Are Hybrid Cars More Difficult To Repair?

Before purchasing your hybrid, you need to aware that the guarantee is much more important because of the high cost of repairs outside of warranties.  The labor involved could end up being a lot higher because of the new technology that is involved in a hybrid.  Nevertheless, if you maintain it well, you should be fine.

Is it difficult to repair a Hybrid versus a Regular Combustion Engine Vehicle? Yes, it is more difficult to repair hybrid especially if you attempt to do so on your own. The repair tips are out there for hybrids, but since the technology is relatively new, they are harder to locate.  The major component that might need replacing is the battery pack after 10 years or so, but the cost of it is decreasing yearly.

I like to use the 80/20 rule when considering the overall potential repair costs for a vehicle.  20 percent of repairs will take up 80 percent of costs.  In other words, very minor, less costly repairs should not be your focus.  The biggest component that may need to be repaired or replaced in a hybrid is the electric battery pack.  It is not as if you can casually unplug and throw in a battery yourself as you could do with a regular car.

You will need to have someone with some level of expertise replace the battery pack.  Since you are dealing with high voltage electricity, you need to be super careful with the inner workings of a hybrid car.  This type of mechanic is not going to be free, the hourly rate may even be higher than the cost of a regular mechanic.

One great aspect is there is usually a long term warranty attached to the electric battery system.  I have noticed warranties in the range of ten years.  Since most hybrid batteries tend to last that long,  so you should be safe financially speaking.

I tried to find pricing on a Hyundai Sonata Hybrid battery pack.  The pricing mentioned varies greatly from site to site.  So, I had to look into sites that were selling the packs to see the real cost.  Here is a chart that lists some of what I found:

SiteYear of CarCost Warranty
BestHybridBatteries.com2011-2014$1949 (with installation)3 years
GreenTecAuto.com2011-2015$1995 + $125 delivery fee18 months
HyundaiOEMParts.com2017$3279 (without installation or shipping)
1 year or 12000 miles

Are the minor repairs on a Hybrid More Difficult than on a regular car?

The minor repairs individually are the same as a combustion engine, but there are going to be fewer instances when repairs are necessary.  The complexity is going to be exactly the same since most repairs will be to the combustion engine portion of the hybrid.

For instance, the span of time between oil changes will longer because of the use of the two engines in a hybrid.  The electric motor does not require the oil that a combustion engine needs.

Also, since the braking system uses initially the regenerative braking via the electric motor, the wear and tear on the brake pads will be less.  A hybrid does use its normal friction brakes to stop quickly or to come to a complete stop.  Some vehicles, nevertheless, are able to come to a stop using the regenerative braking system.

Apparently, it costs more to service the cooling system in a hybrid versus a normal car. I would not worry about it though since maintenance is usually not required on the cooling system until you have reached 100.000 miles.

Stay in EV mode to reduce the usage of the gas motor so that Repairs will be less problematic and difficult to deal with

Your best plan of action is to attempt to stay in the EV mode so that you are not using the gas motor as much.  Gas motors, in general, have more components that require maintenance.  Since car dealerships make most of their money from doing repairs, they are probably feeling that this free ride with bags of money due to repairs is going to dry up as more people purchase hybrid cars.  They are right.

I tried to find information online as to the number of parts in an internal combustion engine compared to an electric motor.  I could not find anything definite enough to mention here.

I decided that it would be best to compare the amount of moving parts in these types of motors.  Assuming that the more moving parts, the higher the probability of repairs that will be required.

The electric engine portion of a hybrid has the following components:

  1. charger
  2. battery
  3. controller
  4. motor

The gas engine portion of a hybrid has the following major components:

  1. gas tank
  2. carburetor
  3. smog controls
  4. exhaust system
  5. starter
  6. water pump
  7. gas pump
  8. oil pump
  9. generator

The only moving part in the electric engine is the motor that contains the rotor that spins.  This means that if even if you use the electric motor more often than the gas motor, you will not have to deal with a laundry list of potential repairs and maintenance.

If you are an aggressive city driver or someone that drives mostly on highways, you will be using the gas engine quite often.  Gas engines require maintenance repairs such as periodic oil changes, air filter replacements. and repairs to the exhaust system.

I have noticed that some people are stating online in forums that it probably better to pay extra on items such as the exhaust system versus using the electric motor so often that you reduce the life of this battery pack.  They believe that they will end up paying 7-10 thousand to replace the electric battery pack.  This pricing used as much as 7 thousand for a replacement pack, but it is currently about 25 percent of that amount.

What Level of Expertise is Required to Repair a Hybrid?

It is difficult to repair a hybrid if you are not an expert.  If you have zero training as a mechanic with respect to hybrid cars, you will probably not be asked to work on one.

It is best to take an Electric Vehicle Technology Certificate Program in order to obtain adequate training for learning how to repair a hybrid.  There will be courses that cover: energy storage,  hybrid automotive systems, EV and HEV batteries, data acquisition, circuits, and other hybrid vehicle topics.

The one aspect that really complicates the repair of a hybrid is the replacing of the complete battery pack or individual dead cells within the pack.  You will need to remove tons of screws and brackets to even get to the battery pack.  Plus, the pack has high voltage so you need to be careful when you try to remove the pack from the hybrid.

I have noticed that there are videos online showing how others are doing this replacement on their own.  It looks super scary to me.  They are wearing special anti-shock gloves and seem to be nervous when touching the connectors that need to be disconnected in order to remove the pack from the back of the vehicle.

Nevertheless, most of the circuits that contain high voltage seem to be encased in orange material.  This will provide some warning to those which to perform the disassembly of the lithium cells on their own.

So, you are probably wondering, due to the high voltage issue, can you even do minor repairs on your own with a low level of difficulty?

Can you Do Simple Repairs on a Hybrid Yourself?

You perform some of the regular maintenance tasks on your own safely.  The high voltage factor is located within the battery pack.  Since it is well encased, there is little chance that you will be shocked to death just by performing normal repairs.

Here are some repairs that are not terribly difficult to conduct on your own on your hybrid.  Nevertheless, personally, I will just take my vehicle to the shop since experts may end up doing a better job.

  1. Oil change- In a hybrid, the oil change only needs to be done half the number of times compared to a normal car since the electric motor is used part of the time. The process is exactly the same in a hybrid as in a regular car for an oil change.  You can also change the oil filter on your own.
  2. You can replace the disc pads that are in the front and back of the hybrid on your own.  Again, the brakes pads are not used as much in a hybrid due to the regenerative braking.  So, they rarely will need to be changed.
  3. Changing the windshield wipers is not a difficult task in a hybrid.  Just make sure that you purchase the right length of blade. Connecting them will not pose a problem since most wipers are universal at the attachment portion of the blades.
  4. Maintenance of the tires is not hard to accomplish for a hybrid car.  Just make sure that you determine the right pressure to use.  This information will be listed in your guide for the car.  It can vary from car to car.  Also, have your tires rotated after around 10,000 miles for any vehicle, which includes electric and hybrid models.

Recent Posts