How Long Will Your Hybrid Car Battery Really Last?

Honda civic hybrid battery replacement cost

As frustrating as it is to say aloud, batteries are made to be changed. While it’s not that big a deal when it comes to the pair of AA batteries it takes to power your TV remote, it’s a bit more of an issue to change a car battery, especially a hybrid battery — and it’s about 400 times more expensive. That’s if you peg a pack of Duracells at $10; the cost of batteries for hybrid cars tends to be near $4,000 at the dealership (though they’re typically cheaper through third-party retailers).

Drivers keep purchasing hybrid cars in part because they’re charmed by the advanced fuel economy and higher MPG those particular automobiles can offer. And it’s true. The Toyota Prius, the current best-selling car in California, can boast 51 city miles and 48 highway miles per gallon — an outstanding quality. Even the Honda Civic Hybrid, which trails the Prius in popularity but not in determination, gets 44 city miles and 47 highway miles per gallon.

So why isn’t every driver investing in a hybrid vehicle? For one thing, studies are suggesting that the battery life on some models is just a little bit less than desirable. Here’s the breakdown.

Warranties only go so far.

Most standard hybrid warranties are impressive, covering 100,000 miles or eight years of driving. But think about most hybrid vehicles and you realize that they’re made to go much, much farther than that. Past drivers have faced a issues with their batteries seemingly dying after eight years, just outside the protection of the warranty. More and more, that seems to be the norm for hybrid vehicles, especially when it comes to Honda’s offerings.

Consumer Reports has warned us.

Honda hybrids used to be highly praised by the car publication, but recent data suggests the 2009 model of the Honda Civic Hybrid is facing battery problems at an alarming rate. In studies conducted for the survey, nearly 20% of all the ’09 Civic Hybrids required a battery replacement, while only 10% of Civic Hybrids from 2003, 2004 and 2010 needed the same. That means you could be driving a hybrid that was once considered reliable but actually isn’t anymore.

Trends might be changing.

Up until now, hybrid battery replacement has either been a bit of a myth or a source of very real anxiety for Prius, Civic, Inisght, etc. drivers. With the cost of batteries for hybrid cars up in the thousands, it’s understandable that drivers are often tip-toeing around the realities, but the latest trends show they probably don’t have to be. Some warranty plans are now expanding into the 12-year realm and covering up to 125,000 miles — an impressive bump. Plus, the cost of batteries for hybrid cars themselves has dropped by more than half in less than a decade.

So, what’s the takeaway of all this? Hybrids still aren’t the perfect vehicles, despite drivers’ desires for them to be. But automakers are working to make them more accessible, both financially and operationally. And in the car industry, that’s a huge improvement, for now at least.

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