Hybrid Electric Vehicle Auto Repair Elizabeth, Pa
Hybrid and Electric (EV) vehicles are definitely the future of the automobile industry, and your friendly neighborhood mechanics at Elizabeth Auto Care are the #1 choice when it comes to Hybrid auto repair.
With over 20 years of Hybrid repair experience and extensive training, our mechanics can confidently maintain your high-efficiency vehicle with factory approved parts and repair procedures. Add to that the peace of mind that our Nation Wide 2 year/24,000 mile parts and labor warranty provides and the choice becomes even easier.
What is a Hybrid vehicle
Although there’s several types of Hybrids on the road today, the most popular ones are Full Hybrid and Plug In Hybrid vehicles. A full Hybrid can best be summed up by looking at the Toyota Prius. The very reliable Prius platform has been available in the US since around the year 2000. What made this vehicle so unique was the introduction of a high-voltage battery that allowed the internal combustion engine to shut down when it came to a stop. And then when the driver went to accelerate, it could use just the electric power in the Prius battery to get it moving again.
Using very sophisticated computer control, a full Hybrid car can switch back and forth from electric power to gasoline power based on how fully charged the main battery is. Ideally, the computer strives to keep the Hybrid Battery pack between 30-50% charged to allow for maximum versatility in the charge/discharge process.
The really interesting thing about these Hybrids is that most use a ‘Drive by Wire’ braking system that is completely controlled by computer logic. When the Hybrid battery system needs recharging, it can reverse the duty of the electric drive motor to a charging generator that creates drag on the vehicle and in turn produces electrical current.
This is what is referred to as ‘Regen Braking’, and often is enough to bring the car to a stop under light duty traffic needs. But when the driver needs to stop quickly, the brake control computer will apply hydraulic pressure to the wheels just like a regular car would do.
Plug In Hybrid
A plug in Hybrid vehicle still has pretty much the same components as a full Hybrid, but typically has a much larger main battery capable of storing more energy for longer drives without any gasoline use. These plug ins arrived more recently on the market and a good example would be the Chevy Volt platform. The Volt has a large electric plug on the side of the vehicle that can be plugged into your home or on the road charging station. This type of Hybrid can often be charged with common 110-volt electricity or for faster charging, a special 220 volt outlet can be used.
The distinct advantage of a plug in Hybrid is the ability to drive 30 miles or more without ever turning on the gasoline engine. So, if your commute was only 10 miles each way to work every day, you could actually charge your Hybrid car every night and never have to buy gasoline! But since it does posses the ability to utilize a fuel tank, it can also take longer highway trips without being inconvenienced by always stopping to recharge the batteries and waiting for hours – the best of both worlds.
It was recently found that the average Chevrolet Volt owner typically travels 1,100 miles in between gas fill ups. And since the cost of electricity is much lower than gasoline, the savings can really add up over time.
Although the list is always growing, here’s a list of some of the more popular Hybrid vehicles that we see in our Elizabeth, Pa auto repair shop:
Honda Accord, Civic, Insight, CR-Z
Toyota Prius, Camry, Highlander
Lexus LS 600h L, GS 450h, HS 250h, CT200h
Ford Fusion, Escape, C-Max
Chevrolet Volt, Tahoe, Silverado
GMC Yukon, Sierra
What is an EV
An EV or Electric Vehicle runs completely on electric power without the help of any other fuel. They typically have a larger battery than the plug in Hybrids and some can run for hundreds of miles on a single charge. EV’s can also recharge the main batteries using Regen Braking, but when the batteries get to about 20% of charge life the vehicle will shut off and require a tow. So pay close attention to any warnings your dashboard is trying to give about battery health.
Since battery technology is advancing rapidly giving more miles per charge and faster recharging, EV’s will eventually grow into the majority of all vehicles sold – including trucks!
Here is a list of some of the EV’s that we currently see coming in for service:
Hybrid Electric Safety
Since Hybrid and EV battery banks can deliver a deadly charge of several hundred volts, there needs to be significant safety measures in place. If you’ve ever looked under the hood of one of these vehicle you may notice a bright orange colored wiring harness.
Any wires wrapped or colored in orange are high voltage and should never be handled without first powering down the Hybrid battery pack. All the other wiring is only carrying the typical 12 volt power found in most cars and trucks for decades.
Because of this electrocution danger, only highly trained and experienced Hybrid mechanics should service the high voltage side of these vehicles. Our Hybrid repair shop is outfitted with high voltage gloves and Cat III diagnostic equipment that undergoes strict testing to ensure our mechanics safety when handling up to 1,000 volts.
Hybrid Maintenance Service
Any vehicle that has an internal combustion engine and relies on fluids for cooling and lubrication needs to have regular maintenance performed at intervals that match the environmental conditions it’s operated in. Since Hybrid vehicles fit in this description, they too require regular service of things like:
Transmission Fluid Service
Toyota Prius and Honda Insight vehicles have been around so long that we’ve been able to gauge their maintenance and Hybrid repair needs over time. That history has shown us that they still need maintenance schedules just like their non-Hybrid cousins if you’d like to keep them on the road.
With proper Hybrid service intervals like we prescribe at Elizabeth Auto Care, you can expect several hundred thousand miles from these very reliable cars. be sure to ask one of our helpful service advisers about how to maintain your Hybrid vehicle in the Pittsburgh area.
