Budget Talk: Are Hybrid Cars Expensive to Repair?
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Looking for improved fuel efficiency but not yet ready to commit to an all-electric vehicle? Hybrid electric vehicles are a terrific alternative. Hybrid vehicles utilize two power sources, an electric motor and a gas-powered motor, combined into one powertrain. This means they’re more fuel-efficient and expel fewer harmful emissions. Hybrids can either be a plug-in hybrid vehicle (PHEV) that has a rechargeable battery pack or a conventional hybrid vehicle that does not.
Best of all, hybrids are produced in a variety of styles, from sedans to sporty hatchbacks and SUVs, which means you have a lot of options.
While driving a hybrid vehicle will most certainly improve your fuel economy, many longtime gas-powered car owners are confused about the cost to maintain a hybrid. It’s common to wonder whether the complexity of a hybrid system translates to higher maintenance costs.
If you’ve been wondering if hybrid cars are expensive to repair, the answer might surprise you. In this article, we’ll break down the basics of hybrid motors and let you know if they are more costly to repair compared to traditional gas engine vehicles.
Are Hybrid Cars Expensive to Repair?
Many new car shoppers ask themselves if hybrid cars cost more to fix up after breakdowns, accidents, and normal wear and tear. The answer is no. In fact, you’re likely to spend less on maintenance than you would if you purchased an internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicle.
According to a June 2021 study by the United States Department of Energy, gas-powered cars cost 10 cents per mile to maintain, on average. The report then illustrated that hybrid vehicles cost around 9 cents per mile to maintain, while electric cars cost around 6 cents per mile to maintain.
The biggest savings point between hybrid engines and gasoline engines is annual maintenance costs related to brake changes. The brakes on plug-in hybrid vehicles need to be replaced far less frequently, as we’ll explain below.
Routine Maintenance for Hybrids vs. Gas-Powered Vehicles
The average amount of miles a hybrid can travel in all-electric mode ranges from 30 to 40 miles. The gas and electric battery system in a hybrid can normally run for 300+ miles before it needs more fuel or another charge.
That said, the fact that the ICE parts in hybrids work in unison with a battery pack means they suffer from wear and tear a lot slower than cars that run exclusively on gas. Read on to see what common routine automotive maintenance tasks hybrids and ICE vehicles share.
Since hybrid and gas-powered vehicles both utilize an internal combustion engine, it’s no surprise that they are similar when it comes to repair costs. Vehicles with these two types drivetrains share many common regular maintenance tasks including:
- Oil changes: Replacing motor oil regularly so that engine components interact smoothly
- Fluid changes: Regularly replacing coolant, antifreeze, steering, and transmission fluids
- Battery replacements: Making sure the car battery (not the rechargeable battery pack that powers the car’s electric motor) has enough power to start
- Tires: Regularly replacing tires due to wear and damage
- Filters, spark plugs, and belts: Replacing cabin air filters, engine spark plugs, and worn belts
- Wipers: Replacing worn windshield wipers
Hybrid Maintenance for Brakes
You’ll notice that routine brake pad and rotor changes are not a maintenance task shared by gas-powered and hybrid vehicles. That’s because nearly all hybrid vehicles utilize a regenerative braking system.
This type of braking system does not use “brakes” in the traditional sense. In hybrid and all-electric vehicles the electric motor actually reverses during the braking process. This causes the motor to run backwards, slowing down the car’s wheels. There are no brake shoes, pads, or rotors in hybrid vehicles, so they never need to be replaced.
In hybrids, the transmission, internal combustion engine, and electric drive motor all work in unison. Failure of one of these components means that the other systems may have difficulty operating, which may result in costly repairs. But the risk of such malfunction happening in a hybrid vehicle is no greater than a catastrophic failure in a regular car. In addition, nearly every automotive manufacturer offers warranty coverage in the event of catastrophic engine failure or malfunction.
Routine Maintenance for Hybrids vs. All-Electric Vehicles
So, are hybrid cars expensive to repair compared to all-electric cars? Fully electric vehicles are actually far less expensive to repair than traditional ICE vehicles or hybrids. All-electric vehicles have almost none of the internal systems that require constant upkeep in ICE and hybrid cars.
Plug-in hybrid vehicles and all-electric vehicles share only a handful of similar maintenance tasks, which include:
- Tires: Rotating and replacing tires when worn or damaged
- Filters: Routinely replace cabin air filters
- Wipers: Swapping worn wiper blades for new ones
While the cost to maintain all-electric vehicles is considerably lower compared to hybrids and gas-powered vehicles, keep in mind that all-electric vehicles have much higher upfront purchase prices and can be more expensive to insure.
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Tips for Keeping Hybrid Maintenance Costs Low
While driving a hybrid can reduce your fuel consumption and potentially lower your maintenance costs, there are a variety of steps you can take to make sure your hybrid ages well and avoids unnecessary repairs. These include:
- Staying on top of maintenance: Timely oil changes, tire changes, tire rotations, and fluid changes don’t just result in better fuel efficiency, but can also help lengthen the lifespan of your vehicle. Remember, just because a hybrid vehicle is more efficient doesn’t mean it needs to be maintained less often.
- Having maintenance performance by authorized mechanics: No matter what type of hybrid vehicle you purchase, make sure you have its maintenance work carried out by an authorized professional such as the service department at a dealership or brand-certified garage. Hybrid vehicles have high-voltage batteries that shouldn’t be maintained by unauthorized professionals.
- Drive fewer miles: Try lowering the amount of miles you put on your car. The less wear and tear you put on your car by taking advantage of public transportation or other transportation methods such as biking, ride sharing, or walking, the more economical it will be to repair. Using other transportation modes will also spare you a trip to the gas station.
Check out this list of the 5 most reliable hybrids to narrow in on an even longer-lasting car.
Find Your EV With Compare
Ready to cut down on fuel costs? Looking to explore the best new hybrids or pre-owned hybrid models in your area? Compare.com can help you maximize your fuel savings when you utilize our EV comparison tool, which allows you to search hybrids and all-electric vehicles in your neighborhood.
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