by Pat Goss
As gas prices increase, so does the popularity of hybrid vehicles. Hybrids are great, but there are some things that you need to be aware of. First you need to read the owner’s manual that comes with your hybrid, because there’s going to be a lot of cautions in there that tell you the things that you can and cannot do.
Now one of the first things you have to be aware of is that hybrids typically use much higher voltage. Now that means that you have to be extremely careful about getting around the large orange wires, because they could be deadly.
That brings up the battery packs on these vehicles. A lot of people seem to be concerned that they’re going to go bad and you’re going to spend a lot of money. Well, they may be warranted for 100,000 to 150,000 miles, so you’re pretty safe there. What you’re not safe with is if you do need a battery pack or the car is totaled, there are special procedures to get rid of the old battery. They have to be treated in a certain manner, because again they could be deadly if somebody gets a hold of them.
The gasoline engine in the car, it has to be maintained just like any gasoline engine does. That means oil changes, absolutely; oil filters, absolutely; cooling system cooling systems have to be serviced like they would on any vehicle, but like we have here on this Ford Escape, there may be two cooling systems; one for the engine, and one for the controller for all of the electrical stuff. So make sure you know what’s going on there.
Also if you want the gasoline engine to operate at peak efficiency, you’ve got to pay attention to the air filter. It needs to be kept clean. Otherwise your basic gas mileage will go down, sometimes substantially.
If you have a question or comment, write to me. The address is MotorWeek, Owings Mills, MD, 21117.