You probably already know that a hybrid uses an internal combustion engine combined with a battery and electric motor system for increased fuel efficiency and reduced emissions. That’s cool, but how long do hybrid batteries last?
Some owners think the battery will last forever, while others call it the car’s kryptonite. The truth probably lies somewhere in between.
How long do hybrid car batteries last?
Questions about hybrid battery life are usually several different questions wrapped in one. First, if you’re buying new, or your used hybrid is only a couple of years old, you’re probably wondering about the hybrid battery warranty. For most manufacturers, hybrid system coverage lasts eight years or 100,000km, whichever comes first. After the warranty runs out, hybrid battery life gets confusing. While auto manufacturers like to communicate in broad generalities, they usually don’t hold up well in our personal lives. So, there is no specific mileage or age to avoid when shopping for a used hybrid. It could fail at 50,000km or cruise past 100,000km.
What determines hybrid battery life?
Just like the useful lifetime of any other battery, hybrid car battery life depends on several factors. Some of these you can’t do anything about, but others are within your control. These factors can help you decide if that hybrid is used, your eye-balling is a good buy or not.
Obviously, this is a big factor. The higher the mileage, the less battery life remains. This is true of a regular 12V battery, too, because mileage equates to run-time. While battery internals don’t operate like those inside an engine, think of them as a lightbulb. A lightbulb in your kitchen turned on and off 20 times a day won’t last nearly as long as a utility room light that sees action twice a week. However, low mileage can also be a warning sign.
Ever notice how your phone’s battery life takes a hit after two years? That isn’t just the manufacturer building in planned obsolescence, it’s a real problem with batteries as they age. The battery that used to last all day now lasts only two hours; a problem known as “capacity fade.” This happens with all batteries, including modern li-ion hybrid and EV batteries. Capacity fade happens due to use, so like mileage above, simply using the hybrid will degrade the battery over time.
A body at rest will remain at rest, while a body in motion stays in motion. Isaac Newton provided some useful advice about cars here. Cars, and especially their batteries, wish to be used. Leave your car sitting for a month, and you probably won’t be able to start it. Leaving the battery in this low charge state will permanently damage it. Just as racking up 100,000km a year will quickly wear out your tyres, driving only 1000 km per year will also quickly damage the battery and other components.
Ever pick up your phone while it’s on a fast charger? It’s noticeably warm. As you read above, heat kills batteries. Battery use generates heat, but so does charging. Buyers demand quick charging times while away from home, with 250 kW to 350 kW generally available to the public. This increased power causes increased heat through resistance, which in turn causes battery degradation over time. Granted, this tip applies only to plug-in hybrids, but keep the charging low and slow.
Nelson Xavier Ssenyange
Germax Autos, Spares & Garage Ltd
Lukade Road, Naalya