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How to Maintain Your Hybrid

Hybrid cars are a great benefit to the environment and more importantly, your pockets. Since these cars run both on electricity and gasoline, you end up spending less time at the pump and more time on the road. While we could go on and on about the benefits of hybrids and alternative fueling options, at Fairfax Auto Repair we like to focus on the importance of maintaining such a convenient vehicle. There are lots of misconceptions about hybrids, so we’ve put together a list of the most important things you need to know.

Thankfully, routine maintenance for hybrids varies only slightly from gasoline fueled vehicles. There are operating systems and functions such as the electric drive motor, and batteries that need special attention, but you can refer to our routine maintenance checklist to cover the basics. Full hybrid cars have the ability to shut off their engine and operate on electricity in specific situations, and since they often come with regenerative braking systems, it reduces wear and tear on both components.

The main difference with hybrid vehicles is that the combustion engine, transmission, and electric drive motor are fused together to form the “hybrid” power source for the car. If one or more of these components have an issue or malfunction, then it’s likely that all three will have to be serviced professionally. Services that can be done at home include: checking the transmission fluid, and changing spark plugs and fuel filters.

The electronic modules that control the electric drive motor are very complex and can generate enormous amounts of heat, so much so that they usually have their own separate cooling systems. The modules that control the batteries rate and amount of charge also employ both heating and cooling systems in to operate uniformly. It’s important when going for regular maintenance on the engine cooling system to check the hoses, pipes, and clamps that may be used on the motor and battery cooling/heating system.

While all cars have electrical components to them, hybrids are unique in the amount of voltage per vehicle. It is extremely important when performing your own self-maintenance at home to stay away from any high voltage components (like the drive motor) which operates well over 100 volts. The safety threshold is low and narrow, an electrical shock with as little as 50 volts can prove fatal. To ensure safety, manufacturers enclosed these potentially fatal parts in a bright orange casing; only professional technicians should be working in this area.

Call us or schedule an appointment online if you have any questions about maintenance, alternative fuels, or to find out what services we offer for your hybrid.

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