The battery is what distinguishes a hybrid vehicle from other vehicles. A hybrid battery is designed to provide better fuel efficiency. And this is what draws purchasers in the current day.
It has been demonstrated to be better for the environment in addition to fuel efficiency. This is evident because hybrid vehicles emit fewer pollutants through their tailpipes. However, batteries continue to be a major source of anxiety for individuals. How long do batteries in hybrid cars last?
Hybrid batteries do not prematurely lose their ability to work, contrary to popular belief. There is no way to be more accurate. Battery hybrids are built to last.
It is mandated by law that high-voltage hybrid battery packs be warranted for at least eight years or 100,000 miles of operation in the domestic US market. So you can anticipate your hybrid battery lasting at least 100,000 kilometers.
Hybrid batteries experience occasional failures, just like everything else in the universe. There is nothing ideal in this world. Why then do hybrid batteries malfunction? There are many potential causes, but user errors are by far the most prevalent.
Your hybrid battery can be properly maintained in a few different ways to lengthen its lifespan. But to do that, you must understand how a hybrid battery functions.
The Hybrid Battery’s Mechanics
A hybrid vehicle combines a conventional fuel-burning engine with a hybrid battery’s electrical output. While clear electronic gauges and excellent fuel economy are evident benefits of hybrid vehicles, many people are unaware of how these engines function and their relevance to them.
Fully electric or battery-powered vehicles are known to accelerate more quickly after stopping. However, their battery has a limit. A completely electric vehicle can typically travel between 70 and 200 miles on a single charge.
Nissan Leaf showing part of the battery by Tennen-Gas / CC BY-SA 3.0. Hybrid batteries are noticeably larger than regular auto batteries. They have a threefold increase in weight. They can also generate a lot of amperages and more than 300 volts.
The fuel efficiency of typical gas-powered cars is very poor. The hybrid blends the greatest features of each. It provides a significant improvement in fuel efficiency. This is between 35% and 50% more expensive than regular automobiles. Additionally, it does not need to be charged every 100 miles.
How Is a Hybrid Battery Structured?
In terms of both composition and use, a hybrid battery differs from a regular automotive battery.
Six cells are submerged in battery acid in a typical automobile battery. A hybrid battery, on the other hand, is made up of several cells. These are made as dry cells and then dipped in silicone or dielectric gel.
Compared to standard auto batteries, hybrid batteries are substantially bigger. They can weigh three times as much. They are also capable of producing large amperage and over 300 volts. It is regarded as an electrical danger because it has so much power and needs to be handled carefully.
The voltage, amperage, input, and output of the battery are controlled by a controller or computer. Since they are linked, this computer and the car’s main computer can operate simultaneously.
In your car, the battery is located in a well-ventilated area. Because of how much power it can produce, it will also produce a lot of heat. The battery is kept cold and ventilated by air vents.
Which are the Various Hybrid Battery Types?
Many different hybrid battery types are used by manufacturers nowadays in various production processes. Each of these several battery kinds has a somewhat different design and mode of operation.
The three primary categories of hybrid-electric car batteries are listed below.
1. The Lithium Ion
The use of lithium-ion batteries among automakers is increasing considerably due to their longer service lives. These batteries often have warranties longer than 100,000 miles, have quick charging rates, and come with extended warranties.
In contrast to other hybrid battery types, lithium-ion batteries are typically more expensive.
2. The Nickel Metal Hydride
The majority of hybrid electric automobile batteries are Nickel Metal Hydride (NiMH) batteries, by far. Such batteries are reliable and have consistent usage characteristics.
Due to their long history on the market than lithium-ion batteries, nickel metal hydride batteries are also less expensive. For more than 20 years, Toyota Prius’s production has relied heavily on this kind of battery.
3. The Lead Acid
Perhaps compared to other battery types available, lead-acid batteries are the most dependable. However, their capacities and storage potential are somewhat constrained.
In full-electric mode, a lead acid battery can only sustainably power a car for an average of 10 miles, and in hybrid mode, 20 miles. As a result, lead-acid batteries are far more useful in hybrid applications.
