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How to Maintain a Hybrid Car The Smart Way

last updated February 21, 2019

A hybrid car is a vehicle that combines a diesel or petrol engine with an electric motor. Hybrids are popularly known for emitting less carbon monoxide and having a lower fuel consumption rate compared to conventional diesel or petrol engine vehicles. Today, we’ll look at how to maintain a hybrid car.

How to Maintain a Hybrid Car

Tips for Maintaining Hybrid Vehicles

The three types of hybrid vehicles are a full hybrid, mild hybrid, and plug-in hybrid. In this article, we shall discuss full hybrid vehicles.

Full hybrid vehicles can switch off their combustion engines and run on the electric motor under certain conditions. These include light cruising and maneuvering under low speed. Hybrid vehicle engines do not work as hard as those of regular vehicles, hence reducing wear and tear.

With their regenerative braking systems, hybrids can charge batteries and minimize wear on vehicle brake components. The incorporation of the electric drive motor,  internal combustion engine, and transmission together means that if one component malfunctions, it affects other components.

If your hybrid needs a diagnosis, repairs, or troubleshooting, contact a professional rather than attempting to do it yourself. However, you can conduct regular checks such as changing air and fuel filters and checking the transmission fluid.

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Sophisticated Hybrid Electronics

The intricate electronic modules that regulate the electric drive motor both for regenerative braking and propulsion can generate huge amounts of heat. This is why they have individual dedicated cooling systems.

The battery control modules control discharge and charge rates and the state of charge for the whole bank. Often, these systems will integrate both cooling and heating systems to function consistently.

If you plan to perform regular maintenance on the cooling system of the engine, ensure to check each pipe, hose, and clamps individually. Check the extra filters which may be utilized on the battery and motor heating/cooling system.

Beware of the Voltage and Adhere to Safety Procedures

Hybrids come with dual voltage systems. While the electrical system is a standard 12 volt, the drive motor and other components operate efficiently in over 100 volts. This makes the safety margin both narrow and low.

Since even a 50-volt electrical shock can be fatal, the cables are wrapped using a bright orange casing to keep operators and technicians in the know. In order to repair and maintain these components safely, the systems need to be de-powered. Professional and experienced technicians are better placed to carry out maintenance and repairs.

Do Hybrid Cars Cost More to Maintain?

Is maintaining a hybrid more expensive than a traditional gasoline-powered car? Unless the hybrid breaks down, routine hybrid repairs and maintenance do not cost more than on a regular car. However, repairing broken parts after the expiry of the warranty can be quite costly.

Purchasing a hybrid will cost you more than it would cost you for a standard car of the same size. Buyers, however, are yet to figure out whether they make any savings from the hybrid’s higher gas mileage. Whether or not they make any savings depends on various factors such as how often you drive the car and the price of gasoline.

When it comes to financial calculations, maintenance expenses should not be a factor. The gas engine on your hybrid needs similar maintenance as that of any regular car. When hybrids were invented, not many repair shops were willing to work on them. Drivers had to take their hybrids to vehicle dealerships which can be quite costly. Today, however, there are more trained and experienced mechanics who can work on hybrids.

Oil changes in smaller hybrids are done on completion of 5,000 miles, unlike the 3,000 miles that mechanics recommend for regular cars. Due to the regenerative braking system and the low heat of the hybrid, the brakes and brake pads last much longer compared to regular cars. Many hybrid cars do not need specialized regular maintenance procedures on their system.

For instance, the air filter on a hybrids electric battery system is usually replaced every 80,437 kilometers. However, sometimes certain parts of the specialized hybrid system such as the huge battery pack may fail. Hybrids come with a warranty on their hybrid system that is operational for 8 to 10 years or 100,000 to 150,000 miles.

However, in the unfortunate event that your hybrids battery dies after the warranty, the cost of repairs can be huge. Fortunately, manufacturers today have minimized the cost of replacing a hybrid battery. While hybrid batteries cost up to $8,000, you can get one today at $2,000.

Do Hybrid Cars Last Longer Than Standard Cars?

Many vehicle buyers would like to know whether Hybrids last longer than regular vehicles. Here is an illustration to help answer that question.

1. The Braking System

A braking system is a single unit with two functions. The first one is the regular brake pads available in regular vehicles. By using the brakes, you expose them to wear just as is the case in a standard vehicle. The second brake system function is the regenerative braking, a technology which triggers the hybrid engine to attain its electrical charge.

You gain an electrical charge through slow braking while accelerating and braking abruptly means that you are using the regular braking system available in a standard car. By utilizing your car cautiously, your hybrid’s brakes last longer compared to those on a standard car.

2. The Engine

Many people cannot tell the difference between a fully electric car and a hybrid. Fully electric vehicles are costly, rare, and more durable than regular vehicles. a hybrid, on the other hand, comes with two engines, which means that they both require regular maintenance.

The electric engine of a hybrid needs less maintenance compared to the gas engine. During routine maintenance, the gas engine requires an oil change. If your car is properly maintained, the gas engine of your hybrid is utilized sparingly which means that the hybrid will last longer than a regular car that purely runs on gas.

