by Pat Goss
Every year, vehicle manufacturers offer more variations on hybrid technology and on electric cars. Well we’re going to be concerned primarily with hybrids. You see, one of the things that a lot of people seem to be believe is that a hybrid doesn’t really need any service. Well it does. The gasoline engine needs all the same service as a conventional car does, plus there’s added service in the form of a cooling system for the hybrid and often cooling fans. So you have to follow up on all of these things. Now the other thing is, if you’re a do-it-yourself-er, you want to stay away from those big orange wires, because they can hurt you. So read and follow all the directions on all those labels under the hood.
Now, how long do hybrid batteries last? Well that’s anybody’s guess. It varies with the way you drive and how you maintain the car and a whole bunch of different factors. But how would you know if your battery is going bad? Well certainly if that light on the dash comes on, well that is probably a good indicator that you need to get the battery tested. But you may have a weak battery and not have a light. So, what are some of the indications?
Well poor performance is one. You see, during acceleration away from the traffic light, well it’s a combination of the gas engine and the electric motors. Well that means that what you’re looking at is that if the battery gets weak, the electric motor doesn’t produce the proper amount of assist to the gas engine, and performance drops off. Another thing is it may not show the same indication of charge level on the dash that it has for years. And you may have a change in the way the car brakes and different things like that.
So, once you have determined that you need to have your battery tested, what do you do? Well what you don’t do is go on the internet and find one of these bogus “test it yourself” procedures, because you could get hurt doing it, and you could damage the battery. And even if you don’t do one of those, the results are mostly meaningless. You need a shop that has the proper test equipment, and knows how to properly use that test equipment.
Now suppose the battery is bad, what do you do? Well historically, you’ve always had to go back to the dealer and get a new battery. Well here we have something from Dorman Products. This is a re-manufactured hybrid battery. Now hybrids are made up of multiple cells, usually over a hundred of these little cells, small batteries, that are wired so that they produce the current and the voltage to operate the electric motor. Well, one of these goes bad, you lose some of your performance. Well they have attest procedure where they test it, they rebuild it, and they also include the ECM, the computer for it. So this is a plug and play assembly that could save you quite a few hundred dollars in most cases. Take care of the hybrid. Do the maintenance and everything, and you’ll have good luck with it.
And if you have a question or a comment, drop me a line right here at MotorWeek.