It’s hard not to notice there are more electric and hybrid vehicles on the road now than ever before. Maybe you’re thinking of switching and investing in new hybrid technology. But what will that do to your maintenance routine? Do hybrid vehicles still need an oil change?
Before we get into maintenance, let’s dive into the statistics.
The different types of electric vehicles include:
- Hybrid electric vehicles (HEV) – they are powered by traditional gasoline and an electric motor that uses energy stored in a battery. The battery is charged by regenerative braking as you drive.
- Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) – they are similar to HEVs but rely on plugging in to recharge the battery.
- All-electric vehicles (EV) – these run on electricity alone.
While all-electric vehicles are growing in popularity, hybrids have been on the market longer, and continue to have higher sales. Currently over 5.4 million hybrid cars have been sold, and are on the roads all across America.
If you own one or are thinking of buying one, what does that mean for your regular maintenance routine?
Do hybrids need an oil change?
Hybrid vehicles run on both gasoline and electricity. While this increases the gas mileage, and ensures you won’t use as much gas as with more traditional cars, it still works in the same manner. A hybrid vehicle still relies on a combustible engine for part of the process, meaning you’ll still need to include oil changes as a part of your normal maintenance routine.
The good news is you can stretch out the time between visits. Just like you’ll find your gasoline goes farther, so will your motor oil. The typical hybrid manufacturer suggests you can go 10,000 miles or more between oil changes, more depending on how you drive. Check with your owner’s manual to see what your manufacturer suggests.
Keep in mind that a combustion engine will always need regular oil changes to continue to operate well. If you drive your hybrid only short distances, it may push the mileage beyond a year or more. Just like traditional vehicles, you should change the oil regularly based on mileage or age, ensuring the motor always has fresh oil to keep it working at its best.
Manufacturers will also recommend specific types of motor oil. Because a hybrid still uses a combustible engine, you can schedule an oil change like you would with a traditional car.
What about other hybrid maintenance items?
Hybrids have special needs. Because they are essentially two cars in one, it’s important to understand the different types of maintenance it will need over time.
Because it runs off a combustible engine, it will need much of the standard care, including:
- Oil changes – while using a battery for some of the power will put less strain on the engine, it will still need regular oil changes.
- Tires – adjustments, rotations, filling, and replacement will all be standard care for hybrids.
- Filters – because it has the inner workings of a combustion engine, it will still need air filters and cabin filters as a part of your normal care routine.
- Fluid refills and flushes – vehicles require many different types of fluids to stay running smoothly. To ensure levels remain constant, and you maintain and flush them for refills at the required intervals, be sure to check with your owner’s manual and work with a mechanic who can provide proper maintenance for as long as you own your vehicle.
Hybrids still use a braking system, however, they rely on regenerative brakes for full operation. As you brake, the energy is absorbed back into your battery to keep it fully charged. As a result, these brakes need special requirements to keep them working at their best. Be sure a mechanic understands the nuances and can provide you with expert care.
One of the biggest differences is with the car battery. Hybrid batteries must be powerful enough to provide as much energy as fuel gives gasoline vehicles. This means they are larger capacity than traditional car batteries, and have special needs. You can’t purchase a traditional battery and expect it to do the same job. However, hybrid batteries tend to last much longer than in a fuel-based car. Some manufacturers offer up to a 150,000 mile warranty. Just be sure to understand the nuances of the warranty, and follow the specific guidelines to ensure you don’t void it by not following the rules.
Because a hybrid vehicle runs on both fuel and electricity, you’ll find it has a complex electrical system that should be maintained over time. They are built with auto start and shut off features that help with fuel economy, and to preserve the life of the battery. The electrical system should be calibrated periodically to ensure it provides proper power within the system. Too much power or a jolt of electric current could cause serious damage to your starter or transmission.
Schedule care for your hybrid
Above all, your hybrid vehicle requires regular routine maintenance to ensure it keeps running and in good condition. Don’t wait until you have a problem. Instead, schedule regular maintenance to ensure you catch potential problems before they grow into bigger issues.
A great place to start is by giving your hybrid vehicle an oil change. Because a hybrid relies on a standard combustible engine, it uses standard motor oil built for all combustible vehicles. Just be sure to check with the manufacturer for guidelines on what oil to use.
Finding a mechanic with a routine maintenance item like an oil change is a great way to find a mechanic who treats you fairly, and gives you a chance to discover someone in your local community who you can rely on to do the job correctly.