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Hybrid Vehicle Maintenance, Repair and Concerns

Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
This topic is for the discussion of the particular concerns, costs and repairs that current and future Hybrid vehicle owners are, or will be, dealing with.

By "hybrid", we mean any vehicle using some kind of interactive electric + internal combustion system.

All makes of hybrids are welcome here. Tell us your experiences in maintaining these vehicles, or if you might be planning to buy one, what your concerns are.

Are they reliable?
Live up to their promises?
Would you buy another?
Are you skeptical about hybrids?
Who makes the best one/type?
What particular issues have you had to deal with?


  • I can only speak for the Toyota Prius but I have plenty to share. First off, as to maintenance, its just the same as with conventional cars. Oil changes every 5-6 thousand miles w/ quality filters. Now, as to repairs, What repairs? I presently have over 90K miles and nary a problem. Quality, dependability, and just plain well designed engineering have given the Prius owner one fine car that has passed every doubter's questions. Oh! by the way. Resale of the hybrid is outstanding and it even passed the tests of Motor Trend, Car & Driver, Mechanic's Illustrated, & Popular Science. As to buying another....I wouldn't even hesitate, what with the 3rd Gen. just around the corner. It looks like another "looker" as well being improved over the previous Prius. To those who were doubters in the early yrs I say....Look at the Prius's success. Now as to issues, I just want to point out one problem I've encountered in my '04 Prius. The head light bulbs are a pain in the ....well lets just need the hands of a surgen to replace them. I finally let the dealer do it for 10 bucks.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Have you ever had to jump start it? Some folks have accidentally left their cars on for days at a time.
  • Nope! Never had to in 5 yrs. I'm still on original batteries. I'm really curious how someone could leave the car "on" causing a serious drain on the batteries. By the way. Which battery went dead. I'm guessing the small one rt side compartment rear. Yes? or No?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    It's easy to leave it on if you have the key in your pocket and you don't press the off button. People pull up, put it in park and get out.
  • Obviously you're refering to the "Smart Key" Right? Because that's the only way I can imagine the situation you are stating as an example.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    It would be interesting to hear from owners with >100,000 miles on the odometer. They must be out there, since hybrids would appeal to some who drive a lot of miles per year. That would be especially true if a high percentage of those miles are in and around cities. For example, I've seen numerous Prius taxis. They're a common sight in Santa Monica.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Yes and I know people who've made this error, so it's not uncommon. I almost did it myself once. I think once you get used to the car, you are far less likely to do this.
  • There were almost countless Prius's in Vancouver B.C. My wife & I were there for a cruise to Alaska and spent 4 days b/4 the trip. We met several taxis and several with high milage ( 150,000 and up....1 in particular w/ 188,000) They raved about how the Prius had saved their jobs by putting $$$$$ back in their pockets. I'm closing in on 100K very soon and all is fine with the hybrid. ;)
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    That's reassuring. I believe gasoline is more expensive in Canada than the U.S., which would decrease the payback time for the extra cost of a Prius versus, say, a Corolla.

    When we were in Vancouver, we rode from the airport to our hotel in a Corolla. One thing that struck me, besides the vehicle, was how gently the driver drove compared with most American taxi drivers tooling around in Crown Vics. That was confirmed by a ride back to the airport, this time in a previous generation Camry. It was apparent that both drivers were conscious of fuel consumption, and maximizing the longevity of their vehicles. New York taxi driver should take a lesson from these other drivers. Heck, even in Naples, Italy, where you can get some hair raising rides in taxis, with drivers disregarding traffic lights, sidewalks, pedestrian crossings, one-ways and more, the drivers don't abuse their cars.

    I think you'll see a big move out of Crown Vics, for taxi service, over the next couple of years, unless oil prices keep declining. Even then, though, knowing how volatile oil prices are, and how quickly prices can shoot up, cab companies will factor the possibility of another price rise into their next vehicle purchase. In addition to Priuses, I've also seen some Ford Escape taxis.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Oh that would be Andrew Grant's Prius taxi service in Vancouver. Yep, he is racking up incredible mileages with no battery failures apparently.

    In California, the traction battery is warrantied to 150,000 miles.

    Apparently, battery failure is simply a non-issue. Sounds like, unless you are very unlucky, that your Prius's battery will be sold again through the wrecking yard that takes your worn out Prius.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Posts: 4,600
    These are significant because they help answer the durability and cost-of- ownership concerns. Whether or not the hybrid taxi fleets continue to grow will say a lot about the concerns of those who are reluctant to be early adopters.

