How Long Can a Hybrid Sit Undriven?

Last Updated on December 7, 2022 by

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Electric vehicles, which are now becoming widely popular, are quite different from regular cars.

The length of time a hybrid or an electric car can be left unused varies between models and manufacturers.

Hybrid cars contain nickel-metal-hydride batteries, and hence the general notion is that they should remain fine if left unused for 2-3 months.

However, one should always go through the user manual and look for specific storage instructions, if a hybrid is to be left unused for more than 30 days.

Common Toyota hybrid 12v battery problems

The Toyota hybrid comes with a 12-volt battery and some problems that are associated with the aforementioned battery. These are as follows:

  • Battery drainage: Due to the presence of much modern equipment, the battery keeps getting drained even when the vehicle is not switched on.
  • Unconventional charging: A hybrid car battery charges while driving, and it is recommended to drive for long periods of time to get the best mileage.
  • Battery unable to start the car: This is one of the most common problems with a 12v battery. It usually occurs if the vehicle is left unused for a while.

What kills a hybrid battery?

Batteries tend to lose their voltage over time even when they aren’t being used. This is more so for older cars with older hybrid batteries.

Hybrid vehicles usually consist of a low-voltage auxiliary battery and a high-voltage traction battery. These batteries use kinetic energy and regenerative braking to stay charged.

With the outbreak of the Coronavirus, social distancing might be the new norm for most people, however, this has proven to be a major concern for many hybrid vehicle owners.

“Inactivity kills a hybrid battery”, said Dave Callari with DC Battery Hub.

What happens when a hybrid car runs out of battery?

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Many hybrid cars come with two batteries – the main battery, and a smaller battery to operate the electronics.

It is okay for the smaller battery to die during a journey, but if the main battery dies, then it’s a recipe for disaster.

Regardless of whether it’s a Toyota Camry Hybrid or a Ford Fusion, if the main battery in a hybrid vehicle dies, then the vehicle becomes inoperable.

In that case, the only two options remaining are to repair or to get an entirely new battery.

How often do you have to drive a hybrid car to keep the battery charged?

Hybrid vehicles run on batteries which require kinetic energy to remain charged.

To avoid a dead battery issue and ensure healthy battery life, Toyota recommends its hybrid vehicle owners take their cars for a drive at least two times a week.

Hybrid cars are meant to be driven frequently, to ensure healthy battery life.

If a hybrid vehicle is kept unused for a long period of time, it results in battery depletion and gradual imminent failure.

What happens if you don’t drive your hybrid car?

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Hybrid vehicles generally come with two batteries. A 12 v battery is to power the systems and a high-voltage battery or hybrid system battery is meant to power the engine and motors.

Many hybrid cars are equipped with a special battery-saving mechanism, which gets automatically activated if the vehicle isn’t operated for a long time.

This is a good thing as it prevents the drainage of the 12 v battery as well as the HV battery.

How long can a hybrid car sit without starting?

It is widely agreed that hybrid vehicles shouldn’t be left untouched for an extended period of time. Even if it’s a short drive, it is recommended to take them out weekly.

Leaving a hybrid vehicle in the garage for two or three months may be considered okay, but keeping it untouched for four-five months may be pushing it a bit.

With the vehicle turned off, there isn’t any parasitic drain on the main battery, but the 12 v battery still gets depleted.

Even with the battery-saving mechanisms that modern hybrids come equipped with, it is not recommended to keep them unused for long periods.

How do you know when your hybrid battery needs to be replaced?

There are a few signs from which one can tell if a hybrid battery needs to be replaced. These are:

  • Reduced Fuel Economy – This is usually a tell-tale sign that something is wrong with the battery.
  • Internal Combustion Engine (ICE) being overusedThe ICE is stressed a lot more than usual when there is something wrong with the battery and it can’t provide enough power.
  • Dashboard Light – When all the dashboard lights are on, including the check engine lights and the vehicle stability control lights, it usually means something is wrong with the battery.
  • Weird Noises – A constant sound of a fan running, indicates that the battery is running hotter than expected
  • Charging Issues – The display showing an improper charge or the battery not holding a charge properly, are both signs of battery failure.

Can you leave a car sitting for 3 months?

A regular car can be stored for months without use under proper storage conditions.

For a car to be stored for months without use, there are certain dos and don’ts that need to be followed:

  • Starting the engine from time to time
  • cleaning the spark plugs with oil
  • cleaning the interiors, and
  • moving the car every now and then to avoid flat spots on the tires.

There are quite a few types of hybrid cars and many of them operate differently from one another.

Some of them are just electric cars with a gasoline engine keeping the battery charged, while others are essentially gasoline vehicles with a measly electric motor.

