Work safely with EVs

Oct. 29, 2021
Understand the critical safety considerations associated with a high-voltage disconnecting procedure.

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What you'll learn:

  • How to access I-CAR best practices and OEM repair information
  • Cautions in working with high-voltage systems
  • Where to find procedures to disable high-voltage systems before repairs

This is the second in a series of Electric Vehicle (EV)-related articles examining some safety basics. In this article, we lean on I-CAR Best Practices to understand the critical safety considerations associated with a High-Voltage Disconnecting Procedure.  

In our initial EV safety article in the September issuewe looked at proper personal protective equipment (PPE). I can’t overstate the need for proper protection – it truly can be a matter of life and death! I now want to follow up with the information and resources you can use to safely disconnect high-voltage systems.  

Getting in on this emerging opportunity is an exciting prospect, but enter with your eyes wide open. Without correct knowledge and proper training, an EV repair can be an “accident waiting to happen.” Properly disabling an electric vehicle is critical for personal and shop safety. 

RTS portal 

One of the most basic steps in an EV repair is locating and understanding the High-Voltage Disconnecting Procedure. In addition to vehicle maker service information, we lean on the industry leading protocols found on I-CAR’s Repairability Technical Support (RTS) portal. I-CAR and subject matter experts from all segments of the industry including vehicle makers, collision repairers, insurers, product makers, and tool and equipment makers work together to develop, update, and publish I-CAR Best Practices. 

The recently released I-CAR Best Practice, High-Voltage Disconnecting Procedure, represents the inter-industry-developed-and-vetted best practices to be used when neither vehicle-specific repair information nor OEM-published position statements exist. It’s important to note that this process does not take the place of any OEM procedures or requirements for any OEM specifications of skills, tooling, training, or equipment that enable a repair facility to work on high-voltage (HV) vehicles. 

Extreme caution ahead 

But more than anything, please approach high-voltage vehicles with extreme caution. Only qualified high-voltage technicians with proper PPE should be permitted to work on the high-voltage system, particularly the components that carry warnings that ignoring the recommended procedures and measures can lead to serious injuries and/or death. 

Repair facilities should always reference the documented OEM procedures for specific requirements for the make, model, and year vehicle, before commencing work, to ensure a complete, safe, and quality repair. 

This I-CAR Best Practice is modeled after the European regulation ECE-R-100 to ensure that a collision-damaged vehicle is safe, as there is a higher risk of possible damage to the HV safety systems. 

The documents within the I-CAR Best Practice for High-Voltage Disconnecting Procedure include: 

OEM hybrid and electric vehicle disable search 

As the collision repair industry prepares for a wave of EVs hitting the road, following OEM repair procedures is critical to repairing hybrid and electric vehicles safely and efficiently.  

A useful resource is the OEM Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Disable search on the I-CAR’s RTS Portal. Here you can learn to identify where parts of the hybrid system are located, get instructions for locating the disable procedures in the vehicle maker service information, determine whether a scan tool or other specialty tools and equipment are required to disable the high-voltage system, and, of course the best practices to help ensure a complete, safe, and quality repair.  

All that is needed to begin your search is inputting the make, model and/or year for instant disable search results.  

Related I-CAR courses 

To get your staff trained, I-CAR currently offers seven courses to power up your EV shop repair-readiness. All are offered online and range from 30 minutes to an hour, making it easy to train staff during lunch breaks or downtime. New courses are added regularly.

Powering up your EV knowledge 

We understand keeping current on all things EV can be a full-time job.  We created a free online resource, Charged for EV, with definitions to help you untangle all of the “EV speak,” to industry -related news and more. Check out it and the list of current EV courses here. 

About the Author

Dirk Fuchs

With nearly 20 years of automotive experience, Dirk is recognized as an industry subject-matter-expert in EV and ADAS technology. Currently Director of Technical Programs & Services at I-CAR (Inter-industry Conference on Auto Collision Repair,) Dirk has been a featured speaker and panelist at automotive industry events, and has been active in supporting automotive-related associations surrounding national and state legislative activities. His passion for the automotive industry began in 2002 as a Technical Training specialist/instructor for Volkswagen Germany. Recruited by ZF Services, Germany, a global technology and supplies system provider offering comprehensive automated driving and electric mobility solutions for manufacturers and newly emerging transport and mobility service providers, Dirk’s responsibilities over the next 13 years included international technical service and sales training management. While serving as North American Training Manager, ZF Services, Dirk was hired by I-CAR in late 2020 to serve as Director, Technical Programs & Services. In his spare time, he not only enjoys spending time with his family, including his two-year-old twins. Dirk also enjoys the outdoors-- biking, hiking, camping, and skiing. Exploring the Rocky Mountains while driving his Audi Q7 Quattro is how he recharges his own batteries!

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