Hybrid Cars Problems: 9 Known Issues (Explained)

Hybrid vehicles have been around for over two decades and they are definitely more convenient than EVs, in terms of pricing and range, but is that all we should look for in a sustainable vehicle?

Here are 9 common problems with hybrid vehicles that you should know about.

You should first familiarize yourself with the many types of hybrid car technologies.

plugin hybrid

We’ve previously looked at problems with electric cars  – now let’s turn to PHEVs.

1. Battery Problems

Every battery has a predetermined lifespan, whether it may be of a device or a vehicle.

Most hybrid vehicles come with an 8-year battery warranty, but there’s a catch. 

Hybrid vehicles are designed for regular use. Driving them once a week would affect their battery.

Most hybrid vehicle users live in urban areas.

Urban areas are jam-packed with traffic on a regular basis, so people often prefer using public transportation. Hence, maintaining the battery of a hybrid vehicle without putting it into daily use will ultimately result in battery problems before the vehicle even completes its warranty.

As you might know, hybrid vehicles come with two powering systems, meaning the battery installed in a hybrid vehicle would be relatively smaller than that of an EV.

Many hybrid owners tend to use the electrical component of the vehicle rather than its internal combustion engine due to high fuel prices.

That puts an excessive load on the hybrid’s battery and makes it wear out easily.

In conclusion, the battery life of hybrid vehicles is less than that of electric vehicles.

As a hybrid owner, you’d have to replace the battery often. Electrical vehicles and hybrids may have recently been ruling the market, but that doesn’t make their components any less expensive.

Check also: Understand the demographics of hybrid car owners

2. Exhaust System and Emissions

While hybrids offer double powering systems, they are not exactly the cleanest vehicles in terms of emissions.

Due to the internal combustion engine component in hybrids, people a decade from now would prefer cleaner options such as EVs or PHEVs (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles) that have zero emissions.

Also, EVAP (Evaporation Emissions Control) system failure is one of the biggest problems in hybrid vehicles.

Similar to gasoline-powered vehicles, after the hybrid is driven a couple of miles, the gas fumes stored in the canister are leaked due to worn-out valves impacting the fuel efficiency of the vehicle.

Hybrid vehicles are equipped with numerous systems to limit their carbon footprint.

But the EVAP system failure affects the efficiency of the vehicle and increases its emissions.

So you really have to ask yourself, if you’re looking for a zero-emissions vehicle, are hybrids really the better option?

3. Faulty Oxygen Sensors

As compared to gasoline-powered vehicles, hybrids are a relatively better option for good fuel economy.

But what if the main component of fuel efficiency, the oxygen sensor, is faulty?

Many potential buyers are reluctant to purchase hybrid vehicles due to the prospect of the oxygen sensor failing.

An O2 sensor malfunction really defeats the purpose of owning a hybrid.

Many times, the exhaust system failure in the hybrid impacts the O2 sensor because the sensor can only work under an optimum temperature.

This usually happens when the driver uses the electrical driving system of the hybrid.

Problems with the combustion process impact the hybrid vehicle’s mileage. ICE vehicles have the same problem, but in hybrids, this issue surfaces early and more frequently.

4. Poor Highway Fuel Efficiency

If you’re comparing the fuel efficiency of a hybrid and an ICE vehicle, then owning a hybrid may sound like the better option.

But in terms of highway fuel efficiency, hybrids don’t perform as well as gasoline-powered vehicles.

If you plan on driving at a higher speed for longer intervals, hybrids are not the vehicle to go for. 

The reason behind that is, hybrid vehicles recharge their electric motors when being driven on internal combustion engines, giving you a relatively lower mileage than that of a gas-powered vehicle.

Hybrid vehicles perform better in city areas than on highways due to their low emissions design. That is why, on highways, their fuel efficiency matches that of a gasoline-powered vehicle.

Hence, if you live in areas where you have to do a lot of regular highway driving, diesel-powered vehicles will be the better option.

5. Catalytic Converter Issues

In standard combustion vehicles, catalytic converters serve the purpose of reducing toxic emissions from the exhaust system.

Since hybrids have an internal combustion engine as well, they also have catalytic converters.

But are they just as functional as catalytic converters in gas-powered vehicles?

Unfortunately, multiple users report that the catalytic converters in hybrids are more prone to failure and the repair or replacement costs are nowhere near to that of standard vehicles, but double!

The main reason behind catalytic converter failure is the absence of the petrol engine which allows the converter to cool before it heats up again.

If a hybrid vehicle does not have low fuel consumption and has emissions similar to that of a gas-powered vehicle, is it really worth the money?

6. Powertrain Maintenance Costs

Advanced technology does not mean hybrids aren’t prone to malfunction. 

Hybrids have a dual powertrain, which means they have combined problems of EVs and combustion vehicles.

In addition, two motors mean just as many maintenance costs.

Hybrids might offer you the flexibility of switching between driving modes as per your needs, but when it comes to routine maintenance, hybrids are more expensive than electric vehicles and ICE vehicles.

As mentioned earlier, hybrids have complex systems which can sometimes interfere with their capability or properly utilize either of the powertrains. Moreover, only driving on one motor severely impacts the other system that’s kept idle and the vehicle’s efficiency.

7. They Are Expensive

Comparing the initial costs of hybrids to their equivalents really helps you build a perspective, because hybrids cost way more than conventional vehicles.

The low emissions technology found in hybrids is the reason behind the high initial costs. If you’re thinking that the extra costs are recouped by the money you save, then that’s not the case.

For instance, a Ford Fusion hybrid costs around $27,555, whereas its conventional version costs $22,840. 

If you consider the malfunctions hybrids are prone to, it really contradicts the objective of preferring hybrids or ICE vehicles.

Potential buyers argue whether the gas savings that result from purchasing a hybrid vehicle would ever make up for its initial cost.

If you keep the maintenance costs of hybrids in view, it won’t happen anytime soon.

If you consider the high gas prices, hybrid vehicles seem like the solution.

But since automakers around the world are planning to switch to electric vehicles in a decade or so, hybrids don’t seem like a profitable investment in the long run.

8. Range Is An Issue

We already know that hybrid vehicles underperform on highways, but what about the range? Most of the hybrids in the market offer a certain amount of range before they need a recharge.

If you consider the number of available charging stations in your area, does owning a hybrid still seem like a good option?

Many countries are creating policies regarding charging stations to promote the use of electric vehicles for environmental purposes.

Even now, in the U.S, many shopping malls, supermarkets, and public areas have charging stations, but are they installed in enough areas within the range of hybrids?

For instance, a Toyota Prius Hybrid can drive about 500 miles on a full recharge.

This means it might be good for covering short distances, but you can’t take hybrids on longer journeys. Besides, there are multiple EVs in the market that offer a better range.

9. Inefficient Regenerative Braking System

The regenerative system in hybrids is similar to that in EVs.

Its main purpose is to convert all extra energy to repower the battery.

However, in hybrids, users complain that the system is inefficient because it doesn’t convert all of the excess energy into kinetic energy.

Due to the insufficient amount of energy captured, the battery of the hybrid vehicle doesn’t charge as much.

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