You don’t have to be a devoted environmentalist to buy a hybrid car. All you really have to have is a desire to save money on the cost of gas. If you do a lot of in-city driving, owning a hybrid car can get you as many as 50 miles per gallon. You also don’t have to worry about getting yearly emissions tests in most states when you re-register your hybrid. And in some places, if you’re driving a hybrid, you’re allowed to use the HOV lane even if you’ve only got one person on board. Sounds pretty great, but before you buy, you will want to review some of the most common repairs for hybrid cars.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common repairs for hybrid cars:
- Weak batteries inherent in hybrid vehicles means that you’re a lot more likely to require a new battery a lot sooner than you would in a standard car. The trouble here is that replacing a hybrid car battery can cost you a lot more than it would on a regular car or truck.
- Replacing the oxygen sensors in your hybrid car can also cost a lot, but the lost fuel efficiency from not replacing it can be equally damaging to your wallet. Oxygen sensors track how much unburned oxygen there is in the vehicle’s exhaust, an issue that can have a significant impact on the gas mileage that you get. According to some studies, failing to replace an oxygen sensor can increase your gas consumption by as much as $700 per year.
- Catalytic converter replacements are also common repair issues in hybrid vehicles, not to mention among the costliest to fix. Some hybrid car owners may have to fork over as much as $2000 to have their catalytic converters replaced.
- Leaks in the hybrid’s evaporative emissions system or all-out failure of the system also rank among the most frequent repair issues.
The great news about owning a hybrid car is that you’ll end up spending far less of your money on gas – as long as you contain the majority of your driving to in-city. Once you get a hybrid out on the open freeways, however, the efficiency begins to drop off and can sometimes even be bested by traditional gas engines. That’s because highways lack frequent opportunities to brake, and hybrids have what’s called “regenerative braking,” meaning your hybrid’s battery charges each time you press the brakes. In addition to not charging your battery during highway driving, you’re also lugging a heavy battery around, so lots of time spent on the freeway can be a double-whammy.
Still, there’s plenty of opportunity to save on gas. Whether or not the cost of repairs offsets the savings that you’d otherwise see from not having to visit the gas station as often depends on the repair issues that you may or may not encounter as a hybrid owner. Routine maintenance is still required – you’re not off the hook for having to take your car to the nearest auto mechanic to have your oil changed and air filters replaced – but oil changes don’t have to be done nearly as often, which is a decent money saving perk right there.
As a rule, you should always vet the ability of an auto mechanic shop to work on your hybrid. Don’t assume that simply because you own one, every shop in your immediate metro area will have a staff capable of performing work on it. Although hybrids aren’t exactly a brand-spanking-new technology, they’re still young enough to give you good cause to choose your auto repair shop carefully. Before you come rolling into the service bay, talk to the mechanic of your choice and ensure that they’re equipped to handle any repairs that your hybrid may require. It could save you even more money down the line on the cost of re-repairs.
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