What Kind of Engine Oil Does a Hybrid Use

Many people wonder about the type of oil that a hybrid requires.  If you are the DIY type of owner, you may wish to change the oil yourself. so you need to make sure that you use the right viscosity or thickness grade for your hybrid vehicle.

What kind of engine oil is best for a hybrid car? A hybrid vehicle needs oil that reduces greatly friction because of the constant switching over between the gas and electric motor.  Most manufacturers recommend a viscosity grade synthetic oil of 20W.  Synthetic oil is thinner than regular car engine oil.    

Do Hybrids Need Oil Changes?

Since a hybrid typically uses synthetic oil, does it really need to be changed?  Synthetic oil is thinner in texture and it does not cause the sludge that is created by the oil that is used in a traditional vehicle.  Nevertheless, you still need to change it from time to time.

I have read that some people feel that if you were to drive almost exclusively in a city using the electric motor that oil changes are not crucial.  I agree that there is less strain created by an electric motor.  It has a lot less moving parts than the gas engine in the hybrid.  However, it still needs to be changed, just less often.

Also, even though you might not be using the gas motor in a hybrid as much as the electric motor, you need to ensure that it is in working order.  It requires oil to run smoothly.  If you do not change its oil, it will start to deal with high levels of friction which is not good for any car part.   Since you are not going to use the gas engine solely, you will not need to change it as often as you would when compared to a regular vehicle.

How Often Do Hybrids Need Oil Changes?

Changing the oil in a hybrid is going to vary from vehicle to vehicle.  You need to follow closely the oil changing schedule that is outlined in your manual.  If you fail to do so, you may a problem if you need to file an insurance claim.  Insurance companies may try to use the fact that you failed to change the oil on a regular basis, causing multiple problems with your vehicle.

I have a Sonata Hybrid and its manual states that I need to change the oil every 7500 miles.  This is higher than the 5000 miles amount that was stated for one of my previous vehicles, a regular Sonata.

Salt Use Area Clause

Nevertheless, the manual also states that if I live in a salt use area, I will need to change the oil after every 3750 miles.  What is strange about this statement is that it is vague.  What is considered as being a salt use area?  An area that has salted roads for 4 weeks, 2 months?  I guess to be safe, if you live an area that has salted roads at least one day out of the year, change your oil every 3750 miles.  You do not want to provide an insurance company a loophole for refusing a claim.

Have your Oil Analyzed

I read a suggestion from a Sonata owner that I found interesting.  The owner had stated that it best to pay for an analysis of the oil that is removed from your hybrid during each oil change.  It is best to have some sort of evidence that the oil was not able to cause problems.  Of course, if your hybrid is no longer under warranty, there is no need.

Another factor that can influence when you should change the oil is the brand of oil.  I am not sure if I would toy around with this option, I would personally stick to the guidelines that are outlined in the manual.  Nevertheless, I thought that I would illustrate a scenario in case you wish to change your oil less often than the manual of your hybrid suggests.

Amsoil Can Aid You if a Claim was Denied

You could purchase the Amsoil brand that is more expensive and that tends to last longer than regular synthetic oil.   For instance, it does not need to be changed until 15000 miles is reached.  Nevertheless, there is a chance that your dealership will not honor the warranty if they determine that you had not changed the oil for a period that is longer than what was suggested.

If you had a claim denied because of Amsoil usage, you should mail a claim notice to Amsoil along with the claim denial.  They will require an oil sample from the failed equipment, along with other documentation.

Toyota Hybrid Engine Oil

There are many hybrid versions manufactured by Toyota.  The most popular is the Toyota Prius.  Apparently, the manual states that if you are using regular car engine oil, that you will need to change the oil after 5,000 miles.  If you are using synthetic oil, changing at 5000 miles is fine.  They do not mention exact brands or product numbers.

Since Toyota does mention in their manuals that synthetic oil will last longer, personally if I had a Prius, that is what I would use.  Yes. it is more expensive, but relatively cheap compared to the overall price of a Prius.  You have to view it as a food source for your hybrid.  Better food means better performance.

Also, another reason to always use synthetic oil is that it will help the oil filter to function better.  They suggest that if you had previously used non-synthetic oil OW-20, you will need to change the oil filter along with the oil at your next oil change.

I read responses in a Prius forum and most people are satisfied with the brand Mobil 1.  It is priced at the same level as the Toyota motor engine.  However, Toyota is probably just relabeling the brand of another oil manufacturer.  I could not find indications online that state that they process their own oil.

Honda Hybrid Engine Oil

A honda hybrid requires an oil that is similar to the requirements outlined for a Toyota hybrid.  OW-20 will suffice for a hybrid.  The brand that many are using is Mobil 1, synthetic oil of course.  Nevertheless, make sure to follow the schedule in the manual for oil filter changes.  In addition, ensure that the filter that is used is rated for the same level of miles as the oil that is added.

Even though many suggest OW-20, it is still best to check your manual.  It does vary slightly depending on your location.  For instance, the oil suggestions for Canada may differ from a car that was purchased in South Africa.

What Could Happen if You Were to Use a Higher Viscosity Oil in a Honda Civic Hybrid?

I was curious to see what could happen if an oil with the viscosity level above 20 was used in a Honda Hybrid.  It is suggested that the added oil thickness could affect the cranking speed in colder climates.  Also, overall fuel consumption would increase.  So in other words, you would be saving a few pennies by using a higher viscosity oil, but you will increase the amount of gas used.  This is silly being that we buy a hybrid in most cases to save on gas!

Hybrid Oil Change Cost

If you are ok with having your hybrid oil changed at a random location, you could shop around for the best deal.  I have noticed huge differences in price from location to location.  For instance, I was going to have the oil changed for my previous vehicle by the dealership where I had purchased my car, but I noticed that Walmart’s price was considerably lower.  You should be fine at most locations as long as the garage follows the directives in your owner’s manual.

Here are some prices that I had found on the site CarTreatments.com.  For synthetic oil changes for a hybrid, the average price range charged is $40-$70, versus the$20-$40 charge for conventional oil.  The difference seems to be because of the added cost of synthetic oil.  The labor involved is exactly the same.  Although some cars require more oil, cars require relatively the same amount of oil.

Even though there will most likely be a higher oil change cost for a hybrid, you will not need to change the oil as often.  In other words, you will save in the long run due to less oil and filter changes.

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