Generally, they don’t cost any more to maintain than conventional gas or diesel vehicles and may even cost less. Hybrids use regenerative braking systems to capture heat energy created during braking and coasting and use that energy to help recharge the hybrid batteries. A side benefit to regenerative braking is that brake pads tend to last longer, so you should spend less on brake repairs.
Taxi companies, which typically log most of their miles in stop-and-go urban settings, have found hybrids to be more economical than conventional vehicles in regards to brakes because the pads need replacing less often.
On other routine maintenance items, such as oil changes, tire rotations and air filters, hybrids should be the same as conventional vehicles.
If there is a higher risk, it is with the electronics that control the operation of the hybrid system and the hybrid batteries. If they need replacing — and some do — you will have to deal with costs that you don’t encounter on a conventional vehicle.
On a Toyota Prius, for example, the replacement cost for the hybrid battery pack is $2,588 plus labor, which typically pushes the total bill to $3,000 or more. However, the batteries are covered for eight years or 100,000 miles, so by the time the warranty runs out on a new or late-model Prius, the replacement cost will probably be lower.
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