Buying a Used Hybrid Car: Things to Consider


As we continue to become more environmentally friendly and gas prices continue to increase, more Canadians are considering buying a hybrid car. Hybrid vehicles came onto the market over the last 15 years, since then, the technology has improved significantly. The attraction to hybrids is consistently growing among Canadians, yet not all Canadians are in a financial position to purchase a brand new hybrid car. Because of this, many people look to buy used hybrid vehicles in order to save money. In this article, we’re going to cover some basics you need to know about hybrids and things to consider before buying a used hybrid.

Regular Hybrids vs Plug-In Hybrids  

Regular Hybrids

There are two types of hybrid vehicles, regular hybrids and plug-in hybrids. While they both share the similarities of having a battery, gas engine and an electric motor, the way they manage energy is different. Most hybrid vehicles use their electric motor at lower speeds while the gas engine is in use at higher speeds. When the gas engine is being used, it recharges the battery of the electric motor. 

Energy is also harvested using regenerative braking technology, so every time the vehicle is braking it also provides more energy. In more modern hybrid vehicles, the computers in them will assess how the driver uses their vehicle and manage the energy accordingly. In some hybrid vehicles, the driver has the option to switch between different driving modes depending on the style of driving they’re doing. If they’re just driving up the road they could use full-electric mode whereas if they’re doing a road trip, they could use the gas engine. 

Plug-In Hybrid Vehicles

Plug-in hybrids are exactly what they sound like, they have a gas engine and an electric motor, except with plug-in hybrids the electric motor is plugged in while parked. Plug-in hybrids do not charge the electric motor while the gas engine is being used. You’re able to charge the electric motor in your garage at home or at a high-speed charging station. 

Typically, plug-in hybrids can drive longer distances using both the gas engine combined with the electric motor compared to regular hybrids. While the range a plug-in hybrid can get on its electric motor varies depending on the model, some can drive up to 75km using only the electric motor. 

Three Things to Consider Before Buying a Used Hybrid Car

While hybrid cars are certainly different from fully gas-powered vehicles, a lot of the maintenance required is the same for both types of vehicles. They both need oil changes, fluid changes, brake replacements and routine suspension checks, however, there are some maintenance requirements that only hybrid vehicles need. The following are three things you need to consider before you pull the trigger on a used hybrid vehicle.

1. Batteries

Regular hybrids, plug-in hybrids and fully electric vehicles all use a 12-volt battery and a traction battery. The 12-volt battery is the same battery that all gas-powered vehicles use while the traction battery feeds the electric motors. If the 12-volt battery isn’t working, the traction battery will also be rendered useless. 

Traction batteries wear out over time as the cells in the batteries die through repeated charging cycles. Typically, warranties on batteries are for 8 years or 160,000km. So if the hybrid you’re considering buying just had a battery replaced, you should feel at ease knowing that it should last you a good chunk of time. 

2. Software Updates and Recalls

Manufacturers often release software updates for their hybrid vehicles to ensure everything is working as optimized as possible. Before you buy a used hybrid vehicle you should make sure that the vehicle is up to date with the latest manufacture released software updates. As you should with any vehicle, you should also check to make sure that if there has been a recall, the vehicle in question has been addressed. 

3. Charging Port

The last thing you need to check when looking at buying a used plug-in hybrid vehicle is the condition of the charging port. If you’ve ever had a phone long enough, you probably ran into issues with the charging port, the same goes for charging ports on a hybrid vehicle. Over time, it’s not uncommon for the charging port to wear out and lead to malfunctions. Make sure that the charging port connection is working perfectly so you don’t run into issues down the road. 

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