Most automobiles use a single gas-powered
engine for propulsion. These engines have been around, in one form or another,
for more than 100 years. They use the explosive power of gasoline to create
power for the engine, but much of the energy is lost during the process. That's
where hybrid vehicles come in.
Instead of losing all of that extra energy, Electric Drive Systems conserve it. They convert the energy into a form that a battery can store for later use. Because of this additional energy reserve, it's a bit like having an extra gas tank along for the ride.
Myths and Facts about Hybrid Vehicle Maintenance
require a totally new maintenance routine.
Fact: Hybrids require much of the same maintenance as traditional automobiles. Bring your car in for regular checkups to prevent larger issues, check fluid levels and make sure to get oil changes. Electric motors don't allow drivers to neglect the basic needs of the engine.
Myth: I can't do any of the maintenance myself.
Fact: Many aspects of hybrid maintenance can be performed by the individual. Change spark plugs, replace air filters and check fluids like you would in any other vehicle. Just be careful of the new, synthetic oil requirements used by most hybrids. Always stick to the recommended oils and make sure you understand how the battery is connected to the rest of the system before fiddling with it.
Myth: I'll need to bring my hybrid in for maintenance more frequently than a traditional vehicle.
Fact: Because hybrid engines are more efficient, oil changes and air filters tend to last longer than in their gasoline-only counterparts. Plan on oil changes every 5,000 to 10,000 miles.
Myth: Hybrid batteries need to be replaced constantly.
Fact: Almost all hybrid vehicle manufacturers provide an eight year, 80,000 mile warranty on batteries. In some states, the minimum requirement for these batteries is ten years and 100,000 miles.
Tips to Ensure a Healthy Hybrid
While hybrid maintenance is no more frequent
than traditional vehicle repair, it does come with a few new challenges. New
owners tend to be surprised by the lengthy duration of battery life, by the
distance driven between oil changes and by the complexity of the transfer
elements. The myths and challenges section can be helpful for basic hybrid car
facts, but the complexities of hybrid maintenance need to be discussed.
All hybrids have a key component that is missing in traditional auto maintenance: a transfer element between the gas engine and the electric battery. These parts, because of their modernity, can be difficult to repair without the help of a technician. When you hear anything coming from the engine, especially coughing or sputtering sounds, it's important to take the hybrid car to a professional. While dealerships can be more expensive, they are trusted in hybrid service and should usually be consulted when possible. These professionals can also provide advice on the best hybrid cars for your specific driving style and the most popular hybrid models of the year.
You can expect lower fuel costs, fewer oil changes and a reliable battery life from a quality hybrid vehicle. So, while there are some myths to dispel and new technologies to learn about, hybrids are not, in fact, high maintenance.