Explore the Maintenance Needs of Modern Hybrid and Electric Vehicles
As vehicle technology gets more advanced, hybrid and electric cars, SUVs, and trucks are becoming more popular and common than ever. There has never been a better time for people who want an efficient, eco-friendly vehicle, and the options available are incredibly varied. With proper maintenance and timely service, you can keep your hybrid or electric vehicle (EV) running for many years to come.
While hybrids and EVs have many of the same components as traditional vehicles, they also have some very distinct differences. This means that if you are going to make the most of your vehicle, you have to understand what maintenance is needed and how it should be done. Knowing the maintenance needs of modern hybrid and electric vehicles will help you save money in the long run and keep your vehicle in great shape no matter what kind of powertrain it has.
Overview of Hybrid and Electric Vehicles
Hybrid cars and electric vehicles are becoming more popular all the time, and almost every major vehicle manufacturer currently has one in production. The main difference between the two is that a hybrid has a traditional gas engine that works in conjunction with an electric motor, while an EV is run solely on electrical power. While they have a very different mechanical makeup, they have similar needs when it comes to car maintenance and service.
Owning a hybrid or EV has many benefits, not the least of which is the savings you can get in fuel. With the cost of gasoline always fluctuating, investing in an electrically-assisted vehicle makes perfect financial sense. These cars are also excellent for the environment due to their lower or non-existent emissions of harmful hydrocarbons. If you are looking to reduce your carbon footprint, a hybrid or EV could be an excellent option for you.
When thinking about electrically-assisted vehicles, the battery may be the most crucial component. The battery determines things like the range, power, and practicality of the vehicle. The other important component is the electric motor itself. Both of these parts are in all hybrid and electric vehicles, and they need to be cared for just like any other vehicle’s mechanical components. Keeping up with your maintenance and service will ensure that everything keeps running smoothly.
Battery Maintenance and Care
Most EVs and hybrid electric vehicles use lithium-ion batteries because of their high efficiency, high energy-to-weight ratio, and good performance at higher temperatures. That being said, they still need to be cared for and properly charged, just like any other battery. If they are not, they can lose their maximum capacity and may need to be replaced sooner rather than later, which can be incredibly expensive.
While hybrids have their own built-in charging system using the gas engine, an EV will need to be charged regularly. To maintain the capacity of your electric vehicle’s battery, avoid letting it discharge completely. Letting a battery go below ten percent can reduce capacity and cause damage to the cooling system. You should also be sure to avoid storing your hybrid or EV in extremely high or low temperatures. Poor temperature regulation can reduce a battery’s capacity by over 40 percent, so keeping it covered or inside whenever possible is essential.
Getting your battery inspected by a hybrid or EV specialist is a great way to know what its status is. They can test its health and capacity and let you know where it stands as far as its condition goes. New batteries can cost anywhere between $2,000 and $8,000, so it is best to do everything you can to maintain it and keep it in excellent shape for as long as you can.
Electric Motor and Powertrain Maintenance
The electric motor in a hybrid or electric vehicle transfers power from the battery to the wheels by turning it into kinetic energy. The motor component is fairly simple and needs very little in the way of maintenance or service. You should, however, make sure that your vehicle’s cooling system is in good shape at all times. This will ensure that the motor isn’t getting too hot and warping, which could cause serious issues.
A specialized hybrid or EV technician can perform regular inspections on your vehicle’s electric motor. They will make sure that it is putting out the right amount of torque and that everything is aligned. Any unusual noises or vibrations you notice when the electric motor kicks in should be looked at immediately to ensure that everything is operating as it should.
Brake System Maintenance
Hybrid and electric vehicles have an incredibly unique braking system called regenerative braking. This system takes the kinetic energy that is generated when you apply the brakes and turns it into power that recharges the battery. This increases the efficiency of the vehicle and keeps any potential energy from being wasted. Because of this braking system, getting your brakes inspected and maintained at regular intervals is essential and will ensure that you are making the most of your EV or hybrid’s charging system.
Regenerative braking also allows your vehicle to use the energy of the motor to stop the vehicle in conjunction with the brake pads and rotors themselves. This means there will be less wear and tear on the pads and rotors, so they will not need to be replaced or resurfaced as often as in a traditional vehicle. Brake pads can last upwards of 100,000 miles in fully electric vehicles, but you should get them inspected regularly to make sure they are still in good condition.
Tire and Suspension Maintenance
The tires and suspension in a hybrid or electric vehicle have the same design and function as they do in a traditional vehicle. In some cases, more high-end hybrids or electric cars may have an air suspension system, which will need to be inspected now and then to make sure that the rubber and hydraulic components are not leaking. Other than that, traditional maintenance like alignment will be sufficient to keep your EV or hybrid vehicle running smoothly on the road.
