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Electric vehicles on average weigh much more than their gas counterparts. Combine that weight with instantly gratifying, neck-snapping torque and you have a recipe for rapidly wearing components and tires.

The most basic definition of torque is a twisting force that tends to cause motion. Electric motors offer much more initial torque and that torque is delivered to the road through the suspension and tires. The ball joints, control arms and struts that allow the suspension to articulate and absorb bumps in the road also have to deal with the elevated twisting forces present in an EV. This additional twisting force, coupled with the weight, will net out as accelerated wear and tear on the suspension components. Even the most mild-mannered EV drivers will experience it, with aggressive driving costing exponential wear. Tesla’s use sophisticated independent multi-link suspensions, with many moving parts known as links and control arms. These parts, especially those located in the rear suspension of a single motor Tesla will require replacement more frequently than an ICE powered vehicle. Not all EV’s use multi-link suspensions, many employ a simpler MacPherson Strut setup. Despite their milder, no-nonsense approach to absorbing bumps and potholes, they are not exempt from elevated wear. Specifically, suspension bushings are made of rubber and polyurethane and are the flexible joints, allowing control arms to move up and down. These bushings naturally fatigue with age and use on all vehicles. The extra weight of an EV bears down on them harder, shortening their lifespan. Same goes with their vehicle’s struts and springs which are carrying the weight of the vehicle and absorbing road irregularities. The alternative for the manufacturer is to beef up the suspension parts making them larger and stronger, which adds additional weight; a counter-intuitive idea.

How EV maintenance differs, part one: Regenerative braking can cause corrosion to build

Moving on to tires, the EV tire market is rapidly evolving as owners try to source more cost-effective tires for their vehicle. The biggest differences are EV production tires focus on noise reduction, reduced rolling resistance and torque management coupled with the extra load ratings required to handle the weight. There is an abundance of engineering going into these tires and their prices reflect that. I’m confident plenty of new Tesla Model S owners can attest to the effects of their vehicle’s torque in relation to their tires. The sport of taking out their friends, engaging the ludicrous driving mode and showing off its incredible acceleration is short-lived once they burn through their first set of tires in a single season. While traditional, non-EV specified tires can always be used on an EV, many manufacturers strongly discourage the practice.

Summary next week.


Hi Lou,

I appreciate your columns in The Globe and Mail and read them every time – thank you for this.

I bought a brand-new Honda CR-V EXL in October 2020. After a few months of driving, I noticed that when stopping at a red light, a vibrating noise was apparent and the driver’s side door was also vibrating. This noise also came on when taking my foot off the gas pedal at a stop sign. The vibration does not always happen, but it is becoming annoying.

Have you heard of this issue before? Do you think the cold weather causes this?

Thanks

Miles R

Thanks Miles, Honda has indeed been battling vibrations in the CR-V since the 2015 model year. One source of these vibrations was because of the engine revolutions being lowered at idle to aid in fuel economy. There has been at least one Honda technical service bulletin (TSB) dealing with the possible fixes for this. Do an online search for Honda TSB 15-046. I believe your complaint falls into Driving Mode 1 as described in this bulletin. Please keep in mind that the TSB I have just suggested originated south of the border and does not directly apply here in Canada as written. It is also a slightly dated document, dealing with previous models from 2015 onward. While it does not directly apply to your 2020 model, there are still similarities that should provide you with some background on the issues for when you head into your dealer. Which is unfortunately what you will likely have to do. You must task them with searching through their internal database looking for any TSBs, recalls and software updates that apply directly to your VIN and deal with the vibrations as you have described. Colder weather won’t cause a vibration, but may make an already present issue more noticeable.


Hello Lou,

I have a 2001 996 Cabriolet with 186,000 kilometres on it. Last year, we performed a coil over upgrade on all four corners of the car and changed the tires to Continental Extreme Contacts. I’m considering changing bushings on all four corners to help refresh the “feel” of the car and neutralize some of the harshness when the car passes over cracks. Can you weigh in on the bushing idea?

Thank You kindly. Michael G

My thoughts on bushings vary completely dependent on the type you are considering and whether you are using the vehicle for motorsports. Many of the bushings required may not be available separately from Porsche and you will be forced to purchase costly control arms and links in order to get these new bushings. But, if you can source the necessary original equipment bushings and only plan to use the car for day to day commuting and leisure, pleasure drives, then I say go for it. The results will restore and neutralize some of the harshness as you have mentioned.

However, I believe in order to get the majority of the bushings required you will need to purchase an after-market, firmer, performance-orientated sport bushing kit. Coupled with your recent coil over upgrade, these firmer bushings will significantly stiffen the ride, making it an absolute monster on the track, but will have the opposite effect on the street. You will feel more of the bumps and cracks in the road, which may be fatiguing to the leisure driver and passenger.

Lou Trottier is owner-operator of All About Imports in Mississauga. Have a question about maintenance and repair? E-mail globedrive@globeandmail.com, placing “Lou’s Garage” in the subject line.

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