How Long Do Batteries Last in Hybrid Cars

The lifespan of batteries in a hybrid can vary from model to model.  It depends on a lot of factors. In general, if you are an aggressive driver, you are going to degrade the battery faster than someone that is less aggressive. An aggressive driver is going to demand more bursts of energy from the battery pack.

Batteries in Hybrid Cars, how long do they last? A hybrid battery on average will last a decade or more.  It depends on the driver and on the frequency of charges.  The battery pack does not die all at once. Cells in the battery pack start to degrade one by one.  For instance, high energy driving on average will cause 3 cells to become degraded during a period of 6 years.

What Affects the Lifespan of the Hybrid Battery

The biggest factor that can decrease the lifespan of the hybrid battery is the driver.  If you are a speed demon that slams down on the accelerator, you are going to cause the battery pack to become more vulnerable.  You will be demanding more of a charge each time that you ask your car to accelerate super fast.

Number of Charges Affects The Battery’s Life

Another factor that influences the life of your hybrid battery pack is the number of charges.  If you frequently fully charging your battery pack, you are going to cause it to degrade faster.

If you are an aggressive driver, you are rarely allowing the battery pack to be recharged by regenerative braking.  You are constantly using up the present charge and not allowing the power of self-charging to occur.  By driving fast in a city, you are using up your battery power faster which means that you will have to recharge more often then if you had been increasing the driving range by letting regenerative braking to kick in.

Do not Let a Sitting Hybrid Discharge its Battery Pack

Regenerative braking will help with the lifespan, also making sure that you charge your car once in a while is a good plan if you tend to leave it sitting for months on end.  This is what I had read in one manual.  It states that the lifespan will be reduced if you leave your car at a low charge for months without using it.

Lifespan can also be affected if you allow the battery pack to fully discharge before charging it.  I found a study that stated single-battery capacity style of Li-ion will degrade if you wait until they are severely low on power before recharging. A hybrid does not use this exact type but their packs are close enough in tech that I feel that it is worth mentioning.

Temperature Can Alter the Hybrid Battery Pack Lifespan

The hybrid battery packs are also affected by temperature.  They can be degraded if the temperature is constantly hot as it could be in a hot climate.  In the Kia manual (here), there is a cooling fan that will aid in keeping the battery temperature low while it is charging.  It can work even if the car is turned off.

How to Extend the Life of your Hybrid Battery

There are several tactics for increasing the lifespan of your hybrid battery:

  1. Do not drive too fast, you are increasing the vulnerability of the battery pack.  They are not designed to pump out a high level of energy at all times.  You will end up degrading your battery if you do so.
  2. Do not let the charge go below 20 percent because it can cause permanent degradation in the battery pack.
  3. Do not fully charge your battery pack during each charging session, this can also affect the battery pack in a negative one.
  4. If you live in a warm climate, try to keep your hybrid plugged in as much as possible.  This will allow the cooling system to keep the temperature of the battery pack at around 25 Celsius.  Some warmer climates will increase the internal temperature of the car at around 40 Celsius.
  5. Avoid always using a charging station that provides a quick charge.  Doing so reduces the power of the battery if you were to do so over a span of years.
  6. If you are not using your hybrid for a period of months, make sure to charge it up once in a while because it will lose its charge.  If the charge is left at lower than 20 percent for long periods of time, it will degrade the cells in the battery pack.
  7. Try to use regenerative braking as much as possible, this will decrease the overall number of charging cycles for your battery pack.  There is a limit on the number of charging cycles for a battery pack.

How Long Does the Typical Prius Battery Pack Last?

It is hard to find studies on just how long typical hybrid batteries last since the hybrid has not been around as long as some other types of cars.  The Prius is the first mass-produced hybrid. Toyota launched it in 1997 in Japan.

Its battery pack is quite reliable, although there is a limit on the guarantee given by Toyota.  The battery pack is guaranteed in the United States for 10 years in Calfornia, or until the car reaches 150,000 miles.  In other states, the length of the guarantee is just 8 years or 100,000 miles.

I guess that the Californian guarantee is better because of the lack of winter weather.  In winter driving, you use the accessories such as the heater and wipers more often.  Using accessories often will cause you to have to recharge the battery more often. It also could be because an aggressive driver can cause the battery pack to degrade faster.  Perhaps, they feel that people in this climate are less likely to drive super fast?

A guarantee of 8-10 years is great to have for the battery pack of a Prius, but how long do they typically last? I did some research and I found that there were cases where a Prius still had a functional battery pack at around 200,000 miles.  I did further research to see if there were other vehicles that are also using the same battery pack after a number of years.

I found a chart that illustrated that the Honda Civic and the Insight both had cases of hybrids that had functional battery packs after 160,000 miles.  The capacity of the batteries was of course reduced.  The Civic still had lots of capacity, 69 percent.  The insight had a remaining capacity of 85 percent.  Surprisingly, the Prius only had 39 percent left.

Even though Prius seemed to lose its battery pack capacity faster than some other vehicles, it still seems to last quite long.  For instance, if you were to drive around 150,000 miles during a period of 12 or so years, you may still have the same battery pack in your Prius Hybrid.

If you have to replace Prius battery pack after the warranty had expired, try to buy it outright and then pay a specialized mechanic to install it for you.  If you were to buy it from a dealer with installation included, you may end up paying three times as much.

Are the Newer Hybrid Batteries Going to Last Longer than the Older Ones?

The technology in the Hybrid world is always evolving.  What about the batteries? Since they can have a large impact on the cost of the vehicle and the way that electricity is used and produced, engineers should be working around the clock to improve the battery packs.

I did find signs on the internet that there is the possibility that companies will start to develop the Aluminum-ion battery for hybrids.  That would be great since the amount of mining that would be required would be a lot less.  Aluminum is easy to find in the environment and it is also easy to recycle.

The biggest reason to use Aluminum-ion batteries in hybrids is that it provides four times the energy based on its volume, called volumetric capacity.  Nevertheless, the tech still is being refined.  The obstacle presently is the design of the correct intercalation electrodes.  Intercalation is simply the insertion or the adding of an ion into something that has multiple layered structures.

Would these Aluminum-ion batteries last longer? I feel that they would since they can release more energy than the typical lithium-ion battery.  This will limit the degradation problem that lithium-ion batteries are facing.

Also, aluminum-ion batteries use a solid electrolyte. In a lithium-ion battery, the use of liquid electrolytes is required.  The liquid component is not great for a battery.  It can cause corrosion over time, which can weaken the battery pack.

Potential of Aluminum-Air Battery to Greatly Increase Driving Range on One Charge

Since cycling or charging a battery degrades it slightly each charge, limiting the number of charges is a goal that battery manufacturers have.

I read that the Aluminum-Air Battery that can theoretically increase the range to 3000 km!

The lifespan of this battery will then be much longer than that of the Lithium-Ion battery since it will rarely be charged at a charging station. Nevertheless, scientists state that it will need to be used in conjunction with a lithium-based battery. The Aluminum-Air battery will be used to charge the lithium-ion battery.

Do you Need to Maintain Your Hybrid Battery?

The owner of a hybrid does not need to do to directly maintain the hybrid battery.  The maintenance will occur with the scheduled inspections.  During some of these inspections, the mechanic will do diagnostic testing of the battery to make sure that it is operating at its highest level.

A battery pack for a hybrid it well-encased which means that getting access to it is a chore.  Also, the high voltage aspect can make it dangerous if you are not aware of how to reduce this risk.

In other words, do not play around with the battery pack, let an expert deal with it. It is under a long guarantee and you would need specialized equipment to do your own testing.

