Whether you currently own a hybrid or are thinking about owning one in the future, it’s always a great idea to be aware of some of the more common issues that hybrid vehicles experience. As with any vehicle, a hybrid vehicle will experience maintenance issues that will need to be resolved. Knowing in advance the signs to look for and what to expect is a great idea towards keeping your car in excellent running shape. It’s also always smart to have some idea what you’re dealing with before taking your car in to be serviced.
What Routine Care is Needed for a Hybrid Versus a Combustion Engine Vehicle?
In general, there isn’t much difference between the maintenance items of a hybrid vehicle compared to traditional vehicles. The only real difference lies in the storage battery and the electric drive motor.
Just like you have to change the oil in a traditional gasoline-powered vehicle, you also change the oil in a hybrid vehicle. Regular cars require an oil change every 3,000-5,000 miles, but hybrid cars go longer between oil changes. You can wait 5,000-10,000 miles for an oil change in a hybrid vehicle. Also, replace the air filter on a hybrid vehicle every 40,000 miles.
Hybrid vehicles work by turning off the internal combustion engine and use the electric motor during certain times that the car is running, like low speed and cruising. Since the engine is working less often and less hard, there is less wear and tear and less frequent maintenance to be done. The regenerative system converts the braking energy to charge the battery and, as such, reduces the wear on the brake pads and related components. This saves you from replacing the pads as often.
Maintenance you can Perform at Home
If you have experience maintaining a gasoline-powered vehicle, you can still feel comfortable performing some of the maintenance at home. Things like spark plugs, transmission fluid, and filters work pretty much the same as what you would be familiar with. Beyond that, you should leave the routine maintenance or repairs to service technicians who have received specialized training on hybrid vehicles.
The main maintenance issue that a hybrid vehicle owner will see is to do with the hybrid battery. The technology for hybrid batteries is still relatively new, and the life of batteries can be shorter than expected. Unfortunately, the battery is also expensive to replace. Many manufacturers have warranties or recycling programs that can help reduce or eliminate the unexpected expense of a new battery. Also, some hybrid vehicles have a coolant system to keep the battery at the optimal temperature. Having a trusted service tech regularly check this system can extend battery life by catching issues before they can cause a problem.
While engine problems are not as common in hybrid vehicles, Audi, Porsche and Volkswagon built vehicles have been known to have the check engine light come on without a discernable reason why. This can be very frustrating in addition to a safety concern, not knowing if the check engine light is representing a real issue or if it is a glitch.
Unfortunately, since the engine, electric drive motor, and transmission are all connected together to function as a single object, a problem in one of these parts means a problem for the whole thing. It can be challenging to identify the problem right out, but a professional with experience in hybrid vehicles can help.