So, you’re ready to retire your gas-powered engine and consider transitioning to a hybrid vehicle. There’s a lot to consider before you make the change, however. While you may save money with less frequent visits to the gas station, are other costs associated with hybrid ownership worth it? As technology improves, the number of hybrids on the road are increasing and in the very near future, many car owners may own some type of a hybrid vehicle. For now, though, you’ll need to consider how a hybrid fits your budget.
Unlike your typical combustion engine, hybrid engines have two power sources: an electric motor and an internal combustion engine which will work together or independently for optimal efficiency. While in motion, the vehicle determines which function is the most efficient and uses one, the other, or both accordingly based on the vehicle’s needs at that moment. Most of the time the electric motor powers the beginning of the drive and lower speeds. At high speeds, the combustion engine takes charge, but it comes at a price with more fuel consumption.
Are Hybrids Expensive to Repair?
Most hybrids do not require any additional or different maintenance than your average fuel-powered vehicle. However, the maintenance can be a bit more expensive because some of the technology is more advanced than gasoline cars. Here are the pros and cons regarding maintenance on hybrid vehicles.
Pro: Some hybrids have the ability to shut off the engine while stopped to help conserve gas. Since the engine isn’t working as hard, it results in less wear and tear on the engine.
Con: If you have a long commute, your hybrid will need the assistance of the fuel engine and though you’ll be using less fuel than a typical combustion engine, you’ll still be paying for the additional gas needed for power.
Pro: Most hybrid vehicles are equipped with regenerative braking systems that charge the batteries and reduce wear on brake components.
Con: While most combustion and electric engine components require the same maintenance, they do differ when it comes to the control for the onboard storage batteries and the electric drive motor. Battery pack replacements can cost between $3,000 – $8,000.
Pro: Because of their similar operation to combustion engines, the average DIYer is capable of checking the transmission fluid, changing spark plugs, and replacing air and fuel filters.
Con: Because they are designed to work in sync the electric drive motor, the combustion engine, and transmission are united together to work as one. A malfunction in one of these major components can affect the function of the others. Serious diagnostics are needed and should be done by a professional.
Complex Electronics System
The electronic elements that regulate the electric motor for movement and braking can produce considerable amounts of heat, requiring a separate dedicated cooling system. Charge and discharge proportions as well as the condition of the charge reserve is controlled by the battery control unit. In order to perform consistently for all conditions, these systems will utilize both heating and cooling systems. Your automotive professional should take extra care to ensure hoses, pipes, clamps, and filters are checked during regular maintenance services and replace them as necessary to prevent major breakdowns.
Hybrids are equipped with heavy voltage systems. The average electrical system operates at a safe 12-volts; however, the propulsion motor and other components operate around 100-volts or more. An electrical shock with as little as 50-volts can be fatal. Be sure to take extreme caution around the high voltage circuits and cables, which will be covered with a bright orange shell. Do not attempt to touch these items or service them on your own. A trained professional has the knowledge on how to correctly and safely cut the power to maintain and service these components.
Just like any vehicle, a hybrid will require the same maintenance and services your standard combustible engine requires such as oil changes, air filters, air conditioning, lights, transmission flushes, and the like. Some unique maintenance services may be required from time to time including electric motor brushes and hybrid battery packs at around 80,000 miles.
When your vehicle requires maintenance whether it’s a hybrid, a combustible engine, or even a fully electric vehicle, Sun Auto Service is here to guide you through what your vehicle needs and when. Our Service Advisors will review your maintenance schedule with you to help plan your future maintenance needs. When that maintenance is due, you can expect superior service from our highly trained Technicians. Schedule your appointment today or give us a call to discuss your vehicle’s specific maintenance needs.