Today’s used auto market has plenty of non-gasoline vehicles to choose from. What should you look out for when buying a used hybrid or electric vehicle (HEV)? Let’s find out.

Buy any used car with confidence. Get a pre-purchase used vehicle inspection from CARCHEX before you buy.


The fuel cell is the most important part of any HEV. The good news is that most batteries can last up to 10 years or more. However, the rear location of many HEV batteries makes them vulnerable to collision damage. That’s why it’s important to check that the HEV battery warranty is still valid before making a buying decision.

A hybrid vehicle battery replacement costs will run you around $2,000 – $3,000, a cost that’s comparable to major work on a used car with gas powered transmission.

Test Drive

It’s advisable to test drive a hybrid vehicle before you buy, although it doesn’t have to be the exact same car you plan to purchase. HEVs drive a bit differently than their gas powered counterparts. If you require robust acceleration when you accelerate, an electric vehicle may not provide the power you require.

Check For Recalls

This issue applies to any used car, but some specific recalls deserve mention. For Toyota Prius models built from July 2003 to April 2009, a steering fault problem prompted a recall. Also, Prius models from 2004 – 2009 require an accelerator pedal reshaping to prevent floor mat pedal trapping.


According to some reports, used electric car reliability may not be the most solid. However, if a quiet drive and environmental issues are important to you, then look toward newer models that have better ratings. For example, the 2014 – 2015 Nissan LEAF is rated average or above average for reliability. Also, remember that even average reliability today is pretty good compared to vehicles of the past.


Electric fuel is cheaper than gas, but will you save money overall? The issue is complex since it depends on two variables: your purchase price and the price of gas. The recent decline in oil prices might make it prime time to buy a used HEV. With cheaper pump prices, gasoline powered car demand is up. This may mean you can find a good deal on a hybrid or electric car.

For example, some predict that a 2013 Nissan LEAF will be worth only $7,650 in July 2016. One of the big arguments against buying a new electric vehicle is that the high upfront cost negates fuel savings. But buying used could translate into savings on both the front end (purchase price) and the back (fuel cost).

Get It Inspected

If you’re planning on buying a used HEV, it pays to consider a pre-purchase inspection. The untrained eye can miss defects, while professionals know where to look.

Get a 155-point pre-purchase vehicle inspection on any HEV. Contact CARCHEX today to set up an inspection.