Should I buy a hybrid?

Discussion in 'Wheels, Wings, Mud, and Water' started by toxcrusadr, Oct 16, 2017.

  1. toxcrusadr

    toxcrusadr AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Shopping for a car and I don't buy cars often. My current daily driver (35 mile highway commute) is Dad's '93 Mazda MX-6, a sporty little thing I just can't give up. But it's got 280k on it and, well, it's time.

    I'm a '5-year-old used car' buyer typically. After a few weeks of reading and looking and trying to figure out the model lines and classes, I found a car yesterday that just piqued my interest: a 2014 VW Jetta Hybrid. Reviews are great (Motor Week loved the 2013), I liked the interior, controls, body, etc. Haven't driven it yet - it was Sunday. Has a 1.4L turbo engine. This one has 77,000 miles but looks brand new. Rated 42/48 mpg which would be a huge improvement over my worn out 2.5L V6 that gets 28 on a good day.

    Biggest question now is maintenance costs - I gotta look up how long a hybrid battery lasts and how close this one is to replacement.

    Any thoughts?
     
  2. toxcrusadr

    toxcrusadr AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Seems the drive batteries typically last 5-10 years depending on how you drive the car. VW sells a new one for $7800 (gasp!) but third party ones are more like $2000 - assuming they are any good. :idea:

    This battery business will suck up any savings you get from higher gas mileage, methinks. The only advantage is that the fossil fuel wasn't used, but your wallet ends up roughly the same. Stuff's just expensive these days, I guess.
     
  3. peerson

    peerson Active Member

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    Since all of my vehicles are big, GM V-8's that get (on a good day with a healthy headwind) about 14 mpg, if you get a Hybrid, that kind of offsets mine.
    :)
     
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  4. petehall347

    petehall347 the brandy coffee man

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    i would think there will be a test you can have done on the battery pack to estimate time left .
     
  5. Wildcat

    Wildcat Spring ain't here... Subscriber

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    I've looked into hybrids on and off for the past couple of years. Hybrid's IMHO seem to make no economic sense. Although locally, looking at local used hybrid models vs. standard, the price ends up being nearly the same either way after a few years. (So the original owners took a bath on resale value, apparently. Buying a used hybrid makes the most sense, apparently.)

    That hidden lurking cost of the battery replacement (for a good quality battery, not the cheap knockoffs) is the main thing that turns me off. My luck, it would happen right when finances are tight; then, I'm back to no vehicle, and also dumping at least $1500 into a several year old car that probably has 150k plus miles on it (which, depending on make, is a gamble). Bump that cost up if a shop has to do the replacement. I am also wary about hybrid systems that face a battery breakdown or hybrid system malfunction, the cars apparently can't move fast enough to get out of their own way safely on engine power alone.

    On mathematics alone, for the model I looked at, the hybrid never came close to saving money. The increase in gas mileage over a standard model was not much (maybe 10-15 mpg at the most), and by the time it came close to breaking even, the battery would have been due for replacement. Hybrids also make more sense for drivers who commute on surface streets and in rush hour traffic; there is not as much to gain for primarily highway driving. The electrical assist during acceleration apparently is where much of the gas mileage is saved, and it was not uncommon to see some hybrids that had higher city gas mileage than highway. That also makes me think the "leadfoot" drivers would probably see the most savings. :D

    Just promise us you won't be that hybrid driver, like some of the dinks around here who drive a prius, planted in the left lane going under the speed limit. ;)

    One good place to check for battery cost is rockauto.com . That would probably give you the best bang for the buck, replacement-wise. I've read that some have tried to replace individual cells in the battery pack, but then the battery is unbalanced and it leads to more problems.
     
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  6. savatage1973

    savatage1973 Super Member

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    Granted, gas prices have climbed a little bit recently, but are nowhere near what they were at their peak. When gas prices dropped the demand for hybrids and electric vehicles plummeted. At the time, there were numerous articles regarding the cost of purchase/ownership/amortization of actual savings--the hybrids and EVs lost miserably. With the low cost of gas, the higher purchase cost of hybrids/EVs, and the increased fuel mileage for gas-only vehicles, you would have to own one for 10+ years to break even.

    I would have to say that maintenance is kind of a "six one/half dozen the other" sort of thing--yes, a battery pack is expensive, but so is an engine and transmission for a regular gas vehicle--brakes/tires/exhaust/shocks-struts are all the same. Hybrids still have a gas engine, so they still require fossil fuel (albeit less frequently), oil changes, and other routine maintenance, just like an all gas drivetrain.

