Cost of Owning a Hybrid Car

by : Thomas Jones

The media seems to thrive on bombarding anyone and everyone with information these days, and the focus on hybrid cars is no different. We've known they exist, we know they're supposed to be fuel-efficient. The common buzzword about these vehicles is that they're "eco-friendly" and talk is that you can use the money you save on gas to go buy a plasma screen. At least, that's the hype about the savings you'll gain. That isn't exactly reality, though, so it's time to take a look at just how shiny a penny you should expect to shell out for a hybrid.

1. Did You Want to Buy Groceries This Month? - There is no mistaking that hybrid cars are expensive, way over the price of the normal SUV or convertible. In fact, hybrids can cost at least $6,000 or more, which is a pretty hefty payment. On top of having to pay for the vehicle upfront, the hybrid comes with a load of bells and whistles that you probably were not expecting. Be ready for additional taxes for buying your hybrid, as well as the tricky addition of premium feature, and not-so-premium car mats or paint jobs. Unfortunately, purchasing a hybrid isn't one standard price, but a whole lot of extra nips and grabs that will have you taking out a loan that you'll be paying off until the car's no longer in style.

2. Like A Bad Neighbor - In buying a new vehicle, your insurance rate will become under investigation faster than a game of Carmen Sandiego, and you won't have nifty little geographic clues to leave your insurance agent. Unfortunately, while your vehicle may be brand new, your insurance rates won't be reflecting that. In fact, expect to watch them slowly fizzle downward like flat soda.

3. The Whatzit Goes Where? - Maintaining a hybrid car is very up in the air, giving a new meaning to the term variable expense. The trick behind these vehicles is that the car will either run beautifully, where you have no need to worry about regular maintenance costs as the car is much kinder on filters and fuel injectors, or the vehicle will have one part fail, which is the major issue. The parts used in hybrid vehicles are lighter and cheaper to manufacturers, but are going to be hard to find. In fact, they can be impossible to find in some cases. So, while the vehicle may seem to have no problems, a sudden failed part could cost you in the thousands. The additional problem is even finding a mechanic that can fix your car. If that's a bust, you'll probably be heading to the dealership, and that's an expensive errand.

4. It's Not The Pink Bunny - Hands down, the number one financial snafu I have seen while looking at hybrid cars is the battery pack. Consumers are often unaware that the battery pack is supposed to be replaced every 80,000 to 100,000 miles. While some battery packs claim to last even longer, closer to 150,000 miles, the fact is that even to replace an individual cell on the pack is around $180, and that does not include labor. If you wanted to replace the whole shebang, that's going to be around $4,000 - at least. Either way, this battery isn't like an Energizer, and it won't always keep going.

5. Always Read The Fine Print - Warranties for typical cars are not cheap, but hybrid cars have warranties that are consistently more expensive. That seems like a headache, but, thankfully, the vast majority of the warranties are able to cover your hybrid beyond the shelf life of your battery. They tend to last 8 years or 100,000 miles, so, for the most part, if your battery fails, it would be under warranty. Just know that you will be paying a hefty sum to secure a comfort zone for your vehicle.

In the end, it comes down to the consumer. If your income can handle the expenses, and you feel as if you would reap the benefits and savings from a hybrid, it may be the car for you. Others, though, may weight the maintenance and upfront costs, then simply say "No, thank you."