Are electric vehicles deadly dangerous to build and repair?

A local high school tech class is converting a pick-up truck to electric and I got the idea that I could convert our Explorer, (the engine is shot) but an auto mechanic I met told me he can't get insurance to work on an EV due to the danger of the high voltage- this is disappointing to me because I could really get a lot of use from re-purposing this truck to a green(er) vehicle. Help me be more green!

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CameronSS8 years ago
It's not terribly dangerous, no more so than a gas vehicle. You just have to know where not to poke. Generally, touching two contacts with dry fingertips results in nothing more than a tingling sensation. Shorting out 10 6V batteries by forgetting to loosen the cable and letting them touch, on the other hand, will cause the cable to emit a loud bang and dribble white-hot lead onto the battery, as well as cause you to shout, jump into the air and hit your head on the camper shell, and flee the premises in a most undignified manner. Not that I have experiences, or anything.... A few safety precautions, and you'll be fine. For example, any metal tools (wrenches, screwdrivers, etc.) MUST be insulated with heat-shrink tubing, otherwise they will turn into rods of plasma upon falling across two terminals. Similarly, I have heard a story of someone who shorted out a pack across their ring, and it vaporized, cleaning amputating their finger. That said, they won't jump up and eat you any more than an outlet that you are changing. Most EVs operate at 144V or less, and can't jump to you. Keep in mind that your mechanic may be out of a job if you convert to electric. You will no longer need to get routine oil changes or spark plugs, or have to add antifreeze, or have to replace a dead starter, etc. Basically, you have to change the transmission fluid occasionally and rotate the tires normally, and change brake shoes, unless you use regenerative braking systems, in which case the brakes will last longer than the car.
no, it isnt dangerous because they use low voltages.
dsandds20037 years ago

If you look through Mother Earth News magazine, I believe you will find you can order plans for converting ANY Car or Truck that is less than 2200 lbs. I think this is after yoy remove the engine. you will use everything else. You will need a small 3.5 hp or larger motor. ect., ect. If you look through the 70's issues it discusses what you do in their. I do not know if the book is still in print but the therory is STILL around.  Chrysler was testing a 4-wheel drive electric drive car before it had financial problems. I was using 4 electric motors, one for each wheel and a computer control system.
But hunt through Mother Earth News and i believe you will find ALOT of answers that have been around for a LONG time.

BigPaws8 years ago
Its not the best idea. if u know what you are doing then go ahead but its not recomended by me. id say gas vehicles are a lot safer.
Johenix8 years ago
If you are going to work on an electric car: 1.)Remove all watches, rings and piercings. (If they short something they can be heated WHITE HOT in a fraction of a second.) 2.) Do the Tesla move. Put one hand in your back pocket and work one handed. (This prevents shocks across your heart.) 3.) First remove the hot + positive red cable at the battery, then remove the ground - negative black cable. (When conecting do the ground first and the hot last.) Follow these safety rules and good luck.
Afka8 years ago
Car powered by explosions of a volatile fuel, with an extremely complex motor, starters, filters, spark plugs, oil, gunk, etc. or Car powered by electrical motor, ran with electrons, which are EVERYWHERE around us in our electrically dependent society (danger danger!), with a much simpler motor, containing much less components to break, and have to repair. I'm pretty sure your combustion vehicle mechanic might not have the electrical know-how to modify or work on your vehicle, because that high voltage is powering all of his... everything, in his big dangerous metally conductive shop.
acidbass8 years ago
yes converting is a little more harder than from scratch i am actually building an electric motorcycle
jeff-o8 years ago
Pfff. It's no more dangerous than household voltage. Go for it!!
aarone8 years ago
Electric Vehicles are going to generally be high voltage if you want to drive them like a normal car. Common voltages for Freeway capable EVs start at around 144v and go up from there. The insurance for a mechanic to work on an EV is a completely different insurance than what you need to drive it. You don't need insurance to build an EV. You will need insurance to drive it. You won't need Hazmat stickers. Working on EVs are no more dangerous than an ICE vehicle. Utilize good safety practices and use common sense. Pick up a book on converting an EV and you'll likely find at least one chapter on Safety plus an appendix filled with information. As for an Explorer, it is probably not the best vehicle for an EV. It's tempting to use it because you already have it and the engine's dead, but SUVs has a lot of drag, and are very heavy. Trucks are desirable because of their load-carrying capability (common batteries - Lead Acid - are very heavy). I would recommend a mid-size truck (The Chevy s10 is very popular) or a commonly used light-weight car.
Do you realize that a Ford Explorer is simply Ford Ranger with a different body? In fact, Ford used to sell an electric Ranger. Since they have the same front end, I can't imagine that it would be any higher-drag, and not a whole lot heavier.

Also, they don't "start at 144V and go up from there." The truck I drive every day is 120V. I know a guy with a Triumph Spitfire that he converted with a 72V pack that can go 65mph on the highway.
What's the range on your Truck and on your friend's spitfire? 72 volts just doesn't seem like it'd be enough. I'd like to know the specs on your Truck, specifically what batteries are you using? Please note that I said "Common voltages". 144v is what I've seen most often, and seems to be the base for vehicles with a good range and a high top speed. That's my opinion though, and what meets my needs.
Whoops, I thought that it was 72V, but I was thinking of a Volkswagen Beetle. This page contains more information about the car than I know. My truck has a 40-50 mile range, on 20 6V batteries...Dekas, I think.
paganwonder (author)  CameronSS8 years ago
Yeah I noticed the similarities. The '94 has some good structural aspects and with it stripped down... In the end this project will be more experimental than anything else- either EV or ICE. I do have more reading and research to do. Thanks for the feedback.
paganwonder (author)  aarone8 years ago
Thanks for the feedback. I thought the GVW of the '94 Explorer compared favorably with the S-10. Also, part of the rebuild plan for this rig (EV or ICE) is stripping down all the 'soft' stuff to make the rig gnarly-er! (it's done being Mom's wagon)
frollard aarone8 years ago
Indeed on the weight and aerodynamics - you could aeromod it while you're at it, just don't use cardboard :D
110100101108 years ago
electrical or not - you are in more danger when you drive it than when you build it
paganwonder (author)  110100101108 years ago
Excellent point- we really do tend to ignore this gruesome fact of life.
ANDY!8 years ago
I don't think that it would be more dangerous 'cause you can still blow up by gasoline and it is more complicated than EV cars. Instead of using a commercial car, you should weld or buy a buggy or somting that's light. Then you will have a easier time. You can use some of the parts from the truck though. Trust me.
you should ask your local high school for guidance. If a bunch of high schoolers can do this then it should be safe enough for you to do. It sounds like its going to be a lot of work
Contact your local insurance company and ASK. Odds are that they'll be plenty accomodating. As long as your car is street-legal (and passes as such in order to be registered for plates), I doubt very much they'll mind.
frollard8 years ago
Re purposed vehicles can usually be registered and insured as 'experimental' to drive on the roads, so long as they pass safety inspections for your area. They don't necessarily have to run on HIGH voltage. You may also need to run with hazmat stickers as you'd be carrying over x minimum amount of batteries (be it lead acid, nimh, or li-ion).
lemonie8 years ago
Can you get insurance, and do you need it?
What ideas do you have for an electrical power source?