With the average temperature during summer in NC being 87 degrees, it is important to note the possible changes to your hybrid’s performance. Although children are out of school and local travel may be limited, many folks choose to travel out of town between June and September.
Hyrbid performance during summer months should be monitored and hybrid owners should keep in mind any additional maintenance that is necessary. In this article, you can find useful information about how to maintain your MPG and keep an eye on your hybrid battery.
Tips for Improved Fuel Economy During Summer
While temperatures begin to rise in late May to early June, hybrid performance during summer may become a concern. One of the top issues will likely be fuel economy. The U.S. Department of Energy has stated that hot weather can actually increase your vehicle’s MPG.
The engine warms up to an efficient temperature faster, summer grades of gasoline have more energy, and warm air causes less aerodynamic drag than cold air. Drivers will see a decrease in fuel economy due to comfort-seeking measures, such as driving with the windows down or AC use.
By understanding how AC/driving with the windows down can decrease your fuel economy and being proactive, hybrid drivers can get the most out of their fuel economy this summer.
- Before using the AC, drive with your windows open for a short time. This puts less demand on the AC and allows your vehicle to cool down quicker.
- Most AC systems cool your vehicle faster when you are driving. Be sure not to idle before driving while the AC is running.
- Utilize a sunshade and park in shaded areas. Although shaded areas may be hard to come by in the summer months, you can purchase a sunshade to ensure your cabin stays cool.
- Save the AC for highway driving. When driving in town/at lower speeds, roll the windows down instead.
These tips are easy to implement during the summer months and will ensure your fuel economy is not negatively affected. Limiting AC use as much as possible is the main goal as it reduces your hybrid’s fuel economy by 25%.
Although it is not feasible to travel without using AC completely throughout the hot summer months, minimizing its use is recommended.
Hybrid Batteries and Heat
Batteries are more efficient during hot weather, leading to a common misconception about battery life where weather is a concern. Many vehicle owners, hybrid and combustion engine alike, believe cold weather is the main culprit for battery failure. However, most batteries are damaged by hot weather, with hybrid batteries being especially sensitive to heat.
Each battery has an optimal temperature range at which they discharge and recharge. While most lithium based batteries have a temperature range within the limits of summer heat, battery life can still be degraded over time.
Lead-acid batteries are located next to a gasoline engine under a vehicle’s hood, where the exhaust manifolds usually approach temperatures of 1400 degrees during summer highway driving. Nickel Metal Hydride batteries are located in the passenger compartment of hybrid vehicles and can deteriorate at temperatures as low as 110 degrees.
On a positive note, hybrid batteries have built-in thermal control components which allow the battery to cool itself once it reaches too high a temperature. Additionally, some hybrid vehicle manufacturers (such as Toyota) utilize electric fans which draw passenger compartment air through the battery to cool it down.
Pro-Tip: Be sure to have your cabin air filter replaced every 15,000 miles. It is also strongly recommended to have your hybrid’s AC serviced before the summer heat begins and on a regular basis as well.
To ensure your hybrid performance during summer, be sure to follow the tips outlined above. If your hybrid is displaying signs of drastic fuel economy reduction at the beginning of the summer, consider having it inspected by a reputable and experienced hybrid mechanic.
The Hybrid Geek has certified and knowledgeable mechanics and competitive pricing for all hybrid related services. For a free consultation, or to book our State of Health Check, call us today at (919) 996-0626.