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Buying a Hybrid Car


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#1 of 37 Brian Collins

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Posted September 15 2007 - 05:00 AM

I'm seriously thinking about buying a hybrid car for my next purchase (hopefully a year or two or more off, but you never know). I'm curious if anyone here has any experience or first hand knowledge with them. If it helps the car I have in mind is the Toyota Camry Hybrid.

I'm in a profession that requires me to leave home for months at a time and I'm curious how the car would handle that. My routine for my current car is just fill up the tank, pour in some fuel stabilizer, drive it around for a bit to get the stabilizer through everything, put the car in the garage and then go. I haven't had any issues with starting the car right up when I get back after 4/5 months. How is the battery in the hybrid going to work for this...will it drain over time with no use or will it be fine?

Another thing is warming up the engine prior to driving. Year round I warm the car up enough to get the radiator temp over 100 degrees (arbitrary point that I can see on my instrument cluster) before driving off. If I don't do this, the car will run a bit rougher and will take off as soon as I release the brake even without touching the gas until it warms up while driving. With the hybrid, it's my understanding that the engine won't even start until I hit 35 MPH for the first time, which can be a mile or more down the road from my driveway. Will this cause any issues?

Thanks for any insight you can provide.

#2 of 37 drobbins

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Posted September 15 2007 - 06:14 AM

Google: Hybrid vs Hummer and there are some interesting results. I don't know how much hype there is on both sides but Car & Driver is quoted.
Quote:
CNW found that hybrids use more total energy in their lifetime than their gasoline-powered cousins. Even a Hummer, the ultimate bane of the environmentalist world -- uses less total energy over its lifetime than any hybrid (including the halo special, the Prius), Car and Driver magazine said.


#3 of 37 Ed Moxley

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Posted September 15 2007 - 07:35 AM

Our regular mechanic told us that hybrids aren't meant for road travel. They're meant more for running around town. On the road, is when the gas part kicks in, and there's so little power, that you tend to step on the pedal, and burn more gas than normal. He doesn't recommend hybrids to folks that travel a lot.

Something else they don't tell you when you're buying one:
After so many miles (maybe 100k, not sure), you have to replace the bank of batteries. Depending on the car, that can cost anywhere from $3000 - $5000. You can buy a decent used car for that!

I read somewhere that Honda was quitting the hybrids, and going with the bio-fuel diesels. Diesels have always given better fuel mileage than gas. You may want to consider one of those.
Good luck with whatever you get! Posted Image
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#4 of 37 Carl Johnson

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Posted September 15 2007 - 08:32 AM

Why are you thinking about buying a hybrid? Are you looking to save the environment, to save money on gas, or some other reason?

#5 of 37 DaveF

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Posted September 15 2007 - 01:24 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Collins
Another thing is warming up the engine prior to driving. Year round I warm the car up enough to get the radiator temp over 100 degrees (arbitrary point that I can see on my instrument cluster) before driving off. If I don't do this, the car will run a bit rougher and will take off as soon as I release the brake even without touching the gas until it warms up while driving. With the hybrid, it's my understanding that the engine won't even start until I hit 35 MPH for the first time, which can be a mile or more down the road from my driveway. Will this cause any issues?
I'm not a car guy, but my experience and what I've heard on Car Talk is that warming up a car is unnecessary with a properly running car. If it starts, it's ready to go. And, in the past 10 years I've not had to warm up a car, winter or summer, except if I wanted the interior actually warm Posted Image So it sounds like you've got a habit from an old car. This won't be an issue with a new Hybrid.

And your driving habits matter significantly. For highway cruising, last I heard Hybrids ran on the gas engine, so efficiency will be similar to a normal 4-cylinder car.

At the other side, a coworker has a Honda Insight, the most efficient retail Hybrid. It's a sub-compact, manual transmission, and with aggressive fuel management, he gets 70+ MPG.

So what you get depends on what your goals and budget are, as Carl said.

