Hybrid Cars and the Mechanics They Scare

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Hybrid Cars and the Mechanics They Scare

Postby burkleypatterson » February 25th, 2013, 12:54 pm

Hi all,

I've found myself in the market for a new car and I am currently intent on getting a hybrid, but still busy weighing the factors.

My rationale:
1.) It should last much longer
-The electric drivetrain is much more rugged than the silly gas pistons in conventional cars. Since most strain on the car tends to be at start, the electric drivetrain should help protect the engine from damage.
-The load is shared between two separate propulsion systems. Even if the electric drivetrain was just as prone to failure, each system is strained roughly half as much.
-I've heard of people (who care for their cars well) getting these to 400k miles.

2.) I'll save money on gas. My consumption in my 20mpg nissan altima is nearly $1k a year, so I will get $1k back every two years.

3.) Lower emissions- good for the environment, but also...
-Saves me from emissions testing
-Gives me a reduced incidence of emissions based engine failure. Many conventional engine problems are just the cars computer complaining about exhaust recirculation issues or catalytic failure. With lower emissions, these emission reduction systems are loaded less and correspondingly less likely to fail, saving me from down time and repair costs

My only hesitation is due to:
1.) low battery lifetime. I hear about some batteries dying at 30k, though I have heard of others lasting just as long as advertised.
Thoughts: Most people don't know any better than to bring battery issues it to their local "stealership" where they eagerly charge 1k to swap it out. Many probably suffer just from imbalanced cells that could be topped off separately at home.
2.) They intimidate mechanics. They're viewed as mysterious, complex machines and some mechanics charge accordingly.


Does anyone have advice to offer or experiences to share? I've asked friends and posted in car forums, but I have much more faith in the HaD community.
Has anyone found mechanics savvy enough to work on hybrids at a fair rate?
Has anyone had experiences repairing their hybrids on their own? Battery balancing at home, etc
What other (real) problems should I consider with an electric drivetrain?
What happens when a hybrids battery dies? Does the conventional engine just lug around dead weight, or is the car inoperable until a swap?
Are there any particularly good hybrid DIY resources/ blogs I should check out?

I'm a student, so I'm looking for something under $5k. In my budget I've come across 04 civics hybrids with around 150k miles, some with recently swapped batteries. If I am right about hybrids living longer, I think I can get more out of one of these than a conventional car with 70k on the odometer.
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Re: Hybrid Cars and the Mechanics They Scare

Postby asheets » February 25th, 2013, 5:40 pm

burkleypatterson wrote:Hi all,

3.) Lower emissions- good for the environment, but also...


Unless you're charging the battery pack using solar or wind, then I've got to put you on the spot here and say "prove it". More likely, you are just trading the diffused source pollution of a typical automobile for the point-source solution of a fossil-fueled power plant.
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Re: Hybrid Cars and the Mechanics They Scare

Postby burkleypatterson » February 25th, 2013, 8:30 pm

uhh... I don't think you fully read my post. I said "hybrid," not electric. A hybrid means that it uses a gasoline engine alongside an electric motor run by electricity produced from regenerative braking. This is objectively better for the environment. Every time you brake, you reclaim some of the energy that would otherwise be wasted to heat and instead use it to get moving again. When you idle, the gas engine shuts off in favor of the electric drivetrain so it does not have to burn gas to stand still.

What you said seems to have been directed towards purely electric cars. In this case, I think you are also wrong. Electric cars share the virtues of hybrids in terms of regenerative efficiency, but simply do not use gasoline in the first place.
Your problem seems to be that by using an electric car you favor a coal-burning power plant instead of a gasoline burning car. If this is the issue, then you should consider that coal power plants tremendously more efficient than a gasoline powered car. Even considering transmission losses in both the power lines and in the car, they are several times as efficient at converting fossil fuel to vehicle movement. Coal can be worse in terms of exhaust per unit energy, but is much cleaner when you consider the efficiency advantage.

There may be an element of truth to your skepticism if you were concerned about the environmental cost to manufacture batteries, but judging by your "solar or wind" comment, this was not your point. This I am not well appraised of, but regardless I suspect laptops and cell phones are more environmentally damaging.



