Hybrid Vehicle Maintenance: What to Know

2019/08/20

Like conventional vehicles, hybrid vehicles need regular maintenance to deliver peak performance and fuel economy. But when it comes to engine oil changes, brake pad wear, transmission fluid, high-voltage battery packs, and electric motors, is there anything different about hybrid vehicle maintenance?

What’s a Hybrid Vehicle?

Hybrid vehicles are driven by a hybrid powertrain: an internal combustion engine, fueled by gasoline or diesel, and electric motors, powered by a rechargeable high-voltage battery pack. Many hybrid cars are designed for fuel economy, equipped with smaller engines than a comparable conventional car. Other hybrid cars and trucks are built for performance. Since electric motors deliver all their torque at zero rpm, they make for great acceleration—exactly where the engine falters. At higher speeds, as electric motor torque wanes, the engine hits its sweet spot.

In city traffic, hybrids rely more on their torquey electric motors, which are more efficient than engines. On the open road, they rely almost entirely on the engine for cruising power, negating most fuel economy benefits. Still, most hybrids get better fuel economy overall than their conventional counterparts, thanks to their combination of motive technologies. Despite the extra technology, however, hybrid vehicles usually require about the same maintenance.

Hybrid Vehicle Maintenance Advantages

When comparing hybrid vehicle maintenance to conventional car maintenance, most automakers don’t mention anything out of the ordinary; some don’t even differentiate between hybrid and non-hybrid versions of the same model. If anything, both require about the same regular maintenance. Still, it can be easier to take care of hybrid cars and trucks in at least three respects.

Brake Wear – Because hybrid vehicles rely on regenerative braking, the service brakes don’t engage until later into a stop. This means brake pads and rotors don’t wear or heat up as much and don’t need to be replaced as often as on conventional vehicles. However, regular brake service, including descaling, lubrication, and bleeding, is still necessary to keep them moving freely.

Engine Wear – In a conventional vehicle, the engine runs 100 percent of the time you’re driving it, whether you’re cruising down the highway or stuck in a traffic jam. The engine in a hybrid vehicle runs only when the battery needs charging or extra motive power is required. If you’re stuck in traffic, for example, the engine will shut down. While hybrid engines won’t always have extended oil-change intervals, they experience less overall wear, helping them last much longer.

Hybrid System – Brushless electric permanent-magnet and induction motors require zero maintenance, and the high‑voltage hybrid battery pack is a non-serviceable component. An air-cooled hybrid battery pack may require an air filter cleaning or replacement periodically. Water-cooled components, such as inverters and converters, require less service than conventional cooling systems because they aren’t subjected to the engine’s extreme temperatures.

When it comes to taking care of your hybrid, stick to the automaker’s recommended service intervals and use quality parts and supplies, such as NAPA full synthetic motor oil. You’ll have fewer vehicle issues and get to enjoy your hybrid for longer. Check out all the regular maintenance services available at our 600 NAPA AUTOPRO shops for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on hybrid vehicle maintenance, chat with an expert at your local NAPA AUTOPRO service centre

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