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With essentially two powertrains under the hood and a number of additional electric components, gas-electric hybrids are without a doubt complex vehicles. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re prone to breaking down.

“Conventional wisdom holds that the ‘more parts there are, the more likely it is for things to fail,’” says Michael Karesh, creator of TrueDelta.com. “Following this logic, hybrids should be more troublesome than regular cars, as they essentially have two powertrains, plus come complicated electronics. Not only should they fail more often, but when they do fail they should be more difficult to fix.”

Hybrid Cars vs. Gas Cars

TrueDelta, like Consumer Reports, polls car owners monthly in order to get an up to date resource of reliability history and other statistics including fuel economy. “The reality though,” says Karesh, “is that hybrid repair frequencies tend to be at least as low as those for regular cars, and lower in some cases.”

Karesh isn’t the only one with this information; other publications including Consumer Reports and J.D. Power are revealing similar statistics. Even with all those extra parts, hybrids are quite reliable.

“Hybrids are doing very well compared to traditional gasoline powered vehicles,” says Renee Stephens, Vice President of Automotive Quality Research at J.D. Power. “On average, a hybrid sees about 99 problems per 100 vehicles, compared to gas vehicles’ which have a rating of 133 problems per 100 vehicles.”

Stephens points out that this information is based on J.D Powers’ three-year dependability survey, where hybrids also experience 11 fewer engine and transmission issues than gas-powered vehicles, with 15 per 100 versus 26 per 100.

The data from Consumer Reports helps confirm this trend, but also brings up a few other discussion points about hybrid car reliability.

“Hybrids are generally more reliable than their gas counterparts because hybrids are often built on a proven reliable gas-powered platform,” says Anita Lam, from Consumer Reports’ Automotive Data team. “Hybrids built by Toyota and Lexus are the most reliable.” But not all hybrids are created equally.

Which Hybrids are the Least Reliable?

“According to our survey data, the previous generation (2006 – 2011) Honda Civic Hybrid has had many problems with the hybrid battery,” she says. Thirty percent of the 2009 and 2010 model year Honda Civic Hybrids have undergone a costly hybrid battery replacement, although Consumer Reports states most of these services were performed while the car was under warranty. Replacing an out-of-warranty Civic hybrid battery at a dealer would cost about $3,000 not including labour. Fortunately, newer models of the Civic Hybrid are faring much better.

Lam also said reliability for the Ford C-Max Hybrid is 80 percent below the average for new vehicles. The Ford Fusion, which uses the same gas-electric powertrain as the C-Max Hybrid also has a less than average expected reliability rating ...
For the complete story, Are Hybrids Reliable? please visit AutoGuide.com.
 

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I wonder also how much it is Hybrid drivers NOT driving there cars as hard as a % of NON Hybrid drivers do
I've been a bit interested in an Insight (the early 2 seat one) and they routinely have over 200k miles but I wouldn't worry about mechanical issues much since they've likely been lightly driven considering they usually have lifetime average MPG's of over 50 mpg
 
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I wonder also how much it is Hybrid drivers NOT driving there cars as hard as a % of NON Hybrid drivers do
That's an excellent question, richmond2000. More data is needed to draw definitive conclusions, but I'll guess it is a factor albeit a minor one. F14CRAZY's observations about the first generation Honda Insight probably applies to other hybrid cars, too.

On the other hand, the relatively poor reliability of Ford hybrids affirms that some manufacturers do a better job designing and engineering reliable products than others. Ford's recent non-hybrid vehicles aren't known for good reliability, either.
 

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That's an excellent question, richmond2000. More data is needed to draw definitive conclusions, but I'll guess it is a factor albeit a minor one. F14CRAZY's observations about the first generation Honda Insight probably applies to other hybrid cars, too.

On the other hand, the relatively poor reliability of Ford hybrids affirms that some manufacturers do a better job designing and engineering reliable products than others. Ford's recent non-hybrid vehicles aren't known for good reliability, either.
say what you will but Both Toyota and Honda are usually reliable in the Electrical/electronics dept and Ford has struggled more with electrical "issues"
so it would be logical that some one what is GOOD with the electrical side would be good with a Electric hybrid drive + the Japanese tend to go to outside suppliers VS Ford that tends to stay in house
 

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Of the 4 Priuses (Prii?) in my "family" not a single one has experienced a powertrain problem, except the well known over zealous traction control but that's a design issue. But every single one has had multiple headlight problems, and the ones out of warranty have gotten no help at all from Toyota. I wonder what the overall headlight failure rate on these cars is. Is it common or is this group just unlucky? Do other Toyotas use this same system or is this something special designed to have a low current draw to extend battery life?
 

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That's like asking "are cars with 4wd reliable." Time has shown there's nothing inherently unreliable about hybrids. Battery failure has proven to be a non-issue (ask the NYC cab drivers whose Escape Hybrids have crested 200k miles) and resale values are high.

If company X builds reliable cars, they build reliable hybrids too. The widespread use of the technology involved makes these cars less of the science experiments they were when the EV1 and later when the first Prius came out.
 
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