PHEV and hybrid car servicing: Our complete guide

close up of hybrid badge

As governments, companies and individuals become increasingly aware of the climate crisis, alternative fuels are becoming more prominent on our roads.

Hybrid vehicles are powered by a combination of an internal combustion engine (ICE), alongside a ‘self-charging’ battery to power an internal electric motor.

Plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHEV) operate in a very similar way, just with a larger battery that you can plug into an external power source to stay topped up.

Servicing your hybrid/PHEV is just as important than your conventional vehicle to keep the dual power source in good condition.

In this guide we’ll explore

  • Hybrid car maintenance
  • What’s involved in a hybrid car service
  • What the future holds for hybrid cars

UK hybrid car sales: The current market

As we know, electric-powered vehicles are the future, but this can be a big change in habit for many – with drivers fearful over range, forgetting to charge up and the initial investment of an EV.

Drivers in the UK are increasingly turning towards hybrid vehicles as a happy medium. They keep fuel costs down while ensuring peace of mind that during long distance drives, the standard engine will kick in once the electric starts to dwindle.

According to research from Zap Map, 460,000 plug-in hybrid sales were reported in 2022. Similarly, the sales of hybrid vehicles increased by 40.6% from January 2022 to January 2023 – a strong start to the year.

Drivers are clearly starting to see the advantage of making the switch, indicating that hybrid car industry growth is set to continue rising in 2023. And by 2040, the combined number of hybrid and electric cars could reach 25.5 million in the UK.


What’s the difference between hybrid and petrol cars?

So, you’ve taken the plunge and decided to get a hybrid, but now’s the time to get it serviced.

Before we get into what goes on in a standard hybrid car service, it’s useful to understand what differentiates a hybrid car from your conventional petrol or diesel car.

Hybrid cars offer a combination of a conventional ICE and an electric motor powered by a battery. Essentially, they’re a vehicle that uses more than one means of propulsion.

Self-charging hybrid vehicles can’t be plugged in to charge the battery. Instead, the battery is powered utilising regenerative braking, which allows the vehicle to self-charge as you drive. All you need to do is get in the car and set off – no need to plug in to the power.

On the other hand, plug-in hybrids recharge their battery pack by plugging a charging cable into an external power source, just like a fully-electric vehicle. More on PHEV car servicing later…

What are the advantages of hybrid cars?

  • Better fuel economy
  • Lower CO2 emissions
  • Not reliant on EV charging stations

Hybrids are perfect for town drivers, where you can run solely on electric power for short journeys with incredibly low running costs.

Don’t worry about range either, the standard engine will kick in once the battery has been exhausted. And of course, you’ll be doing your bit to reduce your environmental impact when you’re running on electricity, too.

Basically, hybrid cars contain all the benefits of an electric vehicle combined with the advantages of a standard combustion engine. Seems like a win-win, right?

What are the disadvantages of hybrid cars?

  • Less horsepower
  • Expensive initial investment
  • Maintenance (You’ll need to find a specialist)

As with anything, there’s always a few downsides. But in our eyes, these disadvantages are nothing major and the pros definitely outweigh the cons.

So, because the power is split between the engine and battery, hybrid vehicles often don’t have the same kick behind them. Lower acceleration and less horsepower should be expected with a hybrid.

The initial investment of a hybrid can be daunting, thanks to the improved fuel economy however, hybrid vehicles are cheaper to run and should hopefully pay you back in the money saved on petrol in a few years.

Sticking to money talk, hybrids can be slightly more expensive to maintain than your standard car – because of the dual power source.

However, if you find a specialist – like the team here at Vasstech – you can take advantage of honest prices, friendly faces and trustworthy hybrid car servicing.

Need to keep your hybrid car healthy? Book in for a service today!

Difference between a regular service and hybrid car servicing

Due to the added complexity of the engine and electric motor, regular PHEV servicing is essential for keeping your hybrid running smoothly.

The usual servicing checks, like the tyres and brakes, alongside all the necessary filters, lubricants and ancillary parts to keep the combustion engine in working order still need fulfilling.

Check out this video from Ed China, expert mechanic and former ‘Wheeler Dealers’ co-presenter – breaking down how a hybrid service differs from a regular ICE service:

There are several additional checks that need to be carried out for a hybrid vehicle, all of which need a qualified technician to carry out to the best standards to keep your vehicle safe and sound. As we say, the hybrid car servicing requirements are a lot more complicated, with a lot more specialist bits and pieces to check over. Let’s take a look:

PHEV and hybrid car servicing checklist

Battery health

Though your battery health is essential with any vehicle, batteries in a hybrid or PHEV vehicle take greater importance.

