Does the fact that hybrid vehicles almost always consume less fuel than their non-hybrid counterparts make them a better investment than a non-hybrid that is less expensive to buy? Beyond how much gas a car or any other vehicle uses and how much it costs to purchase one when it is new, there are other factors to take into account when calculating the total cost of ownership. For instance, are hybrid cars more expensive to repair and maintain than their non-hybrid counterparts?
When they’re in warranty and running well, hybrid cars don’t cost any more to maintain than their gas-only equivalents, and they’ll also save you money on gas. Before you buy a hybrid, you should think about its pros and cons. This is because after the warranty has run out, the cost of fixing a hybrid may be much higher than that of a gas-only model.
Let’s find out the cost of hybrid car service and see if it is worth it when it costs more in the CarMats article below.
How are hybrids different from regular models?
On the surface, a hybrid usually appears and performs identically to the same model with a conventional powertrain. Hybrids, unlike EVs, typically have a hybrid powertrain but otherwise are similar to their conventional counterparts.
Many potential issues that arise with hybrid vehicles are similar to those that affect conventional vehicles. Any vehicle’s suspension, transmission, gas engine, and electrics, including the air conditioning, infotainment, and other systems, can break down.
Unfortunately, you probably won’t be able to take your hybrid vehicle to your neighborhood independent shop to get it fixed cheaply if something goes wrong with the powertrain. The battery and electric motor operate at a different level than the car electrics that mechanics are accustomed to working with, which inevitably means a trip to a much more expensive franchise dealer may be in the works.
Regenerative braking systems may reduce the amount of wear and tear that brakes experience compared to conventional models, but is your neighborhood garage equipped to handle any issues that may arise? The electric motor and, in particular, the battery pack are subject to the same rules.
The battery pack in a hybrid, especially a plug-in hybrid, can be very expensive to fix. Manufacturers’ warranties give you extra peace of mind.
Modern hybrid vehicles typically come with warranties that are specific to the hybrid system and last at least eight years or 100,000 miles, or ten years or 150,000 miles. The cost can be eye-watering if you have the bad luck to have your car’s hybrid battery fail after the warranty has run out. However, whereas a replacement battery pack once cost as much as $8,000, one today is probably closer to $2,000 in price.
Hybrid servicing costs
At the main dealer, the cost of servicing a hybrid is generally comparable to that of a typical gas-only vehicle. Some routine services, like oil changes, may not need to be done as often on a hybrid because it wears out less. This could save you money on routine maintenance.
Currently, you’ll likely need to keep returning to the main dealer for servicing, which will cost more than if you took an equivalent gas-only model to a local garage. The financial benefits of hybrid fuel economy over the life of the car probably wouldn’t be completely wiped out by that extra cost, but it would make it much less appealing to buy a hybrid.
Why do people buy hybrids?
My experience has shown that a lot of people believe that a car, SUV, truck, or van will be less expensive to own and operate if it is more fuel-efficient. It makes sense that since hybrids consume less gas than their non-hybrid counterparts, many buyers believe the additional cost of purchasing one will be justified given the long-term financial savings.
Of course, people don’t just purchase hybrids to save money on gas. Here are some of the most common reasons why people choose a hybrid car over a regular gas-only car.
- Fuel economy: Although hybrid vehicles can be built to deliver incredible performance while ignoring fuel efficiency, the vast majority of mass-produced hybrid vehicles prioritize fuel efficiency.
- Less expensive taxes: Buying and operating a car are subject to a variety of taxes, and “alternative fuel” models typically have lower taxes. Hybrids fall under this category because they are thought to be more environmentally friendly than gas or diesel vehicles.
- Environmental factors: A hybrid will typically use less fuel than its non-hybrid counterpart, and burning less fuel results in less carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere. Consequently, hybrids are typically thought of as being more environmentally friendly than traditional models.
- Residual values – Since hybrids are in high demand on the used market because they are viewed as being more environmentally friendly, they have a good value retention rate. Since the cost of leasing a car is based on how much it is expected to be worth when it is sold again, hybrids sometimes have reasonable monthly leasing costs.
- Less wear & tear – Because hybrid vehicles occasionally run on electricity rather than gasoline, they experience less engine wear and tear over a given distance. Hybrid vehicles’ use of regenerative braking also results in less brake wear and tear. Some people think that this means that the cost of maintenance will be lower, but this is an oversimplification that doesn’t hold up when looked at closely.
- No range anxiety: A hybrid vehicle has a much longer driving range than a fully electric vehicle before refueling is necessary. In addition, refueling a hybrid only takes a few minutes as opposed to the hours it takes to fully charge an EV. This, of course, has nothing to do with comparing a hybrid to a typical gas-only car and is simply a reason to choose a hybrid over an EV.
- Best of both worlds – Some people believe hybrids provide the best of both worlds because they are both more practical and more efficient than conventional models. They are purportedly not as environmentally friendly as an electric car, but they are still greener than a non-hybrid. A hybrid is a good compromise between gas-only and fully electric mobility if an EV is not an option for you.
- Easy to drive – Operating a hybrid is similar to operating a conventional vehicle, so you could get into one without even realizing you were doing it. Some people find the idea of operating a vehicle that is completely different from what they are used to driving unappealing.
Is a hybrid worth the extra cost?
If you don’t drive a lot more miles than average annually, it’s debatable whether a hybrid is more cost-effective to buy than a regular car. But the difference in price between hybrids and cars that only run on gas is getting smaller, and some car companies are selling hybrids at the same price as gas-only cars.
The 2022 Toyota RAV4 is a great illustration of how the cost difference between hybrid and non-hybrid alternatives is narrowing. The MSRP for a 2022 Toyota RAV4 LE AWD is $27,925, while the price for a 2022 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid LE AWD is $29,075. How do the two vehicles compare when there is only a $1,150 price difference?
The RAV4 Hybrid LE AWD is more potent, efficient, and even has a marginally higher maximum towing capacity than the standard model. In a head-to-head test drive at a press event, I must admit that I preferred the hybrid.
The RAV4 Hybrid LE AWD achieves a combined fuel economy of 40 mpg, as opposed to the regular model’s 30 mpg. At the time of writing, the average price of regular gas was $4.10 per gallon. After 33,724 miles, the hybrid’s superior fuel efficiency would make up for the non-higher hybrid’s MSRP.
If you drive an average number of miles per year, the hybrid may save you enough money on gas to pay for itself in less than two years compared to the regular RAV. That difference in fuel efficiency wouldn’t be enough to tempt me if the hybrid wasn’t as enjoyable to drive as the non-hybrid. However, I believe the additional $1,150 is well worth it because the RAV4 hybrid is the better model on a number of fronts.
Naturally, none of that takes into account the additional expense of servicing and maintaining the hybrid over a longer time frame. Most new car buyers won’t have a problem with that because they’ll probably trade it in and purchase another vehicle before the powertrain warranty runs out.
Purchasing used goods as opposed to new ones presents a significant problem. Will I purchase a used hybrid? Unless it was still in its infancy and still had a significant amount of warranty remaining, I doubt it. For the time being, if the warranty had run out, I wouldn’t touch a hybrid like that with a 10-foot pole.