When it comes to buying new and used cars, buyers are increasingly switching to more fuel efficient cleaner vehicles. Secondhand purchases of hybrids are certainly on the up, mainly thanks to the huge discounts you can secure compared with the cost of buying a new model. As with any purchase, it’s important to do your research before buying a hybrid vehicle, ensure to factor in things that are less applicable to conventional petrol or diesel vehicles.
Understand exactly what your requirements are, then assess each car’s specific qualities and limitations. For example, cars that have a limited battery life or only use electric power at low speeds may not suit those who regularly take long journeys, or for those where fuels savings are paramount. There may be no discernible saving over a conventional vehicle if a lot of your driving is either at high speed, or in low volumes of traffic. By contrast, both low-mileage and stop-start city drivers would see a marked improvement in the economy of a hybrid, because most of the driving will be at low speed using mostly battery power. Also consider that many modern cars benefit from new stop-start technology cutting out the engine when it’s at rest, effectively improving economy to near hybrid levels.
Another concern of modern motorists is road tax costs. Most hybrids emit under 100g/km CO2 and are therefore tax-exempt, but remember that all cars registered from April 2017 will face an annual cost of £130. A positive is the clean hybrids and electric vehicles emitting under 75g/km will be exempt from congestion charges in London and other places within the UK.
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It can take time to track down a car fitting your requirements and budget, so it’s well worth looking at specialist motor trade websites to get an idea of price before stepping onto a forecourt. Also confirm the price of an insurance policy, hybrids can sometimes cost more to insure than conventional models.
It’s also worth ensuring that the hybrid functionality of a used car is working correctly, so even if the car is under warranty, get your potential purchase inspected by someone who knows what to look for. The car’s display usually indicates how the vehicle is functioning, and which component (fuel or battery power) is being used. A test drive should allow you to access these readouts and make sure that charging takes place under correct driving conditions. Mileage can also be an issue, many hybrid cars are used by taxi firms and so can result in large annual mileage; if the vehicle has a relatively high mileage for its age, make sure the car has a full service history and check it thoroughly before committing.
Finally, check the warranty details for the model you’re interested in. Manufacturers such as Toyota and Kia have specific wording in their warranties covering battery life and other electrical components, so it’s worth having a look at that information before committing your cash.