Are you looking to cut down your gasoline budget? Modern hybrids offer excellent fuel efficiency alongside space, style and luxurious amenities. However, it’s important to understand a few key differences between traditional vehicles and their electrified counterparts. Here’s a look at five factors to consider before you sign on the dotted line and drive home in a hybrid.
When you drive a hybrid, you can save a lot of money on fuel, but they tend to demand a higher sticker price than conventional vehicles; on average, you’ll pay about $2,500 more for an electrified vehicle. Furthermore, when gas prices are low, you’ll save less money by driving a hybrid. Based on the distance you drive and the cost of fuel, it could take 2-3 years for you to recoup that extra cost, according to NerdWallet contributor Philip Reed. On the other hand, when gas prices come down, you can score deep discounts on hybrid vehicles. More used hybrids are now hitting the market as well, allowing you to scoop up an efficient vehicle at an affordable price.
Perks and incentives
While hybrids may have a higher sticker price than their combustion-driven counterparts, government tax rebates can help you recoup some of the cost. Depending on your local laws, you may also be rewarded with carpool lane access or free parking.
Costs and concerns
Hybrid vehicle batteries wear down after repeated usage — and they’re not cheap to replace. A weak battery will dent your fuel economy since it causes the vehicle to rely on its combustion engine for propulsion. The money you spend on a new battery will bite into your fuel savings. Your hybrid’s battery will also suffer in cold weather — according to FuelEconomy.gov, hybrids can lose about 31-34 percent of their range when the weather drops below freezing. If you don’t have a garage and live in a chilly region, a hybrid will be less efficient for you.
Consider your commute
If you mostly drive on flat city streets or side roads, a hybrid vehicle would suit your lifestyle. According to Eric Peters, a contributor to the National Motorists Association Blog, if you have a short commute, you could spend next to nothing on gas. Peters also cautions that hybrid vehicles perform best at speeds under 45 mph. If you primarily travel via the highways, your hybrid will get similar gas mileage to a diesel-powered or traditional vehicle. Another thing to keep in mind that select hybrids can have trouble traversing steep terrain and keeping up with busy traffic.
Although a hybrid vehicle has a gas engine, it’s frequently left unused, which means these vehicles require fewer oil and filter changes. Furthermore, many hybrid models use electricity for accessories like power steering and air conditioning, which reduces wear and tear on belts. You’ll also save on tires, since most hybrids use affordable, long-lived, low-rolling-resistance tires.
If you’re looking for a low-maintenance vehicle that’s ideal for short trips and city driving, consider a hybrid. Visit a dealership, talk to hybrid owners and research more online to see if a hybrid vehicle will fit into your lifestyle.