By Rachael J. Mercer
The invention of hybrid technology has presented the automotive industry with new challenges. New safety precautions and procedures are necessary. But Craig Van Batenburg says, "Automotive managers and technicians can meet these challenges with some education."
"You don't have to send all hybrid vehicle repair work to a dealership," said Van Batenburg. "You must have the right knowledge and equipment, but you can make the repairs," he said.
Van Batenburg's course on "The New Hybrids" pointed out safety concerns and procedures that are unique to hybrid vehicles. For example, he recommends that technicians always wear safety gloves rated for 1000v and Class O while working on hybrid vehicles. The electrical differences between hybrid and traditional vehicles are substantial-wearing special safety equipment while working on these hybrids is essential to technician safety.
New things to keep in mind when working on a hybrid vehicle is that its a/c compressor requires a special oil, and that the brake fluid level check must be completed with caution. Van Batenburg provided specifications for hybrids such as the Toyota Camry and Honda Civic as well as the Saturn Vue and Ford Prius.
Education was stressed as an important way to keep up with the changing technology. Van Batenburg urged technicians to read all they could about hybrids and their special repair needs. Attendees learned about several products which are or will soon be available to independent repairers that will allow them to more easily repair hybrid vehicles.
Van Batenburg closed the class by explaining that today's repairers must think differently about repairs. He explained that factory scan tools and familiarity with OEM Web sites is a must for anyone wanting to be successful in the hybrid repair market. He emphasized that safety precautions have never been raised to a higher level than now-and that these precautions must be stressed to automotive technicians working on hybrid vehicles.
He gave attendees the names of several resources that would continue to educate them on hybrid repairs, including the book "Hybrid A/C Technology" available from ACDC, and his own "Hybrid DVDs" and "Hybrid Technology Workbook."