Now that the technology has had a few years to develop, we’re starting to see more pre-owned hybrids make their way onto used car lots as people trade in their old ones for something new and even more efficient and environmentally friendly.

It’s easier than ever to find a reasonably priced hybrid that suits your lifestyle.

There are a few key aspects to consider when looking for a used hybrid and below I’ll outline some things to keep in mind as you shop.

 

Don’t Forget the Basics

The principles are the same whether you’re shopping for a hybrid or a regular car. If you’re buying from a dealer, look for places that offer a certified pre-owned selection.

If that’s not possible, or if you’re buying privately, it’s a good idea to have the car inspected by a qualified mechanic if you’re seriously considering it.

Make sure you check out the vehicle’s history with CarFax or a similar type of reporting service. Though not foolproof, they can tell you how many owners a car has had over the years and can alert you to any title problems or if any damage has been reported.

 

Check the Warranty

The dealer will have this kind of information readily available, but make sure you ask for it if they’re not up front about it.

Many hybrids will have an 8 year, 100,000 mile warranty that covers the battery and all the electrical components – some may be slightly more extensive, depending on the manufacturer.

Keep the warranty information in mind when considering prospects. You don’t want to drive the car for a year and have to foot the bill for a new battery pack. They can be pretty expensive, usually in the range of $2,500.

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If you’re buying a used hybrid as a long-term investment, don’t forget to calculate the price of a battery replacement into your list of potential expenses. That’s not to say you’ll definitely have to, but it’s worth considering.

 

Know the Differences

Have you ever actually driven a hybrid car? If not, you may be surprised by some of the sounds they make.

In a regular car, the engine noise will essentially match your acceleration. The faster you go, the louder and more noticeable revving sound you hear. When you shift, the sound drops out and the cycle starts again.

However, with a hybrid, you may notice the noise rises and sort of stays at the same level before it wanes gradually.

I’ve heard from several dealers that people sometimes think there’s something wrong with the engine when they go for a test drive, but that’s just the way it’s supposed to be.

Make sure you understand how a hybrid should feel and sound before you get behind the wheel and make a snap judgement.

 

Other Issues to Consider

Remember that not every mechanic is trained to deal with hybrid technology.

Independent auto shops are becoming more familiar with the new technology, and can likely handle most maintenance issues. However, in many cases it would probably be a good idea to bring the car into the manufacturer’s dealership if you do need major repairs or parts replaced.

Is there a dealership in your area? If not, shop around for certified technicians elsewhere. Some foresight could help you avoid headaches in the future.

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A used hybrid is not only good for the environment and helping minimize your carbon footprint, but it can also be a worthwhile investment in the long run, especially if you’re someone who has to do a lot of driving.

Keep the aforementioned ideas in mind when you’re shopping and you’re sure to find a great green car.

Mike Martin is a consultant and and blogger in the auto industry, offering tips and guidance on green car technology for consumers and business owners alike. He has worked with the Wolfe Automotive Group, a collection of new and used car dealerships in Kansas City.


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