Although hybrid car battery life has been greatly improved over the last several years, batteries used in hybrid vehicles will eventually need to be replaced. Therefore, it is important that you try to maximize your hybrid cars battery life as much as possible.
Tips to Maximize Hybrid Car Battery Life
Most of today's modern hybrid vehicles come with a battery that is designed to last more than 100,000 miles (and some manufacturers are even producing batteries that are rated to last more than 150,000 miles); however, with proper care and maintenance you can get much more life out of the hybrid car battery. So, here are a few tips.
- Coast to a stop. Besides using the braking system to help charge the electric battery in your hybrid vehicle, your hybrid car also generates kinetic energy when coasting that is used to charge and cycle the battery. So, you should attempt to learn to coast to a stop as often as possible. Simply placing your car in neutral and rolling to a complete stop rather than using your brake too early will help keep your cars electric engine battery charged and help maintain levels that will increase the life of the battery. You can use this method effectively when driving down steep hills are inclines as well. However, when coasting, you should always be very careful and be aware of other vehicles and potential obstacles. You should also make sure to allow yourself adequate distance and spacing from other vehicles before coasting.
- Avoid jack rabbit starts. Whenever a hybrid vehicle is stopped at a stop sign or signal light, the hybrid vehicle will usually shut down the gas engine and uses electricity only. If you press your foot very lightly on the gas pedal in order to start your car moving again, you will probably be able to drive on electric power only rather than starting the gas engine. This will not only help to cycle your battery, but it will also give you much better fuel economy as well. This method may take a little used to as you are required to start off a little more slowly than usual; however, you should be able to get the hang of it after a couple of driving sessions. The results of this method alone will save you a lot of money in the end.
How to Replace a Hybrid Car Battery
Replacing a hybrid car battery is a job that is best left to a professional. But if you really want to try yourself, follow the steps for dealing with a hybrid car battery change on your own.
The Design of Hybrid Car Batteries
Most hybrid car batteries are designed to last for a significant number of miles. Toyota provides a guarantee of 100,000 miles with its Prius model. Its lab testing indicates that its battery pack lasts up to 180,000, which is longer than most people will own a car. Honda and Ford provide 8-year/80,000 mile warranties associated with the hybrid car battery packs.
Disposing the Used Battery
Therefore, aside from some severe factory defect with the lithium-ion battery pack, there should be little chance that a hybrid owner will need to change the battery. The second issue that arises has to do with the proper disposal of the old battery. Many communities (nearly all) have strict standards regarding the handling and proper disposal of hazardous or potentially dangerous materials. To prevent leakage of the lithium-ion battery pack, you will need to make arrangements to have the battery picked up, specially handled and pay all costs associated with the pick-up, hauling and disposal of the battery.
Going Forward with the Replacement
Now with this said, for those of you insistent that you can change a hybrid battery without the need of a certified mechanic, understand that the owner's manual that comes with you vehicle should serve as your primary guide for changing the battery. There are over 20 hybrid vehicle models and the way in which the lithium-ion battery pack is housed in one vehicle differs from another. These are general what to do steps: for specifics on your hybrid vehicle's lithium-ion battery installation, consult your owner's manual.
Locate the Hybrid Car Battery
For the hybrid vehicle that you own, the hybrid car battery will be located in either the front or the rear of the vehicle. Locate the battery and disconnect all of the plugs or cable that connect the battery to the engine. Take care to keep the wires in their proper order in order to connect the replacement battery. You may also have to remove a housing bolt that is holding the battery in place. A ratchet wrench should be able to accomplish this for you.
Store the Old Hybrid Car Battery
Once you free the battery from the engine, take care to place it in a spot where it will not be disturbed. A workbench or stable surface would be ideal as a temporary resting area until you can have the old battery picked up and properly disposed.
Install Replacement Hybrid Car Battery
Following the instructions that came with the replacement battery, place the hybrid car battery in place of the old battery. Be sure to tighten any bolts if required and reattach all of the wires associated with the battery.
Start up the vehicle to ensure that the installation was correct and that the power transfer from the small gas combustion engine to the stored battery pack is taking place.
How Often Should the Hybrid Car Batteries be Replaced?
Hybrid car batteries are designed to last about the lifetime of the hybrid vehicle. This means that except under rare circumstances, a hybrid car batteryshould not have to be replaced by an owner. The lithium-ion battery that is a standard type for all hybrid vehicles provides the power necessary to increase the vehicles overall gas mileage and fuel efficiency. With the plug-in hybrid technology, the car stays at its maximum output when the car is properly charged.
As lithium-ion battery technology has improved, the hybrid car battery has become more a permanent part of a hybrid car that requires only ongoing service by the owner. This ongoing service is in the form of charging and keeping the battery at its maximum charge level. Batteries are designed to provide a minimum of 100,000 miles of performance and more, which for most drivers is beyond their ownership period, especially if the vehicle is traded-in within 5 years.
When a Replacement May Occur
Replacement will only take place in those rare circumstances when the battery fails to properly charge or work as required. In those circumstances, a certified mechanic should change the battery and handle the proper disposal of the old one. This should be done in order to prevent the exposure of any toxic materials within the battery into the environment. Also attempting to do the replacement yourself may cause you to do some harm or damage to the vehicle that will require an experienced mechanic and several thousands of dollars to fix.
How Much Do They Cost to Replace?
Eventually, the hybrid and electric car batteries must be replaced. There are verifiable records of hybrid car batteries lasting up to 150,000 miles on the Toyota Prius, the original hybrid car which has been in production for more than a decade. The Prius is still the most popular hybrid car, with a battery pack warranty covering an expected life of 8 to 10 years. Toyota also offers a hybrid version of the ever popular Camry. The price of the hybrid car battery pack has dropped to around $3,000. With an increasing number of hybrid cars being offered by several manufacturers, including Ford, Honda and Chrysler, the cost of hybrid car battery replacement should continue to drop. Some used hybrid batteries which have been salvaged from wrecked vehicles are selling for about $1,000.