Repairing and Maintaining Hybrid Vehicles

Hybrid Vehicle Repair and Maintenance

Though it may seem innovative to many consumers, engineers have actually been experimenting with different energy sources for automobiles since the 19th Century. Henry Ford’s Model T ran on both gasoline and ethanol and almost a hundred years earlier, the first electric (battery-operated) vehicles were made in Europe. It’s no wonder that with environmental, economic and political concerns reaching a fevered pitch – and with more than $1.5 billion in government backing – alternative engine designs are making a comeback. Of these, the most talked-about automobile of late is the hybrid electric vehicle (HEV).

Hybrid mechanics in Manassas, VA.By definition, HEVs use two or more power sources – typically an electric motor and an internal combustion engine. In a full hybrid model like the Toyota Prius, Toyota Highlander or Ford Escape, a computer alternates between the two, determining which power source best fits the driving style. Unlike conventional cars, the electric start on hybrids provides more torque and instantaneous power, and a regenerative braking system harnesses the energy created by braking to charge the electric motor. These efficient and sophisticated vehicles are 21st Century machines in every respect and require technicians who are just as sharp

Twenty years ago, owning a toolbox and having a basic understanding of an internal combustion engine was all that was required to become a mechanic. That’s no longer the case. Today, automotive repair technicians are just as likely to use computers to run sophisticated diagnostic tests as they are searching for a problem under the hood. So in addition to having a traditional background in automotive repair, hybrid technicians are also required to have a thorough working knowledge of the HEV systems that control the on-board storage batteries and the electric drive motor. Safety mandates it.

Hybrid vehicle repair in Manassas, VA.Fortunately, hybrids have a fairly conventional driveline and propulsion system which doesn’t cost any more than a conventional car to maintain, and may even cost less due to decreased wear and tear on the engine and braking system. Since they differ little from gasoline engine vehicles when it comes to routine maintenance, scheduled services for HEVs have the same intervals as conventional vehicles. Under “normal” driving conditions, this means having the car serviced every 3,000 miles. With more than one million of these cars on the road, original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) also have a massive infrastructure to fully support these vehicles. What this means is that qualified service shops like CoHo Auto always have an adequate and readily available parts inventory.

To ensure that the warranty is preserved, hybrid vehicles must only be maintained by a qualified shop. Having experienced, competent and knowledgeable technicians with a thorough understanding of the battery and electric drive systems is the key to properly maintaining and repairing hybrid vehicles. To say that we know a thing or two about hybrid vehicles is a bit of an understatement – we’ve been working on them from the beginning.