Don’t Let Your Hybrid Sit Idle
Hybrid vehicles work by powering off the engine when they are not in motion on the road, such as at a stop light or in traffic, which is considered idling. Hybrid-electric vehicle technology uses idling to achieve fuel savings of nearly 15% according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and is a great choice for consumers who are environmentally conscious or want to save money at the pump. However, you should understand some key insights about letting your hybrid vehicle sit idle for too long.
With more professionals working from home, it is all too easy to let your hybrid vehicle sit completely idle in your garage for long periods of time. However, if you do not start up and drive your hybrid regularly, you run the risk of causing serious issues to your battery pack. Hybrid batteries need exercised weekly at a minimum to prolong your hybrid vehicle’s performance. But remember, there are also other ways a vehicle can idle.
The exact length of time that you can let a hybrid car, truck or SUV sit completely idle without being turned on varies by the make and model. If you’re working from home and not driving as much, make sure to turn your hybrid vehicle on in a ventilated area and let it run for at least a few minutes each week to exercise the battery pack. If you cannot turn the vehicle on at least once a month, consider having a friend or trusted neighbor do it for you.
If you have to let your hybrid sit idle without powering it on for more than 30 days, inspect your vehicle or take it to a local NAPA Auto Care center near you to prepare for your absence. Store the hybrid vehicle in a well-ventilated area or garage that is free of moisture, ensure any interior lights or plug-in accessories are turned off and rest easy knowing you’ve prepared your prized hybrid vehicle for a long absence.
Do Hybrid Vehicles Use Gas While Idling?
Hybrid vehicles use a combination of gas and battery power to function and can include an array of features like idle-stop systems where energy is transferred from the gasoline engine to the electric starter and back to the generator/battery. An idle-stop system (also commonly known as the start-stop system) helps drivers save gas by powering down the engine (idling) when the vehicle comes to a halt for even a short period of time. Imagine you brake at a red light—the hybrid engine automatically shuts down to save on gas. Then, when you release the brake pedal to accelerate, the engine starts back up again.
The idle-stop system makes up today’s market of hybrids that can come standard in both mild hybrids and full hybrids. Mild hybrids that use idle-stops are typically conventional combustion engine vehicles that simply idle when not in motion, but do not take advantage of an electric motor that full hybrid vehicles possess. So, which type of hybrid electric vehicle has an idle-stop operation? The answer is that many mild and full hybrids now come with idle-stop technology, shutting off the gasoline engine when at rest, coasting or slowing down.
Due to idle-stop, no gas burns inside the engine, saving you money while saving the planet at the same time. NAPA thanks you for doing your part to reduce the heat island effect, which happens in large metropolitan areas where air quality and pollution is affected by vehicles that have high carbon emissions from fossil fuel. According to Reuters, U.S. hybrid vehicle sales increased a whopping 76% in 2021 and is on pace to continue growing sales. Additionally, Mordor Intelligence estimates that the hybrid-electric vehicle market was worth $252 billion in 2020 alone and may reach as high as $1,165 billion by 2026. Even Ford Motor Company predicts that electric vehicles will make up 40% of its sales by 2030.
How Long Can a Hybrid Vehicle Sit Idle?
As you cruise along in your planet-loving automobile, just as you start to brake, the hybrid’s stop-start system will engage the regenerative braking system. Regenerative braking uses rotational energy from your wheels to create electricity for your generator in a full hybrid vehicle model. The generator then sends the electricity to your battery where it is stored and used later as your energy reserve.
As the brake is fully pushed, the generator shuts down the gas flow. Stepping on the accelerator again restarts the engine and uses that stored energy, running it to the electric starter. If you have a full battery, hybrid vehicles can idle for nearly two hours. Of course, this figure can scale up or down depending on your hybrid’s make and model. Keep updated about the condition of your hybrid battery and take care of the day-to-day maintenance needs with the help of NAPA’s expert technicians, the NAPA Blog and NAPAonline.com.
Note: Although mild hybrids offer fuel savings, they are only a small savings compared to fully hybrid-electric vehicles. For more information about hybrid-electric vehicles, consider reading “What Goes Into a NAPA Reman Hybrid Battery Pack.”
Featured image courtesy of Pixabay.
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