Another reason to let a specialist look after your battery pack is that it will in some cases, extend the warranty on the battery another 10,000 miles.  You could actually extend several times the battery’s mileage guarantee, increasing its coverage time to as much as 15 years.  That period of time is almost the limit for the car as a whole.

In addition to extending the warranty, you can extend the life of the battery without needing to actually touch it yourself.  Even though there are regular inspection intervals, you can do the following:

  1. Make sure that the cooling system for the battery pack is listed in the inspection lists. If not, have it inspected and certified each year. The battery pack will last longer if it stays at its optimal temperature.
  2. After each period of 16 months, have the cabin filter serviced also.  This filter filters the air that flows over the battery pack.  This air aids in keeping the battery pack cool.
  3. Even if you have your air conditioner inspected on a regular basis, if it is operating correctly, it could be a sign that the cabin filter is clogged.
  4. Another tactic that I read about from an owner, is to buy a Scangauge.  They can be purchased on Amazon.  Use the Scanguage to monitor the battery temperature.  Sometimes, even when the battery fan is blowing air on the battery pack, the temperature still reaches higher than 40 Celsius.  This temperature level will degrade your battery pack.  You may need to turn the air conditioner for an hour or so that the battery pack will be cooled down to a lower temperature.

Will You need to Replace the Battery During the Life of your Hybrid?

In most cases, you will not have to replace the battery pack of a hybrid during its life.  They are guaranteed for as much as 10 years and sometimes even for the lifetime of the car.  If you have a policy that guarantees that the pack will last the life of the car, just make sure that you check the fine print since you may not be able to transfer that part of the guarantee to the next owner if you were to sell the hybrid.

If you end up needing to replace the battery pack, it is best to have a mechanic that was trained to switch out these battery packs.  They hold a high voltage even when the vehicle is turned off.  You cannot simply unscrew the casing, unplug some cables and switch it out yourself.  I watched a video online showing a mechanic changing the battery pack in a hybrid and there were numerous steps that he had to follow just to remove the dead pack.  He even had to disconnect the other battery that is in a hybrid to reduce the chance of getting a shock.

You do have three options when switching out your battery pack:

  1. Deal directly with the dealer so that you have the best quality pack along with somewhat of a guarantee.  This option is the most expensive route, but at least you may have a long guarantee.  I have read that some places guarantee a replacement pack for 5 years.
  2. Your other option is to get a refurbished pack that has had dead cells replaced.  This option will save you some money and perhaps they will tag on a guarantee of a few years.
  3. You could go to a scrap yard and have the pack pulled from a dead hybrid.  Not sure if I would do this because there will not be a guarantee and perhaps the pack will have some internal damage that is not apparent right away.

If my pack were to die after its guarantee had expired, I would personally have a dealer order it and install it.  I have read that some dealers will only order it if you have them install it. I would feel better if I knew that it would last longer and that it was correctly installed.

Installation Story

I read a message left in a forum that someone had purchased a remanufactured pack for a great price.  Remanufactured is probably a pack that had the dead cells replaced with new ones.  He was pleased in the beginning because it was guaranteed for 24 months from installation.  The company told him that it would probably last just as long as his original battery pack, 10 years or so.  Of course, they did not provide a 10-year guarantee.

A few days after the 24 month period, his pack died.  He felt as if he had been misled.  Nevertheless, he did get two years of use out of it.

One Guy Went Through 3 Battery Packs

Another installation story had a few more twists to it. One owner of a 2007 Prius Hybrid had to replace his battery pack which made sense because he had chalked up 150,000 miles in mileage.  He found a battery pack that was cheap because it was in another Prius that only had 60,000 miles on the odometer.  Instead of buying just the hybrid battery network, he instead bought the car.

This car died after several months.  He did use it for a huge amount of miles, but then it suddenly started to flash that red triangle of death. His mechanic told him that would need a new battery pack. He managed to find a good price for a refurbished battery and had it installed.  After some time, all of the red warning lights flashed at the same time and he was confronted with the fact that he needed yet another battery pack.

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