Signs of a Hybrid Battery Dying

Hybrid cars use an electrified powertrain to improve fuel efficiency, increase total performance, or both, The hybrid battery pack is at the core of the system, ‘fueling’ an electric motor with an electric current. Like all batteries, there comes a time when it begins to deteriorate and doesn’t hold a charge as well as it used to.

A new hybrid battery is certainly not the least expensive repair you’ll encounter, ranging from $1,500 to over $4,500 on mainstream models. When it’s dying, you’ll notice symptoms that indicate the repair is coming soon. Here’s how a hybrid battery works and a list of bad hybrid battery symptoms to watch for.

What the Hybrid Battery Does

The hybrid battery is a series of battery modules made up of individual cells, similar to an AA battery. Combined, they deliver energy to the electrified part of the car to assist or substitute for the gas powertrain. The battery is recharged by an inverter that draws excess energy from the internal combustion engine’s system, and most hybrids also harvest energy through regenerative braking. Certain hybrid models can also be plugged in to recharge the battery. 

Why are hybrids popular? The main two reasons are that they reduce fuel consumption, and they reduce vehicle emissions for greener transportation. 

Signs a hybrid battery is failing

When the battery is no functioning at or near its full capacity, there’s a noticeable decline in performance. These are five signs that can indicate your hybrid’s battery needs attention soon (or right now). 

1. Hybrid system warning light

The hybrid system warning light, also known as the “Check Hybrid System” warning light, is a warning indicator found in hybrid vehicles. In some vehicles, it’s a triangle with an exclamation mark within it, and on other vehicles, it’s accompanied by a message on the cluster display. This light typically appears as a yellow or amber color and is usually located on the dashboard.

If the hybrid system warning light appears on the dashboard, it means there is an issue with the hybrid battery or the hybrid system itself. It could be caused by a malfunction in the battery, the electric motor, the power inverter, or the hybrid control module, but the battery is the most common culprit.

2. Charging issues

If the battery pack in a hybrid has bad or imbalanced cells, or serious degradation has occurred in it due to age or usage, it will often experience issues with charging. Typically, it will accept a charge at a slower rate than normal or not completely charging while you drive. The in-vehicle display might show rapid discharge while it’s in electric mode or it may never show it’s charged to 100%.

3. Reduced range

A weak, sulfated, or otherwise compromised hybrid battery pack may still initiate hybrid mode or EV mode. However, the reduced capacity means that the electrical charge isn’t sufficient for your usual operating range. On your instrument cluster, the estimated distance to empty might show up normally but your car may not achieve it since there’s less stored energy in the battery.

4. Poor fuel economy

Since the gas engine needs to operate more to compensate for the lower battery capacity, it’s going to burn more fuel. It can be substantial. For example, if your hybrid is rated for 50 miles per gallon combined city and highway, it may only achieve 40 MPG or less. That decrease in fuel economy means higher costs to operate your car, naturally, so the longer you wait to fix it, the worse it is.

5. Strange noises

With a bad hybrid battery, symptoms can also include unusual sounds inside your car. You might hear an electrical hum that either comes and goes or is there constantly while you drive, or there could be clicks and pops you hear. One noise could be a fan that pushes air over the battery that’s louder than normal since a bad battery often generates more heat than normal.

6. What to do about a bad hybrid battery

In some instances, a bad hybrid battery can be serviced with a process known as battery pack balancing. In other cases, battery reconditioning can add months or even years of extra life to a failing high-voltage battery.

If your battery can’t be recovered, a replacement hybrid battery is the best route to take. Although it’s expensive, it’s more cost-effective than replacing your car, and the old battery can be recycled to create new batteries. 

Whether you’re replacing a hybrid battery or need tools to get the job done right, choose AutoZone. Trustworthy Advice and high-quality parts are what we do best, no matter if you’re shopping online or in-store. If the job is too big for you, seek out one of our Preferred Shops to help you do the job.

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FAQ/People Also Ask

What happens when a hybrid battery is low?

If the battery power is low or runs out, your car will switch over to the gas engine and initiate charging.

What is the lifespan of a hybrid battery?

A hybrid battery commonly lasts around 10 years and between 100,000 and 150,000 miles. That varies depending on how you use your vehicle, weather conditions, and other factors.

How often does a hybrid battery need to be replaced?

You can expect your hybrid to need a new battery around 10 years of age, although it’s not unheard of to reach 15 or even 20 years before it fails.

How much does it cost to replace battery on a hybrid?

The high-voltage battery on a hybrid varies in price depending on the capacity, the type, and the brand. Expect a range from $1,500 to more than $4,500.

Can you still drive a hybrid if the battery dies?

If your hybrid’s battery runs out of power or fails, it will switch over to the gas engine alone for propulsion.

Advice, how-to guides, and car care information featured on and AutoZone Advice & How-To’s are presented as helpful resources for general maintenance and automotive repairs from a general perspective only and should be used at your own risk. Information is accurate and true to the best of AutoZone’s knowledge, however, there may be omissions, errors or mistakes.

Be sure to consult your owner’s manual, a repair guide, an AutoZoner at a store near you, or a licensed, professional mechanic for vehicle-specific repair information. Refer to the service manual for specific diagnostic, repair and tool information for your particular vehicle. Always chock your wheels prior to lifting a vehicle. Always disconnect the negative battery cable before servicing an electrical application on the vehicle to protect its electrical circuits in the event that a wire is accidentally pierced or grounded. Use caution when working with automotive batteries. Sulfuric acid is caustic and can burn clothing and skin or cause blindness. Always wear gloves and safety glasses and other personal protection equipment, and work in a well-ventilated area. Should electrolyte get on your body or clothing, neutralize it immediately with a solution of baking soda and water. Do not wear ties or loose clothing when working on your vehicle.

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