Hybrid Cars, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Hybrid cars can be wonderful. Great mileage, quiet operation around town, neighborhood envy, low carbon footprint, and great for the environment.

Only one problem: hidden hybrid expenses can cost you an arm and a leg.

There’s two problems here, really. First is the fact that few repair shops have any real know-how when it comes to hybrid repair work and that means having to go back to your dealership for practically anything and everything. Second is the extraordinary cost for virtually all repairs.

If you’ve got a Toyota Camry or Toyota Prius, forget about your local garage. That Lexus hybrid? Get to know your Lexus dealer real well. Honda Civic or Honda Fit, Nissan Altima, Chevrolet Silverado and Malibu and Tahoe, Ford Escape, Mercury Mariner, Chyrsler Aspen, Porsche Cayenne, Audi Q7, Mazda Tribute, Saturn Vue Green Line, Toyota Highlander, GMC Yukon, Dodge Durango and Ram pickup truck, even a Cadillac Escalade comes in a hybrid version. Someplace under the hood (or more likely somewhere else) you’ll find both a gas engine and an electric motor which alternately power the vehicle.

Most of the time the mpg factor is impressive. What buyers don’t often realize is that most of the time the incompetency of most mechanics on a hybrid is also quite impressive — and depressive too. It’s bad enough that a hybrid can cost 18 to 25% more than the all-gas version of the same vehicle, but just try getting something fixed at your local corner garage.

Most garages can’t even begin to work on a hybrid. That means you are forced to go back to the new car dealer’s garage for even simple repairs. And that means even simple repairs will cost more. Problem is, even simple hybrid repairs might not get done right either.

We’re hearing more and more consumer complaints about repeat trips to the dealer’s shop for seemingly simple repair jobs that just don’t seem to get done right the first (or second, or third) time.

True, there are a few rare hybrid-only independent shops around like Luscious Garage in San Francisco, but those few that exist are located only in hybrid-intensive big city markets.

Maybe the worst part, though, is the extraordinary high cost of small repairs. Take the case of Michael Yuan’s slow low speed accident where he backed into a wall and ended up looking at an $8,000 repair bill because the repair shop wouldn’t touch the batteries so the car had to make two trips to the Toyota shop for them to be removed and reinstalled and the whole car’s electrical system checked out after the body shop was through with just the body repair work. The final tab? About 4 times normal for a gas engine car. Little more than a handful of states have any independent hybrid repair shop at all (to see the list, click here).

That translates to higher than normal car insurance rates too, folks. One owner complained that their hybrid insurance costs more than double their Ford Explorer, but early reports are mixed.

And if you thought that having a hybrid meant fewer factory defect recalls to deal with, think again. The 2000 Honda Insight was recalled for headlight defects. So was the 2001 Insight. Even the 2002 Honda Insight was recalled. Maybe that has something to do with Honda not making them anymore?

Then the 2003 Honda Civic was recalled repeatedly over exterior lighting and headlight concerns. Recalls kept happening every year and even the 2007 Nissan Altima (for engines) and 2007 Toyota Camry (for airbags) were recalled.

Folks, it looks like the manufacturers just don’t have this hybrid technology worked out yet. Maybe you ought to think twice before you take the hybrid hurdle. It’s a good thing that hybrid cars and hybrid trucks are covered by most state Lemon Car Laws.

Meanwhile, if you’ve got a hybrid lemon, a lemon Honda, a lemon Chevy, a lemon Toyota, or any other kind of lemon hybrid car or lemon hybrid SUV or lemon hybrid truck, don’t put up with the runaround. Email us now or call us at 1.888.331.6422 Toll Free.

Burdge Law Office

Because life is too short to put up with a lemon hybrid car or a lemon hybrid truck.

Click here to see what your state’s Lemon Law says is covered.

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Known nationwide as a leading Lemon Law attorney, Ronald L. Burdge has represented literally thousands of consumers in "lemon" lawsuits and actively co-counsels and coaches other Consumer Law attorneys. From 2005 through 2018, attorney Ronald L. Burdge has been named as the only Lemon Law Ohio Super Lawyer by Law and Politics magazine and Thomson Reuters Corp., Professional Division. Burdge restricts his practice to Lemon Law and Consumer Law cases. The Ohio Super Lawyer results are published annually in the January issue of Cincinnati Magazine. Ronald L. Burdge was named Consumer Law Trial Lawyer of the Year 2004 by the National Association of Consumer Advocates, the nation's largest organization of consumer law private and government attorneys. "Your impact on the auto industry has been magnified many times over because of the trail you blazed for others," stated NACA's Executive Director, Will Ogburn. Burdge has represented thousands of consumers in Ohio, Kentucky and elsewhere since 1978 and is a frequent lecturer to national, state and local Bar Associations and Judicial organizations. Burdge is admitted to Ohio's state and federal courts, Kentucky's state courts, and Indiana's federal courts. Other court admissions are on a "pro hac" temporary, case by cases basis.