- Hybrid vehicles have a specially designed high-voltage battery that lets them use fuel and electricity to power the drive motor.
- Hybrid batteries last roughly 10 years or 150,000 miles.
- Replace your hybrid battery when your vehicle struggles to run, when the check engine light is consistently on, and when the battery becomes unable to hold its own charge.
While roads remain dominated by vehicles with only internal combustion engines, more people are making the switch to hybrid vehicles一and for good reason. Impressive fuel economy and reduced harmful emissions are only some of the perks of owning this type of vehicle.
While hybrid vehicles have similarities to fully gas-powered vehicles, there are a few things that set them apart. One of which is their battery.
How a Hybrid Battery Works
Hybrid vehicles are known to be more fuel-efficient than gasoline-powered cars by 20% to 35% because they also draw power from the battery.
All hybrid vehicles have two batteries: a regular 12-volt battery and a high-voltage (HV) hybrid battery. The HV battery is used to store the electrical energy that powers the vehicle’s electric drive motor(s). Most hybrid batteries use either nickel-metal hydride or lithium-ion chemistry.
Inside the HV battery, you’ll find a collection of battery modules (groups of cells) connected in series. For example, the first-generation Toyota Prius has a battery that contains 38 modules rated at 7.5 volts each, which are connected in series, giving the HV battery an output rating of 285 volts.
Like all batteries, the HV battery undergoes a discharge process when it’s supplying electrical energy to the vehicle’s motor(s). During normal operation, the battery can be recharged through regenerative braking or by the gas engine acting as a generator. The battery in a plug-in hybrid vehicle can also be recharged by connecting the vehicle to the electrical grid.
How Long Do Hybrid Batteries Last?
In the past, the general assumption was that a hybrid battery would typically last about 10 years or 150,000 miles. But now that hybrid vehicles have been on roadways for decades, many vehicle owners are finding that the batteries last much longer.
When to Replace a Hybrid Battery
Hybrid batteries are designed to last, but like most car parts, they may fail and require replacement. Watch out for these telltale signs that point to a dying battery.
Illuminated Warning Lights
The health of the hybrid battery is monitored by an electronic control module that shares its information over a data network with other modules. When the module detects a problem with the battery, it will send a request over the data network to turn on warnings, such as the check engine light and the master warning light.
Vehicle Won’t Run
Not only does the hybrid battery supply electricity to the car’s electric motor(s) it also supplies power to a device called the DC-DC converter, which acts somewhat like an alternator to recharge the car’s 12-volt battery. So, if the hybrid battery is toast, the vehicle typically either won’t run or won’t stay running for long.
Poor Fuel Economy
Hybrid vehicles rely on an internal combustion engine and an electric motor to move. More specifically, they use a high-voltage battery pack and combination electric motor and generator to assist a gasoline engine.
Suppose the battery is nearing the end of its service life. In that case, you might notice that your vehicle is consuming more fuel, because it’s heavily reliant on the gas combustion engine to generate power.
Your vehicle’s battery supplies power to several components like the headlights and dashboard lights. Once these components begin to fluctuate, it might be time to have the battery checked.
Battery Is Unable to Hold Its Charge
Leaving your hybrid vehicle charged overnight and still waking up to a low battery is another sign that you might need to get a new battery pack.
How Much Does a Hybrid Battery Replacement Cost?
A replacement hybrid battery will typically cost anywhere between $2,000 and $15,000 (not including the cost of labor to install the battery), depending on your vehicle’s specifications.
However, you don’t necessarily have to shell out thousands to get a new battery一especially when your vehicle’s stock battery comes with a warranty.
Hybrid vehicle manufacturers in the US domestic market are legally required to warrant high-voltage battery packs that will last for at least eight years or 100,000 miles of use. For most Japanese-made hybrids, their battery packs come with a warranty period of 10 years or 150,000 miles of service.
Hybrid battery warranties are also transferable in the case of US manufacturers. So, if you’ve recently bought a used hybrid vehicle that’s less than 10 years old with, say, 30,000 miles on it, you will likely be able to get the remaining balance of the original battery.
Taking Care of Your Hybrid Vehicle’s Battery
Prevention is always better than cure. And when dealing with a system as complex as a hybrid vehicle, you shouldn’t leave issues unaddressed for too long. It’s important to pay attention to your vehicle’s warning lights.
For many hybrid vehicles, an illuminated warning light can be triggered by battery temperatures outside the normal range, unusual rates of charge, and imbalances between battery cells or modules. Any one of these issues can impact your vehicle’s performance, so make sure to have your car checked by a certified mechanic as soon as you notice signs of trouble.
The Perks of Driving a Hybrid Vehicle
Because hybrid vehicles run on a battery half of the time, drivers can enjoy the benefit of paying less for gas than if they were to drive a vehicle with a conventional internal combustion engine. But other than that, there are other advantages that come with driving a hybrid car. Here are some of the most common ones:
Many hybrid vehicles come with an idle stop mode, which shuts off the engine when the vehicle stops and lets it run again as soon as the brake pedal is released. This feature prevents the vehicle from consuming fuel and releasing CO2 emissions at idle.
Hybrid vehicles can run on a small amount of fuel without compromising engine performance because of the power assist feature. This involves the electric motor providing extra power from the battery to work with the internal combustion engine during acceleration.
Engine-Off Drive-Electric Vehicle Mode
Most hybrid vehicles have an engine-off electric vehicle (EV) mode. When the hybrid is in this mode, it is essentially working like an electric car. Also called “motoring mode,” this feature utilizes the electric motor to propel the vehicle at low speeds. In this mode, the internal combustion engine is not used to accelerate, so the vehicle does not consume fuel and release emissions.
Things to Remember
Hybrid batteries are designed to last a long time, but failure to notice signs of trouble can shorten their lifespan. By staying vigilant and keeping up with your vehicle’s routine maintenance, you won’t have much trouble getting a battery replacement, helping you save a few more bucks down the road.
Any information provided on this Website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace consultation with a professional mechanic. The accuracy and timeliness of the information may change from the time of publication.