Hybrid gas/electric (HEV) vehicles have continued to grow in popularity over the years since the release of the well known Toyota Prius to the US market in 2000. In Mentor Ohio; almost every car manufacturer has hybrid vehicles available for sale. This is due to their lower emissions and superior fuel efficiency compared to a standard gasoline engine (ICE) powered vehicle. They also lack the range limitations of the current line up of purely electric vehicles (EVs). These cars have many benefits, but a hybrid repair can present unique challenges. While some of the components in your vehicle are fairly standard your hybrid components require specialty training, specialized equipment and parts. Many of the regular maintenance or light repair needs are similar to those of typical combustion engine powered vehicles but some of the most important steps in hybrid car repair are very specific to these vehicles. The traditional systems and electrical component systems within HEVs are intricately tied to, and dependent upon one another. A problem in any one of these components or systems can affect several different vehicle systems; therefore it often requires extensive diagnostics by a trained HEV technician to pinpoint the exact problem source and properly repair it.
Hybrid vehicles typically have two modes of power production; conventional combustion engines and a electric motor drive assist powered by batteries. In addition to all the systems of a regular combustion vehicle, hybrids have a sophisticated electronics system to ensure efficient operation of charging, battery power displacement and power assistance including separate batteries, electric motors, and control systems integrated into the vehicle. The main types of hybrid vehicles that are currently in use are:
A parallel hybrid is propelled by both an internal combustion engine and an electric motor connected to a mechanical transmission. Power distribution between the engine and the motor is varied so both run in their optimum operating region as much as possible. Since there are two motors, they can work side by side to propel the car. This enables the onboard computer to continually monitor the need for acceleration and decide which motor (electric or gasoline) would be best for the given set of circumstances and make the choice for the driver.
Series Hybrid (EREVs / REEVs)
A series hybrid is like a battery electric vehicle (BEV) in design. There is an electric motor and a combustion engine, the combustion engine drives an electric generator instead of directly driving the wheels. When power is needed to move the wheels, the electric motor (and ONLY the electric motor) supplies the energy. The electric motor can use power from the battery pack or from a generator run by the combustion engine. When large amounts of power are required, the motor can draw from both the battery and the generator.
A series-parallel hybrid can be powered by the gasoline engine working alone, the electric motor by itself, or by both energy converters working together. Power distribution between the engine and motor is designed so that the engine can run in its optimum operating range as much as possible. The best-known application of the series-parallel hybrid system is the Toyota Hybrid Synergy Drive (Toyota Prius). As the name implies, the series-parallel hybrid setup merges the pros and cons of parallel and series hybrids. Nevertheless, it is significantly more efficient than either a parallel or series hybrid.
Plug In Hybrid (PHEV)
Plug-in hybrids are HEVs with high-capacity batteries that can be charged by plugging them into an electrical outlet or charging station. They can store enough electricity to significantly reduce their gasoline use under typical driving conditions. PHEVs can come in series, parallel or series-parallel drivetrain configuration.
Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicles (MHEV)
Mild hybrids are most reliant on their internal combustion engines. The combustion engine does most of the work, but the electric motor can kick in during accelerating, cruising, coasting, or braking. It provides a burst of energy to get you off the starting line after which the combustion engine and electric motor work together to help you accelerate. A MHEV may be a bit more fuel efficient than an all-gasoline vehicle, but it isn’t as much as the full hybrid electric vehicle. Many vehicles use MHEV powertrains without advertising them as such, so it’s possible you’ve driven a mild hybrid vehicle without knowing it!
There are two batteries in all HEVs: the low voltage auxiliary battery and the high voltage traction battery pack. The auxiliary battery serves the same purpose as it does in a conventional gasoline car, to supply the power to the ignition system and other accessory systems (like the radio, power windows, etc.) even while the combustion engine isn’t running. The traction battery pack is what provides power to the electric motor driven auxiliary propulsion system. This battery pack is typically made using nickel-metal hydride (NiMH) or lithium-ion batteries stacked together and located near the rear axle so that, in the case of a collision, the battery is well-protected in a fireproof metal box. Now, nothing lasts forever, and batteries are no different. The lifespan of a battery can vary based on miles driven and the vehicle specs. Almost all batteries are subject to degradation with time and each vehicle has a slightly different configuration that causes the range to vary.
Regenerative Braking Regenerative braking is another clever feature of your hybrid. This kind of braking essentially puts the electric motor(s) into reverse, assisting the mechanical brake system and slowing the vehicle while generating electricity to charge the high voltage battery. A beneficial side effect of this system is the longevity that drivers see in the life of their mechanical brake components.
Hybrid vehicles have proven to be very reliable, the systems are complex but based on technology that is straightforward and has been understood for a long time. However, hybrid vehicles have more components to make these systems function, meaning there are also more possibilities of an issue as the vehicle ages.
Most independent auto repair facilities have yet to embrace the hybrid vehicle service because of its expense in training and equipment. 5 Star Auto Care has been growing its technician training, expertise and experience in this field to allow us to be one of the best hybrid vehicle service centers in Lake County. We assist customers from Mentor, Willoughby, Painesville, Eastlake, Willowick, Fairport Harbor, Mentor-on-the-Lake, Willoughby Hills, Kirtland, Kirtland Hills, Waite Hill, Perry, and Madison Ohio.
At 5 Star Auto Care we strive to offer drivers an affordable alternative to the dealerships for
hybrid services and repairs without sacrificing any quality.
The business of auto repair comes with an inherent impact on the environment for many reasons. 5 Star Auto Care is also taking many steps forward in helping keep our environment clean. We are constantly striving to reduce or eliminate the harmful effects on the environment from our shop.
This process is important for the auto industry and future generations.