maintenance. Additionally, should you need help navigating electric car insurance, our team of helpful brokers is more than happy to lend a hand.

How to Maintain Your Electric Vehicle

There are numerous benefits of investing in an electric vehicle. While the upfront costs might be more, you actually wind up saving quite a lot of money in the long run. Not only are there a number of provincial and federal tax credits to offset the cost difference, but they are also more affordable to run-since you're not wasting your hard earned dollars on gas. It can cost thousands to fill up throughout the year, but only hundreds to plug into a charging station.

Additionally, electric vehicle maintenance is a lot easier than gas vehicles. A gasoline engine requires oil changes, spark plug replacement, filter changes and more. However, electric vehicle powertrains are much simpler and lighter than an internal combustion engine. Additionally, they're more reliable and long-lasting.

Yet, like any machine, electric vehicles (or EVs) do need a little TLC from time to time. Here's a few tips for taking the best care of your electric vehicle as possible.

1. Skip the Regular Oil Changes

Most electric vehicles don't need transmission maintenance or fluid changes. While a lubricant may be required for the direct-drive system, it usually doesn't need to be changed as it's part of a sealed system. However, there can be some exceptions to this rule, so it's best to review your owner's manual. Generally, your local dealership should be able to help service your car. But you may also have to do some research and find a mechanic who's experienced at working with EVs.

2. Take Good Care of the Battery

The battery pack is the largest, most expensive, and most important part of your electric vehicle. Thus, understanding battery care and charging is quintessential for taking proper care of your EV. Luckily, it's not rocket science! Taking care of your vehicle's battery is relatively straightforward:

  • Keep the battery charged between 20% and 80% as much as possible. The more you charge the battery to 100%, the quicker it will start to degrade. Likewise, if the battery is left at less than 20%, it will start to degrade much more quickly. Most EVs have settings that enable you to choose when you'd like the battery to start charging, and how much it should be charged.
  • Should you be going on a long road trip, it's okay to charge to 100% and let the battery run out before charging it. But do not make this a usual habit. Sticking to an 80% charge should be sufficient for you to get around in your day-to-day.
  • Like any other battery-operated device, EV batteries don't like extreme temperatures-which can be a bit of a challenge during a chilly Ontario winter. If you can, make sure to park your EV in a garage at night. Cold temperatures won't degrade the battery, but it will reduce its range.

3. Buy a 240-Volt Home Charger

Charging your EV at home is much more convenient, not to mention cost-effective, than always going to a charging station. While it's possible to charge your vehicle on a 110-volt outlet (which is standard for most Ontario homes), this is not the best practice. It takes quite a long time, as you have access to less electric power. Instead, we suggest you have a 240-volt Level 2 charger installed at your home. You'll be able to charge your vehicle significantly faster.

Important Note:

If you need to charge your EV for a long road trip, it's best to use a public charging station. These machines are able to give your vehicle hundreds of kilometres in range in only a few minutes.

4. Monitor the Brakes

Brakes are an important part of any vehicle, and this follows for EVs. However, did you know that EV brakes last longer? Electric cars have regenerative braking systems that use motor resistance to slow the car and send energy back into the battery. While EVs do have friction breaks as well, good drivers will hardly have to use these. By practicing good driving habits, such as not slamming on the brakes or tailgating, drivers are able to maintain the quality of their brakes for much longer. Many EVs can travel well over 200,000 kilometres before needing to replace the breaks.

5. Choose the Right Tires

Whether you drive a gas engine vehicle or an electric vehicle, tire maintenance is integral. You should regularly be checking the air in your tires and ensuring the tires are rotated on a regular basis. There are tires that are specifically designed for EVs. They are usually quieter and more durable than traditional tires. Durability is especially important if you plan on taking advantage of an electric vehicle's instant torque. This impressive feature (while not likely to be used often by the average driver) can be incredibly hard on your tires. It's worth investing in the right tires to ensure you're taking the best care of your vehicle possible.

6. Keep an Eye on the Fluids

While you may not have to worry about oil or transmission fluids, there are still a couple of fluids you'll need to keep an eye on. For instance, EVs have a thermal management system that requires coolant. The coolant system will need to be flushed regularly, and details about this will be included in your owner's manual. Likewise, you'll have to regularly top off windshield wiper fluid and brake fluid.