With EVs and hybrids, tire maintenance is even more important than it is with a traditional vehicle. Tires that are not kept to the proper PSI can cause a dip in fuel economy. When this happens with an electric motor in play, you can lose battery capacity and may not get as many miles of range as you should. Because of this, you should be sure to keep your tires inflated to the PSI laid out in the owner’s manual at all times and get regular wheel alignments as per the automaker’s maintenance schedule.
Cooling System and HVAC Maintenance
The cooling system is important in any car, but in a hybrid or EV, the battery health is dependent on it. EVs and hybrids have fairly complex cooling systems that regulate the temperature of the battery and ensure that it doesn’t get too hot or cold. In hybrids, cooling systems will have separate components for cooling the gasoline engine and the battery pack. In an EV, there is usually a cooling circuit that uses coolant manifolds and plates to keep the battery at the optimal temperature at all times.
Keeping up with the maintenance and service of your hybrid or EV’s cooling system is one of your most important responsibilities. This includes regular coolant flushes and replacements according to the schedule laid out in your owner’s manual. You should also have a specialist check the integrity of all the cooling hoses and electrical connections to see if anything needs to be replaced or repaired. This will keep your battery running at its full capacity and prevent premature replacements, which can be very expensive.
Software Updates and Connectivity
One of the major advantages of owning an all-electric or hybrid vehicle is the software system that is built in. Depending on your vehicle model, your car may have a comprehensive diagnostic system that can be used to diagnose issues or even make repairs over a wireless connection. In some cases, performance updates can be made to fix common issues and avoid a recall without you ever having to go into the shop.
Manufacturers like Audi, BMW, and Ford have built over-the-air update capabilities into many of their newer vehicles. These allow you to get updates to your navigation, infotainment, and connectivity systems automatically. For more EV-oriented manufacturers like Tesla, their vehicles can get updates for things like an extended range and other mechanical considerations over the air. Making sure that your EV is always up to date will keep it running as efficiently as possible at all times.
Safety System Maintenance
EVs and hybrids will almost always have the same safety systems in place as traditional cars. Things like lane-keeping assist, pedestrian detection, and blind spot monitoring can be incredibly helpful when it comes to keeping you and other drivers on the road safe. In an EV with over-the-air updates, you can get upgrades and system updates continually, so keeping your vehicle updated will help protect you.
With any vehicle, staying up to date on any service updates or recalls is crucial. When a manufacturer finds a design flaw or common problem with one of their vehicles, they will issue a recall, and you can have it repaired at the dealership at no expense to you. Make sure that your dealership has your current contact information on hand so they can get in touch with you if a recall is issued for your vehicle.
Finding Qualified Service Providers
For a hybrid or electric vehicle, you need to find a repair shop or technician that specializes in this kind of technology. While a hybrid will have an internal combustion engine just like a traditional vehicle, the addition of the motor drive system and the battery can present issues that a traditional mechanic may not be familiar with. A specialist will be able to work on your hybrid or EV and give it the expert attention it needs.
Finding qualified service providers for your EV or hybrid can be difficult, but the dealership is one good place to start. While you may not want to take your vehicle to the dealer for the actual repair, they can point you in the right direction if your vehicle is no longer under the factory warranty. If you have an EV that receives over-the-air updates, the infotainment system may have information available on EV mechanics in your area that specialize in your particular vehicle.
Protect Your Hybrid or Electric Vehicle With Endurance
While most hybrids and electric vehicles have the same regular maintenance needs as traditional cars, knowing what to watch out for when it comes to the battery and other vehicle-specific components is incredibly helpful. Regular vehicle maintenance and timely repairs are your best bet for making your vehicle last as long as possible, and staying on top of it will save you a lot of money in the long run. As long as you follow any manufacturer guidelines in your owner’s manual, you should be able to prevent larger, more expensive repairs and enjoy many miles of eco-friendly driving.
If you want to protect your vehicle and ensure it gets the high-quality service it deserves, Endurance is here for you. With an award-winning customer service team and plans starting at just $99 per month, there is something for every driver. Whether you want the most basic powertrain coverage or comprehensive protection for your high-end luxury vehicle, you can find the perfect plan for your vehicle.
Every Endurance auto protection plan includes 24/7 roadside assistance, rental car reimbursement, trip-interruption protection, flexible payment options, and a 30-day money-back guarantee. Plus, you can take your vehicle to any ASE Certified mechanic, so you can choose where you get your vehicle serviced. For a small activation fee, you can also get access to Elite Benefits, which includes tire repair and replacement services, collision repair discounts, key fob replacement, and more.
Be sure to also check out the Endurance blog for expert advice on car care, DIY maintenance, vehicle reviews, and more.
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