I Drove a Hybrid Car for 17 Years. Here’s Everything You Need to Know

When my husband suggested that we get a Toyota Prius back in 2007, I wasn’t sure if it was the best idea. Hybrids weren’t as popular back then, and I was worried that a car with a more complex engine would result in more headaches and repairs.

For the most part, though, driving that Prius was a good experience. In fact, the car held on longer than I would’ve expected.

We drove it regularly for 17 years, and at the time we sold it, it still had some oomph left in it. In fact, we probably could’ve hung onto it for another year or so, but we needed a replacement car with more space.

If you’re on the fence about getting a hybrid, it may help you to know what my experience was like. Of course, yours might differ based on the vehicle you buy and your driving habits, but here are four takeaways you may find helpful.

1. It took some getting used to

If you’ve never driven a hybrid car before, the feeling that your vehicle is basically turning off on you at every red light can be a little disorienting at first. I got used to it pretty quickly, but it can be disconcerting to hear your car make no noise when it’s stopped. Rest assured, though, that mine always started right back up as soon as the light turned green and I hit the gas.

2. It was more expensive to maintain

From minor repairs to regular oil changes, maintaining my Prius cost a lot more than maintaining the Camry I had when we first got our hybrid. And the cost wasn’t that much cheaper than maintaining the minivan we upgraded to when we needed the space for extra car seats.

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The good news is that these days, many auto shops are better equipped to service hybrid cars. That wasn’t the case when we first bought our hybrid, though, which may have led to higher maintenance costs initially.

3. Over time, my car’s fuel efficiency began to wane

When we first got our Prius, we enjoyed upward of 40 miles per gallon. But by my last year of driving my Prius, I was getting 37 miles to the gallon at best.

Of course, it wasn’t always easy to determine how fuel efficient that car was toward the end because our gas gauge broke, so according to those readings, we always had a full tank. That was another reason we sold it when we did — we didn’t want to sink money into repairs for a 17-year-old car.

4. Not having to visit gas stations all the time was almost as good as the savings

I can’t tell you how much money I saved at the pump during my 17 years of owning a Prius. But as nice as it was to spend less on gas, one huge perk of having that car was not having to constantly run to fuel stations to fill it up. While I normally refill my minivan’s giant tank at least once a week, with the Prius, I was doing a fill-up every other week at most.

Should you get a hybrid car?

You may appreciate having a hybrid vehicle for the gas savings and convenience of not having to constantly fill up. But before you get a hybrid, ask yourself:

  • Am I willing to pay a bit more for a car?
  • Am I willing to pay more for maintenance?
  • Can I swing the auto insurance costs if they’re higher? (Hybrids cost an average of $235 more per year to insure, according to Forbes.)

If you’re interested in a hybrid, try out a bunch of different models. And also, bring your negotiating skills to the dealership. Because hybrids are way more common today than when I got one, you may have more wiggle room to talk down the price.

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