The Hybrid Battery Recharge Process
When hybrid automobiles were first released a few years ago, people weren’t sure how the battery charged itself. Many people weren’t sure how that worked when it was said that it charged itself.
Years ago, the myth that a hybrid battery recharges similarly to a bicycle dynamo was widespread. Where electrical energy is produced from the wheels’ spinning. That is untrue, as a hybrid battery is recharged by a process called regenerative braking.
What exactly is regenerative breaking then? Regular hybrids recharge their inbuilt lithium-ion or nickel-metal hydride battery packs by recovering energy during braking.
The electrical motor that drives the wheels is in reverse when coasting or breaking. This generates electricity by acting as a generator.
Traditionally, upon braking, the kinetic energy would transform into thermal energy. Here, the kinetic energy is changed into electrical energy rather than being permitted to become heat energy.
The Plug-In Hybrid Batteries
Ten years after the first hybrid was created, the plug-in hybrid was created. The plug-in hybrid’s battery is designed to reduce electricity use, just like a traditional hybrid. This battery has more power than a conventional hybrid battery and can be charged outside.
A typical hybrid may reach speeds of up to 40 mph on just battery power. Due to its greater power, a plug-in hybrid can travel up to 55 mph on battery power.
This does use regenerative braking to charge. Like an electric vehicle, it can also be charged using a socket for extra power.
In contrast to pure electric vehicles, plug-in hybrids offer the majority of the advantages of an electric vehicle while still preserving the efficiency and range of a conventional hybrid. This reduces “range anxiety.” The battery operates as a regular hybrid battery when the external charge runs out.
Hybrid Batteries: Why Do They Fail?
There are numerous potential causes for your hybrid battery to malfunction. Some of these issues develop without your input. This implies that it isn’t much you can do to prevent it.
However, some of these issues are brought on by the user’s negligence. These issues can also be fixed. Here are a few of the typical causes of hybrid battery failure.
1. The Mileage and Age
When considering the lifespan of your battery, age counts. In as little as five years from the time you first bought the battery new, you could need to replace your hybrid battery. But in the end, it all comes down to how you drive.
Your battery will deteriorate if you routinely take long road trips or if you have to travel for work. However, if you drive your car infrequently and do not routinely take long road trips, you will see that your battery can live up to 10 or 11 years.
But your automobile also has a mileage number, so there’s that. A typical battery can travel up to 100,000 kilometers. So it is not a surprise if your battery fails after 100,000 kilometers.
Jumper cable connected to the battery by Wtshymanski. Even without proper maintenance, hybrid batteries seldom run out of juice before covering 80,000 kilometers. Therefore, if your car has fewer than 80,000 miles on it, you shouldn’t be concerned about its hybrid battery.
Other car models are known to survive a little bit longer, such as the 2005 Toyota Prius. These should last up to 150,000 miles before requiring a battery replacement.
2. The Battery Balance
You do not influence the balance of the batteries. There isn’t much you can do to prevent this from sapping your battery’s life.
Battery balance – what is it? When individual cells are out of equilibrium with one another, the battery is out of balance.
A Toyota Prius, for instance, features 28 distinct cells, each with about 6500 mAh. Over time, this capacity will decrease to as little as 1500mAh. These breakdowns frequently don’t line up. One could experience a severe breakdown, whereas the others are capable.
One cell may have 1500 mAh while the others have 5000 mAh. Your battery could fail rather rapidly if imbalances like these exist in it.
3. Engine Issues
As was already established, a hybrid vehicle combines a fuel-burning engine and an electric battery. Both of these could experience problems if one of them is broken.
The hybrid will need to carry a significant portion of the weight if your engine is not operating properly. The battery is under a lot of strain as a result. As a result, if you don’t give your engine routine maintenance, your hybrid battery will wear out sooner.
4. Recharging Errors
This holds for plug-in hybrid vehicles, which have the option of manual recharging. So how can you responsibly recharge? The duration that you leave it plugged in provides the solution.
The battery life will be shortened if you charge it too frequently or keep the plugin for an extended period. Charging too little at once has the same effect. Your battery life will also be shortened if you charge your battery frequently and don’t let it charge to its maximum capacity.
How long it will take to charge the battery will be determined by the manufacturer. You should maintain your battery connected to the charger at that precise moment—neither too much nor too little.
