Mechanic Tips

Hybrid and Electric Vehicle Maintenance: What Owners Should Know

The popularity of hybrid and electric vehicles continues to grow as more drivers seek options that are environmentally friendly and cost-effective. However, these vehicles have unique maintenance requirements that owners should understand to keep them running smoothly. Proper maintenance is key to getting the most out of a hybrid or electric vehicle.

Perform Routine Maintenance

Like any vehicle, hybrids and electrics need regular maintenance according to the manufacturer’s schedule. This includes oil changes, tyre rotations, brake inspections, and fluid checks. The good news is that some routine maintenance items are needed less frequently, like oil changes, due to regenerative braking systems and the absence of an engine in electric cars. However, it’s still essential to follow the recommended schedules to avoid problems down the road.

Check Brake Pads

The regenerative braking system that helps charge the battery in hybrids and electrics can cause brake pads to wear out faster. Have a certified mechanic inspect brake pads regularly and replace them as needed. Letting pads wear too thin can damage rotors and callipers, leading to costly repairs. Quality brake pads specifically formulated for hybrid/electric vehicles are recommended.

Monitor Fluids

Check engine oil, coolant, brake, and transmission fluids at the intervals suggested. Electric vehicles still require gear oil for their transmissions. Coolant maintains the proper temperature for batteries in hybrids and electrics. Letting fluids get too low can cause major component failures. Be sure to use the factory-recommended fluids when topping off.

Inspect Batteries

The high-voltage battery pack is the most important component in a hybrid or electric vehicle. Have a qualified repair shop evaluate battery health at least annually. They can assess if modules are failing and proactively replace them before problems arise. Routine battery inspections also help maximise battery life. Proper maintenance keeps batteries operating safely and efficiently.

Change Cabin Air Filter

A clean cabin air filter prevents musty smells and allows the climate control system to operate effectively. Cabin filters trap dust, pollen, and other particles from entering the interior. Hybrids and electrics have cabin filters like gasoline vehicles that need replacement about every 20,000 kilometres or once a year. Changing them is fast and inexpensive.

Rotate Tyres

Regular tyre rotation helps them wear evenly and extend their life. Hybrids and electrics are heavier than gas-powered cars due to battery packs, putting more stress on tyres. Rotating them as recommended evens out tread wear patterns. Having a shop perform rotations also provides the chance to check for tyre issues like abnormal wear or damage.

Update Software

Hybrid and electric vehicles contain extensive computer software that gets periodic updates. Manufacturers issue software updates to fix glitches, enhance performance, and improve the driving experience. It’s important to have updates performed by a dealer according to manufacturer recommendations, usually when bringing the car in for routine service. Outdated software can cause drivability issues.

Clean Intake Screens

Hybrids have intake cooling screens that can collect debris and become clogged over time. This restricts proper cooling airflow to the battery and power electronics, which can lead to overheating. Have a technician periodically check and clean intake screens if they become blocked. Screens are located behind front grilles or wheel wells. Proper cleaning prevents expensive hybrid system damage.

Inspect Suspension

The added weight of batteries contributes to more rapid suspension wear in hybrid/electric vehicles. Have technicians inspect shocks, struts, ball joints, tie rods, and other suspension components during routine maintenance. Worn parts can lead to steering and handling issues. Catching problems early allows for less costly repairs before damage is extensive.

Check Charging System

For plug-in electric vehicles, inspect the charging system and cord regularly for damage. Make sure charging equipment is kept clean and connections are free of debris. Have an expert confirm charging capacity hasn’t diminished over time. Proper maintenance of charging systems reduces charging times and ensures batteries reach full capacity.

Practice Battery Hygiene

There are some simple habits owners can practice between maintenance visits to protect their hybrid/electric vehicle’s battery. Avoid exposing the car to extreme hot or cold temperatures when possible, which can accelerate battery degradation. Park the vehicle in a garage rather than outside when feasible. Keep the battery between about 30-80% state of charge for optimum longevity. Completely draining or overcharging the battery too often can shorten its life.

Hybrid and electric vehicles offer great advantages, but their unique components require some special maintenance considerations. By following factory maintenance schedules, having qualified technicians perform inspections and repairs, and practising good battery hygiene, owners can optimise the health and reliability of their vehicles. Proper maintenance saves money over the long run by preventing major repairs. Check with reputable shops like SNC Automotive in Brendale for honest, expert service to keep a hybrid or electric car running like new.


What type of oil do hybrid/electric cars use?

They use specialized synthetic oil that meets the manufacturer’s specifications, which depends on the model. Owners should consult their owner’s manual.

How long do hybrid/electric batteries last?

Batteries typically last 8-10 years or around 160,000 km before needing replacement, however, lifespan can vary depending on climate, usage, and maintenance.

Do hybrid/electric cars require coolant?

Yes, they use coolant (also called antifreeze) to regulate battery temperature. Coolant should be checked per the maintenance schedule.

How often should cabin air filters be changed?

Replacing them every 20,000 km or annually is a good rule of thumb to keep the interior air clean. More frequent replacement may be needed with lots of driving on dirt roads.

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