As Kermit the Frog once said, it ain’t easy being green. This is true for hybrid owners too - going green doesn’t relieve you of all of the responsibilities associated with vehicle upkeep; doing so just changes how you’ll determine whether or not your vehicle is operating at peak performance.
Battery maintenance should be of the utmost importance if you hope to maintain the longevity of your vehicle. One of the biggest mistakes you can make with any kind of vehicle is to wait until a problem occurs to take an active interest in standard maintenance procedures.
This is especially true for hybrid batteries. It’s crucial that you have the ability to identify signs that are indicative of a failing battery.
Think of your hybrid vehicle (and all of its parts) as though it’s a baseball team. The battery in your Toyota Prius is essentially the relief pitcher for your gas engine, which is your starting pitcher. If the relief pitcher is sick, or just doesn’t show up for a few games because he was out partying all night, all of the pressure is going to be on the starting pitcher. You can bet that nine innings of throwing 100 mph fastballs (or miles and miles of uphill driving) is going to eventually burn-out the starting pitcher. You’re going to have to pay more (gas prices) to ensure your starting pitcher is healthy in the absence of your relief pitcher.
The relationship between the battery and gas engine in your hybrid vehicle is the single factor that makes hybrids appealing to most people - it enables the driver to save money on fuel costs and has a minimal impact on our environment. Without this relationship, these benefits are null.
With that in mind, here are a few signs that it may be time to have your hybrid’s battery checked-out:
- The warning light is on. This may seem obvious to veteran hybrid owners, however, we feel it’s still worth mentioning since it’s easy to procrastinate when a warning light shows up in the dash of an otherwise functional vehicle. In Honda vehicles, this is known as the IMA light, or it may be an orange triangle light on Toyota cars. Older models may even have a turtle indicator to indicate a problem. While this light may have other meanings besides battery failure, it’s time to have it examined by a professional ASAP.
- Strange noises coming from the engine. This can be an indicator that your vehicle’s internal combustion engine is working harder than usual. You’ll notice that, when you step on the gas petal, the car does not accelerate as expected – resulting in a high revving noise. For hybrids, this typically equates to an issue with your battery because the deteriorated battery is preventing the car from going into EV (Electric Vehicle) mode as often – or at all.
- Fluctuations in state of charge. If the state of charge dramatically fluctuates, you can wager that the issue is either with your battery or your charging system. Either way, it’s time to take your car in for a checkup.
- Rapid decreases / increases in hybrid battery bars. It’s time to have your battery looked at if it needs to be charged after little to no usage on a regular basis. For instance, if you park your hybrid with a full charge and come back to a low battery, there’s a definite problem with your battery. You may also notice that your battery charge rapidly decreases when you accelerate and then while cruising and breaking the charge goes back up – this is a classic sign that your battery is deteriorated.
- Decreased MPG. This is typically a sign of accelerated battery deterioration and is one of the signs that hybrid owners tend to take seriously since the reason they’ve decided to purchase a hybrid vehicle (generally speaking) is to save money on fuel.
Your battery is essential in ensuring that all of your car’s parts are operating correctly and that you’re reaping all of the benefits of owning a hybrid. The average lifespan of a hybrid battery is six to ten years, but this number can drop significantly if it’s neglected.
The best thing you can do to extend the life of your vehicle’s battery is to take a proactive approach in maintaining it. That’s right, just like many other parts of your car, your battery pack requires regular maintenance. In particular, if the cooling system that maintains a consistent battery temperature malfunctions, your battery pack will overheat and cause rapid deterioration. The Hybrid Shop battery packs are equipped with a battery servicing port which allows a special device to perform battery analysis and rebalancing which increases gas mileage and the overall life of your battery pack.
However, even with regular maintenance, most hybrid and electric vehicles at some point will experience battery deterioration. It is a normal and natural process, like brake or tire wear.
The Hybrid Shop is different from car dealerships in that our first solution will never be to immediately replace your battery. We will always conduct due diligence, performing a rigorous state-of-health check, to determine the battery’s viability and keeping you informed every step of the way.
Upon determining that your hybrid battery needs to be replaced, we will install a new battery – for thousands less than the dealership - and send your old battery to our California facility where our technicians will test and repurpose every part of your battery. Our battery remanufacturing process ensures that zero waste goes back into the environment.
If you suspect your hybrid battery is failing, or you want to learn more about our hybrid batteries, find The Hybrid Shop location nearest you here.