The battery’s maximum capacity will decline after a few years of use. This is comparable to the battery in your phone. Longer charging sessions won’t restore their original capacity. Take the loss in this situation rather than causing more harm.
5. Extreme Weather
Your battery life will be significantly impacted by extreme cold and heat.
The car takes a bit to warm up in chilly weather. And for smooth operation, the engine should warm up to the ideal temperatures. Your battery will carry an extra load until your engine reaches a high enough temperature, which could wear it out.
Snow is yet another issue related to the environment. Hybrids generally struggle in the snow and ice. Snow calls for a vehicle that is heavier and has more rolling resistance than a typical hybrid tire. Your hybrid battery will have to work harder than usual as a result.
Just as much as low temperatures, excessive heat can harm batteries. Any temperature over 110 degrees will cause a hybrid battery to degrade. Your battery needs to be well-ventilated to prevent overheating.
A typical 12 V, 40 Ah lead-acid car battery by Shaddack. The efficient nickel-metal battery pack used in Toyota hybrid vehicles is what makes their batteries last so long. A computer-controlled charge controller and battery management system maintain the 80/20 battery rule.
Some hybrid vehicles contain batteries behind the passenger seat; if so, the intake would provide adequate ventilation. Your air filter needs to be kept clean at all times.
These are the typical issues that significantly shorten the life of your battery. Even while some elements are beyond your control, if you can focus on what you can change, you may be able to prolong the lifespan of your battery.
Which are the Common Hybrid Battery Failure Indications?
A hybrid battery will exhibit some symptoms before it completely fails. If you can spot them before they happen, you might have a chance to get your battery fixed or replaced in time. Here are a few signs that a hybrid battery is about to go bad.
1. Reduction In the Fuel Economy
The most typical sign that the hybrid battery is about to fail is this one. For the car, the battery serves as a backup power source.
Your hybrid battery won’t be able to support the same load it once could when it is failing. Your car’s engine now fires up to produce all the power required to move forward.
Fuel will be used by the engine to produce power. The engine will burn more fuel to provide more power when the battery is no longer able to help. Your fuel efficiency will gradually decrease as a result.
2. The Charge Indicator Keeps Fluctuating
Does your display indicate a fluctuating charge? Another indication that your hybrid batteries are deteriorating is if your indicator alternately displays a full charge and an empty charge.
In the worst scenarios, sharp decreases in the charge indication can be immediately distinguished. This frequently indicates that your battery is defective and unable to maintain a charge.
3. Engine Running Regularly
When traveling at a speed of about 40 mph, a hybrid battery can carry the entire weight, as was previously described. Usually, your engine never uses fuel while cruising at these speeds.
You might see or feel the engine running at cruising speeds if your battery is defective. If so, your battery isn’t maintaining its charge or charging. Your battery is failing in any case.
4. Strange Noises
This is just another sign that your battery needs repair. These noises are frequently the result of a broken cooling fan. You can still preserve your battery if you catch this early. You will hear odd noises if your cooling fan is malfunctioning or your air filter is clogged.
Your battery will malfunction if it stays too hot for too long. By recognizing this early, you can prevent your battery from suffering permanent harm.
You may avoid a lot of problems by learning how to recognize a malfunctioning battery. especially if the cooling fans are the issue.
How Long Do Hybrid Batteries Last On Average?
The battery is the hybrid car buyer’s main worry right now. Will it fail me suddenly? Should I constantly have a substitute in the back of my mind?
The good news is that it is not something you need to worry about. A hybrid battery has an average lifespan of 100,000 miles. This is the typical sum. Over miles are frequently covered by hybrid batteries.
Internal view of a small lead–acid battery by Sakar.solanki / CC BY-SA 3.0. The approximate price range for replacement hybrid batteries is $3000 to $8000. This is a considerable sum when compared to the cost of a new car. But as time passes, a lot of recycled hybrid batteries are coming onto the market.
Even more than 200,000 miles have been reported from them. particularly the hybrid vehicles made by Toyota. As a result, a battery with proper care may last more than 120,000 miles.
