Most people shy away from a hybrid if they drive daily on highways. They assume that they will never save on gas because a hybrid uses the gas motor to accelerate at higher speeds and also when the battery pack for the electric motor becomes too low.
Are Hybrid Cars Suitable for Highway Driving? A hybrid car is better on the highway versus a regular car because most hybrids operate the two motors in parallel. Charging of the electric motor battery pack will still happen in a minor way when the gas motor is operating. You will use 20 percent less gas than if you were to drive a regular car on a highway.
Personally, I have noticed that I can increase the range that the electric motor is working on the highway by driving a certain way, and also by reducing the use of accessories while highway driving. I will now explain some tactics that you can try out that should reduce your use of gas on a freeway.
How to Drive a Hybrid on a Highway and Still Save on Gas
Here are some quick tips on how to ensure that you are operating your Hybrid at its optimal level to save gas on the highway.
1. You need to check your tire pressure on a regular basis. Some more expensive vehicles have a tire pressure indicator built into to their huge list of gadgets onboard. My Sonata Hybrid sadly does not have this feature. Nevertheless, for a rather low price, you can buy a digital tire pressure gauge on Amazon. You can also use them on trucks, and bikes.
The reason that you need to ensure that your tires are well inflated is that underinflated tires add more friction and will dictate to your car that you need more power to maintain your speed. This need for more energy is going to reduce your gas reserves if the electric motor is not in operation.
2. Also, besides just tire pressure, periodically check the depth of your treads. I personally, did not know that you could buy a gadget online that would do this test. One of my friends had told me how to use a coin to check the depth of treads. Since I love gadgets, I will be purchasing the newest tire tread depth gauge.
If your treads are worn down, it can alter how you drive on the highway. It can actually be dangerous to drive on worn down tires especially of the road is slick after it rains. Also, worn tires will cause you to need to use more gas since more friction will be added to the tires. Remember, that the goal with a hybrid is to reduce gas usage on the highway when the gas motor kicks in.
3. This next tip is also important. If you are the type of person that stuffs your truck with items that you only need once in a while, take useless items out of the truck. For instance, I used to have a large wooden box in the back of my hybrid that I was using to store items such as a spray bottle. I use a spray bottle when there is bird excrement on my car. I heard that bird feces can damage the paint job on a car.
This wooden box was quite heavy, maybe 10 pounds. It is better to switch out heavy items such as storage compartments with ones that are made from light materials such as plastic.
The added weight in the truck is going to increase gas usage on each and every trip. This usage might be small, but over the period of a year, it will add up.
4. If you take numerous trips on the highway when you have items stored on a roof rack, make sure that you have the most aerodynamic roof rack. If you were, for instance, to string up a huge tent onto your roof, the air will not flow easily over this lump on your roof. Poorly stored items on a roof will cause you to use more gas on long highway trips.
5. You should also pull out your owner’s manual and study the screens that you can view that will highlight your driving style. I personally thought that I was the perfect driver in the sense that I was driving in the perfect fashion to save gas on the highway on my hybrid. I soon learned that I was aggressively driving 3 percent of the time. I just assumed that maybe my friend had chalked up that percentile, but it was probably partially due to my lack of attention from time to time while taking calls on the road.
If you are not driving in a fluid and calm fashion, your bursts of acceleration are going to use up your gas faster. Just try not to press down hard on the accelerator. Envision that you are pressing down on an egg and that cracking it would cause a big mess.
6. Be aware of the schedule for regular maintenance. If you are lacking in this department, perhaps your hybrid will not be operating at its optimal level. A poorly maintained hybrid will use more gas on the highway.
7. Something that I was not aware initially, was that I should keep my hybrid on the ECO mode as much as possible. The ECO mode will help you to use both motors correctly so that you will use less fuel when zooming along on the highway.
8. This next tip was one that I was against in the beginning. When my father was teaching me how to drive, he stressed that I should always maintain the same speed. He did not explain why exactly. I just assumed that it was best if all drivers did so that traffic would flow stress-free. I did my best to ensure that I increased my speed when I was approaching a hill so that I could maintain my speed.
I now know that doing so is not crucial and it actually will cause you to use more gas in a hybrid. I am not saying that you should allow your speed to be cut in half when approaching an incline on a highway, but there is no need to slam down as hard as you can when getting close to a hilly area. Just use enough speed to keep you within a speed range that will not disturb the drivers behind you.
Does Driving a Hybrid on a Highway Cause More Wear and Tear?
Highway driving is going to cause some wear and tear on a hybrid because it can cause the hybrid to use both motors. There is little wear and tear in the parts of an electric motor. Damage is less likely because an electric motor does not have a lot of moving parts comparing to a combustion engine.
You probably will sense when the hybrid switches over to use exclusively the gas motor. I know that I do. I can sense more vibration in the steering wheel and also the sound of the car changes. It becomes more like the sound of a gas motored car. Nevertheless, I do not freak out thinking that I am creating damage to the car due to wear and tear. Wear and tear happen over the lifespan of a car, any moving car is going to experience it, it is normal.
In other words, do not worry about it. Hybrids are designed to switch back and forward between motors and they do so in an efficient fashion so that wear and tear will be minimal.
Some people feel that just because the hybrid motor is smaller than the average gas motor that wear and tear are going to be more prominent. I feel that this is not true. They are more compact and less powerful, but they do what they are supposed to do. It is not as if the car manufacturers added in the gas motor as an afterthought. They are most likely well designed although perhaps less powerful regarding horsepower. We as drivers, need to reduce speed anyhow. Passing people constantly on the highway in order to save 5 minutes per trip is just a great way to increase stress in one’s life.
The design of a hybrid allows t to stay cooler on the highway. The conventional car can heat up faster because of the larger gas motor. Even when the hybrid gas engine is being used, just the fact that it is relatively smaller allows it to stay cooler longer. When the inside of the regular car where the engine is stored heats up, so does the plastic and rubber parts around the gas motor. This degradation is in a sense, wear and tear.
Another design feature of a hybrid that prevents the level of wear and tear that we see in a normal car is that they do not have an alternator or a starter. Having these items would demand more maintenance. Plus, more parts means that the instances of wear and tear will occur more often.
How Well Does a Prius Hybrid Perform on the Highway?
I researched whether or not the popular Prius would have to deal with noticeable levels of wear and tear when they are driven on the highway.
I did not find any indications that driving on the highways would require a driver to drive aggressively. If someone is forced to stomp on the accelerator just to merge into traffic, then perhaps I would conclude that because this a weaker car, that damage to the internal parts would happen over time.
The Prius Hybrid is not a beast when it comes to power, but it is designed to use more energy when required. If it needs to quickly switch to its gas motor for more torque, it will do so in a smooth way. There are no noticeable changes in the way that Prius is handling when the gas engine is fired up.
So, it does perform well on the highway. Also, someone that owns a Prius is not expecting to win any races. Most people are pleased with it while highway driving.
I read on Cars.com that steering a Prius is easy as pie. It requires a light touch only on the highway. It feels very stable and well-planted. It even can take on fast corners with ease. It is the most exciting vehicle to drive, but most owners are very satisfied with it and do not seem to complain about how it handles on the freeways.
As long as you do not try to use a Prius as if it were an off-road monster, you should be fine. Even if you do a lot of highway driving, you will have stress free trips because of the lack of vibration and the smooth way that it can be steered.