    It would be interesting to do a long term comparison between the Prius and, say, the VW Rabbit or Jetta diesel for taxi use.

    Of course, for many participants in Edmunds forums, fun-to-drive is an important ownership consideration, and taxis don't address that issue. Maybe the 2011 Honda CR-Z, which I believe is scheduled to be introduced in 2010, will be a game changer for enthusiasts. For all of the Prius' attributes, I've never heard that these cars are fun to drive. They're probably good transportation modules for certain uses, but that doesn't fully satisfy my needs. Compact and mid-size diesel hatchbacks, sedans and wagons can be reasonably fun to drive. For those willing to spend more, the BMW and Acura TSX diesels will soon be available,
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I don't see a VW product holding up in taxi use. I think the maintenance will take all the profits. Taxi biz is marginal at best anyway these days.

    Also the Prius is rather comfy for passengers and it's great for marketing purposes to promote a taxi business. It's gonna be tricky to get away with the slogan "breath easy in a diesel".

    The reason we have mostly American taxi cabs is about the running costs. Parts are cheap and you can beat the hell out of them and throw them away, since you got a lot of passenger room for your money and zero resale value anyway. So you might as well buy 'em cheap, destroy them and start over.

    The best taxis are cheap to run and/or cheap to buy. It's hard to have both---Prius are cheap to run but not cheap to buy. I'm sure a fleet price on a Chevy is way better.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    It's easy to leave it on if you have the key in your pocket and you don't press the off button. People pull up, put it in park and get out.

    I've done that in my Prius ( just under 3 yrs & 92,000 mi ) but 'only' for 7-8 hours!! :surprise: Actually in this case what happens is that the gasoline engine cycles on for 45 sec or so to boost the traction battery then the ICE shuts down. On - Off - On - Off - etc, etc, etc, etc At that rate of running for 45 sec every 3-5 min it would take an awfully long time to run the tank empty. I'm guessing weeks. At that time the ICE would stall out and the system would shut down.

    The 12v battery serves very little purpose in a Prius. It only sends a signal to the engine to begin to power up and it keeps the 'clock ticking' when the vehicle is off. It's about half the size of a normal 12v battery. It can be run down like any other 12v if a light is left on inside but that's about the only way it can go dead.

    As railrodjames has noted the Prius is ultra reliable and durable. It is in fact the No 1 most reliable family vehicle in both CR and JD Power's rankings. I've been hit twice, once on the rear door by the battery, with no difference in driving dynamics at all. Other than these accidents the hybrids actually have LESS maintenance than a similar ICE-only vehcle!!! Huh? LESS you say?

    Yes, the hybrid systems need no maintenance EVER at anytime during their lives.
    The ICE needs oil and filters every 5K or 6 mo's like any other ICE vehicle.
    The ICE needs an air filter @ 30K mi, Many other vehicles recommend 15K intervals.
    The ICE has a timing chain which never needs service. The same as the Corolla/Camry for example
    The PSD needs a coolant drain/replace at 100,000 mi intervals.
    The ICE has 120,000 mi spark plugs. The same as the Corolla/Camry for example.
    The EPS never needs maintenance. The same as the Corolla/Camry for example.
    The 12v battery were it to fail is about half the size of a normal ICE 12v battery.
    The OEM tires are Goodyear run-of-the-mill Integritys which should last 40,000 mi. My OEMs went to exactly 50,000 mi.

    Oh...hybrid drivers are finding that their original brakes are lasting well over 100,000 miles and even up to 200,000 - 250,000 without replacement. I'm about half way there. A friend who also posts here just turned 215,000 miles on his '04. He did replace a water pump and serpentine belt at about 150K-160K mi. but he's still on his original brakes.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    The 12v battery were it to fail is about half the size of a normal ICE 12v battery.

    If it is just a small 12 volt battery why does it cost $300 to replace? At least two Prius owners have quoted that price from Toyota.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    It's not the size that's the difference, it's the construction. The Prius 12V battery is an AGM (Absorbed-electrolyte Glass Mat) type of battery. I could bore you with explanation if you wish :P
  • kiawahkiawah Posts: 3,666
    well you got my interest....had never heard of it. But here's a website:

    new battery type

    the invention

    Sheez, now why didn't I think of that!!
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    Toyota thought of it. Just another way to keep you coming to the dealer for service. Specialty parts that are not worth making a generic equivalent. Another good reason not to own a hybrid.
  • kyrptokyrpto Posts: 216
    I'm waiting for the Highlander Hybrid to morph into an emergency vehicle or cop car. Heard the Brits tested some Lexus Hybrid SUVs for inner city use a while back.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    Aspen, CO already has one in use and a township in NJ is replacing it's FEH with an HH. I'm discussing with one of the towns on the Outer Banks to purchase one as well.
  • annek1annek1 Posts: 4
    Is it possible to disconnect the IMA system and drive the Civic 2003 as if it were not a hybrid vehicle?

