When choosing a vehicle, it can sometimes be difficult to understand why one car is different from any other, even after you test drive and purchase them. There are a lot of small features that go into a car that you may miss. These little details often only become apparent when something goes wrong with your vehicle. That’s when you find out about a part or something that needs to be replaced, costing you a lot of money. Understanding at least some of the differences between the various types of cars is important when thinking about your future and whether you’ll need auto repair.
This is especially the case with newer hybrid vehicles, which have unique functions designed to save you fuel and thus money. Knowing what makes hybrids special can save you a lot in the long run. The experts at Mr. Transmission would like to offer you some important points on what makes these relatively new cars stand out, so that repairs are more affordable.
A little more sophistication
The most basic difference between hybrid cars and regular vehicles is how they operate. Instead of running on just the internal combustion engine, a hybrid adds an electric motor to turn the wheels. There are two methods that are used to run the electric motor. In parallel hybrids, the motor operates only on battery, and shuts off at a certain speed, switching over to the engine using a computerized controller. With a series hybrid, on the other hand, the motor controls the vehicle at all times, with power being supplied either by the battery or a power generator that is run by the engine. Again, a component determines when to use the battery or the generator.
The reason for this added level of complexity is to save fuel at critical junctures of a hybrid vehicle’s operation. Basically, the most gas is spent between when you start your vehicle and when you reach a low speed, usually 12 mph or less on the speedometer. What a hybrid does is have the motor run at this critical junction, keeping the engine off until it reaches a certain threshold and then turning it off when you stop the car at an intersection or during a traffic jam.
Hybrids also have a unique mechanism for charging the motor’s battery, called regenerative braking. Whenever the car brakes, the heat and energy released from the wheels turns the electric motor, which becomes its own power generator and charges the battery. Such a system is very complicated to run, so any damage or failure of a controller or other computer component can require extensive repairs. This is why the professionals at Mr. Transmission are training to become experts in hybrid auto repair.
Plug it in
There is another form of hybrid car that differs from your usual “true” hybrid, called plug-in hybrids. Rather than running the motor solely at low speeds, these cars can run it at all speeds at a limited range for the first 20 or 30 miles after the battery is fully charged. After that, the engine kicks in. Because of the amount of energy required to power the vehicle at higher speeds, you power the battery by plugging in a charger from your house or at a charging station. Again, a small computer component changes between the electric motor and the engine, though this means dealing with fewer parts than a true hybrid.
In either form of hybrid, however, the addition of an electric motor requires more parts, and thus more complex repair strategies. After all, if one part fails, the motor may not function, turning your hybrid into a regular car with dead weight.