Rarely do hybrid batteries run out of power before traveling 80,000 miles. even without appropriate upkeep. Therefore, you do not need to worry about your hybrid battery if your automobile has less than 80,000 miles on it.
If you tend to keep your automobile for a long time, you could eventually need to replace the hybrid battery. It is almost uncommon to require replacing the batteries more than once.
A fresh battery will work well for the following 100,000 miles if you replace the old one with around 100,000 miles. When your car has traveled more than 200,000 miles, significantly bigger issues frequently start to surface.
Most automakers will pay for a new battery if one fails before 100,000 miles. Therefore, there is nothing to worry about.
What are the Reasons for Toyota Hybrid Batteries Lasting Longer?
Consumer Reports tested the hybrid batteries from the 2001 and 2002 Toyota Prius models in the last ten years.
The 2001 Toyota Prius has only 2,000 miles on it, but the 2002 Toyota Prius has traveled nearly 200,000 miles. The test results show a slight decline in acceleration and fuel economy on the 2002 Prius hybrid battery with more than 200,000 miles on it.
The fact that the high-mileage automobile nevertheless handles like a brand-new car astounded Consumer Reports. The vehicle still uses its original transmission, engine, and even shock absorbers, in addition to everything else.
This demonstrates the capability of Toyota hybrid batteries. So, if you were wondering how long the hybrid battery in a Prius lasts, this test should help.
The fact that Toyota hybrid batteries last so long is due to their effective nickel-metal battery pack. The 80/20 battery rule is maintained through a computer-controlled charge controller and battery management system.
This means that the battery management computer system makes sure that the charge level never exceeds 80% and never drops below 20%. The battery’s longevity, heat management, and overall battery recycling life are all improved by these battery computer management systems.
How Much Does a Hybrid Battery Replacement Cost?
This is the painful part. The price of a hybrid battery replacement will be high. The manufacturer and the car’s model influence the precise price. Even the cheapest battery replacement, though, costs more than $2000. This is the smallest sum, too.
Replacement hybrid batteries typically cost between $3000 and $8000. Given the price of a new car, this is a sizable sum. However, a lot of recycled hybrid batteries are entering the market over time.
These hybrid batteries were rescued from a wrecked automobile. The battery will be available for purchase if it is not damaged in any way. You might be able to get a battery similar to this for $2000 to $2500 if you can find one.
However, one should anticipate paying more if a new hybrid battery needs to be purchased and installation proves to be time-consuming, leading to rising labor costs.
Car lead–acid battery after explosion by Towel401. Due to the rising popularity of hybrid cars, several retailers have hybrid battery specialties. Furthermore, a number of them specialize in repairing hybrid batteries.
In some cases, it is not worthwhile to replace a battery. For instance, if you drive a Prius from the 2010s, the hybrid battery most likely lasted for about 150,000 miles. If you are spending $4000 or $5000 in this situation, it is not worthwhile. It is sometimes wiser to take a loss and purchase a new vehicle.
When Should a Hybrid Battery Be Replaced?
Preemptive replacement is typically not advised due to the expense of buying and installing a hybrid battery.
When a dubious health test is detected during routine maintenance or the first indications of impending failure appear, a hybrid battery should be replaced.
The majority of hybrid-electric car dealerships offer free battery checks as part of their standard services. You will gain some insight into when replacement is necessary from these routine testing.
Similar to a hybrid battery, various indications may frequently appear when it is nearing the end of its useful life, alerting you to the impending need for replacement.
These signs include a shorter charge life, unpredictably fluctuating charge state, reduced fuel efficiency, and an increased dependency on the engine.
Is Repairing a Hybrid Battery Worth It?
Many stores specialize in hybrid batteries due to the growing popularity of hybrid automobiles. Additionally, several of them focus specifically on fixing hybrid batteries. Does having your battery repaired make sense?
No, and yes. A hybrid battery can be fixed for a lot less money than it can be replaced. Despite this, it doesn’t always work. Your battery’s lifespan is frequently limited to over 100,000 miles of use. Its repair is only a temporary solution.
Even if you have it fixed, it won’t hold up for very long. Even if you keep fixing the hybrid battery whenever it malfunctions, issues will still arise regularly.