    It's clear to me, with all the maintenance costs of this car over the years, that the gas savings has been eaten up. Now that the IMA battery is dead, I am told by the dealer it's $3,000 to repair--the car isn't worth any more money spent, but without the battery, it also isn't worth much as a trade in.

    I'm interested in knowing if the IMA system can be disengaged and the car still operate.

    (It seems there is no indication how to post a new thread on this forum--I'm new here; how is it done?)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    I noticed this comment when looking up battery costs for your car. This remark is under warranty battery replacement procedures: the "you" in this paragraph refers to the dealer:

    Out of warranty:
    Any repair performed after warranty expiration may be eligible for goodwill consideration by the District Parts and Service Manager or your Zone Office. You must request consideration, and get a decision, before starting work.
  • annek1annek1 Posts: 4
    Thanks, I just called the dealer and was told that the battery is under a 150,000 warranty, and we are short of that mileage. It has something to do with the fuel efficiency classification: low or high, not sure which.

    I had already made the decision not to buy another Honda Hybrid--just wasn't worth the investment at all, and the company should be made to pay for the many problems the first model has had. I had three catalytics installed--they were all free under warranty, but still: three! With the apparent track record of the model, Honda should be forced to make all first major repairs for free, regardless of warranty; or if it was a smart company, it would do that on its own, to rebuild whatever good will it might have had with buyers.

    While I'm on the subject of repair costs, why does the a/c compressor cost $1,200 to replace? I can a/c my complete home for that kind of money. Is there something special about the Honda a/c system that makes it such an expense?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Well with an AC compressor failure, there is the possibility that the faulty compressor threw debris throughout the entire system. Your home has simple ducting coming from one unit, but a car AC has multiple components, most of which are stashed in impossible to get places. Keep in mind that your car's AC is, relative to the space involved, pretty efficient. You could never cool your home as fast as you can cool your car!

    So getting rid of the contaminants in the system might require at least flushing lines and condenser after removing them, and often requires a new dryer, expansion valve, etc. Then there's the "trapping" and evacuation of old freon, adding new freon, testing, lubricating, blah blah.

    This is why you see so many used cars for sale with "AC needs a recharge". Of course what that really means is that the seller found out how much it really costs to fix the AC and didn't bother to do it.
  • annek1annek1 Posts: 4
    Oh well, then there is just the matter of the many stories I've heard about the Hybrid a/c system failing--must be our fault ;)
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    "Oh well, then there is just the matter of the many stories I've heard about the Hybrid a/c system failing--must be our fault"

    Not near as many failing as in the 2002-2005 CR-V, which has been an epidemic...
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    How about repair shops finally catching up with the hybrid trend:

    And Gary thought this would NEVER happen
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    Just don't keep your hybrid past 99,999 miles and you may not be shocked. :sick:

    The big cost difference from traditional cars is a high-voltage battery, which is supposed to last for 100,000 miles but costs anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 when it dies.

    That still does not address the biggest cost. Parts are still OEM and expensive compared to 3rd party vendor parts available for most traditional cars.
  • kdhspyderkdhspyder Posts: 7,160
    Apparently you missed the latest announcement 4 or 6 weeks ago. The cost of a replacement battery pack at full retail over the parts counter is $2599 for a Gen2 ( $2289 for a Gen1 ). There are discounts being offered already. Competition is a great concept.

    Now only if one were to fail we'd see what the real situation was ( sitting here playing Maytag man waiting for the first failure to occur ).
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    I was merely posting what the independent repair shops in Sacramento were claiming the cost of battery replacement. It does not look like Honda hybrid owners are as fortunate. Though I am still more interested in the 10 year battery life. As our 19 year old Lexus has not passed the 100k mile mark yet. And we drive a lot less than we used to. Our year old Sequoia is already past 6k miles. We are tearing up the road with that one. So in 6 more years we will know how the first of the Gen 2 Prius make out battery wise.
  • vap3vap3 Posts: 1
    my prius used to be a taxi, so explains the high use. It was in a minor fender bender, so they sold it to me for cheap! And its been almost 3 years I had the vehicle I put like 20k miles on it myself. Change the fluids and the coolants, and inspect the belt once in awhile, you can't go wrong.

    But there are some issues with the current gen prius, but once you got it all up and stable its good to go.
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