The proliferation and popularity of hybrid vehicles has dramatically increased in the past three years. There are hybrids that seat just two and are sporty, fun-to-drive cars. There are hybrid crossover SUVs like the Toyota Highlander Hybrid that can accommodate seven passengers and cargo. There are hybrid coupes, sedans, wagons and trucks as well.
If you’re looking for a used hybrid, whatever your preferences for body style, passenger and cargo space, be sure to ask the following questions:
What is the warranty?
Keep in mind that automakers have been offering longer warranties on components that are specific to hybrid vehicles. This is typically about eight years. If you are buying a used hybrid that’s a 2009 or later, the warranty should still be in effect. But you definitely want all the specifics: what does it cover, is it tied to mileage or years, and what out-of-pocket costs should you expect?
Generally speaking, the hybrid warranty will cover the cost if something’s amiss with the batteries or the electric motor (or motors). Replacing a battery pack can be expensive, although it’s not as expensive as it used to be and is likely less expensive than most consumers realize. This varies by automaker and model, though, so investigate what a replacement battery might cost if you’re buying a used hybrid beyond the warranty period.
Ideally, used car experts and mechanics alike recommend looking for a used hybrid that has mileage somewhere in the range of 30,000 to 50,000 miles. If a used hybrid is nearing 100,000 miles, you can expect some replacement parts, likely a battery or electric motor is in the near future.
A good used hybrid sedan, like the Toyota Camry Hybrid, Honda Accord Hybrid, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid, and Honda Civic Hybrid should give you many more miles of hybrid driving.
What is the fuel economy?
People buy hybrid vehicles because they want to save money on gas and to reduce carbon emissions. Being green also means getting more for each gallon of gas, so be sure to ask what the average or typical gas mileage has been with this particular vehicle. Pure hybrids, such as the Toyota Prius, have fuel economy in the 40-50 mpg range. If the seller is reluctant to say, move on to the next used hybrid. There are plenty of them for sale, so finding one that you like shouldn’t be a problem.
Just as in buying any used vehicle, you want to make sure the used hybrid you’re considering has been carefully maintained. Ask to see the maintenance records and steer clear of the seller who looks at you vaguely or is dismissive of your question.
Save yourself time and grief by obtaining a vehicle history report that tracks the used hybrid’s service records by vehicle identification number (VIN). Use a service available through AutoCheck or CarFax.
Have there been any recalls on the car?
Recalls are not uncommon in the auto industry, for gasoline, diesel, hybrid and electric vehicles. Be sure to inquire about any recalls the used hybrid car has had, and make sure that the car has been fixed for each and every recall campaign it was involved in.