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Summary
  • Also known as battery refurbishing, battery reconditioning is the process of cleaning sulfate crystals from the battery plates and replenishing the battery’s electrolyte solution. This restores the car battery, enabling it to function like new for up to six more years.
  • Replacing faulty modules, the sulfation repair method, and water loss repair are examples of common methods of battery reconditioning.
  • When reconditioning a car battery, make sure to prepare the necessary tools, clean the battery, and verify its voltage.

Hybrid vehicles are making their mark on the automotive industry, growing in popularity alongside electric vehicles (EVs). So what is a mild hybrid vehicle? Is it poised to become the next big thing on the market, or is the term just marketing jargon? Let’s take a closer look at mild hybrids and how they stack up against full hybrids.

What Does Mild Hybrid Mean?

Honda was the first manufacturer to release a mainstream mild hybrid electric vehicle (MHEV) in the US. Their MHEV Honda Insight hit the market in 2000, and since then more mild hybrids have followed suit. The MHEV class serves as a sort of inexpensive electric vehicle alternative, a variant of the hybrid vehicle, but how “electric” is it really?

Mild hybrid systems rely on a battery-powered, low-output electric motor to start, brake, and slow the vehicle. The motor can’t power the car alone, instead relying on a gasoline-fueled internal combustion engine (ICE) to run a majority of the vehicle’s systems and propel the vehicle forward. However, MHEV systems do come with a more powerful electrical system in general.

The mild hybrid system recovers some of the kinetic energy it creates when braking, and stores this energy in the system’s small battery, which is separate from the vehicle’s main battery. The mild hybrid system then recycles this power, drawing on it to help accelerate the vehicle from a complete standstill. As a result, accelerating from a stop doesn’t take as much fuel. This is the MHEV’s regenerative braking system at work.

The MHEV system also saves fuel by shutting down the ICE whenever the vehicle’s cruising, stopped, or braking. MHEV systems can restart the ICE more efficiently than traditional combustion systems. 

2023 kia sportage suv mhev
Mild hybrid systems rely on a battery-powered, low-output electric motor to start, brake, and slow the vehicle. Image source: Kia Media

Mild Hybrid vs. Full Hybrid

When comparing mild hybrid systems to full hybrid systems, take the degree of hybridization into account. The typical assumptions regarding a hybrid vehicle, including greatly increased fuel efficiency and a powerful electric motor, aren’t as applicable to a mild hybrid as they are to a full hybrid.

Both mild and full hybrids use electric motors alongside gasoline engines. However, full hybrids, also known as string hybrids, use 30- to 70-kilowatt electric motors that remain running for as long as the gasoline engine is running. In some full hybrids, like plug-in hybrids, these electric motors can temporarily power the entire vehicle alone.

Mild hybrids, on the other hand, while also in the gasoline-electric vehicle class, have weaker electric motors that can’t propel the vehicle without help. MHEV systems act as power boosters to internal combustion engines. They improve fuel efficiency by working with the ignition and braking systems. So while mild hybrids aren’t as fuel-efficient as full hybrids, they can still improve fuel efficiency by 10 to 15 percent.

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Mild Hybrid Benefits and Drawbacks

Mild hybrids have benefits and drawbacks, especially when compared to full hybrids and traditional ICEs.

Benefits

One of the main benefits of a mild hybrid vehicle is that they’re much more affordable than full hybrids. Their simpler internal design is much less costly for manufacturers to produce, which translates to a smaller price tag at the dealership. They also provide better fuel economy and produce fewer CO2 emissions than ICEs. Transitioning to a mild hybrid vehicle is easier since you don’t need to modify your driving habits at all.

Drawbacks

Mild hybrid cars are definitely closer to traditional ICE vehicles than to electric vehicles. They produce more pollutants and have lower fuel economy than full hybrids. They also have very short electric-only range, with most models having no electric-only range at all. Additionally, mild hybrids don’t qualify for federal tax credit, unlike fully electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles.

Ultimately, mild hybrid vehicles have their charms and their caveats. If you’re simply after a more fuel-efficient vehicle that drives almost no differently compared to an ICE vehicle, then check out a mild hybrid. Whether its benefits are enough to earn it a place in your garage is up to you.

About The Author
Written By Automotive and Tech Writers

The CarParts.com Research Team is composed of experienced automotive and tech writers working with (ASE)-certified automobile technicians and automotive journalists to bring up-to-date, helpful information to car owners in the US. Guided by CarParts.com's thorough editorial process, our team strives to produce guides and resources DIYers and casual car owners can trust.

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.

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