#6 of 37 Henry Gale

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Posted September 15 2007 - 02:25 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Collins
I'm curious if anyone here has any experience or first hand knowledge with them.


Not so far in this thread. Posted Image

I've had a Prius for two years. If I was going to buy a new car tomorrow, it would be another Prius.
A buddy of mine at work has also had a Prius for two years. It got totaled by a dump truck recently. His wife was in the car and got banged up a bit but if you saw the vehicle, you'd wonder how she lived.
Well, side air bags and an intact passenger compartment is how.
They just replaced the car...with a new Prius.
I've noticed that people without hybrids are way hip about why they're a lousy overpriced car.
Those of us who own them, love 'em.
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#7 of 37 Ed Moxley

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Posted September 15 2007 - 03:19 PM

How much is it gonna cost you to replace those batteries in your Prius?
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#8 of 37 Steve Schaffer

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Posted September 15 2007 - 05:36 PM

Up until a year ago I worked in the service dept. of a large Toyota dealer. We never found out how much a battery pack for a Prius costs because we never had to replace one, never-ever nada, and we had a number of gen-1 Prius owners with over 150k on their cars. As for them not being road cars that's so much hogwash. True the fuel economy advantage is most noticeable in city driving but they will far exceed a comparably sized gas only vehicle even in freeway cruising. One of the service advisors at the dealership commuted 50 miles each way to his home in the mountains east of Fresno in a Prius, beat any eco-box's economy by a mile and was dead reliable. Many of our Prius owners regularly used their cars for the 220 mile jaunt to the central coast on a weekly basis.

The engine will start instantly if the coolant temp is low, and will run continously until warmup is achieved at which time the engine will shut down at stops and most of the time on deceleration. Once warm the engine will not run at stops or when creeping slowly thru parking lots but will usually start up to assist acceleration when taking off from a red light within about 10 feet of travel or so--it ain't gonna accelerate to 35mph on just the motor. The engine startup and shut down is virtually undectable except under hard accelerator pressure. The CVT transmission is totally stepless--no shift shock at all. In this respect it's like an early 50s Buick Dynaflow in that the lack of shift and extreme silence gives the feeling that acceleration is slow, but glance down at the speedo and you're suddenly doing 75 even though you'd swear it was more like 45. There is a coolant storage "thermos bottle" on the car, and electric pump pumps hot coolant into this when the warm engine is shut down so that the amount of time the engine needs to run on a "cold" (think first start of the morning) is reduced. 0-60 on a Prius is comparable to a late 90's 4 cyl Camry, on a Camry Hybrid it's about like a late 90's V6 Camry. A Prius with a full load of passengers will go up the infamous "Grapevine" grade (I-5 between Bakersfield and LA) at 70 mph with ease.



Another advantage to Toyota hybrids is that they use electrically driven AC compressors--the AC works just as well when the car is sitting at a light as it does when cruising down the freeway--a huge advantage in Fresno's 105 summer temps what with our unsychronized stop lights.

Unfortunately for the OP, the one scenario where a hybrid does present problems is one in which the car is left idle for months at a time. The problem is not the main batter pack going dead. There is also a small conventional 12 volt battery to maintain current to the computer, smart start system, and some other electronics that will go dead due to the parasitic loads from these items. If this goes dead the car will jump start but will set several trouble codes and need a trip to the dealer to cancel the codes. Using a simple self-regulating trickle charger during long idle periods would eliminate this problem.
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#9 of 37 Todd Hochard

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Posted September 16 2007 - 01:11 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by drobbins
Google: Hybrid vs Hummer and there are some interesting results. I don't know how much hype there is on both sides but Car & Driver is quoted.
That study is hopelessly flawed. Start here-

http://climateprogre....basis-in-fact/

...and be sure to click through to the actual studies that debunk it.