Used to completely power the car when fuel is not in use, proper hybrid car servicing will require a thorough diagnostic health check of the battery to ensure everything is operating as it should.

And of course, a replacement or repair if necessary. As a result, you can expect improved performance and efficiency from your vehicle.

Inverter Coolant

Taking a quick peek under the bonnet to ensure your hybrid doesn’t have any leaks is essential. Inverter coolant is different from engine coolant, so it’s an additional check that needs to be inspected during your service.

It helps the car’s inverter turn the DC power (what comes from the batteries) into the AC power to make the electric motor work. This will be topped up as necessary during your service.

Brake binding

As we know, hybrid cars (as with electric vehicles) utilise a regenerative braking system.

Regen braking involves transforming the kinetic energy that would typically be wasted during braking and turning it into electricity. This energy is stored in the vehicle’s battery, and will be used when the car next accelerates – rather than draining the vehicle’s original energy supply.

Though this system is brilliant for fuel economy, the extra work from the brakes opens the system up to a few extra problems – most commonly, brake binding.

This is where the brake pads stick to the brake disc or drum, causing the vehicle to slow down of its own accord. During your hybrid’s service, the technician will check for potential brake binding, repairing the issue if required.

Charging port and high voltage cables

Similar to an electric vehicle service, the charging port is incredibly important to keep in good check to ensure your vehicle’s charge is topped up and ready to go.

This requires a skilled technician to complete properly, due to the high-voltage, intricate cables that make up a hybrid vehicle.


Hybrid Car Service Intervals

How frequently you should get your hybrid vehicle serviced should be the same as any other – whether it be a petrol, diesel or electric-powered vehicle.

It’s widely recommended to bring your car in annually, or every 12,000 miles – whichever occurs first.

However, if you’re always on the go, taking long road trips and big daily commutes to work, an interim service is recommended to account for your high mileage and stress on the brakes.


Cost of servicing a hybrid car

Though the price shouldn’t differ too drastically from your traditional ICE vehicle, you may see a slight price bump due to the added complexity of two power sources.

After all, the technician must be fully trained to work amongst high-voltage electricals, as well as possess the knowledge and skills to undergo a typical service.

Our technicians have undergone extensive training to gain the qualifications necessary to fulfil your hybrid car servicing to the highest standards, so you know your car is safe, efficient and secure.

Need help with your hybrid car? We’ve got you covered. Get in touch today!

Plug-in hybrid battery health tips

As we know, your battery is integral for keeping your PHEV working properly, and that means keeping your battery healthy.

The best way to prevent excessive battery drainage is to not let it run completely flat time and time again, and to make sure to charge the battery at least once every fortnight.

When charging, ensure all non-essential accessories – such as the aircon and any audio equipment is switched off.

As stated earlier, checking the battery during servicing is integral, for both full hybrid cars and plug-in hybrids.

Requiring a trained technician, it’s essential to take your PHEV in for regular servicing to keep everything running efficiently and effectively.

Choosing a hybrid car servicing provider

Due to the risk posed by the high voltage systems within a hybrid vehicle, many garages are left wary over fulfilling a service. Requiring specialist knowledge and expertise, it’s important to find a garage that’s friendly to electric vehicles, boasting a team of trained technicians to get the job done properly.

Like the teams at all our Vasstech branches, our selection of services is unparalleled, offering professional hybrid servicing all across the north of England.

Need your EV, hybrid or PHEV servicing? We’re the people you need. Book in today!

The future of hybrid cars

Predictions about the future of hybrid cars are varied, with some predicting a decline in sales with people favouring a solely electric vehicle, whereas others believe most vehicles will be hybrids by 2025.

Professional, reliable hybrid car servicing with Vasstech

And that’s just about everything when it comes to hybrid cars, plug-ins and servicing!

If you’re looking for a hybrid service provider, you’ve come to the right place.

Here at Vasstech, we’ve got a full team of highly-trained, qualified technicians, ready to help keep your hybrid healthy.

We’ve got all the specialist tools and training needed to fulfil proper, reliable battery health inspection and electrical diagnostics, as well as all the servicing checks that come as a standard part of the parcel with any Vasstech service.

Ready to get started? Get in touch with your local Vasstech branch today so we can book you in for a professional, reliable hybrid/PHEV service – at a price that won’t break the bank.

Share this with others

Related Guides