If you're considering buying a hybrid vehicle (or already have one parked in your driveway) but aren't sure how you'll maintain it, don't worry--it's not as difficult as you might think. Here are a few maintenance tips for keeping your hybrid vehicle in tip-top shape!
What is a Hybrid?
Before we get into the details, let's take a minute and look more closely at what a hybrid vehicle is. By definition, a hybrid vehicle is a combination of a gasoline-powered car and an electric-powered car--which means it has the features and benefits of both. Hybrid vehicles still have a traditional gasoline-powered engine. Still, when you're driving slowly, or conditions are particularly easy, your car will let the electricity kick in--which means you won't use as much gas.
Here are a few tips to help clear up some common concerns about owning a hybrid vehicle.
- You'll still be driving a gasoline engine.
The electric motor under a hybrid's hood works in tandem with a gasoline engine. What this means for you is that traditional maintenance requirements like changing the oil and replacing the timing belt are still very much a part of the picture. Hybrid cars require more frequent coolant checks due to the additional heat caused by the battery pack. Following the manufacturer's schedule and relying on an experienced technician are still your go-to resources for hybrid vehicle routine maintenance.
- Maintaining your electric motor.
While it's true that your hybrid car will have an electric motor, the moving parts are minimal. The parts that may wear out are not difficult for an experienced technician to replace — as with any vehicle, sticking with a proactive maintenance schedule is key to your vehicle's longevity and lower costs for you.
- Concerned about the battery?
The typical hybrid battery doesn't need replacing until it passes the 150,000-mile mark. The battery in your gasoline-powered car is changed more frequently than the battery in a hybrid car.
Maintaining Your Hybrid
This is all excellent news for your wallet and the environment, but what about vehicle maintenance and general care? Are hybrid vehicles more difficult to deal with than your average gas-guzzler? Here are a few tips that prove the answer is no.
Tip #1: Learn about your car
In truth, maintaining a hybrid vehicle isn't all that complicated. You'll still have to do "regular car stuff," like monitoring tire pressure and refilling washer fluid. Do your research so you can learn the differences between your vehicle and a traditional gas-powered car. Check out three key differences here.
Tip #2: Don't go in alone.
The electrical charge in a hybrid vehicle is enough to be dangerous or even life-threatening, so don't go poking around the car's inner workings. Instead, take your vehicle to maintenance experts who have proven experience working with hybrids.
Tip #3: Keep an eye on both batteries.
Hybrid vehicles have two batteries: the hybrid battery that handles the car's electrical charge, and a traditional 12-volt battery like you'd expect to see in a gas-powered car. Both batteries need to be maintained to keep your hybrid vehicle safe, reliable, and cost-effective.
Hybrid Maintenance Costs
The differences between hybrid and regular cars are many, but they share more than they differ. Hybrids use less gas, but they still use an internal combustion engine. Like any car, a hybrid needs regular maintenance to keep it running at its best and occasionally needs a replacement part. Most of the standard maintenance of a hybrid is getting oil changes on time. And like any car, they occasionally need a new battery to replace a bad one.
Just like a regular car, a hybrid needs oil changes at regular intervals. The number of miles to wait between oil changes varies with the specific model. Like most cars, it is generally recommended by the manufacturer to change the oil every 3,000 miles for as long as you have the vehicle. If you are using conventional oil (natural) in your hybrid, the 3,000-mile rule may be a smart one to remember.
However, by switching to synthetic oil, you can increase the distance between oil changes to about 5,000 to 7,000 miles. Getting an oil change with natural oil will cost anywhere from $20 to $40. If you get synthetic oil, expect to pay around $40 to $70 per oil change.
The oil lasts longer in hybrid vehicles than it does in regular ones. When you drive at a low speed, your hybrid car will turn off power to the engine. This allows the engine to go longer without needing to be lubricated, stretching out the life of the oil in your vehicle. If you haven't gone 5,000 to 7,000 miles after six months, get the oil changed at that point in time. By changing the oil every time it needs to be changed, you extend the number of miles your car can go.
Like a conventional car, hybrid cars will eventually need to have their battery replaced. In a hybrid vehicle, it's the battery that makes the car what it is. While hybrid batteries will last a long time, they tend to be extremely expensive. Expect the battery to last your car about 100,000 miles, or about eight years. While a conventional battery costs just a couple of hundred dollars, you can expect to pay from $1,000 to $8,000 for a new hybrid battery. While this is an enormous range of prices, the exact price you pay will have a lot to do with your vehicle's make and model and the battery age.
Why does a hybrid battery cost so much more? These batteries have to supply a higher level of power to the vehicle, supplying some of the power that the engine would have provided in a regular car. The hybrid battery is rechargeable, so there is no need to replace it just because it runs out of power once.
Like regular cars, there are assorted things that must be replaced as a regular part of wear and tear to the car. The light bulbs will eventually need to be replaced, and these are no different from those in a regular car. You will also have to replace air filters and have the fluid replaced in the air conditioner. There is also window washer fluid to refill and tires to replace as needed. None of these maintenance items will cost more for a hybrid than it does for a regular car. Each of them can be done for a few hundred dollars or less.
Are you looking for more maintenance tips? Need your hybrid vehicle serviced? We're here to help. Contact Naylor's today!