Hybrid vehicles have been around now for more than a decade, earning their places in many garages. You’ll also increasingly find them on used car lots as their owners trade them in for newer, more advanced models. While the first models had a number of maintenance issues, newer versions of these electric-and-gas-powered vehicles are more reliable.
Maintenance of hybrids, however, varies slightly from that of their all-gas counterparts. They require routine preventive maintenance of engines, but some of the intervals are different. Oil changes are more infrequent as the electrical side of the vehicle takes some of the load off the engine. Most hybrids can go between 5,000 and 10,000 miles between oil changes. Air filters also are replaced less frequently, with the average change occurring every 40,000 miles. Similarly, brake pads on hybrids are also changed less due to the regenerative braking properties of these vehicles, which produce less head and friction.
Yet, hybrid vehicles have some special considerations, starting with the battery as batteries that are installed in hybrids are unique to these vehicles. Most manufacturers, however, guarantee their batteries for at least eight years or 80,000 miles, so you may only have to replace the battery once during ownership. At some point, the battery will need replacement, as it was built for a limited number of complete charge and discharge cycles. A dying battery can manifest as either a sudden battery failure or as gradually decreasing fuel efficiency.
If you need to have preventive maintenance that is hybrid specific, make sure your mechanic is trained to work on these systems, as taking it to a less experienced mechanic can end up costing you more in the long run. In addition, there are safety issues. A mechanic who does not know how hybrids work could mix up wires and endanger your life. Skilled mechanics will understand high-voltage power and control systems in hybrids and will act accordingly.
In addition to the aforementioned differences, hybrids have alternating current and voltages present under the hood, different charging systems and different cooling and air conditioning systems. Make sure your vehicle gets hybrid-specific parts for repairs.
Most hybrid components don’t need any special ongoing maintenance. In fact, manufacturer warranties usually cover the hybrid system from eight to 10 years. Take the vehicle to a dealership if a hybrid part fails that is still under warranty.