    Another factor is that these are basically "dealer only" serviceable vehicles--your local garage/mechanic is most likely not equipped to deal with a hybrid properly.

    As for the whole "environmentally friendly" aspect--sorry, I'm not a believer just yet (I'll duck now). Electricity has to come from somewhere--either a gas generator under the hood, or from a fossil fueled power plant that provides electricity to that outlet in your garage--unless you live in one of the rare areas with hydroelectric or nuclear generation plants.

    If it makes you feel better--buy a hybrid or EV, but just realize all aspects of the pros and cons. Good Luck on your decision.
     
  7. sax6

    sax6 Loudness always ON

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    Get a small or medium car ( mine is a Toyota Yaris), do acceleration and deceleration as sssssssmoothly as you can.
    Kill the damn engine as soon as possible and pay attention to engine service.

    You'll pay less for this car than an hybrid.
     
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  8. Wildcat

    Wildcat Spring ain't here... Subscriber

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    Some hybrids also still have a transmission, so battery changes are on top of the cost of transmission and engine maintenance and repairs. Especially if a hybrid has a CVT, and some luddite at a quick lube shop puts auto trans fluid in it and ruins it. (There are more than a few hybrids I've seen listed for sale dirt cheap with ruined transmissions.)

    That's the thing. It's simply shifting the pollution from one place to another. Even if everyone had EVs or fuel cells (which need power to generate the hydrogen), that electricity has to come from somewhere, and usage will only go up as fossil fuels fall out of favor. Some owners of electric vehicles probably plug their rechargeable toy cars into an outlet powered by a coal powered utility. Don't forget, those same environmentalists complaining about exhaust emissions and coal-generated power are now bitching because wind power kills birds. Nothing will make them happy.

    I would, however, miss the Sinclair dinosaur.

    I think many of us should use bicycles as transportation--at least we'd all be a heck of a lot healthier! ;) I certainly would, if Detroit wasn't so bike-hostile.
     
  9. toxcrusadr

    toxcrusadr AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I'll try to avoid turning this thread into a debate so I'll just say thanks for all the comments.

    It's my understanding that although generating electricity does burn fossil fuel, it's done so much more efficiently at a large power plant than inside a combustion engine that there is an advantage there. Irrelevant in this case as the car is a hybrid not a full electric. I've considered full electric but the range has not been long enough (I drive about 80 mi per day, so a 100 mi range worries me). I believe that's getting better - would love a Tesla but don't have that kind of cash.

    My commute is mostly highway and I've heard that about hybrids being better in city driving. VW does rate the Jetta 42 city/48 hwy so apparently not in this case. I'm not a lead-foot but occasionally I like to be a lil zippy. :)

    This car does have a CVT and yes there would be as much engine and tranny maintenance as there is in any other car, I assume. Plus the electric motor. My mechanic is old school and could still do brakes and so on but I fear you're right about going to the dealer for a lot of it. Which I hate (and hate to pay for).

    As for the battery, $1500 would seem like a bargain compared to $7800 from Volkswagen. I expect the generics are not as good, question is whether they would last at least 25% as long so as to be equivalent dollar-wise, or be total crap from Day 1 making you regret cheaping out. :idea: I do tend to drive cars a long time (13 years on the current one).

    I noticed VW discontinued the car as of 2017 model year so parts may become more scarce than if they were still producing it. Seemed like people really liked the car so it's a mystery.

    Anyway thanks for helping me figure some stuff out. I may still test drive it, no harm in that. :thumbsup:
     
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  10. Killer Fox

    Killer Fox AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    My wife drove a Prius for 3.5 years. This was the body style just previous to the newer fugly ones. We actually leased it which we rarely do. It was during the bad press they were getting over the "surging " issue. There was a glut on their lots so they gave us a deal $199 MO $0 down.

    My wife liked the car at first and eventually didn't like it. It took me a bit but I loved it more the longer we had it. It was (and is) an amazing job of engineering and design. It's a great car for typical driving. If I didn't need a pickup for all my hobbies I would be driving that car today. My wife turned it in at lease end. Buuut now she admits it was a damn good car. The only reason she didn't like it was image.

    Check into a 2013 to 2015 Prius with low miles.
     
  11. Shadowdog

    Shadowdog Super Member

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    Maybe you can get a Diesel one cheap with the VW situation, and there's the Chev. Cruse to consider as either will likely save you more in the long run.