Considering the wide variety of hybrids out there and their varied means of operation, it is easy to conclude that different hybrid vehicles may have different storage lives.

However, most hybrids are still functional even after 3 months of inactivity.

How to maintain hybrid car battery

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The increased global emissions and the consequential increase in global awareness have resulted in many people opting for hybrid cars.

This brings us to the question of the maintenance of hybrid car batteries, which can be done by following five simple steps:

  1. Regular Use – This is good for any vehicle but more so for hybrid cars
  2. Regular Maintenance – Much like any other machine, a hybrid car also requires proper tune-ups.
  3. Proper Braking and Acceleration – Aggressive braking and acceleration take their toll on a hybrid car’s battery life and are strongly advised against.
  4. Keeping AN 80/20 Charge – Keeping a hybrid battery 100% charged can lead to more rapid depletion while draining the battery below 20% can ruin the battery. Ideally, the battery should be no more than 80% and no less than 20%.
  5. Proper Temperature – Extreme temperatures can have adverse effects on battery life.

Is it a good idea leaving hybrid car running?

Many modern hybrid vehicle manufacturers equip their cars with an auto turn-off feature to avoid any unnecessary stress on the hybrid battery pack.

However, it is not advised to keep a hybrid car running as it may eventually drain the gas tank if the auto turn-off feature isn’t present.

Procedure for storing a hybrid for the winter

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The following steps are recommended to ensure the proper storage of a hybrid vehicle during the winter months:

  1. Find a properly enclosed, dry and rodent-free garage
  2. Ensure that the car has been properly serviced
  3. Disconnect and clean the 12 v battery
  4. Ensure that the tires are over-inflated
  5. Ensure the 12 v battery is properly charged prior to reuse
  6. For plug-in hybrid vehicles, it is recommended to turn on the ignition in combustion mode

Can you trickle charge a hybrid battery?

It is possible to trickle charge a hybrid battery. A trickle charger can be installed in a hybrid vehicle which can prevent the vehicle’s battery from draining fully.

In theory, hybrid car batteries can be trickle charged, but doing so may cause various problems for the battery and reduce its longevity.

So if one wishes to trickle charge a hybrid car, then user discretion is advised.

FAQ relating to how long can a hybrid sit undriven?

It is common knowledge that hybrid vehicles don’t respond well to being left unused for long periods of time.

However, due to the Coronavirus outbreak, last to last year, many hybrid vehicle owners are wondering how long will their cars last without being used.

What should I do if my Lexus hybrid has been parked for a long time?

In case of long periods of inactivity, it is recommended to put a Lexus hybrid in ‘Ready mode’ by following the simple start procedure.

For this press the ‘Start’ button with a foot on the brake and be certain that the ‘Ready’ light is glowing on the dashboard.

While the car is in ‘Ready mode’, one can feel and hear the internal combustion engine kick in. This is nothing to worry about as it is a normal part of the self-charging process.

How do you store a hybrid car for a long time?

Storing a hybrid car for a long time is not quite advisable but if not avoidable then care should be taken to not affect the battery life during the storage process.

The best way of doing so is to ensure that the battery is at a charge level of between 20-80%.

How long can I leave my car without driving it?

How long a car can be left undriven depends on a lot of factors such as the brand, the model and also maintenance.

A car with only a conventional gas engine is quite different from a hybrid car which usually has a smaller engine and an alternate power source.

If you plan on leaving your car unused for over a month, then it is recommended to check your user manual and look for specific storage instructions.

Following the necessary precautions and recommendations may result in extending the storage life of any vehicle.

Can a car sit for 6 months?

A car left unused for 6 months or so may face several issues such as:

  • flat spots on tires,
  • parasitic battery drainage,
  • brakes getting jammed,
  • rusting of the fuel tank interiors, and so on.

It is recommended to properly follow the storage instructions specified in the user manual.

Taking proper care of the vehicle during the storage process may result in the avoidance of any or all of the aforementioned issues.

Key Takeaways

Certain conclusions can be drawn about hybrid cars and their batteries:

  • It is better to drive hybrid cars often
  • Hybrid cars contain a high voltage battery which requires kinetic energy to charge
  • The 80/20 sweet spot when it comes to battery charge level should be kept in mind
  • To avoid issues during long storage, it is recommended to follow vehicle specific user instructions.
  • Aggressive braking and acceleration should be avoided for hybrid cars
  • Hybrid batteries can be trickle charged, but it is recommended to check the user manual to get more battery specific information
  • Storing a car for a long time without use requires special measures and proper maintenance
Derek Bruce
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