Is Washing An Electric Vehicle Different?

As hybrid and all electric powered vehicles become more mainstream, and most likely become the majority on the road in the near future, it begs the question; do I need to wash my electric fleet differently than my gas powered fleet?

Well, the answer is both yes and no. Simply, you shouldn’t expect too many big changes to how you wash, but there are some considerations you need to take into account.

Don’t Drop the Hair Dryer in the Tub

We hope this is common sense, but just in case, water and electricity do not mix. In fact, it is literally shocking what happens. That’s why it’s dangerous to be in the rain when you see lighting, or why there aren’t any outlets in the shower. When it comes to electric vehicles however, it’s not quite the same. 

We’ve all probably driven through a rain storm before, even gone through a puddle that was deeper than it appeared to be. And unless you backed your truck fully off the boat ramp picking up the jet ski, then your vehicle was just fine. That’s because cars, trucks, and any vehicle on the road are rigorously tested for water tight sealing where necessary and even flood responsiveness so that they don’t explode when submerged.

The same holds true for electric vehicles. As we mentioned earlier, the same rigorous testing exists, it’s just a little different. Fail safes, sealing, materials, and more are all taken into account for electric vehicles to make sure they meet the same standards for water exposure.

Keep an eye out next time it rains, we promise all of the Tesla’s and other electric vehicles won’t suddenly disappear mysteriously.

How to Prepare for Washing Electric Vehicles

Now that we’re on the same page with electric vehicles being safe to clean, there are some considerations and precautions to take, just like there are with gas powered vehicles. First is maintenance. We recommend waiting at least one hour after washing your electric vehicle to begin any maintenance. This is more to protect against human error than anything. Electric vehicles, especially large trucks, have an extremely high voltage. When turned off, there is no charge flowing, however, if there is any moisture, wet spots, or wet hands when you begin maintenance and power is accidently not turned off, it poses a risk.

This also applies to charging the battery after a wash. The charging port, although sealed well, is the most regularly exposed part of an electric vehicle. Make sure it is closed before washing, and that no moisture is draining into the port when charging after a wash. It would be safer to charge beforehand, but as long as you check the port for moisture and have given an ample amount of time to dry you should be just fine.

Technology Brings Improvements and Unknowns

With all of the positives of electric vehicles, there is always going to be some amount of added complexity when something becomes more advanced. But, just as we went from horse and buggy to the automobile, we will adapt to electric vehicles and even self-driving cars more and more as the years pass until they’ll feel like old news.  

Electric vehicles add lots of additional technology possibilities and customization that will need to be taken into account before and after washing. At this point in time, most of those are unknown, however, Consumer Reports has detailed a number of considerations for passenger electric vehicles when it comes to car washes:

“We checked the manuals for other EVs (Electric Vehicles) and found only a few car-wash warnings. Hyundai warns Kona Electric owners to make sure the charging port door is closed to avoid water damage. Nissan warns that in the Leaf EV, the ePedal feature—a regenerative braking system that recharges the battery—should be deactivated. And Chevy Bolt owners get special instructions on how to put the vehicle in Neutral so that it can move driverless through an automated car wash.”

As you can see, nothing major, but it is worth noting as every make and model will have different features that may need to be disabled, enabled, or addressed to make sure every wash is safe and effective.

I’m Never Going To Have An All Electric Fleet

And that is ok! We don’t expect anyone to change over to all electric tomorrow, or even if that’s how you operate best. Hydro-Chem Systems has served gas powered fleets for over 50 years and we imagine that won’t change for the next 50 years and beyond. We are excited to watch as the industry changes however, and as more fleets make the choice between gas and electric or both, we’ll be here to make sure they’re washing needs are being met.

Give us a call at 616-531-6420 or email to speak with our friendly sales team today!