2014 Acura ILX Hybrid
Buyer Tips

What You Need to Know About Buying Used Hybrid Cars

By Mike Richards Updated: 05/23/2019 Posted: 03/28/2019

In 2015, there are over 384,000 used hybrid cars in the US. Many buyers of hybrid cars prefer buying them used and avoid paying the premium rate which takes a long time to recover from savings on gas. A new hybrid car costs $8000 to $20,000 more than a used one. The price and the abundant supply of used hybrid vehicles have increased demand for these cars.

Choose Hybrid Cars with Electric Batteries Still Under Warranty

Hybrid cars have powerful gasoline and electric engines. These two engines need to be high functioning for the hybrid car to serve you efficiently. Electric engines are powered by large electric packs that have a warranty of about eight to ten years. If you buy a used hybrid car whose battery is no longer under warranty, you may have to pay for a new battery. These batteries cost between $2,000 and $5,000. This will increase the overall cost of the used hybrid car.

It is best to buy a hybrid car that is less than 5-years-old.  This way, you still have the benefit of the warranty for a few more years. You could also consider the terms of warranty for the different brands. For example, for Toyota hybrids that were registered between June 2010 and March 2014, the batteries in these cars are covered under a warranty for 100,000 miles or eight years. The rest of the vehicle is covered for the same mileage and five years.

Lexus RX 450h (hybrid)

The Cost of Replacing the Battery

Do you intend to keep the car even after the expiry of the battery warranty? This is a significant consideration because the battery packs of hybrid cars vary from brand to brand. For example, a Honda Civic Hybrid costs about $2000 to replace while that of Nissan Altima Hybrid costs at least $5,000.

It is also important to follow the projected future costs of replacement. The cost of replacing a battery pack today may not be the same in a few years. When Toyota Prius was first introduced to the market, the cost of replacing the battery pack was $5,500. The second generation of this car had several improvements and the cost of replacing the battery became $3,500.  The third generation was even better with the price dropping to $2,400.

Further Reading

Seek the Advice of a Mechanic who has Specialized in Hybrid Cars

This is an essential step to take before you commit to buying a hybrid car. Not all mechanics understand the intricacies of hybrid cars. It is important to seek the expertise of someone who understands electric batteries and the unique functions of hybrid cars. The mechanic will also analyze the maintenance schedule and vehicle history. It costs more to repair a hybrid car. It would help if you avoided cars whose maintenance was neglected for a long time since repair costs will increase the overall cost of the vehicle.

Go for a Lengthy Test Drive, Especially if this is Your First Hybrid

It is vital that you test drive all the electric modes. Accelerate in electric mode, and observe how the gasoline engine responds. You should also expect the steering to respond differently from gas-powered cars. It is better if you can get someone familiar with hybrid cars on the test drive with you. This way you will have someone to explain some of the changes you will notice in the car and distinguish normal from abnormal responses.

Find Out Which Hybrid Cars are Considered the Most Reliable

Hybrid cars are not all the same. Some brands have been on the market longer and are considered more reliable. Hybrid models that have received positive reviews include the Chevrolet Volt (2011, 2012), Ford Fusion Hybrid (2010), Toyota Prius, Toyota Camry Hybrid (2009, 2011, 2012), and Hyundai Sonata Hybrid (2013, 2014) Honda Accord Hybrid (2014). Hybrid sedans have been on the market for longer than hybrid SUVs. However, the Ford Escape Hybrid SUV is one of the easiest to find, and it has an excellent track record. The first hybrids that were introduced, such as the 2007 and 2008 Honda Civic Hybrids, have electrical issues. Sometimes, the best hybrid car is not necessarily the oldest, but the most popular. Take the time to find out which car is likely to give you peace of mind before buying.

2014 honda accord hybrid

A Used Hybrid Car is Still a Used Car

You may be excited about buying a hybrid car and the benefits of owning a hybrid car. However, it is important to be careful because you are buying a used car. Consider the physical appearance of the car. Look out for any dents, worn out tires, signs of repairs resulting from an accident, and the condition of the engine. Visit CARFAX and request for the vehicle report. Find out how many owners the car has had. If it has changed hands a little too frequently for its age, it may not be a good idea to buy since this could be a sign that the car is troublesome.

Compare Prices From Different Car Dealerships

Just as you would do when buying any used car, it is important for you to compare the prices from different potential sellers. Visit websites like Kelly Blue Book to find out the average rate of the hybrid car you would like to buy. If you would like to buy from private sellers, find out what eBay or Craigslist have listed. If you prefer a venue where you have more choice from a large selection of hybrid cars, you should consider online auction sites. Take the time to study the available cars to avoid making a costly mistake. You will be in control when you get to dictate when you are ready to buy the car.

The technology used in hybrid cars may be different. However, if this is your first time buying one, it is best to find out what you should expect and some of the most reliable hybrid cars in the market.