Hybrids are a great way to save on gas and protect the environment, but they’re not always the least expensive vehicle choice. Still, more often than not, buying used – instead of brand new – is the better value. So what’s the best way to buy a used Toyota hybrid
? In some ways, the process is quite different from purchasing a normal used vehicle:
. For most cars, asking the date of the last battery replacement isn’t a huge deal, since batteries don’t tend to cost an arm and a leg. But because hybrids are powered by an electric motor that draws energy from the battery pack (as well as the gas engine), the battery’s condition is of utmost concern – especially since these battery packs can cost up to $3,000 to replace. Before shopping, research the specific Toyota hybrid you’re interested in and see how often the battery typically needs replacement.
While it’s still important to test drive a vehicle to ensure its size and features work for you, it doesn’t do much good in helping you determine the vehicle’s condition – unless you happen to be an experienced mechanic. That’s because a hybrid makes different sounds than a regular car when something’s wrong. So when buying a hybrid, be aware that a test drive probably won’t be enough to determine its condition. You’ll almost always want to take it to a mechanic as well before agreeing to purchase.
Popping the hood.
A lot of prospective buyers like to look under a vehicle’s hood to search for corrosive wires or hack jobs. However, examining what’s under a hybrid’s hood is not helpful – and in fact can be dangerous thanks to the high voltages in the engine bay. It’s best to take a hybrid to a mechanic if you’re interested in buying it.
While some things are different when shopping for a used hybrid, certain steps in your car-hunting process shouldn’t change:
- Run a vehicle history report. Has the vehicle been stolen or in any major accidents that might have compromised its ability to work properly? Have there been any associated recalls? Examine the report thoroughly before agreeing to purchase.
- Check maintenance records. While the required maintenance might not be the same as with a normal vehicle, regular checkups are still required for a healthy hybrid. Consider how regularly fluids were changed, parts were replaced, and what other procedures were completed to maintain the vehicle.
- Consider a certified pre-owned vehicle. While certified used Toyotas might be slightly more expensive than normal used, there are a lot of benefits – whether you go hybrid or not – including a comprehensive warranty, great financing rates, peace of mind, and more.