Fully electric vehicles might save you gas money, but they have other drawbacks at this stage in development. Hybrid vehicles attempt to take the best parts of electric and conventional combustion engines to give drivers something with competitive performance that is cost-effective, reliable and more sustainable for the planet. The electric battery and motors power movement where they can and the combustion engine kicks on to recharge the battery or at times when it’s needed by the system. Therefore, you’ll see both gas mileage and state of charge (SOC) at play. Here are some hybrid battery tips for recognizing the signs of a battery on its way out.
1. You’ve Got Gas
If you observe a noticeable decrease in fuel economy, it could be a failing battery pack. That’s because when the battery doesn’t have the power to do its share or it isn’t charging properly, the vehicle will rely much more heavily on the combustion engine, which will, in turn, require more fuel than usual. So if you’re making frequent stops at the gas station, take it to a trusted technician to figure out why.
A battery is only as good as its charge. And there is plenty that can go wrong there: undercharging, overcharging, high rate of discharge, parasitic drains … even mechanical problems like bent pins, corrosion, and bad or damaged wiring. When working properly, the battery can be expected to lose charge, but only in a very reliable way. If you park your car overnight with a full charge, but return to the vehicle in the morning and find it to be low, that’s a solid indication of a battery issue.
3. Ups and Downs
Another sign to look for is big swings in the state of charge. Is it showing full one minute and low the next? Is it gaining and losing charge way too quickly? This indicates the battery may not be holding a proper charge or is overcharging or both.
4. Did You Hear That?
Strange sounds, a combustion engine that kicks in too often or a fan that seems to be blowing all the time could all be caused by battery issues. If the combustion engine is on too much, that means the battery isn’t doing its job. A near constant running of the electric fan means the battery is often running hot, which isn’t good for the battery or the components surrounding it.
Of course, there’s always the old warning lights on the dash to look out for. In any case, whether your car is telling you something is wrong in lights or you simply suspect something is off, it’s important to take your hybrid to a trusted mechanic for an inspection. By using these hybrid battery tips, you can catch a problem with your hybrid car’s battery before it leaves you completely stranded.
Check out all of the batteries available on NAPA Online or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on how to spot a failing hybrid battery pack, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photos courtesy of Blair Lampe.
Blair Lampe is a New York-based professional mechanic, blogger, theater technician, and speechwriter. In her downtime she enjoys backpacking wherever her boots will carry her, rock climbing, experimental theatre, a crisp rosé , and showering love on her 2001 Sierra truck.