The Basics of Hybrid Maintenance

March 15, 2016

maryland hybrid car repair

Do you own a hybrid and want to know the best ways to take care of it? Or maybe you are considering buying a hybrid, but have read some scary things about how expensive it is to maintain? In either case, allow our Davidsonville auto repair shop to show you what exactly is involved in hybrid car maintenance. You will see that, for the most part, it’s not much different from any other vehicle.

Oil Changes May Be Less Frequent

As you already know, your hybrid has a gas-powered internal combustion engine similar to the engines used in non-hybrid cars. It works the same way, but it’s not used as frequently, because a lot of the time your cur runs on its electric motor. Therefore, the only major difference in maintaining the gas engine in your hybrid is the fact that it may go longer without oil changes. How much longer? It’s best to check with your owner’s manual, but it’s often somewhere between 5,000 miles and 10,000 miles. Some newer hybrids may also call for a different oil weight than the one you are used to putting into your non-hybrid vehicle. Using the wrong oil may slowly damage the engine, so it’s important to take your car to a Maryland auto repair shop that knows what they are doing.

A Hybrid System is Maintenance Free

With a few exceptions where additional air filters may need to be replaced in some hybrid models, the hybrid system in your vehicle doesn’t require any special maintenance. Moreover, it is typically warranted for 8 to 10 years (or 100,000 – 150,000 miles), so if something is to go wrong, you should be covered. This also means that you don’t have to take your car to the dealer in order to get it serviced. For most regular hybrid maintenance your mechanic won’t need to touch the hybrid components, and most repair shops these days are up to speed on what’s what under the hood of hybrid cars.

Do I need to charge my hybrid car?

If you’ve never owned a hybrid, you may have a misconception that you would need to charge your car’s battery with electricity. Although there are “plug-in hybrids” that require external charging, most models have an internal mechanism for charging the battery, which is called regenerative breaking. Without getting too technical, every time you press the brake pedal, the released energy is passed onto your battery to charge it. If your battery gets low, your car will switch to the gasoline engine until the battery recharges. But if your hybrid is a plug-in type, it acts more like an electric car and will need periodic charging.

Don’t Worry About the Battery

In the early days of hybrids there were a few horror stories floating on the web about hybrid batteries failing prematurely and the fact that they cost an arm and a leg to replace. Having read these articles back in the day still keeps many people from purchasing hybrids. Meanwhile, technology has gone a long way since then. Hybrid batteries now last longer, are backed by better warranties and won’t break your bank to replace. The cost of battery replacement for many older hybrid models falls in the $1,000 – $2,500 range. As for the newer models, the new battery can cost over $3,000, but it’s often covered under warranty.

Keep Up With the Rest of the Maintenance

Let’s make it clear: just because it is a hybrid, doesn’t mean it’s a super car that can take care of itself. It may be more fuel efficient and eco friendly, but it still needs you to keep up with all the maintenance any car requires. This includes things like:

  • Brake service, including replacement of brake pads, discs and rotors as needed
  • Filter replacement, including engine air filter and cabin air filter
  • Tire services, including tire replacement, rotation, balancing and wheel alignment
  • Engine coolant maintenance (most hybrids also have a separate cooling system for the electric motor)
  • A/C service and refrigerant levels check and maintenance
  • Transmission fluid flush

As you can see, the majority of hybrid maintenance is no different than any other car you’ve driven. At least not for you. For your mechanic, on the other hand, things can be very different in terms of their location under the hood, the right tools to use and lubricants to apply. That’s why it’s important to take your hybrid to a Maryland auto repair shop experienced in hybrid maintenance, like our folks here at Choisser. Give us a call or contact online today to schedule an appointment.

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