    For all electric the Chev. Bolt is less than half the price of a Tesla and will go the same distance or more (over 300 miles) .
     
  12. Hajidub

    Hajidub He's a beast! Subscriber

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    I'd get a used Honda Civic and call it a day. No timing belt after 2011 (chain), 40mpg consistently on the highway and typical Honda reliability. Maintenance costs are the cheapest of any car I've ever owned. I just co-signed for the son (first new car) on a 2013 Civic with 35k miles and it was $11,800, or $191 a month. I've owned my Honda Element since new 2005 and haven't put a dime into it except for normal maintenance. Hell just replaced my first bulb in it last week (parking bulb). Element shouldn't be in your search (considering it's shaped like a brick and gets crappy gas mileage), but I can attest for Honda.
     
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  13. John James

    John James "Bob's your uncle" (Stolen) Subscriber

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    Get a Harley! :)
     
  14. Alobar

    Alobar Pulling out of the Last Chance Texaco.. Subscriber

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    One of the ways a hybrid saves fuel is in city stop and go driving where the drive motors change into generators when brake is applied thus putting electricity back into the battery instead of wasting it on heat producing friction that standard brakes produce. Known as dynamic brakeing, this is primarily why a hybrid might have better mileage in city driving, but as brakes are seldom applied much on long highway commutes the hybrid doesn't have much in the way of fuel savings to offer except for a small gutless engine.

    I would never consider one of these for commuting long distances. The problems associated with the advanced technology and expense of battery replacement would make one of these likely the most expensive car to operate.
     
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  15. Eric H

    Eric H AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    If I were getting a Hybrid I’d stick to something proven reliable, which basically means the Prius.

    Yeah I know, boring, but consider the track record and the fact that there are millions of them and used parts are easily found, there is also tons of DIY information out there for people who like to do their own repairs.

    German cars? We all know how easy those are to fix.
     
  16. Killer Fox

    Killer Fox AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    The Honda Civic is a good one but around here they bring top dollar used and sell fast.

    We just picked up a Hyundai Veloster (yes, of course I got turbo) for our son to drive. It's a surprisingly great car! And fun to drive! Gets great MPG. Never thought I would own a Hyundai. You can get nice used low mile ones for $10-15K (depending on turbo).

    [​IMG]
     
  17. Killer Fox

    Killer Fox AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Gotta love that reliability. Same with my Tacoma. Same for any model Honda, Toyota, Nissan or Mazda.
     
  18. bigx5murf

    bigx5murf Well-Known Member

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    Third party batteries are refurbished, and often require a core charge. They often will not cover shipping when you send your old one back to them if you buy online.

    VW as a whole generally has below average reliability, and higher maintenance costs. Not to mention the fines from their dieselgate scandal, they'll be looking to get creative in cutting costs, and increasing income. I would avoid the brand completely if possible.

    Hybrids do make economic sense when there are government incentives for them in states like CA.

    But the recent line of compacts and sub compacts have made huge gains in efficiency, and aren't that far behind hybrids, while not having any of the special maintenance issues.
     
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  19. usedto

    usedto Lunatic Member

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    I've never owned one, so I cant say much, except most folks I know that bought one have since gotten rid of them and opted for an economical gas or diesel car.
     
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  20. toxcrusadr

    toxcrusadr AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    I think you're right about a lot of that reasoning guys - especially that my commute probably calls for an efficient gas car instead of a hybrid.

    I usually look at Consumer Reports' annual Used Car Ratings chart based on thousands of customer surveys and have never gone wrong. Have not looked at the charts yet so if VW has trouble there I would have found that before buying.

    Hondas, yeah! We've had two '92 Accords and currently have an 02 Accord with 240,000 on it and it runs like new. Trying to convince the wife not to replace it but she wants a new car too. In fact if she bites before I find one, I might drive the Accord for awhile myself. The Accord is really a mid-size car and for just me commuting, I could go smaller, i.e. Civic. They even have sporty ones that might give me a bit of a reminder of the handling of the MX-6.

    I think the Toyotas look boring but still trust their reliability - my first car was a '78 Corolla Liftback, 5-sp manual, rear wheel drive with a 1.6 L carbureted 4-cyl Hemi. :rflmao:

    Mazda 3 - I drove a used one last weekend but the interior was a little cheap and plasticky, it was OK but I can afford a nicer car. Not sure if they have different trim levels, probably do.
     

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