Aside from all this, the environmental friendliness was very much not the point of my post. I am looking for practical, technical advice on purchasing a hybrid car. If you are interested in complaining about politics or pop culture, please refrain from posting.
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Re: Hybrid Cars and the Mechanics They Scare

Postby TheZuke! » February 26th, 2013, 7:58 am

"1.) It should last much longer"

"should" is the stickler here...
We are talking (okay, typing) about a newer technology here, it's track record (so to speak, er...type!) is not as proven.
Yes, I know hybrid systems (locomotives, some buses and some trucks) have been around for decades and have proven track records.
But NOW we are talking about a smaller scale and more importantly, a system NEW to the average car owner.
For the car owner, it is a new paradigm, (e.g. maintenance schedules and driving modes) that needs to be learned.
That learning curve has not leveled off (yet) and so there will be poorly maintained and mis-handled (abused, even) used cars out there.
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Re: Hybrid Cars and the Mechanics They Scare

Postby burkleypatterson » February 26th, 2013, 8:19 am

In my price range I'll have to be wary of any car. There are plenty of people who are just bad drivers!

When scrutinizing a hybrid, what factors in particular should I look out for? Other than the typical signs of poor ownership (transmission fluid, crankcase oil, etc) what should I pay more attention to that might indicate the car has been owned by a driver ill equipped for a hybrid?
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Re: Hybrid Cars and the Mechanics They Scare

Postby TheZuke! » February 26th, 2013, 8:55 am

Have you checked Consumer Reports? Especially the Annual Auto issue, also check their website, (I think there will be a fee)
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/index.htm
Their reliability ratings are based (in part?) by thousands of subscribers answering the annual questionnaires.
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Re: Hybrid Cars and the Mechanics They Scare

Postby MS3FGX » February 27th, 2013, 10:36 am

1.) It should last much longer


Obviously it's impossible to prove at this point since the vehicles haven't been on the road long enough (compared to traditional vehicles) to get any serious data about longevity; but assuming that a more complex system will be more reliable than a simpler one is generally not very sound logic.
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Re: Hybrid Cars and the Mechanics They Scare

Postby burkleypatterson » March 4th, 2013, 9:03 am

The Zukel,
Thanks a lot for that link. I had done some similar research, but I really like the statistical information consumerreports has.

MS3FGX,
Initially I was concerned that the increased complexity would compromise its longevity also, but eventually I concluded that the inclusion of an electric drivetrain should actually have the opposite effect.
It's easy to imagine that the longevity of a car should depend on a weighted combination of the reliability of the components. When you include two drivetrains the same holds except you have to consider that each encounters roughly half the load that it would otherwise, so the individual incidence of failure of each component is reduced. Usually it's not obvious which factor is dominant: increased number of parts to fail, or decreased strain on each part.
If you consider the extreme case of a conventional engine paired with a perfectly infallible companion engine, it's obvious that the overall longevity of the system is increased dramatically. If you further consider that the perfect companion engine takes over whenever the conventional engine is under the most strain, the reliability increases further.
Of course with this analogy I am likening the electric drivetrain to the "perfectly infallible" one, which I realize it is not. That said, electric motors (unlike hybrids) have been around for a very long time and have demonstrated that they are much more reliable than ICE's. They have considerably reduced complexity and are especially well equipped for the situations where ICE's are most likely to fail. Considering this, I think (hope) the "weighted combination" I mentioned leans appreciably towards increased reliability.

That's my rationale anyway. I think it's fairly well reasoned, but there very well may be a hole in my argument.
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Re: Hybrid Cars and the Mechanics They Scare

Postby harry » September 18th, 2013, 1:22 am

Yes i aggreed Hybrid cars and the mechanics,they scared.It 100% true. :shock:









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Last edited by harry on October 24th, 2013, 1:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Hybrid Cars and the Mechanics They Scare

Postby enohand » September 18th, 2013, 12:13 pm

i dont know how people assume that electric cars are safer for the environment than petrol.

after the car is produced, yes, it is better, however the environmental hit from making the batteries as well as the disposal generate alot more "Bad shit" for the environment than a pertrol car would produce through its life
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