Should You Buy A Hybrid Car?

Thinking About Buying A Hybrid Car?

Scotty Kilmer, mechanic for the last 50 years, can help you decide whether to buy a hybrid car or not. There are quite a few things you must decide, and Scotty explains it all in simple english.

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Scotty Kilmer
Scotty Kilmer


you are tech heavy, so electric/hybrid is great for you. The average american can barely unscrew their toothpaste tube.


I'd have to disagree on quite a few points being the owner of a 1st gen 03 prius from new. The ONLY big repair I ever had was within the factory warranty where the ECM needed replacement (known 03 issue) but after replacement I never had to do ANYTHIONG but tires, fluids, filters. I consistently got ~50mpg, was able to use pre-toll HOV lanes in VA :-D, and replaced the FACTORY supplied front pads and rotors at 120K miles and probabally could have gotten another 5K-10K miles out of them.

The Gen one battery cells started to show weakness ~120K so I rebuilt that myself as well using Gen2 cells from junkyard low milage prius cars which WITH 2 MRC Superbrain 989 and AutoEnginuity HW & SW Ver 10/11 (ANY help learning how to turn test modes on/off GREATLY appreciated! - Need that to do coolant change from what the 2 3" books I have say) with the full prius license only cost me $1,400 - $1,500. It was REALLY easy to do too (taking great care and precautions of course)! The catalitic gave out at ~145K which wasn't bad and I did just go 100% OEM with that. I'm just now getting around to doing the back FACTORY supplied dums at 160K miles. Car still runs GREAT and gets the same 50MPG which is why I'm torn between buting a newer used prius and putting $3K into the 03 which needs typical stuff like:

  1. replace cracked dash and other plastic stuff
  2. sanblast/treat or replace with used but better shape rear axle (which is the ONLY thing on the car with any rust on it)
  3. Get a real paint job (maacco did get the chips rust risk solved but the clear coat they used went after ~2years)
  4. Fix the AC leak (tired of recharging it and dye can't be seen so I am told so just my luck it's a slow behind firewall leak!) Compressor is still great though.

I probabally should also look at changine a bunch of rubber parts while I'm at it and wouldn't be a bad idea to pull the HV batt and reballance/check the cells again (they read good via AE but Just good every 25-50K to to a maintenance reballance with 3 full Chg/Dischg cycles.

As for the 12V chatrging from the HV inverter that must have been fixed after 02 because not only does mine do REALLY well but I also connect BOTH my 03 and )7 to a single LG battery which then goes to a 200W max inverter for 120V 15A emergency power which I had to use once to switch between powering a sump pump and the fridge/freezer. I kept the use at/below the 70% threshold of the 100A max at all times for safety (the lg 12V battery ate any motor start spikes).

My biggest issue it turns out is I don't drive enough and it took burning out 2 Yellow-top batteries at 2 yr each and then getting fed up and switching to a tractor battery which worked GR8 but discharged after ~4 days sitting which is what made me realize I needed a battery maintainer on it whenever it is parked at home! I did also add a second tractor battery I got new for ~$25 in an easier to reach spot for connecting the maintainer (till I install a socket through the body) which gives me a week or so of parked time like at an airport if needed.

All I need is to get 2-5 more years till I can afford a brand new 300mi range 100% electric or till I perfect my own "hybrid" system (1-2 cyl small diesel Generator with "alum/water reconditioned car batteries" and large ~250A alternators converted to 48V 50A motors one per wheel under computer control).

Pulling the diodes/rectifier out or a BUic Centtury alternator and hooking up a 48V Brushless DC motor controller and tuning the 3v-12v field coil input based on the amt of torque vs speed needed has been coming along VERY well so far. :-D