3. The Battery

All cars come with a battery. However, the battery in a hybrid car acts as the central power system of both the gas and electric engines. The hybrid battery is more efficient compared to a standard battery. It can be used for more than 100,000 miles. However, replacing a hybrid battery is too costly.

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4. The Fuel System

Since hybrid cars come with a gas engine, they also have a fuel system that works just like the one in a standard car. There are no differences in the fuel lines or the filters. The oil pump in a standard car needs to be changed frequently. In a hybrid car, however, it doesn’t have to be changed. Filters on a hybrid are more durable since the gas engine is not used as much as in a standard car.

Are Hybrid Cars Worth It? The Answer May Surprise You

While maintaining a hybrid car can be cheaper than a standard car, hybrids can be more costly in the long term. A certain percentage of vehicle buyers opine that hybrids are cheaper if the number of hybrid purchase in certain countries is anything to go by. This could be because many people only consider the cost of gas and ignore other factors.

Looking at the cost of hybrids from the gas perspective, they could be right. People who have gas only vehicles  fill up their tanks approximately every week. This could cost anything from $40. How can you minimize the fuel consumption of your car?

Perhaps buying a fuel efficient car would. Other car owners opt to leave their cars home and use public transport. However, this may not offer sustainable solutions.

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Will Hybrid Cars Save You Money?

To figure out whether hybrid cars are cost-effective, you need to analyze the complete picture as follows:

  • Reliability
  • Purchase price
  • Fuel savings
  • Purchase incentives
  • Ownership savings

You will get a clearer picture after analyzing the above factors and decide whether or not you need to purchase a hybrid car.

Are Hybrid Cars Reliable?

If you are comparing the same vehicle model and make, both vehicles should offer similar reliability. Generally, gas-powered cars are as reliable as hybrid cars. This means that hybrid cars shouldn’t cost more in regard to routine maintenance.

There are some variations however; hybrids regenerate the battery through the brakes, meaning that brake pads on hybrids last longer than their gas-powered counterparts. While this may not have a great impact on savings, it makes a difference.

In terms of insurance, some insurance companies provide discounted rates to hybrid owners. You can find out from your insurance provider how much premium you need to pay annually. Conduct research before choosing your preferred insurance company.

The hybrid battery is a major concern when it comes to the reliability of the hybrid. Many people opine that they need to change the hybrid battery often. However, hybrid manufacturers develop a robust battery that lasts as long as the vehicle. Hybrid batteries also come with standard warranties lasting up to 100,000 miles or a span of 10 years. According to research, some hybrid batteries have managed to cover up to 300,000 miles.

If you are comparing a similar vehicle make and model, reliability is not a huge factor when it comes to price. However, if you are comparing different vehicles, you need to figure out the cost of repairs since the cost of maintenance varies depending on the vehicle manufacturer.

Hybrid Purchase Price

Hybrids are more expensive compared to standard cars. Statistics show that a hybrid costs $4,650 more than standard cars. This is attributed to their development costs which the manufacturer then passes on the buyer.

For instance, the price of Hyundai Sonata SE model was $22,050 in 2018 while a hybrid with the same specifications cost $26,000. According to this illustration, a hybrid cost $3,950 more than a gas powered vehicle. The price, however, depends on the cars you are comparing.

Fuel Savings

In terms of fuel savings, you need to analyze the cost of gas and how long you drive your car. Assuming that a gallon of gas costs $2.50 and you cover 15,000 miles annually, a gas-powered Sonata will cover 29 miles per gallon on average while the hybrid will cover approximately 43 miles per gallon.

To calculate the cost of gas, you need to multiply annual miles covered by the cost of gas and divide the result by the average miles for each gallon. The formula for the gas-powered Sonata in annual miles covered multiply with the cost of a gallon of gas. The annual cost for the hybrid is $872 while you will spend $1,293 annually with the gas-powered vehicle. This means that the hybrid makes you gas savings of up to $400.

Ownership Savings

A hybrid will save you the time you would have to spend rushing to the gas station every other week. You do not have to be stuck in a traffic jam if you drive a hybrid can. This is because you can drive in the HOV lane hence cutting down stress and saving time. Hybrids are environmentally friendly since they emit less carbon monoxide. What’s more, certain companies give preference to hybrid buyers when it comes to parking space.

Purchase Incentives

There are various incentive levels you should consider. The first one is with the dealer. Often, vehicle dealers offer rebates, or cash back on some vehicle models. According to the findings in this article, the cash back for the hybrid is $2,500 while for a gas powered car is $2,000. After considering the cash back incentive, a hybrid would cost $23,500 while a gas powered car would cost $20,500.

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Maintaining a hybrid car is less expensive than a standard car. However, the overall cost of a hybrid is much more compared to a standard car. Are you focused on saving the environment, purchasing a hybrid car is the way to go.

Besides the systems that regulate the electric motor and the on board storage batteries, routine hybrid maintenance is almost the same as that of regular vehicles. Knowing how to maintain a hybrid car before buying one is important for effective routine maintenance.

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