Buying a Used Hybrid
When considering what used car to purchase next, it can be hard to know whether switching from a petrol or diesel car to a hybrid or electric is the right choice. Both hybrid and electric cars have their benefits but if you've never purchased one, it can be hard to know what to look out for.
Here's our buying guide for used hybrid cars, including what a hybrid car is, what to look out for and what some of the best used hybrid cars on the market are.
What is a hybrid car?
A hybrid car is powered by both an electric and traditional petrol or diesel engine, and are available in both plug-in and self-charging. Hybrids work by switching between the two power types to be as efficient in range and driving style as can be. This differs from fully electric cars which are exclusively powered by electric power.
In general, hybrid cars are generally designed to travel short distances on electric power before switching to the conventional engine. However, as these types of cars have continued to be developed over the past couple of years, their electric range has been extended, making them a more viable option for a greater number of people.
Plug-in hybrid vehicle
Also known as a PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle), a plug-in hybrid is equipped with both an electric and petrol/diesel engine and can be charged from an electrical point. Generally, plug-in hybrids have a larger electrical battery than self-charging vehicles and can therefore result in lower running costs as the vehicle can rely purely on electric power for short journeys.
Self-charging hybrid vehicles
A self-charging hybrid car or van is also equipped with both an electric and petrol/diesel engine and are often seen as the ideal option for those looking to "dip their toe" in the electric car world. They differ from plug-ins as their electrical engine is charged through technology such as "brake regeneration". Because of this, they require more petrol and diesel and therefore similar running costs as pure petrol or diesel engines.
Should I buy a used hybrid car?
This is a difficult question to answer as it will always depend on the individual. Before purchasing a used hybrid, it's worth considering if you will truly enjoy the benefits of a hybrid compared to traditional petrol or diesel cars.
For example, by driving high-speed, long-distance commutes every day, hybrid cars are unlikely to use less fuel than modern diesel cars. Similarly, short local journeys in light traffic are unlikely to offer significant operating savings. However, if your daily driving involves sitting in stop-start traffic, then a hybrid car could be a good choice for you as the speeds will better suit the electric engine and could make savings.
The lower tax could also be a financial benefit to hybrid owners but it's always worth checking before purchasing the vehicle as newer hybrid cars (registered after April 2017) will need to pay tax. Used hybrids are therefore more likely to save you on tax compared to new hybrids.
Top used hybrid cars
If you've decided a hybrid car is right for you, here are some of the best used hybrid cars currently on the market.
One of the original hybrid cars, the Toyota Prius is still a great affordable option for a family hybrid car. Although some models don't have the latest technology, they are reliable cars, offer a comfortable ride and a good drive. Be aware though, due to their dependability and cost, they are a popular choice for taxi drivers so can often have higher mileage which can affect the battery performance. ?
A great alternative to the Toyota Prius, the Ioniq is a comfortable, quiet and easy car to drive. It offers a battery range of around 39 miles and a 1.6-litre engine so the Hyundai is perfect for trips around town, doing the school run, or for a day trip. Some models also offer great technology including a touchscreen display on the dashboard as well as a spacious interior, making it the ideal family car. ?
Volkswagen Golf GTE
Combing hybrid power, a 1.4-litre TSI engine and an 8.7kWh battery, this front-wheel VW is considered a hot hatchback and great all-rounder. Not only does the Golf GTE offer a comfortable, practical and enjoyable ride, it also has some sharp handling, plenty of performance and a well-powered engine. All of this makes it a great option for your next used hybrid car.
How much does a used hybrid car cost?
Historically, hybrid cars were expensive to purchase due to the new technology and cost of production. Although new hybrid prices have come down in cost, the higher original purchase prices are now reflected in used hybrid car prices. It's important to note that some hybrid cars will offer savings in running costs which can outweigh the increased purchasing cost but it's always worth doing the calculations before jumping in and purchasing any car.
When looking at the cost of a used hybrid, the price will reflect the age, model and mileage of the car, as well as the general condition of the vehicle. An older car with higher mileage is likely to cost less than a newer model and it'll be down to the individual to choose the best option for their needs.
How much does a hybrid car cost to run?
The running costs of hybrid cars will always vary on the vehicle and the key details that will impact these costs are:
- Car tax. Vehicles registered before 1st April 2017 are exempt from paying car tax, though newer vehicles are subject to tax rates of up to £130 a year, or £335 after six years if they originally cost £40,000 or more.
- Fuel costs. With some hybrids, the fuel cost will be lower due to the electric engine running for part of the journey.
- Miles per gallon (MPG). By mixing electric and petrol/diesel fuels, the MPG on some hybrid cars is extremely efficient and can get more miles for the money.
What should I look out for when buying a used hybrid car?
Due to their lower running costs, hybrid cars have made them a popular choice for taxi firms. Although this shows that these vehicles can do high mileage reliably, they may not have seen the same level of care or service given to a privately owned car.
If you're concerned about the previous use of any used car, check the bodywork for scratches from magnetic signs as well as holes in the dashboard from taxi meters being attached. It's always worth looking into the full history of a vehicle if you're concerned about previous uses.
The best judge of any used vehicle is its service and MOT history, including hybrid-specific checks. If there is no evidence of any service history, it's best to walk away. You never know if a previous owner has cut corners or not been very vigilant with the vehicle upkeep. By having a well-maintained car, it's much more likely to run smoothly in the future, and save you costly bills
Check of hybrid systems
Being a hybrid car, it has slightly different systems to traditional cars and it's important to check these systems are fully working before purchasing any vehicle. For some hybrids, this is easy as they have a visual display to their how their engine, battery and electric motor is being used, including how the battery is being used or charged.
With this visual display, normally there will also be a warning light or message if there is an issue with the hybrid systems. If there is a warning light, always look into how easy it would be to fix and talk to a fully-licensed technician (ideally one who is used to working on hybrid vehicles and high voltage engines) before buying the car.
Although this should be a given, it's very important to always check that the car advertised is definitely a hybrid vehicle. Car models which come with different engine types including petrol, diesel and hybrid can look the same from the outside, other than their badges. If there is any doubt whether the car is a hybrid, ask to see the V5C registration documents which will confirm what type of vehicle it is.
Check the hybrid battery life
An important element of any hybrid vehicle is the battery. Like any vehicle, a hybrid car has a normal 12-volt car battery which powers the electronic features but it also comes with a battery pack that powers the motor. These new battery packs are typically lithium-ion which makes them lighter and more efficient. It does however also make them more expensive to replace so ensuring they are up to standard at the point of purchase will help save any surprise bills further down the line.
Looking for your next used car? Why not check out our great selection of used hybrids online or come to one of the Carbase showrooms. If you have any questions, our expert team is on hand to help make your purchasing journey easy so get in touch today.
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