Servicing Hybrids: 10 Must Read Articles for Servicing Hybrid Vehicles from Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda and Nissan

Servicing Hybrids: 10 Must Read Articles for Servicing Hybrid Vehicles from Ford, GM, Toyota, Honda and Nissan

Currently, there are about 1.2 million hybrid vehicles on the road. Within five years, hybrids are expected to account for 20 to 25% of all new car and light-truck sales. So sooner or later, you'll be working on these vehicles at your shop. These vehicles have the same service opportunities like brake pads, filters and suspension parts that need replacement. Also, battery packs, electric motors and computers will need service soon. Below are the top ten hybrid articles so you can cash in.

Hybrid Service: Nissan Altima

Underneath the Altima’s outer skin, there’s a big surprise. The hybrid system in the Altima is essentially Toyota’s Synergy Drive adapted to Nissan’s QR25DE 2.5L DOHC 16-valve 4-cylinder engine. The high- voltage 244.8-volt hybrid battery, hybrid control system and hybrid electric drive are all nearly identical to that used in the Toyota Prius and Highlander hybrid, Lexus RX400h and LS600h, and Ford Escape hybrid (which also licenses its hybrid technology from Toyota). If you encounter an Altima with a dead battery (high voltage or the conventional 12V battery), do not attempt to charge the hybrid battery. The hybrid battery will be charged by the MG1 electric motor/generator once the engine is running via the hybrid control system.. More
Brake Job: Toyota Prius Hybrid Brake Pad and Rotor Replacement

Does performing a brake pad replacement on a Toyota Prius scare you? Well it should; if you treat it like every other vehicle. But, if you know a few things ahead of time, the job can be performed like any other brake job. Do not worry about high voltage. Worry about angry customers due to comebacks.Servicing a Prius does not require many special tools to perform a front brake pad replacement. Just normal hand tools are required and maybe a scan tool and software that can read chassis codes if you are unlucky or have to replace hydraulic components. But, it is possible, according to Toyota, to replace pads without a scan tool… More
Green Power Assist: Servicing GM Saturn VUE Hybrids

The hybrid version of the Saturn VUE was initially referred to as the “Green Line” model because of its improved fuel economy: 25 mpg city and 32 mpg highway versus 22/27 for the regular version of the VUE. The Green Line moniker has since been dropped for the 2009 model year. The “Belt-Alternator-Starter” (BAS) system used in the VUE is essentially a bolt-on hybrid conversion that uses an oversized, belt-driven alternator/starter motor mounted on the side of the engine. The BAS alternator actually outputs two different voltages: 12 volts for the vehicle’s electrical system and conventional battery, and 36 volts to maintain the charge of the nickel-metal-hydride hybrid battery pack located behind the rear seats. .  More
Tech Feature: Ford Escape Hybrid Braking

The 2005 to 2008 model Escape Hybrids use an electro-hydraulic brake (EHB) system. The EHB master cylinder is also referred to as an actuation control unit (ACU). The bore of the ACU is called a pedal feel emulator and is primarily used to simulate normal brake pedal feel for the driver.  The EHB system does not have a vacuum brake booster. A hybrid vehicle is a different animal than many of us are used to seeing. After all, if the engine of a typical vehicle were to stall out at a traffic light, the driver of that vehicle would know something was wrong with it. If that same vehicle still drove with the engine off, then that would mean… More
Tech Feature: Wheel Bearing Service on Hybrid Vehicles

Most hybrid vehicles on the market today share wheel bearing components with their non-hybrid counterparts. There is no need to turn away these vehicles for wheel bearing replacement. As these vehicles increase in age, failures of the wheel bearings are inevitable. When servicing these vehicles, it is critical that the hybrid or regenerative brake systems be disabled. It should be a common practice to remove the keys from the vehicle and place them in an area that is far enough away from the vehicle. Some hybrids systems will sense if the key is near. As the driver approaches the vehicle, some vehicles will not only unlock the doors, but activate systems like brakes and drivetrain. More
Tech Tip: ‘Braking’ the Code on a Ford Hybrid

The owner of a Ford Escape Hybrid or Mercury Mariner Hybrid may complain of an illuminated malfunction indicator lamp (MIL). If you obtain the diagnostic trouble code (DTC) of U2062, the problem may originate in the brake system control module, part of the hydraulic control unit (HCU). Follow the steps in the Service Procedure to correct the condition. Diagnose and fix any other DTCs before performing the Service Procedure for DTC U2062. If the DTC U2062 is present alone or after diagnosing other DTCs, perform this Service Procedure.  More
Tech Tip: Toyota Prius Master/Hybrid Malfunction Light On with DTC P3125 (Inverter/Converter/Computer Failure)

Under certain driving conditions, some 2001-’02 Prius vehicles (those built before VIN JT2BK18U*20067085) may exhibit a Master, Hybrid and MIL Warning Light “on” condition where only DTC P3125, information code 287, has set in the Hybrid Vehicle Control Unit (HV ECU). Use the following procedure to identify whether the HV ECU or inverter/converter assembly should be replaced. Note: The HV ECU is to be replaced only if the recorded information code 287 data satisfies all of the following three conditions:
• Vehicle speed is between 25-44 mph;
• Throttle opening is 60% or more; and
• Vehicle indicated speed is greater than the recorded MG2 revolutions. More
Tech Tip: 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid Safety Precautions

As vehicle manufacturers strive to meet or exceed fuel economy standards, alternative vehicle designs incorporating new materials and systems will be produced to accommodate consumer demand. One such vehicle that may roll into your repair facility is the 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe Hybrid.

Questions will arise when this vehicle arrives:
• What safety precautions must we understand to properly evaluate and repair this vehicle?
• Are my technicians up-to-date on disabling procedures?
• Do I know where to find important documentation or procedures to perform repairs?
• How do I find repair processes to include in a repair plan that aren’t in my current estimating systems?

And many more questions will come up as hybrid vehicles aren’t going away any time soon. You need to be equipped to handle questions and concerns with accurate repair and information from the manufacturer. More

Hybrid Service: Tools to Service Hybrids

So sooner or later, you’ll be tooling up to work on hybrid vehicles.
One item you will have to get is a high-voltage digital voltmeter. The unit should be able to read up to 600 volts AC/DC, or up to 1,000V AC/DC would be even better. Depending on the make, model and year of the hybrid, the battery pack may be rated from 144V (Honda Insight or Civic) up to 330V (Ford Escape). The power inverter on some hybrids can bump up the voltage even higher, to 500V or more. So you need a voltmeter that can read these higher voltages. Insulated gloves can be a lifesaver, literally, if you happen to touch a live high-voltage circuit in a hybrid. Most of the high-voltage cables are color-coded orange to warn you of their potential danger. Even so, there may be other high-voltage components, such as capacitors in the power inverter, that are not color-coded… More
Ford Hybrids: Servicing & Understanding Escape, Fusion and Mariner Hybrids

The hybrid Escape and Mariner vehicles are full hybrid vehicles, meaning that, at times, the vehicle will run 100% on electric power only. In fact, it is capable of traveling up to 25 mph (40 kph) without ever starting the engine. At times, the engine may shut off at speeds as high as 40 mph (64 kph). Plus, when conditions are right, the engine may shut off at stops and not restart until after 25 mph. As a result, the advertised fuel economy of a full hybrid vehicle is typically much higher for the city driving conditions than the highway driving conditions. In theory, assuming the person’s trip was short enough, a person could drive in slow-moving, stop-and-go traffic without using any gasoline at all. How is all of this achieved? And what does it mean to the service technician? More

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