Should I Buy A Used Hybrid?
With many of us trying to find ways to reduce our impact on the environment, a sustainable drive and optimum fuel efficiency are becoming important features on many a car buyer's check list.
As a result, hybrid electric cars (HEVs or full hybrids) are becoming an increasingly common sight on our roads. And, as hybrid cars become more popular, they are, in turn, taking up more space in the forecourts of used car dealerships.
For many used car buyers, a used hybrid will be the first hybrid they've owned. So, should you opt for a used hybrid car for your next set of wheels? Here's why you may want to go hybrid when shopping for your next used car.
What is a hybrid car?
A hybrid car is one that uses both an electric motor and a petrol or diesel engine. They can run on either type of power, switching between the two in order to achieve optimum fuel efficiency.
Hybrids are designed to travel short distances on zero-emission electric power, before offering the option of switching to conventional diesel or petrol combustion power for longer journeys or when the battery starts to run low.
We should say that in this blog, we're talking about full hybrid electric cars (HEVs), rather than plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) or range extended electric vehicles (REEVs). For more information on these, take a look at our Ultimate Guide to Hybrids infographic.
The benefits of buying a used hybrid car
It goes without saying that hybrid cars offer a whole host of benefits, whether they are new or used.
Increased fuel efficiency
Hybrid cars are designed to be as fuel efficient as possible, which is reflected in their high-tech features and ergonomic design.
The dual power chain works best at certain speeds - the electric motor at slower speeds and the combustion engine at higher speeds - so switching from one to the other at the right time while accelerating can achieve significant savings on fuel and reduction in harmful emissions.
If you buy a used hybrid car that was registered before 1 April 2017 and emits less than 100g/km of CO2, you will be fully exempt from paying road tax.
If your used hybrid car was registered on or after that date, you'll pay £130 annually.
Hybrid cars producing 75g/km of CO2 or less are exempt from some congestion charge schemes.
Hybrid cars are undoubtedly greener than those that use only petrol or diesel, so driving a used hybrid is kinder to the environment.
Full hybrids cannot be plugged in to charge like a plug-in hybrid (PHEV), instead they generate electricity for the battery themselves through regenerative braking.
The disadvantages of buying a used hybrid car
Of course, like any car, there are also potential disadvantages to consider when it comes to buying a used hybrid.
As a hybrid car ages, it's battery will naturally deteriorate. Although hybrid car batteries are designed to offer longevity, manufacturers can't claim that they will maintain their full performance forever.
If you find you need to replace the battery in a used hybrid outside of any vehicle warranty, it can be expensive.
Hybrid cars are, understandably, a popular choice among taxi drivers. However, this can mean that many used hybrid cars have significantly higher mileages than you would expect for their age.
It also makes it important to double check that the mileage is correct before buying a second-hand hybrid car.
Maintenance can be expensive
When well maintained, a hybrid car will last just as long as a traditional model. Routine maintenance on a hybrid shouldn't be any more expensive, although if a hybrid vehicle is involved in an accident, the engine and parts may be more costly to repair, and/or may require specialist mechanic work.
Things to consider when buying a used hybrid car
Will you see any benefit?
The first thing to consider before buying a used hybrid car is whether you will see any benefit, compared to buying a traditional petrol or diesel car. Although hybrid cars offer better fuel economy and lower emissions, the degree of benefits will vary from person to person, depending on the type of driving the car is predominantly used for.
Hybrids only switch to their all-electric mode when travelling at low speeds. So, if you use your car mostly for long-distance, high-speed journeys, or shorter journeys in rural or low traffic areas, you probably won't notice a significant improvement in fuel efficiency.
If, on the other hand, you spend a lot of time driving in city centre traffic, a hybrid car may be much more beneficial.
Is the car really a hybrid?
This might sound strange, but if a used car is being advertised as a hybrid, you need to check rather than taking it at face value.
Lots of traditional models look almost identical to their hybrid versions, so it's well worth checking the V5C registration document.
Does the hybrid system work properly?
When buying a used hybrid car, it's important to ensure that the hybrid dual power system is working properly.
The easiest way to check this is via the visual display that most hybrids have on their dashboard. Here you should find information about how the battery and petrol engine are performing.
If there is a major issue with the hybrid system, a warning light or message will usually appear on the dashboard. If this is the case, you should always insist that the seller rectifies the issue before you buy the car.
How much do used hybrid cars cost?
Due to their state-of-the-art technology, when hybrid cars first became available on the market, they were significantly more expensive than traditional petrol or diesel cars.
However, over the years, they have dropped in price as a result of their increasing popularity. Despite this though, they are still typically more expensive to buy new than petrol or diesel models.
The cost of a used hybrid car will, of course depend on factors such as the model, its age, and mileage, etc. However, as a general rule, a used hybrid car will cost more than a second-hand petrol or diesel model, due to the higher price when new.
Of course, a used hybrid car can mean potentially lower running costs, so it can be a case of weighing up a larger outlay against long-term fuel savings. And knowing you are doing your bit to help reduce emissions too.
Still unsure? View our current range of quality used hybrid cars online to find your next vehicle, or come in and see us at one of our stores to learn more about buying a used hybrid car.