Hybrid Battery Service
In the early days, most Hybrid Batteries were constructed of many individual cells using Nickle Metal Hydride and these batteries are still in use decades later. With recent technology upgrades though, the trend has shifted towards Lithium cells due to their longer life and faster charging abilities.
These batteries were designed to power a Hybrid or EV vehicle for 10 years or more and they are for the most part living up to that expectation. But the cost of replacing some of them can be several thousand dollars and even up in the tens thousand range for the less common or luxury vehicles.
Whether it’s Ni-MH or Li, Hybrid batteries do not do well when they are exposed to prolonged heat. So proper maintenance and care of the cooling systems are critical to longer battery life. This includes frequent air filter inspections, air conditioning system maintenance, and even liquid cooling system care.
Hybrid Auto Repair Tips
Hybrid Brake Service – Your brakes could stop working!
So many Hybrid drivers are really good at squeezing every extra mile per gallon out of their vehicles. They have learned that by anticipating their stops and braking gently, they can turn the normally wasted energy of applying their brakes from a regular car to Regen Braking in a Hybrid car.
Watching your batteries recharge while coming to a stop can be addictive. Unfortunately, over the long run Regen Braking mainly uses the Hybrid drive motor to slow the vehicle and the brake pads and rotors can get very rusty from non use. In the Pittsburgh area with all the road salt and water on the road we’ve seen brake pads actually rust firmly into the caliper slides and refuse to move anymore.
This can be very dangerous because when you really need to stop in an emergency, and your brake system is rusted from non use – it may not stop in time!
We recommend regular tear down of the brake system to clean and lubricate all slides and pins. For most drivers in the Elizabeth, Pa area 30,000 mile Hybrid brake repair intervals should be fine. It’s really tempting to see how far you can make your brake pads go without servicing them, and it’s possible to get over 80,000 miles or more out of brakes on a Hybrid.
Just inspecting the brake system often won’t reveal this hidden problem, so remember to be safe and have your brakes serviced by a qualified & experienced Hybrid mechanic like the ones at Elizabeth Auto Care.
Transmission Fluid – Not changing it could shut down your battery!
Many Hybrid vehicles like the Toyota Prius use high-voltage wires that enter the transmission case to provide power for the drive wheels. This case will sweat on the inside from fluctuating temperatures and condensation will form. Eventually the transmission fluid that is used to cool and lubricate the gears will become saturated with moisture and create a very conductive condition that can allow high voltage from your Hybrid battery to leak to the cars body.
The computer system has a very sophisticated voltage sensing system to prevent most dangers of possible electric shock to the vehicle passengers and will shut down the battery if this occurs. So regular transmission fluid changes are prescribed to prevent this dangerous condition to occur, and here in the South Hills of Pittsburgh that interval should be around 30,000 miles.
The trained Hybrid mechanics at Elizabeth AutoCare are skilled at preventive maintenance as well as diagnostic services to find the toughest Hybrid auto repair needs.
Hybrid Battery Repair– Every Hybrid has 2
One thing most people don’t realize is that every Hybrid vehicle has 2 batteries. The high-voltage Hybrid Battery and the often forgotten 12 volt battery just like a regular gas powered car would have. The computer will always monitor the high voltage side and alert the driver to any concerns due the high cost of Hybrid Battery replacement. But there are very few ways the driver would know about the 12 volt battery condition, with the exception of regular testing at your Hybrid auto repair shop.
One reason the smaller battery can be forgotten is due to where they are hidden like the 2 Toyota Prius batteries that are housed in the rear trunk compartment under a few panels. The Ford Escape Hybrid battery is also in the rear cargo area, but the 12 volt battery is under the hood just like many other gas vehicles.
We recommend regular replacement of the 12 volt batteries every 4 years here in the Elizabeth area to avoid any unwelcome problems an emergency situation can present. Your friendly Hybrid mechanics at Elizabeth Auto Care will test your regular battery every time you come in for service, and also provide reminders to keep you on track and out of trouble.
Since they are the most popular on the road for many years, Toyota Prius Hybrid Battery repair can be the most reasonable as far as cost with many options to choose from.
Cool Hybrid Batteries Last Longer
Hybrid Batteries can produce a lot of heat during normal use and need to stay at an optimum temperature to ensure they last at least 10 years or more. The Hybrid Battery cooling systems rely on good airflow and some even use filters that need to be changed as well.
Many Toyota Prius vehicles use a fresh air vent located on the side of the rear passenger seat, and if you have a dog that sheds the fur can clog that vent and cause the blower motor to fail. When this happens, the high voltage batteries can reach damaging high temperatures that will reduce the life of your valuable battery system.
Ford Escape Hybrids also draw in fresh air from the rear luggage compartment, and there is a filter that should be serviced every 10,000 miles to help prevent high temperatures from developing in the battery compartment.
So, it’s important to rely on trained and experienced mechanics that know your Hybrid vehicle like the pros at Elizabeth Auto Care. A little care and maintenance will help you keep your Hybrid vehicle running efficiently for many years.
There’s a lot of mystery when it comes to Hybrid & Electric vehicle auto repair out there, but when you’re looking for an approved Hybrid Repair Shop near me – trust Elizabeth Auto Care to provide expert advice to keep you safe and reliable on the streets of Pittsburgh.