Can you safely clean the underbody of e-vehicles?

Do not wash and charge at the same time (photo: Windell Oskay)

Washing an e-vehicle is not much different than an ordinary car. But there are a few challenges, like underbody washing and high-pressure cleaning. The German vehicle testing organization KÜS gives a few pieces of advice.

“Cleaning electric vehicles with its high-voltage battery requires special care,” warns KÜS spokesman Thomas Schuster. Car owners should take special care while cleaning the underbody. Improper washing can lead to dangerous electric shocks and short circuits, he adds.

Do not wash when charging

To avoid damage and injury from a short circuit, an e-car should not be washed while charging. Of course this situation only could occur at self-service car washes or charging stations, where car wash customers might get the idea to save some time and combine the two.

Experts further recommend to refrain from using high-pressure cleaners in the area of the electrical system and the accumulator, which is usually processed in the underbody. The minimum distance between the vehicle surface and the high-pressure nozzle should also be maintained. This is usually 30 cm (12 inch).

Wash mode

In automated car washes, there is generally no need for restrictions on underbody washing. Sensitive and electrical components must be effectively protected against moisture and comply with the relevant legal requirements. Thus, there are no reasons to oppose conventional underbody washing from this point of view. But when strong jets of water hit sensors on electric cars, they can interpret this as a signal and initiate corresponding automatic reactions. Experts therefore advise to always switch on the “wash mode” when a car is washed.

Despite all this, a company like Tesla excludes any warranty for damage caused by the use of car washes. They advise to use touchless systems only.

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Author: Sandra Schäfer

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