Are hybrid car repairs more expensive and extensive than those for gas-powered vehicles? The answer could help you determine whether to purchase a hybrid vehicle. In addition, knowing the maintenance needs of a hybrid can help keep it out of the shop and on the road. First, it is essential to understand how hybrid vehicles differ from gas engine autos.
How Are Hybrids Different?
The top reason for driving a hybrid car is obvious: it’s a major fuel saver. These vehicles combine the power of gasoline with battery-stored electricity, combining the best of both worlds. Instead of letting the energy produced by the gas tank to go to waste, electric drive systems store the excess energy in a battery. Besides assisting the gas engine in powering the vehicle, the battery also takes over and allows the gas engine to shut off whenever possible.
Most manufacturers warranty hybrid batteries for up to 10 years or 150,000 miles. If your battery happens to expire after the warranty, repair and replacement costs could drain between $1,000 and $6,000 from your wallet. Here’s the good news: that is the only potential extra maintenance cost you risk when driving a hybrid.
Because of the way a hybrid vehicle is designed to bear some of the gas engine’s burden, certain parts of the vehicle are preserved, including the braking system. Each manufacturers’ design is different, but most use regenerative braking to trap and store electricity in the battery. With this system, the driver should slow down gradually in order to harvest the most electricity possible from the braking system. This technology causes less wear and tear on the brake pads.
Since the gas engine is used less, the oil need not be changed as often. Instead of the standard 3,000-mile recommendation for an oil change, hybrid owners can eek out 5,000 miles between oil changes.
Over a decade, barring a battery malfunction not covered by a warranty, hybrid car owners can expect to spend the same amount of money as owners of gas-powered vehicles on maintenance, if not less. Here are some tips to prevent unexpected repair costs:
- Always keep the battery charged by slowly coming to a stop, allowing the regenerative braking system to store electricity. You will extend the life of the battery by never allowing it to drain completely.
- After coming to a complete stop, slowly pick up speed in order to preserve fuel.
- Use synthetic oil in your hybrid vehicle and you may not need another oil change for 10,000 miles.
- Don’t attempt to diagnose a problem with your battery; it’s best to leave repairs to a licensed professional to reduce the risk of shock.
- As the owner of a gas-saving, bank-account-boosting hybrid vehicle, make sure to employ a licensed, experienced auto mechanic to conduct routine and emergency hybrid car repairs.