For vehicle owners, ensuring tires are aligned and properly inflated as well as having the heating checked are both important for winter preparation. However, one of the most reported vehicle issues during winter months is battery failure.
For hybrid vehicle owners, this is especially important due to the higher cost of hybrid battery packs. To understand how cold weather affects your hybrid battery, and what you can do to maintain the battery life, read on.
Electric-Only Mode Reduction
Hybrid batteries operate best during warmer temperatures. Frigid temperatures reduce the effective capacity of batteries. During colder months, drivers may notice that their hybrid does not operate in electric-only mode the same as it would in milder temperatures.
This is partly due to the fact that the vehicle’s engine generates heat to operate. Thus, colder temperatures offer less of a chance for your hybrid to do so. A quick fix for this is to store your hybrid in the garage when you are at home. For drivers without a garage, try warming your vehicle up for at least 10 minutes in the morning before driving.
Older Hybrid Batteries
Although hybrid batteries have a higher lifetime than standard combustion batteries, older hybrid batteries may experience failure or death in colder temperatures. Many Toyota Prius drivers have reported such complaints due to the small size of the starter lead acid battery in their hybrids.
It was also reported that replacing the Prius’ starter battery with a larger battery after 5 years improved the issues altogether. Drivers who live in areas prone to harsh winters are especially encouraged to make the upgrade.
Reduced Fuel Efficiency
According to Fueleconomy.gov, hybrid vehicles experience worse fuel efficiency in colder weather, sometimes up to a reduction of 34%. Although it can be difficult to avoid the reduced efficiency altogether, there are tricks to lessening it.
As mentioned above, store your hybrid in a garage if accessible. Keeping the vehicle plugged into the charger while you warm the cabin can also extend your hybrid’s range.
Although cold weather affects your hybrid battery in similar ways to a conventional vehicle, there are specific ways to mitigate those affects. Follow our blog for more helpful tips throughout the winter. Be sure to check out our battery conditioning services, which may help your hybrid battery bounce back after the winter months.