Go Green: Checklist for Buying Used Hybrids

Hybrid vehicles have now been on the market for more than 10 years. This means there are plenty of used ones out there for prospective buyers to choose from. Shopping for a used hybrid vehicle is very similar to buying one of its non-hybrid counterparts, but there are a few additional steps buyers should take when exercising their normal due diligence. There will be about 55 different models of hybrid vehicles available by 2015, and consumers can save money and hassle in the long run by taking a few extra precautions.

Best Deal Possible

Whether you are shopping for a bad credit auto loan or paying in cash, the savings and benefits of driving a hybrid vehicle start long before you get the keys. Once the buyer has an idea of what they want, websites like Kelley Blue Book provide data on the vehicle's fair market value. This information can be taken to a dealership and used as a bargaining chip in the sales process. A vehicle history report from Carfax or autocheck.com should be ordered once you obtain the VIN number from the seller. This will inform you of any reported accidents the car has been in, verify mileage and the number of owners. Websites such as Bankrate can help you pre-arrange financing which can subsequently be used in bargaining for a better rate from the dealer.

Batteries In Used Hybrids

Hybrid batteries are what makes these fuel-efficient vehicles different from their counterparts. But while a battery in a regular car can be replaced for under $100 in some cases, hybrid batteries can run you upwards of $3000 for a new one. Some hybrid vehicles, however, have extended warranties on their batteries. Most Honda hybrids come with an 8 year/80,000 mile warranty, while most Toyota have 8 year/100,000 mile coverage. It is best to ask the seller about any potential warranty and even check with the manufacturer if the seller cannot give you a concise answer. Regardless, hybrid owners on various web forums say manufacturers have helped them with the costs of replacing a dead battery when it was needed, even when the warranty had expired.

Lead Foot Need Not Apply

One of the primary reasons people buy hybrids is to save money on gasoline. But your driving style and habits can greatly affect how much you can actually take advantage of a hybrid's benefits. For instance, a Honda Civic Hybrid costs about $3,300 more than the gas model. The average Honda hybrid owner reported saving about $432 in fuel per year, according to a report on Edmunds. Therefore, it would take about seven years of driving to get the return on investment. Hybrids are also much more efficient for regular street driving as opposed to highway driving. Higher speeds trigger the gas engine to kick in. Drivers who like to travel at higher speeds and accelerate rapidly may not be good candidates for hybrids. A report on Hybridcars.com revealed that lead-footed driver got about 38 mpg in a test drive of the Honda insight, while the more conservative driver averaged about 51 mpg.

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