The life-cycle energy cost numbers they use-

$3.25/mile for Prius
$1.95/mile for H3

are outrageous for both. Think about it. Drive both for 100,000 miles- which virtually every owner of either is likely to do- and life-cycle energy costs are $325000 for Prius, and $195000 for H3?? This is impossible, since both vehicles can be had for under $30,000. If the Hummer gets 20mpg, and gas is $3/gal, that's 15c/mile in direct fuel cost. That leaves $1.80/mile from initial manufacture?? Impossible, based on the low purchase price alone.

Given that the numbers are so retarded for H3, it's plainly easy to see that they are even moreso for Prius.

Back on topic...

My brother has a 2006 Prius that he has left sitting in my Mom's backyard for more than a year. It has no plates on it, so it doesn't get driven. I have started and ran it up and down the street twice in the past year when I'm visiting. No real harm yet, other than the engine has an ugly misfire for the first minute or so. I'm guessing the 13:1 compression ratio and old 87 octane gas are the factor here. I did have to charge the 12v battery (tiny thing in the back hatch) once to get the car to turn on. But, no noticeable damage to the hybrid battery, yet.
I keep telling him to sell the car, since he doesn't drive it (single, and has a company car). He'd prefer to let it rot, I guess.Posted Image

Todd
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#10 of 37 DanaA

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Posted September 16 2007 - 02:21 AM

My wife has a Prius. It gets fantastic mileage around town, but also great mileage on the road. She was so attached to her old minivan that I had a hard time getting her to think about another car. But, she loves her Prius more than any car she's ever owned and that includes quite a few. There is no way she would trade in her Prius for a minivan. No way.

As far as the hybrid batteries, these cars have been around since the late 1990's. The batteries lasting has proven a nonfactor thus far. They last.

I wouldn't know about how long you can not drive the car before it impacts the battery, but would also recommend you look at the Altima hybrid, if they're available in your area. I'm pretty sure they're the same hybrid technology as Toyota, but the full tax write off is still available.

#11 of 37 Brian Collins

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Posted September 16 2007 - 03:31 AM

Thanks to the folks who took the time to answer my questions and not try to make this a debate about hybrids vs hummers. I appreciate the input and I will certainly spend quite a bit of time doing my research before going this route. If nothing else, I'll wait until I retire from my current profession (5-8 years from now) before going the hybrid route. Then the long term storage shouldn't be an issue.

#12 of 37 Ed Moxley

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Posted September 16 2007 - 03:47 AM

Just find and read consumer reviews, instead of professional reviews.
The pros aren't going to bite the hand that feeds them, just like it's very hard to find a bad review of HT equipment. To professional reviewers, everything about everything they review, is just wonderful.
Good luck!
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#13 of 37 BrianW

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Posted September 16 2007 - 04:44 AM

Quote:
The CVT transmission is totally stepless--no shift shock at all.
I don't know how the Buick Dynaflow transmission works, but I'm very impressed with the Prius's transmission design. Calling it a CVT is almost a misnomer since it doesn't use any of the common CVT components, like belts, pulleys, or sliding cones and wheels with indeterminate engagement. The Prius's transmission is essentially a differential -- and just as reliable -- with gears that never unmesh and remesh, so there's no clutch, no synchros, no hydraulics, and, consequently, no shifting. Toyota has a patent on it and willingly licenses it to other manufacturers. It's a brilliant design that Toyota is entitled to crow about, but not many people -- even Prius owners -- seem to be aware of this transmission's brilliant design.
Quote:
Just find and read consumer reviews, instead of professional reviews.
I'll second that. Even if you find a pro reviewer with integrity (and there are plenty of really good ones out there if you look), most pro reviewers tend to think that NOTHING they review has enough power, and some even base their reviews exclusively (or with much more emphasis) on how the car performs on the track rather than how it performs in real-world traffic.
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#14 of 37 Henry Gale

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Posted September 16 2007 - 04:44 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Moxley
Just find and read consumer reviews, instead of professional reviews.
The pros aren't going to bite the hand that feeds them, just like it's very hard to find a bad review of HT equipment. To professional reviewers, everything about everything they review, is just wonderful.
Good luck!


