Every battery dies eventually, and it’s no different with hybrid car batteries. In order to understand what to look out for, we need to understand what causes battery death in the first place. All batteries are constructed with a certain amount of recharge cycles in mind.
This means that after you’ve reached 1000-2000 recharging cycles on average, the battery should start deteriorating. Many aspects do influence how long a battery can last, and the most important ones are weather, charging methods, and discharging intensity.
If for some reason you start experiencing worse fuel economy, chances are that your battery is dying. Furthermore, if the battery charge indicator keeps fluctuating or the battery is simply unable to hold a constant charge, this could also indicate that the battery is nearing its demise.
Moreover, sometimes you’ll hear strange engine noises which could potentially indicate a worn-out battery. Finally, whenever the combustion engine works more intensively, your battery might be the reason why.
Subpar fuel economy
A hybrid powertrain consists out of a combustion engine and an electric engine. These two power sources are designed to fill each other’s gaps, so whenever one starts fading, the other tries to mitigate that. This means that if your battery starts dying, your combustion engine is likely to work more.
This can also be a sign of numerous other hybrid powertrain issues, but if this issue persists for a long period, and it keeps getting worse and worse, the battery is most likely the one to blame. Be sure to take your car in for an inspection in order to remedy these issues.
My battery state of charge is fluctuating
If your battery is unable to keep a steady charge, it could very well mean that the battery is indeed dying. For this issue to point towards imminent battery death, a few aspects should coincide. Firstly, after you’ve successfully charged up your battery to 100%, the state of charge suddenly starts fluctuating.
Secondly, if these fluctuations become more and more aggressive, it could be that the system itself is malfunctioning or that the battery is dying. After you’ve successfully restarted the system and the issue persists, your battery is likely dying.
The battery is unable to hold a constant charge
This is an issue commonly experienced with lithium-ion-powered smartphones. After a few hundred or thousands of recharging cycles, the battery becomes unstable and rapidly starts discharging. This is never a good sign, and it almost always points to a worn-out battery.
It is pretty much the same story with hybrid car batteries, only at a larger scale. Before you reach any conclusions, be sure to charge the car up overnight, but unplug it afterward. Then after a few hours go and check if the state of charge has dropped significantly.
The internal combustion engine is working harder than usual
A hybrid car powertrain is designed to switch from one power source to the other in order to reach maximum efficiency. This mostly means that the electric engine works more at lower speeds and that the combustion engine works more at higher speeds.
However, If you suddenly experience the combustion engine kicking in at times when you’d regularly rely on the electric engine. Furthermore, if the combustion engine often keeps on running whenever your car is stationary, it most likely means that the battery is dying.
Weird engine noises and jittery driving experience
The difference between a hybrid car and a regular combustion car is that a hybrid carries a way more advanced cooling system. This is because the battery can get extremely hot, and if all the added cooling technology can’t cope with drastic temperature increases, your engine might even overheat.
Worn-out batteries are prone to extreme temperature oscillations because they are fairly unstable. If your battery experiences constant high temperatures, the electrolyte solution inside the hybrid battery can ever start evaporating which accelerates the battery degradation.
What is the lifespan of a hybrid battery?
On average, most estimates fall somewhere between the 80k and 120k mile mark. These can vary drastically depending on the age, weather, charging cycles, and charging methods. If you tend to charge your battery with Level 3 fast chargers, the battery should last less.
On the other hand, if you mostly keep your battery between 20%-80% and you don’t rely on fast charging, your battery should last you a lot longer. It is worth mentioning that many manufacturers cover their batteries for about 80k miles.
How much does it cost to replace a hybrid battery?
On average, for a brand new hybrid battery, you ought to pay between $1000-$6000 without considering labor costs or shipping costs. These also depend on the availability and the supply chain. You can also opt for a used hybrid battery which could also set you back more than $2000 at the very least.
It is worth mentioning that a brand new battery also needs conditioning and testing which could also set you back for a grand or two. However, if the car itself is not all that valuable, sometimes it makes no sense to invest in a brand new battery and all the costs that come with a new battery.
Are hybrids worth it?
Hybrids are continuously becoming more and more popular as the years go on. Only Toyota has managed to sell more than 15 million hybrids since the inception of the legendary Prius. If you are able to fully utilize the hybrid platform, it makes perfect sense to consider buying one in 2021. However, if you are not, you ought to skip it for now.
Hybrids are primarily made for urban driving environments because they rely on efficiency technologies such as regenerative braking. These technologies are more or less useless on highway speeds, which means that hybrids are not all that good when it comes to highway driving. If you want a great highway cruiser, you should consider buying a diesel car.