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GreenCars 101
Plug-In Hybrids

Maintaining a Plug-In Hybrid

Dave Nichols
Aug 2023
Thinking about buying a plug-in hybrid vehicle? If so, there are some things you should know about keeping it as fuel-efficient as possible with regular maintenance.
Servicing Car

Plug-In Hybrid Vehicle Maintenance

Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) are extremely popular, especially when they are crossover or SUV vehicles. They are not only great family movers, but their hybrid technology makes them extremely fuel efficient. The servicing of standard gasoline-powered cars is something we are all accustomed to, but what about maintaining plug-in hybrid cars?

Because all PHEVs have both an electric motor and a gasoline-powered engine, you will still need to carry out such standard maintenance as oil and filter changes, radiator coolant checks, brake and power steering fluid checks, hose checks, spark plug check, ac unit checks, as well as checking the suspension, the fuel filter and pump, and checking the tires for wear and tire rotations.

However, there are a few additional things to check on PHEVS including the hybrid battery, hybrid air filter, the inverter coolant, the regenerative braking, and the charging port. As with all modern cars, all of these items can be checked during a service at your local Lithia Auto dealer. We’ll plug in an onboard diagnostic scanner (OBDII) to monitor your car’s sensor inputs and outputs to read any trouble codes that are used in diagnostic procedures. Each code corresponds to a specific fault in the system.

PHEV Specific Systems

When servicing your plug-in hybrid system, our technicians look for the following:

Hybrid battery: Hybrid batteries are used to power your PHEV when the gasoline motor is not in use. A battery health check makes sure your battery pack is operating properly to aid hybrid performance and efficiency.

Inverter coolant: The technician will check for coolant leaks. The inverter coolant is different from the engine coolant in your gasoline-powered system. The inverter turns DC power into AC power to make the electric motor function.

Regenerative braking: Hybrids and plug-in hybrids use regenerative braking that takes the kinetic energy used during braking and stores it in the hybrid battery pack. The stored energy from regenerative braking recovery augments then original energy supply. We will also check for brake binding. This happens when the brake pads stick to the brake rotor, causing the car to slow down even when the brakes are not being used.

Charging port: We always inspect the charging port for any damage and replace any damaged parts as needed.

Service Express Center

Ongoing Maintenance

As with any gasoline-powered car, you should have the hybrid components of your PHEV checked every 3,000 to 5,000 miles when your car is in for an oil change.

Check the automaker’s recommendations for service as found in your Owner’s Manual. If you need to have your plug-in hybrid serviced, let Lithia help. With over 280 dealerships from coast-to-coast, our ASE-certified technicians will have your hybrid back on the road quick and easy.

A young couple admiring the forest and trees next to their RAV4 Hybrid

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