Make us your home page
Autos | Hybrid maintenance

Hybrid repairs may need certified technicians

To safely work on the electrical systems of hybrids, like this 2008 Toyota Prius Touring Edition, requires special training.


To safely work on the electrical systems of hybrids, like this 2008 Toyota Prius Touring Edition, requires special training.

More drivers are switching to hybrid vehicles to get better fuel efficiency but, like all cars, they require regular maintenance and repairs. You can take them to a regular mechanic for routine work, but hybrid-certified mechanics are essential for more extensive work, especially related to the high-voltage electrical system.

"Even in our dealership, only certified mechanics can work on these cars," says Joe Schlueter, service director for Toyota of Tampa Bay in Tampa. "From time to time, we have safety classes to bring them up to speed. If you're not certified, not only can it hurt you, it can kill you."

Schlueter says work on hybrids at the dealership has been minimal. "We do get some cars that have issues, but mostly they're repairs from accidents," he says. Of the hybrid-related repairs, battery replacement is likely the most costly, he says. If your car is not covered under warranty, "you can spend $2,700 to $3,000 on the part alone."

Angie's List (, which provides local service company ratings to its members, turned to its highest-rated auto repair specialists for advice on how to keep the hybrids running smoothly. Here are their tips for hybrid auto repair:

Find a technician who specializes in hybrid repair before you need one: Doing your homework and developing a relationship with a specialist will help you avoid being rushed into a last-minute decision. You'll also be first in line for emergency service and cost savings.

Check licensing and certification: Most mechanics are ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certified, but a majority of independent mechanics are not certified in hybrid repair. Hybrid dealership technicians, on the other hand, are required to complete the monthly and yearly certification courses and are up to date on the latest innovations.

Never work on the electrical system yourself: Unless you are a hybrid-certified mechanic, leave the electrical and battery repairs to the professionals. They are trained to work with high-voltage components.

Don't be late with tire rotations: The electric engine creates more torque than a gasoline engine and can wear out tires faster.

Charge that battery: Regularly charge your 12-volt battery if your hybrid has plug-in capability. Hybrids that don't plug in use regenerative braking energy to self-charge.

Keep up with routine maintenance: As with traditional fuel vehicles, staying current on your regular maintenance will extend the life and preserve the resale of the car.

Warranty work: Most hybrid warranties cover eight to 10 years or 100,000 miles. Determine if your warranty requires you to use a specific repair center. If you use another source, keep all receipts in case your warranty coverage is questioned.

Hybrid repairs may need certified technicians 07/03/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 1, 2010 2:16pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 'Road to Nowhere' is back: Next phase of Suncoast Parkway coming


    Despite intense public opposition and dubious traffic projections, the Florida Department of Transportation has announced that construction of the toll road known as "Suncoast 2" is expected to start in early 2018.

    The Suncoast Parkway ends at U.S. 98 just south of Citrus County. For years residents have opposed extending the toll road, a project dubbed the "Suncoast 2" into Citrus County. But state officials recently announced that the Suncoast 2 should start construction in early 2018. [Stephen J. Coddington  |  TIMES]
  2. A sports rout on Wall Street


    NEW YORK — Sporting goods retailers can't shake their losing streak.

  3. Grocery chain Aldi hosting hiring event in Brandon Aug. 24


    BRANDON — German grocery chain Aldi is holding a hiring event for its Brandon store Aug. 24. It is looking to fill store associate, shift manager and manager trainee positions.

  4. Lightning owner Jeff Vinik backs film company pursuing global blockbusters


    TAMPA — Jeff Vinik's latest investment might be coming to a theater near you.

    Jeff Vinik, Tampa Bay Lightning owner, invested in a new movie company looking to appeal to a global audience. | [Times file photo]
  5. Trigaux: Look to new Inc. 5000 rankings for Tampa Bay's future heavyweights


    There's a whole lotta fast-growing private companies here in Tampa Bay. Odds are good you have not heard of most of them.


    Kyle Taylor, CEO and founder of The Penny Hoarder, fills a glass for his employees this past Wednesday as the young St. Petersburg personal advice business celebrates its landing at No. 25 on the 2017 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest growing private companies in the country. Taylor, still in his 20s, wins kudos from executive editor Alexis Grant for keeping the firm's culture innovative. The business ranked No. 32 last year. [DIRK SHADD   |   Times]