What type of batteries does a hybrid car have and how are affected by weather?
The good news is that your hybrid doesn’t need to go to the gym to remain in good shape. However, some maintenance will still need to be performed.
Some owners are luckier than others. They may live in friendly climates, they may have a garage to park the car, or a healthier driving habit.
Most of us know how to take care of our health. Right?
We should try to follow similar ideas to prolong our car’s life.
Yes, I know, you may say you’ve never seen a car with a runny nose. Still, the weather greatly affects the battery.
The Nickel-Metal Hydride battery, commonly used in hybrids, is very reliable. Toyota reports Prius vehicles with more than 250k on them before they need a new hybrid battery. This can be achieved with proper care.
Before we delve any further, let’s take a quick technical approach.
A hybrid car has 2 batteries:
- high voltage hybrid battery – used for traction
- 12 V battery – used to power up all the electronics in the car
The high voltage consists of 20 to 40 Nickel-Metal Hydride modules, depending on the car model. Each of the modules contains 5 or 6 cells with a 1.2 V as a nominal voltage for each cell. Connected in series they will measure between 200 and 350 volts.
If you want to know even more about the various motors a hybrid has or how the vehicle recharges the high voltage battery, please check our previous post: 4 reasons why you should buy a hybrid
How to avoid a premature hybrid battery replacement?
A new hybrid battery comes with 8 to 10 years of warranty from the manufacturer or to 100.000 miles, whichever comes first.
It is important to become aware that there is a correlation between the hybrid battery’s life and extreme weather.
Let’s take a deeper look:
In cold weather
Every car experiences a decrease in efficiency in cold weather, but especially hybrid cars.
A cold battery has a lower power output due to its low charge acceptance. The internal combustion engine warms up the car which, in cold climates, takes longer to reach the optimum temperature. This results in a longer time until the vehicle switches to the electric motor which causes a lower MPG ratio.
Newer hybrid batteries can easily cope with colder climates, but the older ones could very well experience failure.
In hot weather
The AC system of a hybrid car runs on electricity. In hot weather, the AC will be ON most of the time drawing power that could be otherwise used for increasing the driving range. This means more gasoline is consumed. Moreover, the constant electrical energy pull from the AC causes the battery to cycle continuously, wearing it down significantly faster.
In conclusion, during extreme weather (hot or cold), proper care implies:
- Parking in the garage could help maintain the near-optimum operating temperatures and could prevent an eventual failure;
- Drive the vehicle at least once a week for a minimum of 10 minutes to cycle the battery and maintain it in proper balance. This is especially important for older batteries which, if they sit idle for extended periods of time, will self-discharge to the point where they become imbalanced.
Hopefully, everything you learned so far will contribute to a long and healthy life for the battery.
However, all things come to pass and this brings us to the point one needs to ask oneself:
How to recognize a hybrid battery problem?
If any lights like the check engine and/or the red triangle show up on the dashboard, the car has to be properly diagnosed.
Other signs are not that obvious, find out more about the signs of a failing hybrid battery.
Toyota and Ford hybrids use the small 12 V battery to activate the big battery when the ignition is engaged. They cannot run if the hybrid battery is weak or discharged. Honda hybrids get the power from the 12 V battery and they can run without the hybrid battery.
Driving the car once the hybrid powertrain experiences any type of malfunction is not recommended as this will put more stress on other vehicle parts such as the engine and transaxle. At this point, the hybrid battery has to be replaced with a good-functioning hybrid car battery as soon as possible.
At Volts, we have a mobile unit which, for a 150$ flat fee plus the hybrid battery cost, covers a 250 miles radius from our facility located at 4924 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60641.
Our hybrid battery offer includes new and reconditioned high-quality batteries at less than 50% off the dealer price. We stand 100% by our 3-year warranty, and in the event of a problem, we will make it right or refund your money. Guaranteed.
For even more tips about how to keep your car in good shape, sign up for free to download our brochure or stop by at our Chicago location and pick it up in printable form: