By Edward Grigg, Swanley Garage Services
We received a call from a customer who lived some 40 miles away in a neighbouring county. They had a problem with their interior heater, it was not blowing out hot air into the cabin. The vehicle was a Mitsubishi Outlander Hybrid 2016 – they had contacted the main dealer and was told they would need to replace the entire cooling system at a cost of nearly £7,000!
The owner then went in search of an independent garage but were unable to find any in their local area willing to diagnose a fault on an electric/hybrid car. They came across us on the HEVRA network website and gave us a call. We’d had dealings with similar faults in the past so were more than happy to take a look for them. Being part of the HEVRA network, as well as just having completed Level 4 Hybrid and electric vehicle repair with James Dillon, gave us the confidence to know we would be able to resolve the issue for them.
The customer dropped the car over the next day and we went about our usual diagnostic routine. We carried out a full scan of the vehicle but unfortunately this returned no clues. We let the car warm up to confirm the customer complaint and sure enough, the heaters did not get hot. We did some off-vehicle research using technical information to learn about the system and how it works. This is not your average cooling system – it has a conventional cooling system similar to most cars, but it also has an auxiliary cooling system, which includes an electric water heater and electronic water pump. Being a Hybrid, it uses the electric heater and pump to keep the cabin air temperature hot when the vehicle is driving in electric mode.
We used a thermal imaging camera to test the temperature of the various components and hoses of the cooling system and found a faulty 4-way valve located on top of the gearbox, close to the bulkhead. I spoke to Pete Melville at HEVRA and he recommended that we flush the system and replace a small filter located inside one of the heater matrix pipes at the same time as replacing the valve. He was also able to offer first-hand experience of how to bleed the cooling system after the repairs had been made.
We carried out the repairs and bled through the system as per Pete’s recommendation. We also carried out an extended road test to confirm the repair was successful. It just goes to show that now is the time to make preparations to become sufficient in electric/hybrid vehicle repair as there are still not many people willing to take the jobs on and they can be quite profitable if carried out correctly.