• Nov 26, 2012
If you've got an older car in your driveway, which experts say is getting to be more typical lately, what happens when the battery poops out? You'll be paying $100 to $200 to pick one up at a retail parts store. But what about hybrid electric vehicles?

The Toyota Prius and Honda Insight have been on American roads for about a decade now, with some having more than 150,000 miles on their odometers. Battery replacements for these and other hybrids are going to cost much more than they will for internal combustion engine vehicles – about $1,500 to $2,500 to buy the battery pack and have it installed in a hybrid.

For those consumers attached to keeping their car, the hybrid does have its advantages. Consumer Reports has been impressed with the reliability of hybrid batteries and performance of the cars overall. For one thing, in the most popular hybrid design from Toyota, there are virtually no wearable parts in the transmission. "So if you have to spend $1,800 on a battery after 150,000 miles, you're still ahead of where you would have been in many less-reliable cars that are on their second or third transmission by then," said Eric Evarts, senior associate autos editor at Consumer Reports.

Hybrid owners need to look at their warranty coverage to see their options, which could cover as much as 150,000 miles. That was the case for a New York resident who owns a 2005 Prius and was quoted $4,000 for a new battery pack. He found out his car was covered by the longer 150,000-mile warranty that applies to owners in states like New York that follow California's stricter emission laws.

Toyota owners are also finding out that credits can be applied for the old battery. Toyota is charging $3,649 for a first- or second-generation Prius battery pack, but a $1,350 "core credit" can be applied to the old battery, bringing the actual cost to the consumer down to $2,299 for the replacement. Owners of 2006 to 2009 model year Honda Civic hybrids are paying about $2,000 for a replacement pack.

Hybrid electric vehicle owners almost always needed to be willing to pay more for their cars than for a comparable ICE vehicle. Not only have these drivers been getting better gas mileage all these years, they could also be paying less to keep the old hybrids running.


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