If you are a parent to school age children, then you are probably counting down the days until they go back to school. With all the ups and downs of the last 18+ months, you may have overlooked having a hybrid oil change or checking the fluids, tires, brakes, & cooling system on your car. Luckily, I’ve put together some informative Hybrid car care tips to help you get all caught up on your hybrid auto maintenance services and be ready for all the back-to-school activities.
Be sure to check your owner’s manual for the manufacturer’s recommendations on how often you should have your hybrid serviced. Below are some typical inspections and services that should be performed regularly. Some are safe to do at home, but others should be done by a technician trained in hybrid maintenance.
Hybrid Oil Change
Your hybrid still uses a combustion engine part of the time, so an oil change is still required. The frequency may be less often than a regular, non-hybrid car. Check your owner’s manual for the recommended service mileage/time markers for oil changes.
For most hybrid cars, a lower weight oil (usually 0W-20) is recommended, but make sure to check your owner’s manual for your specific vehicle’s recommended oil weight.
Since hybrids still use an Internal Combustion Engine part of the time, they use all of the same fluids that a traditional vehicle uses, and sometimes a few more. You should routinely check the levels on the following fluids:
- Engine oil
- Coolant/Antifreeze (may be more than one cooling system)
- Brake fluid
- Transmission fluid (if applicable)
- Power steering fluid
- Reduction gear oil
Hybrid Cooling System
The engine has a cooling system that operates with a mixture of antifreeze and water to keep the engine cool. Most hybrid models also have a dedicated cooling system for the electronics and regenerative braking system. Electric and hybrid vehicles can generate a lot of heat under normal operation, so make sure that all the coolant levels are topped off and are performing as designed. Bring your hybrid in for a diagnostic service right away if you notice it overheating.
Hybrid Electronics & Battery Care
Most hybrids are designed with both the standard (safe) 12 volt battery to power the low-voltage electrical system, and the (more dangerous) maintenance free, high-voltage battery (can be in excess of 100 volts). If you suspect any issues with your batteries or electronics, schedule a hybrid diagnostic service to locate the problem safely.
Regenerative Braking System
The regenerative braking found in hybrid cars reduces wear on the brake components which makes them last longer. They should still have regular inspections however, since your driving style, road conditions, and other factors may impact their wear.
Wheels & Tires
All vehicles should have their tires regularly inspected for excessive wear, uneven tire treads, cracks or other damage, and proper tire pressure. Wheel alignment and tire balancing should be performed as suggested in your owner’s manual, or whenever you replace your tires, have an accident, or notice steering vibrations.
If any of the dashboard warning lights alert you that there is a problem, check your owner’s manual to see if it is something you can handle yourself, or if a service is required. Excessive damage can be done to the electrical components, batteries, and cooling systems if problems are ignored.
Choose A Hybrid Trained Technician
Your hybrid is a well designed machine that requires regular and preventative maintenance to run smoothly and safely. Most hybrids require specialized equipment and extensive training to be diagnosed, serviced, and repaired correctly. Make sure you find a qualified technician to help you make educated decisions regarding the upkeep on your hybrid to keep it in tip-top shape for the new school year, and for years to come.
Get Your Hybrid Clean & Organized
Now that you have your hybrid running like new again, focus on the other ways you can get your vehicle ready to handle all the challenges back-to-school schedules can bring.
Wash & Wax Exterior
A good wash and wax will protect the paint and clear coat from damages (sun, bird droppings, bugs) and make it look shiny too.
Clean & Vacuum Interior
Remove all the trash that may have accumulated over the summer, and put away any stray items where they belong. Give the seats, floors, floor mats, trunk, etc. a thorough vacuuming and then wipe away any remaining dust, dirt, and sticky residue off all the surfaces with a car-specific cleaner.
Make sure to organize the interior to make room for book bags, sports equipment, musical instruments, and the kids that go with them.
Car Seats & Seat Belts
Car crashes are a leading cause of death for children ages 1 to 13. It is vital to select and use a car seat correctly every time your child is in the car. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) website contains important information on how seat belts should fit on your child. For children that still need car seats, they have tips and guidelines on selecting and installing the appropriate car seat or booster seat based on your child’s age and size.
Hybrid Auto Maintenance in Clarksville, TN
Hybrids are complicated machines, so if you would like to schedule a back-to-school preventative service for your hybrid, we can help. A&R Complete Auto Care has the tools and experience to keep your hybrid running safely and efficiently.
Call us at (931) 552-0606 or visit us online to make a service appointment with one of our qualified hybrid technicians today!