What makes up hybrid car batteries?
Hybrid cars combine a 12-volt lead-acid battery and a traction battery (aka high voltage battery) made up of multiple battery cells all working together as well as a petrol-based motor. Hybrids switch between these seamlessly and have around 20-30% better fuel economy than a conventional petrol car. In a hybrid, there is no conventional starter motor, alternator, drive belt or clutch either. The battery recharges by the process of regenerative braking – hence why most hybrids are known as ‘self-charging’.
As well as vehicle manufacturer’s being under pressure to produce more efficient cars with lower CO2 emissions, many people are looking into switching to hybrid or fully electric motor cars due to the reduced impact on the environment from better fuel efficiency. But there are other benefits; typical hybrid tyre wear is less than regular vehicles and there is also longer durability of both brake discs and pads.
How far can hybrid cars travel?
Whereas fully electric cars have a range (read: battery life) of between 70 and 250 miles, hybrid batteries allow this to be much further.
Furthermore, although the number of electric charging ports is increasing around the UK, the electric car charging network isn’t quite as up to standard for everyone to make the switch. Hybrid cars, however, require only a regular fuel station and petrol to get going again.
Plug-in hybrid cars utilise regenerative braking and petrol as regular hybrids do, but a plug-in hybrid battery can also be charged directly using a wall outlet or other charging port. Although plug-in hybrids should be recharged responsibly and not be allowed to run out completely to avoid excess fuel consumption. This is caused by the weight of the hybrid technology leading to you driving around a heavier vehicle.
How long do hybrid batteries last?
The fear of the battery failing can be what puts many people off buying a second-hand hybrid car, but it shouldn’t be. Most manufacturers state that their hybrid batteries last 70,000-100,000 miles. But with proper maintenance most drivers will find the hybrid batteries begin to fail closer to 150,000-200,000 miles – that’s the life of your car.
Still in your warranty period?
For most new or relatively new used cars you are also covered by a hybrid battery warranty; typically at least eight years or 100,000 miles. If your hybrid battery life doesn’t meet this then you should be offered an exchange or repair by the manufacturer free of charge.
What if you’re out of the warranty period?
For cars out of manufacturer’s warranty, there isn’t much to be concerned about. After about 10 years, hybrid battery packs still demonstrate around 80% efficiency. This is similar to equivalent petrol or diesel-only car.
Furthermore, technology is constantly evolving. Newer models are much more resilient than older ones so cars with new hybrid battery technology will likely out-live older cars of the same model.
How easy is it to replace a hybrid battery?
A full hybrid battery pack replacement can be costly – reportedly £900 to almost £6000 for some models. However, the cost is falling as demand increases and third parties have started manufacturing the batteries which makes them much more affordable.
Often it is just one of the hybrid battery cells that will need replacing rather than the entire battery pack. Replacing individual cells also reduces the cost dramatically!
Can I replace a hybrid battery myself?
In short, yes, but it isn’t recommended.
If you have a failing battery it is possible to replace a hybrid battery yourself, you will find most traction battery packs just behind the passenger seat or under the rear seats depending on the make and model of the car. However, the process can take around an hour and a half to two hours (more if it is your first time) and can be dangerous as you are dealing with very high voltage electrical energy. It is legally required that any battery cables are coloured orange to reduce the risk of injuries from electric shock.
How to find a hybrid vehicle specialist
We suggest any battery replacement be installed by specially trained hybrid and electric vehicle (EV) technicians, such as us here at Peverell Garage in Plymouth. Don’t hesitate to contact our hybrid and electric vehicle technicians if you are concerned about your hybrid battery, need a new battery in your hybrid or EV, or need any other hybrid vehicle repairs.