With the advancement of hybrid vehicles, more and more consumers are replacing their vehicles with them. There are many things that distinguish a hybrid vehicle from its non-hybrid counterpart. One of them is maintenance. In order to understand the maintenance aspect of owning a hybrid vehicle, we need to determine how exactly a hybrid vehicle is different from its counterpart.
HOW A HYBRID VEHICLE FUNCTIONS
Hybrids operate by combining two fuel sources. The traditional gas powered engine is usually only used when the electric motor or battery is drained enough to permit the use of the gas powered engine. The computer in the hybrid vehicle does many things, including determining when to switch from electric power to gas power. The typical hybrid car is made from lighter materials, including carbon fiber in some cases, and functions off of a smaller, lightweight engine.
PROS AND CONS OF HYBRID VEHICLES AT A GLANCE
If you’re considering trading in your old car for a hybrid, it may be wise to consider the following before handing over your hard-earned money:
Here are some of the benefits that most consumers can look forward to after they’ve purchased a hybrid vehicle: + Environmentally Friendly – You can’t get much more environmentally friendly than a hybrid vehicle. According to the U.S Environmental Protection Agency, a hybrid vehicle utilizes less than 30-60% less fuel than traditional vehicles. Less gasoline use means less harmful waste being emitted into the air. + Save On Fuel – With a hybrid vehicle, you’ll be seeing your gas station attendant less and less. + Tax Benefits – There are many income tax credit programs you can take advantage of when you purchase a hybrid vehicle. + Higher Fuel Economy – Auto manufacturers have designed most hybrids to take advantage of aerodynamics in addition to using lighter materials for the creation of the car. The end result? You save more money! + Higher Resale Value – Hybrid vehicles are always in demand and it’s estimated that the demand will only increase. As a result, if you ever decide to sell your car, you’ll likely be pleased at the sale price returns.
As with all things, everything has its drawbacks. The hybrid vehicle is no exception. Here are some of the drawbacks to consider before purchasing a hybrid vehicle: + Expensive to Purchase – While many of the benefits will offset the initial purchase price of a hybrid, it can still be enough to deter most consumers from wanting to hand over their hard-earned cash. + Expensive to Maintain – Being equipped with modern technology has its drawbacks. While you may not see the auto mechanic nearly as frequently, maintenance for a hybrid is a completely different species, which requires specialization. As a result, repair costs are often higher than a traditional vehicle. + Less Horsepower – You’re trading fuel economy in for the performance. The bottom line: Don’t expect sports car performance with a hybrid. + Safety – The quiet running components of a hybrid make it more susceptible to accidents. They’re difficult to hear and many times you may not know a hybrid is beside you until it’s too late.
HYBRID CAR MAINTENANCE
We’ve mentioned that hybrid car maintenance is different from traditional vehicle maintenance, but what exactly should you expect?
LESS FREQUENT OIL CHANGES
The electric motor is the primary source of power for a hybrid vehicle, which means less wear and tear on the vehicle. You benefit from less oil changes and less of a risk of engine related problems. Depending on your driving habits and how much you drive, you probably won’t have to pay for any oil change until 10,000 miles later.
The brake pads will last longer thanks to the regenerative braking feature that is unique to hybrids. Drivers in rush hour commutes will probably enjoy this benefit the most.
Some hybrids don’t require any ongoing system maintenance. In fact, it’s not uncommon for most hybrid vehicles come with a standard warranty of 100k to 150k mile coverage. While that may not seem like a lot, this is typically longer than most people hold onto their vehicles before trading them in for something newer. However, the battery will probably need replacing sooner than later. Hopefully this happens during the time frame of an active warranty. If not, batteries may be expensive to replace depending on the make and model of your vehicle.
A hybrid vehicle is more sophisticated than your traditional vehicle, making it less ideal for the auto enthusiast who enjoys DIY auto repair or maintenance. The advanced technology used to manufacture these vehicles often requires a specialist to look under the hood when something goes wrong. Still, they’re not a bad choice if you can afford the initial investment and sacrifice of sports car like performance.
Despite the presence of cars in almost everything we do, usually we know little more than the fact they take us places–and they need gas. Unless you have a mechanical background, chances are you have no idea what goes on underneath the hood of your car. In an effort to better our understanding of a tool we use with so much frequency, below are some common misconceptions about how to maintain a car.
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