How to Maintain a Hybrid Car

Maintaining a hybrid car is important even though there are less moving parts when compared to a regular vehicle. Nevertheless, there are suggested times for maintenance just as there are for gas powered vehicles.

How to Maintain a Hybrid Car? For a hybrid, you need to follow the guidelines for certain maintenance tasks contained within the owner’s manual.   The overall maintenance costs are lower than a normal vehicle because of the use of two engines.  For the gas engine in hybrid, you need to keep it maintained the same way that would do for a non-hybrid car.   

The electric motor has fewer problems overall because it has a low number of movable parts, but you still need to maintain it to ensure that it works throughout the life of your hybrid.

How to maintain the electric motor in a hybrid

You might think that you will need to learn a lot about the inner workings of the electric motor in order to maintain it probably.  This is not true.  Of course, read your owner’s manual so that you have a general idea of how it works and how it differs from a regular engine.

One major concept that you need to be aware of is that the computer system will be controlling when each motor is activated, there is nothing that you need to maintain for a hybrid to do its job with respect to the electric motor.  It is not as if you will need to maintain the computer program that makes a hybrid run effectively.

Nevertheless, there are components of the electric motor that are listed in the owner’s manual that need to be maintained and inspected at certain mileage intervals.  For instance, I noticed that for the Sonata Hybrid, you need to have the battery pack inspected after 30,000 miles.

It is actually rare that the parts of the electric motor are inspected by a mechanic.  For the suggested inspection and maintenance intervals, the tasks are 99 percent of the time just for components that make up the gas motor. For example, after 90,000 miles, the mechanic needs to inspect the air conditioning compressor and the brake fluid.

In other words, there is no need to worry about the maintenance of the electric motor in a hybrid.  In the rare case that part of it needs to be inspected, it is lumped in with the routine inspection of parts that are related to the gas motor.

Also, leave the inspection of the electric motor to the professional hybrid mechanics.  A hybrid is a complex beast internally.  It is not like the cars of yesteryear where you could play around with to maintain it, in your garage at home.  Since an electric motor is connected to a battery pack of high voltage, it is best not to fool around within a hybrid with your trusty tools.

Will you need to worry about maintaining the hybrid battery?

I do not lose any sleep thinking about whether or not my hybrid battery pack is going to die.  The battery pack is quite durable and it definitely is going to outlast the number of years that I usually keep a vehicle.  I know that you might be thinking that perhaps there are some faulty batteries out there that will die just soon after the warranty runs out.

What you need to realize is that most manufacturers understand the fear that someone has with batteries, so their guarantee is usually for the life of the vehicle.  Batteries eventually die and the battery pack for a hybrid is not cheap. You can expect to be a few thousand for a new pack; however, the price is lowering each year.

I looked into the details for a guarantee for the battery pack for a Sonata Hybrid for the United States. Of course, the policy was written in large bold font so that you can see it right away and be amazed.  It did have a tiny asterisk after it, and I looked into the restrictions.  The biggest one was that the guarantee is not transferable, so if you were to sell your hybrid, the lifetime guarantee on the battery pack would no longer be applicable.

Even though it has a nice guarantee for the original owner, what if you are the second owner? You still would not have to worry about maintaining it.  It does not have the same sort of ecky connections that a regular battery has that can become corroded.  You may never see the actual battery pack.  It is so well-encased that you almost have to be a master mechanic just to access it.

What if the battery dies and you are the second owner that does not have the ability to replace it free of charge?

If it dies, I want you to realize that it not because you had neglected to maintain it.  As I had mentioned, there is zero maintenance to perform on it as the car owner.  Nevertheless, you will need to replace it as soon as you can in order to use your vehicle.  A hybrid cannot run on solely its gas engine.

You will have two options if the battery pack is dead and no longer under guarantee.

  1. You can replace it with a new battery pack.  I would suggest that you shop around for one and then pay a specialized mechanic to install the pack.
  2. Another option that I have heard about is to buy a refurbished pack.  When a pack dies, only part of it is dead.  It is made up of various cells and dead cells can be replaced.  Buying a refurbished pack is going to save you a lot of money and it is easier and safer than if you were to try to determine which cells were dead on your own.

Now that we have discussed the maintenance of the battery pack, it is time to move onto the brake system in a hybrid.

Do brakes need to be maintained differently in a hybrid?

The brakes on a hybrid do need to be maintained.  I am talking about the friction brakes, not the concept of regenerative braking. Their maintenance intervals are indicated in the owner’s manual.  You will not have to personally worry about working on them on your own if the car is under warranty.  You just should try to stick the outlined schedule for maintenance tasks.

If your hybrid is not under warranty, you should inspect the brakes periodically or take the car to a mechanic.  Working on them on your own is possible but I had noticed that it is quite complex since you have to fool around with the onboard computer in order to get into brake pad service mode.  Not sure if this is necessary for all hybrids, but it seemed to be the case for someone that posted on a forum on the GreenHybrid.com site.

Also, when inspecting the brakes, you may notice that the rear brake pads are more worn than the front brakes.  This is because a hybrid tends to use just enough of the friction brakes to stop fully the car.  If the hybrid had been traveling slowly, the use of the rear wheel would have been just enough to stop the car.

Why is the coolant system in a hybrid car crucial?

Since there is a lot of heat produced by the electric motor, it is necessary to ensure that its temperature does not get too high.  I initially assumed that since the electric motor was relatively small, that heat was not being created that could alter how this engine performs.

There is actually a separate cooling system for most hybrid models that’s job is to maintain the temperature of the components of the electric motor at its optimum level.

The main reason for heat production is the battery pack.  A hybrid battery contains 28 separate cells in order to store high voltage current.  I can see why the heat would increase greatly. When I am charging the battery on my tiny iPhone, it becomes hot.  Just imagine the level of hot produced if the battery in the iPhone weighed 93 pounds like a hybrid electric battery pack?

Do you need to worry about adding fluids to the coolant system for the electric motor?

You need to be aware that fluids need to be topped up for the cooling system.  Nevertheless, through regular inspections, this task should be covered by your dealer.  I have noticed that besides maintaining the fluids at the correct levels, some manufacturers of hybrids suggest that the system be flushed and refilled when servicing is done.

The other engine cooling system is a hybrid is for the internal combustion engine.  It involves a radiator that through the use of air flowing through the grill, cools done the liquid.  This coolant system for the gas engine needs to be serviced in the same fashion as with a regular car.  For instance, the hoses in the system need to be inspected to ensure that they are crack-free and not leaking.

Again, the service intervals for the coolant system for the ICE should be listed in your service manual.

 

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