When is something worth fixing? If the battery breaks before it has traveled anywhere near 100,000 miles, it is worth fixing. Your battery is most likely experiencing a little issue in this situation.
This might be fixed with a quick fix. It’s not a good idea to choose a replacement when your hybrid battery fails too soon.
How Can You Lengthen the Life of Hybrid Batteries?
A few issues, as previously indicated, harm the battery’s lifespan. Combating such issues is the greatest approach to lengthening the life of a hybrid battery.
1. Routine for Charging
Make it a routine to frequently charge your plug-in hybrid to the point of fullness if you have one. Always follow the manufacturer’s suggested charging time. Try to limit the amount of time you leave your car plugged in.
Never plug in your hybrid for a short 5-minute charge before driving with a battery that is almost dead. If you don’t have enough time to fully charge an empty battery, don’t attempt to do so.
2. The Temperature
You can’t do anything to change the weather. The effects of freezing temperatures on a hybrid battery are similar to those on an ordinary battery. Living in a cold climate will prevent you from getting the most out of your battery.
On the other side, you can control heated temperatures. To keep your battery cold, there are cooling fans nearby. Frequently check to see if they are functioning properly.
Charging a 12V lead-acid car battery by Tatu Kosonen / CC BY-SA 4.0. If your indicator alternatively shows a full charge and an empty charge, this is yet another sign that your hybrid batteries are aging.
Check the air filter as well. The airflow can be hampered by a clogged air filter. Your battery will not be able to breathe as a result.
3. The Maintenance
A hybrid battery must be evaluated at specific service intervals, according to the majority of manufacturers. Your hybrid battery’s lifespan may be shortened if you forego these routine maintenance tasks.
You can determine whether a cell is out of balance by performing this routine maintenance. To extend unit life, reconditioning measures can be done if these cells are recognized before a serious unbalance occurs.
What are the Advantages of Driving a Hybrid Car?
Drivers can benefit from spending less for gas than they would if they were to operate a car with a traditional internal combustion engine because hybrid vehicles operate on a battery for half of the time.
However, there are still additional benefits to driving a hybrid vehicle. Here are a few of the most typical:
1. The Idle Stop
A lot of hybrid cars have an idle-stop mode that turns the engine off when the car stops and turns it back on as soon as the brake pedal is released. This feature stops the car from idling and wasting fuel and emitting CO2.
2. The Power Assistance
Because of the power assist capability, hybrid vehicles may operate on a modest quantity of fuel without sacrificing engine performance. To assist the internal combustion engine in accelerating, the electric motor draws additional power from the battery.
3. Drive-Electric Vehicle Mode with Engine Off
The majority of hybrid cars offer an electric vehicle (EV) mode with the engine off. In this mode, the hybrid functions essentially like an electric vehicle.
This function, often known as “motoring mode,” makes use of the electric motor to move the car at slow speeds. The internal combustion engine is not used to accelerate in this mode, so the car doesn’t use gasoline or emit emissions.
How long do hybrid batteries last in hybrid cars? The response is adequate. The majority of manufacturers provide an 8-year or 100,000-mile guarantee.
This warranty’s mileage limit has been upped to 150,000 miles on newer Toyota and Lexus models. You can anticipate them to endure longer than the warranty period if you do your part.
Give it some thinking if you do need to replace your battery. A new vehicle would be a better choice if you can’t find a battery that is worth replacing for less money.
In any case, the fuel savings from a hybrid vehicle will pay for the battery. Another thing to bear in mind is that operating a hybrid has the added benefit of helping the environment.
Jim Wicks is the founder of MotorVehicleHQ. With over two decades of experience in the automotive industry and a degree in Automotive Technology, Jim is a certified car expert who has worked in various roles ranging from a mechanic, car dealership manager, to a racing car driver. He has owned more than 20 cars over the past 15 years. Ask him about any vehicle you see on the road and he can tell you the make, model and year. He loves the aesthetics of all things cars, and keeps his vehicles in pristine condition.
In his free time, Jim enjoys getting his hands dirty under the hood of a classic car or taking long drives along the country roads. His favorite car? A 1967 Shelby GT500, a true classic that, according to Jim, “represents the pure essence of American muscle.”