Used Hybrid Cars For Sale

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Used Hybrid Cars For Sale

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Used hybrid cars for sale

Hybrids have been around for just over a quarter of a century now, and their popularity has exploded in that time. From niche models aimed at the handful of people who wanted fuel economy but didn’t want a diesel, to just about every manufacturer having at least one hybrid in their range, hybrids are now very much in the mainstream.

If you’re not yet ready to make the jump into a fully electric car, a hybrid or a plug-in hybrid is a great way to bridge the gap, offering the kind of range and familiarity you’d find in a regular combustion vehicle, but better economy and emissions, and occasional electric running.

What is a hybrid car?

A hybrid car blends power from two sources, typically a combustion engine and an electric motor, rather than just using one or the other. The aim of hybrids is primarily to reduce the fuel consumption of a combustion engine, by harvesting energy when you decelerate to top up a battery, energy that can then be deployed under acceleration or cruising to reduce how hard the engine has to work.

The first hybrids sold in significant numbers were the Honda Insight and Toyota Prius in the late 1990s, but the technology is now commonplace, and nearly every car manufacturer has at least one hybrid in its range. They’ve also become popular not just for fuel economy and emissions benefits, but for their performance too - and quite a few sports cars and supercars also use hybrid tech to boost their acceleration and improve their handling.

Does a hybrid car need plugging in?

Regular hybrids, described by some manufacturers as ‘self-charging hybrids’ don’t need plugging in. Instead, they can use either the engine to charge a small battery pack, or the energy harnessed when decelerating or braking, and can then draw power back from the battery to use under acceleration, or even to drive around for short distances on electric power alone. It’s not ‘free’ energy as the car still mostly drives under petrol (or sometimes diesel) power, but it does improve efficiency.

Some hybrid models are plug-in hybrids though, and as the name suggests, these can be plugged in to charge a larger battery pack that allows for extended electric driving. While plugging in isn’t essential, since there’s still a combustion engine to power the vehicle, it’s certainly recommended - otherwise you’re just carrying around a heavy battery that’s contributing very little to the car’s efficiency, and a regular hybrid may end up being more efficient overall.

Why buy a used hybrid car?

The main reason you might choose a hybrid car is for their fuel efficiency, and the corresponding benefits in lower tax rates that come from more efficient vehicles. At the moment, hybrids are a modest £10 a year cheaper than regular combustion vehicles to tax, though you may find older models (prior to April 2017) are cheaper still, thanks to low CO2 emissions.

Hybrids are also easy to drive and often quite smooth and quiet. Virtually all use automatic gearboxes, and especially around town will spend a lot of time without needing to run the engine, which saves fuel and has local environmental benefits. Despite their apparent complexity, they’re not greatly more complex than most other cars either, and some brands in particular have an outstanding reputation for reliability with their hybrids.

How do I choose the ideal used hybrid car?

Hybrid technology is now available in most classes of vehicle, so you can choose a hybrid in much the same way you might choose a petrol or diesel model.

Not all hybrids are created equal though, so it’s useful to know some of the jargon to help you decide on which model might best suit your requirements. The term ‘MHEV’ typically refers to a mild hybrid vehicle, and these are often just regular petrol or diesel models with only a small amount of assistance and the tiniest of batteries, often without the ability to run on electric power alone even for short distances. They can still be fuel-efficient, but not as much as full hybrids.

If you see ‘PHEV’ this means the vehicle is a plug-in hybrid, which we detailed above, while the term ‘REX’ is used on a few cars, and stands for ‘range-extended’ - these are plug-in hybrids where a larger proportion of the car’s range is covered by electric power, but may only have a relatively short range on petrol power.

Where can I find used hybrid cars for sale?

The popularity of hybrid cars means they’re very easy to find. Some dealers now stock only hybrid, plug-in hybrid and electric models, but with most manufacturers now offering hybrids, you’ll probably find them in just about every dealership’s stock, plus plenty more from private sellers.

When searching online, you can narrow down the potential pool of vehicles by price, body style, mileage and other factors. Because it’s not always easy to tell from appearance alone which cars are hybrids, tools like the RAC Simple Search let you select hybrid power as a fuel type, with both diesel hybrid and petrol hybrids getting their own category.

Basic used hybrid car checks

Buying a used hybrid car isn’t any more complicated than buying a petrol, diesel, or EV. Before going to view a car it’s useful to check its MOT history online (if it’s more than three years old), run a car history check to see whether there’s any outstanding finance or records of accident damage, and it’s worth calling up the dealer or private seller to learn a little more about the car too.

It’s also handy to research the model online and find a buyer’s guide, so you know whether to look for any specific points when you view the car in person. If you’ve not driven a hybrid before then the occasional silent running may be disconcerting at first, and some models blend their combustion and electric power better than others - but generally, if the car looks in good condition and drives well, you’re off to a good start.