It doesn’t matter where you land on the love/hate spectrum of electric vehicles (EVs) — they are undeniably part of our world now. The popularity of electric motorcycles, dirt bikes, bicycles and UTVs is on the rise. Electric UTVs are becoming increasingly popular within the fleet vehicle industry. Youth dirt bikes are incredibly sought-after due to their abundance of torque and quiet operation, making them ideal for kids who want to ride endlessly without annoying the neighbors. Electric motorcycles are also gaining traction, thanks to the availability of charging options and reduced charging times, making them an excellent option for local motorcycling.

One of the major benefits of EVs is that they require less maintenance than their combustion counterparts, because there are no carburetors to clean, no valves to adjust and no intake leaks to chase. However, this does not mean they are maintenance-free. Let’s examine some of the maintenance points for these vehicles.

Batteries, Plugs and Chargers

The batteries are everyone’s first concern, but they require surprisingly little maintenance. Most EVs use some form of a lithium-ion battery. Unlike previous batteries, these do not have a memory and do not need to be drained before recharging. When you are done using the vehicle, simply plug it back in and fully recharge it. The chargers monitor the battery capacity as they charge, and when the battery is at 100%, the charger will switch to a “maintain” level to keep the battery there. This means you can leave the vehicle plugged in until you are ready to use it, unless the manufacturer states otherwise.

One aspect you should take a look at is the maintenance of those plugs and chargers. It is good to regularly inspect the charging plugs and receptacles for corrosion, structural damage or debris inside the plug. Corrosion and weak connector tension are the technician’s biggest concerns. Corrosion in the connector can result from age and moisture, which is a bigger concern in areas with higher constant humidity, like coastal cities in the Southeast.

The connectors can be cleaned with electrical contact cleaner. It is not advisable to use other types of aerosol cleaners, like brake cleaner, as many of them can damage the rubber or plastics on the connectors, causing premature failure of the charging plug. Electrical contact cleaner evaporates quickly, reducing the risk of moisture inside the plug after cleaning. If you must clean the plug with a tool, use something made of a softer metal to minimize damage to the electrical connectors. The spring tension of the connectors is also extremely important, so be careful not to bend or overly move the connectors inside the plug.

If you have a plug with chronic moisture or corrosion issues, consider applying dielectric grease inside the plug. This non-conductive grease will keep moisture out of the electrical connector. Some plugs have connectors with high spring tension, and the dielectric grease will help lubricate these connectors to prevent wear and failure. However, be sure to clean off any excess grease, because dirt will stick to it and eventually end up inside the connector.

When cleaning dirt-oriented vehicles, people often use pressure washers. While the connectors are sealed to withstand the water and moisture encountered while riding in the rain or off-road, they are not designed to withstand a direct blast from a pressure washer. It’s difficult to convince owners not to use a pressure washer, so as a technician, it’s important to ensure the seals on all connectors are in good condition.

Tips for Accessorizing EVs

The latest trend with touring motorcycles and UTVs is to add additional lights and sound systems. While individual LED lights do not draw a lot of power, adding enough of them can result in a notable current draw. Stereos, especially amplifiers, draw a significant amount of electrical power. This can drain the battery faster, overload the conductors and cause connector failure — or even an electrical fire. Therefore, it’s crucial to ensure you do not exceed the capacity of the electrical connector or the wire/conductors when adding accessories. General electrical theory suggests gauging the wire to 125% of your maximum electrical draw. You will have to check with the manufacturer of the plug to determine the electrical load capacity of the plug.

Wire Size (AWG) Maximum Amperage (Amps)
18 10
16 13
14 15
12 20
10 30
8 40
6 55
4 70
3 85
2 95
1 110
1/0 125
2/0 145
3/0 165
4/0 195

If customers are interested in adding stereos, amps, lights and other accessories, it can be overwhelming to choose from all the options. It might be advisable to consider assembling a package that customers can purchase for their vehicle. This could save on future headaches of accessory installations, and if it becomes popular, bulk pricing for the shop could be an option.

Battery Temperature

Battery temperature can affect charging and battery life. It’s best to avoid having the battery in direct sunlight while charging. The sun can heat the battery, and charging can also produce heat, both of which can shorten the battery’s life.

Related: 6 Tips for Keeping an Electric Vehicle Performing Well in Hot Weather

Additionally, EV cooling systems, transaxles and differential or gearbox inspections are all still necessary maintenance points. Although EV components are not exposed to as much heat, they still endure similar wear and abuse, so these should be serviced at the same intervals as a combustion engine vehicle. These gearboxes still require case ventilation, and regular inspection is easy to overlook. On dirt applications, it is wise to check the gearbox case breathers to ensure they are free of dirt and have proper airflow.

While EVs require less maintenance than their combustion counterparts, they are not maintenance-free. As these vehicles develop and advance, additional maintenance points may arise. It’s important to stay updated on the latest EV tech, so continue to visit MPN for more information.


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