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How do Hybrids work? Newbie questions encouraged!



  • I recently test drove the Nissan Altima, Toyota Highlander, and Lexus RX400h hybrids. On the Lexus (which was very quiet usually) I noticed a marked increase when decelerating which the salesman said was due to the regenerative braking. I didn't notice it in the other hybrids, and he didn't think it was excessive, or that it would lessen as the car is broken in. What should one expect with the sound of regenerative braking, particularly with the RX400h (the one I will probably buy)? Thanks.
  • roland3roland3 Posts: 431
    ... Desertgreen, don't rally know, but they are known for quietness; maybe try another dealer demo.
  • toyolla2toyolla2 Posts: 158
    The technical term for that noise is magnetostiction if my spelling is correct. It is caused by the powerful magnetic fields being generated in the motor that are "ringing" the motor iron.

    You cross shopped a Nissan Altima with a Lex RX400h ?
    And didn't try the 2007 Camry hybrid when it's been out a lot longer than the Altima ? The Camry is less complex than the Lexus but more advanced than the Prius.
  • Technically, we lookong to replace two cars with one small SUV, and one mid sedan. We did look at the Camry, but having had great results with Nissan products, and considering the tax credit and price, I am leaning towards the Altima for that one. It also has an auxiliary input jack (MP3) on the radio.

    But, the only magnetostiction we heard was on the Lexus. Is it usually that noticeable in hybrids? It wasn't on the other two we drove.
  • toyolla2toyolla2 Posts: 158
    I don't know the answer to that specific question but the hybrid forum has an RX400h board with 16 threads. You could try and copy your post over there.

    Something to remember is that hybrids have some pretty expensive parts in them and they are exclusive to the dealership so it's prudent in this case, with an emerging technology, to negotiate a price on an extended warranty. There are some other important differences to note.
    The RX400h vehicle will have been out about three years in October so these vehicles will have been fully debugged by now and any frequently troublesome parts will be stocked in the dealers service department.
    Your new Altima hybrid is now in its first model year, it will be a strange animal to Nissan mechanics, and if there is a problem you will be in a loaner till parts come in from Japan. These are important "firsts" and a basis for some questions you should raise at point of sale. Quite frankly I would pass on the Altima, right now, I would not be an early adopter, until they've proved they've got their vehicle and act together. Edmunds boards are good for that.

    On the subject of leasing hybrids. Toyota wasn't leasing Priuses here until recently and then the financing rates offered were miserable. It was obvious they they wanted you to pony up for the early adopter risk.

    I am not connected with them, by the way, but I've bought three products from Toyota 'cos Life's too short you could at least try out the Camry just to see if it makes the same sounds in regen and kill two birds with one stone.

    It may be easier to get a deal on the Altima than the Camry right now.
    My buying experience with Lexus is, if you have to have new, they have attractive financing deals on Lexuses towards September to clear out the 2007s plus you'll also have a chance to see some off leases coming in at the same time. I test drove a few and was surprised to find that three year old vehicles felt and drove as well as new vehicles. At my local dealership they don't stay on the lot a week and by the time I was ready to pull the trigger they were gone ! I gave up and went for Plan B which is to buy new and hold for ten years or so, that way you'll find a Lexus isn't that much more expensive to own than a Corolla. The strategy works because Toyota paint jobs really last, I didn't see any rust for nearly twelve years with the Corolla and the city uses any excuse to drop salt on the road here. But that's enough ranting.

    On a more technical note
    It also has an auxiliary input jack (MP3) on the radio.
    They're a good idea, I'm hopeful XM and Sirius will take a hit with these MP3 plugins and bring their $14/month service down to a more reasonable level.
  • yeloroseyelorose Posts: 5
    I haven't test-driven any hybrid yet (I hate going to dealerships!). I've read specifically about the Ford Escape Hybrid. It seems the electric motor is on initially and then the gas engine will start when you reach a certain speed. I often drive in stop-start freeway traffic. The last time I checked, I went between 0 and 30 several times within 5 miles. If the speed that traffic is reaching makes the gas engine start, will the engine continue stopping and starting as you speed up and slow down with traffic? Is that bad for the motor and engine? It would seem to be a lot of wear and tear.
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "If the speed that traffic is reaching makes the gas engine start, will the engine continue stopping and starting as you speed up and slow down with traffic? Is that bad for the motor and engine? It would seem to be a lot of wear and tear."

    The engine will come on at lower speeds if you need more power, if the engine is not warmed up, or if the traction battery (the one that drives the electric motor) gets too low.

    Not to worry about engine wear; the hybrids actually spin up the engine before they turn it on, so it is not the same as a conventional engine starting up. (At least this is the theory, and there are a few high mileage hybrids out there).
  • dylgeahdylgeah Posts: 2
    Has anyone seen a hybrid with CNG as the motor fuel? There are plenty of CNG conversion options out there (for a gasoline auto,) but I like the hybrid concept and don't want to visit the gas station anymore.

    It seems to me that this would be the greenest car currently available if it were. Is this more of an untested field at this point? I'm just curious if someone could point me in the right direction, (or the right forum if this isn't it...)


  • dorrie1dorrie1 Posts: 1
    What is the maintenance like on the prius???
  • hiwaymanhiwayman Posts: 98
    This link is dead.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 11,025
    Perhaps that's because it's 3 years old :)


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  • toyolla2toyolla2 Posts: 158
    I was expecting our host PF_Flyer to redirect the poster at #135 over to the Prius maintenance section.

    Noticing that there are links below even more dormant than this. I have to ask : -

    What's your beef with this one to be singled out for attention Mr Hiwayman ?
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,770
    I was dead for a few days (for tax purposes), but there's no need to start up a fuss about this. Sometimes the date of a posting isn't noticed when a new member is catching up on all the postings.

    Unlike diamonds, links may not be forever! :shades:

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