Ed,
In between posting, you might try reading.
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But there ain't nothin sweeter 
Than riden' the rails."
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#15 of 37 Ed Moxley

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Posted September 16 2007 - 05:45 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Henry Gale
Ed,
In between posting, you might try reading.
Henry......I did read. That's why I posted that.
Get reviews from places other than just here.

I read some consumer reviews at caranddriver.com of the Prius, that weren't that complimentary. A couple of them had a couple of nice things to say, but overall, they didn't really like it.

If you own one, of course you're going to rave about how great it is! Otherwise, you wouldn't have bought it. Read why people didn't buy them, after trying them out. There's two sides, and you need to know both of them, before spending that kind of money............

I'm not putting down Toyota. I like Toyota cars a lot. I just don't want a hybrid, after what I've heard and read about them. My wife said she'd rather have a bio-diesel car. If I ever buy another vehicle for myself, I'll need another one that can tow my bass boat.
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#16 of 37 Henry Gale

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Posted September 16 2007 - 06:15 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ed Moxley
Henry......I did read. That's why I posted that.
Get reviews from places other than just here.

I read some consumer reviews at caranddriver.com of the Prius, that weren't that complimentary. A couple of them had a couple of nice things to say, but overall, they didn't really like it.


Well, that's not true.
I also "read some consumer reviews at caranddriver.com of the Prius".

There were three.
On a scale of 1 to 10 one reviewer gave the car an overall score of "1".
That made little sense because he gave each individual item; style, comfort, brakes, transmission etc, much higher scores.
The other two reviewers gave the car an overall score of 10 and 9.
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#17 of 37 ZacharyTait

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Posted September 16 2007 - 06:21 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Todd Hochard
My brother has a 2006 Prius that he has left sitting in my Mom's backyard for more than a year. It has no plates on it, so it doesn't get driven. I have started and ran it up and down the street twice in the past year when I'm visiting. No real harm yet, other than the engine has an ugly misfire for the first minute or so. I'm guessing the 13:1 compression ratio and old 87 octane gas are the factor here. I did have to charge the 12v battery (tiny thing in the back hatch) once to get the car to turn on. But, no noticeable damage to the hybrid battery, yet.
I keep telling him to sell the car, since he doesn't drive it (single, and has a company car). He'd prefer to let it rot, I guess.Posted Image

Todd

Any chance he'll dump it for cheap, say $1000 cheap? Posted Image

I can't wait until I can afford to make monthly payments on a car because then I'll try as hard as I can to get a hybrid.

#18 of 37 Todd Hochard

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Posted September 16 2007 - 08:07 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Brian Collins
Thanks to the folks who took the time to answer my questions and not try to make this a debate about hybrids vs hummers. I appreciate the input and I will certainly spend quite a bit of time doing my research before going this route. If nothing else, I'll wait until I retire from my current profession (5-8 years from now) before going the hybrid route. Then the long term storage shouldn't be an issue.
Hey, I did both!Posted Image I didn't mean to distract. I have trouble letting blatantly wrong info sit unchallenged.
In 5-8 years, you should have quite a few all-electric options, both battery-powered, as well as fuel cell. Exciting times- well, except for the wait.
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#19 of 37 Andrew Pratt

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Posted September 16 2007 - 08:33 AM

How do these hybrids do in extreme cold temps like we get in the prairies during winter?

#20 of 37 drobbins

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Posted September 16 2007 - 08:35 AM

Quote:
I have trouble letting blatantly wrong info sit unchallenged.
As I said "there is much hype on both sides" To point out that much research is needed (that I have not done.) And to fulfill the original posters wishes "not try to make this a debate about hybrids vs hummers." I will leave it at that.


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