7. Know What Your Warranty Is

Generally, EV warranties are better than most gas-powered vehicles. This is because the warranty tends to protect the battery-which is the most vital and expensive part of an electric car. While complete warranty details will vary per manufacturer, many EVs offer a lifetime battery warranty, while others offer a warranty for up to 8 years.

How to Maintain Your Hybrid Electric Vehicle

Hybrid vehicles have some crossover between electric and gas-motor vehicles. While certain maintenance is the same across the board, there are a few factors that set hybrids apart. Full hybrid vehicles have the ability to shut off their internal combustion engine and operate on the electric motor in certain conditions. Examples of this would be low-speed maneuvering and light cruising, such as dropping your child off at school. Thus, the engine doesn't have to work as hard. This results in less wear and tear than standard vehicles. Similar to EVs, hybrids also can employ regenerative braking, thus reducing wear on the friction brakes. We've outlined a few other key maintenance tips below.

1. Watch the Transmission

In hybrid vehicles, the internal combustion engine, electric drive motor, and transmission essentially work together as one entity. This means that a malfunction in one component impacts the function of the other. As a vehicle owner, your responsibility is to keep an eye on the transmission fluid for clues that there may be a problem. But when it comes to the actual repair, it's best left to the professionals.

2. Check Your Tires

Ensuring your tires are in good condition-and swapping over from all seasons to winter tires as the seasons change-is integral whether you drive a vehicle with a gasoline engine, an electric motor, or a hybrid automobile. However, hybrid vehicles are impacted the most by improper tire pressure. Under-inflated or overinflated tires will actually compromise the performance of your car. Thus, you should routinely check the state of your tires-perhaps when filling up for gas or plugging in for the night.

3. Understand How the Battery Works

Since hybrids do run on an electric battery, some of the maintenance tips for an EV are the same here. You should never charge to the full battery capacity, rather stay in that 20% to 80% zone. Additionally, try to keep a plug-in hybrid vehicle warm (but not too hot). In the winter, your hybrid might need to warm up a little before driving. This would be no different than warming up a gas-powered car. As always, it's best to be familiar with the owner's manual so you know how to take the best care of your unique model.

4. Carry Out Routine Engine Checks

Since part of a hybrid engine is run by fuel, you will need to carry out a routine engine check just like you would have for a vehicle with a gas engine. Ensure you complete regular oil changes and swap out the filters regularly as well. If any check engine lights come on, it's imperative you take your car to a mechanic as soon as possible.

5. Maintain a Regular Maintenance Schedule

Before establishing the right maintenance schedule for your plug-in hybrid car, there are a few steps you should take first. Ensure you've read the owner's manual so you're aware of the current vehicle specifications and any important information you should know. Then, consult a professional to establish a maintenance schedule for your hybrid car. This will ensure you're taking all the necessary precautions to get the most wear out of your vehicle.

6. Check the Brakes

Just like a vehicle with an electric motor or a gas-powered car, you need to keep an eye on your hybrid's brakes. As a rule of thumb, most brakes should be replaced every 40,000 kilometres. However, because hybrids have regenerative braking, you might be able to wait until 80,000 kilometres. But it's best to talk to an expert to know the condition your brakes are in.

7. Choose a Mechanic Who's Experienced with Hybrid Cars

Hybrid vehicles have highly sophisticated electrical wiring systems that are vastly more complex than standard gas-powered cars. Some mechanics might not be familiar with hybrid technology, so it's really important you do your due diligence and research a shop that has technicians who are trained, experienced and equipped with the skills to take care of your hybrid electric car.

We Know How To Protect Your Electric Car

Taking good care of your electric or hybrid vehicle is just one way to protect your car. No matter how on top of maintenance you are, accidents can still happen. And when they do, you need a hardworking, dedicated insurance broker in your corner. Whether you require Tesla Insurance or are looking into upgrading to a hybrid vehicle, at Morison Insurance we'll help you find the best coverage to protect your valuable asset.

While electric car insurance provides liability coverage for bodily injury and property damage, accident benefit, and collision and comprehensive coverage, there are always opportunities to increase your coverage and ensure you are adequately protected.

To find out more about what one of our friendly brokers can do for you, we invite you to give us a call at 1-800-463-8074 or reach out to us online to get an insurance quote today.

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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