Should You Buy a Hybrid, Diesel, or Electric Car?

In addition to standard gasoline-powered vehicles, you can choose from other power options, including hybrid, diesel, and electric. The big question many vehicle owners wonder about is if these alternative-fuel vehicles are worth the higher asking price. By looking at the pros and cons of these alternative-fuel vehicles, you can come to a decision about whether one of these vehicles is right for your specific needs.

Hybrid cars

Hybrid vehicles comes with a gasoline or diesel engine, but they also utilize some form of alternate fuel source as a secondary mode of operation. The type of hybrid car determines the fuel economy of the vehicle.

How a hybrid car works. In the U.S., a hybrid relies on gasoline and electricity as a power source.

Hybrids utilize a battery pack and an electric motor in conjunction with an internal combustion engine.

Most hybrids recharge while you drive, but many also require you to plug in the battery when you are not driving, especially full and mild hybrids.

Some hybrids also use stop-start technology, which turns off the gasoline engine while the vehicle is at a stop.

Another technology that some hybrids use is the continuously variable transmission, also known as the CVT. The CVT allows the gears to shift more gradually, allowing the engine to run in a more fuel-efficient Revolutions Per Minute (RPM) range.

Different types of hybrid cars. The different types of hybrid cars include full, mild, and plug-in hybrids.

When choosing a hybrid, you can choose between a few types, including a full, mild, and plug-in hybrid. Another category of cars that display some hybrid characteristics are the micro and muscle hybrids.

  • Full hybrids are the most fuel-efficient version of hybrid cars. Full hybrids can operate in a variety of modes, such as series, parallel, and all-electric mode. An example of a full hybrid is the Toyota Prius.

  • Not as fuel efficient as a full hybrid, the mild hybrid still offers a higher fuel mileage than a comparable fully gasoline-operated vehicle. In a mild hybrid, the battery and a helper motor work with the gasoline engine to make the vehicle go, but they never fully take over. A perfect example of a mild hybrid is the Integrated Motor Assist system in the Honda Civic Hybrid.

  • A plug-in hybrid has a larger battery than most other hybrids, including the full hybrid. This larger size requires you to have to plug them in between trips. Plug-in hybrids can also run in all-electric mode for a specific range of miles. The Chevy Volt is just one example of a plug-in hybrid.

  • Micro and muscle hybrid cars hardly utilize an electric motor, if at all, to run the drive wheels. The micro hybrid uses an electric motor to operate the on-board electronic systems, but not much else. A muscle hybrid uses technology to supercharge the electric motor, giving it more power to operate the vehicle's systems. For the micro hybrid, a good example is the Chevy Malibu with stop-start technology. For the muscle hybrid, you can check out the Infiniti Q50 hybrid.

Advantages of owning a hybrid car. Owning a hybrid vehicle has its own set of advantages.

The biggest advantage of owning a hybrid vehicle is its environmentally friendly nature. The twin-powered nature of the hybrid engine means that the vehicle runs cleaner and pollutes the environment less.

The cleaner nature of the hybrid vehicle means it uses less gasoline to run and can greatly improve the fuel economy of the vehicle.

Hybrid vehicles are also known for keeping their resale value, making it easier to recoup some of the money spent on it if you later decide to sell the vehicle and get a different car.

Disadvantages of owning a hybrid car. In addition to advantages, hybrid cars also have some disadvantages.

One of the main differences between a hybrid and a standard gasoline-powered vehicle is the engine power. For the most part, the combined power of both the electric and gasoline engines in a hybrid car are often less than that of a comparable gasoline-powered engine.

The biggest drawback to hybrid cars is that they tend to cost more than gasoline-powered vehicles. Luckily, they tend to hold their resale value, so you can recoup some of your costs if you decide to sell later.

Another drawback is the decreased cargo capacity of a hybrid vehicle. Much of the extra cargo space that you find in other types of vehicles is eaten up with the extra electric engine, battery pack, and other items required in a hybrid vehicle.

Diesel cars

Another option, compared to a hybrid and electric car, is a diesel-powered vehicle. Diesel-powered engines run more efficiently than gasoline engines. This is possible due to the higher compression that most diesel engines can achieve.

What is a diesel car? Different than a hybrid or electric car, diesel-powered vehicles are more fuel efficient than gasoline-powered vehicles.

Diesel engines, while similar to a gasoline-powered motor, does not use spark plugs to unite the fuel-air mixture. Instead, it uses the heat from compressing the air in the chamber first to ignite the diesel fuel, supplying power to the engine. A diesel engine usually has an improved fuel efficiency of 25 to 30 percent over a similar performing gasoline engine.

Advantages of owning a diesel car. Like other alternate fuel vehicles, diesel cars have certain advantages that make them attractive to potential buyers.

As mentioned, their improved fuel efficiency gives owners a 25 to 30 percent increase in their fuel economy over gasoline-powered vehicles. They can even deliver more fuel economy than some gasoline-electric hybrids.

Using no spark or distributor, but relying on the heat produced by the compression of the air in the cylinder, a diesel car requires no ignition tuning.

The more rugged nature of a diesel engine means it lasts longer than most gasoline engines.

Diesel-powered vehicles tend to have more engine torque, giving them more power than their gasoline counterparts.

Disadvantages of owning a diesel car. While diesel has many advantages, they also have a few disadvantages.

Diesel fuel, as of now, costs more than gasoline. While this could change in the future, this higher cost tends to lessen the higher fuel mileage advantage that diesel engines have over standard gasoline-powered vehicles.

Gasoline-powered engines tend to give their vehicles more speed and better performance.

Repairs can cost more in the long run, though most diesel engines are very low maintenance. As long as you keep up with your vehicle's scheduled maintenance, you should generally have minimal problems.

Electric cars

Electric vehicles provide an attractive alternative to standard gasoline-powered engines. This is due mainly to their non-reliance on gasoline as a power source, which makes them attractive to drivers who are environmentally conscious.

What is an electric car? An electric vehicle operates mainly on electricity, as compared to the hybrid, which operates on both gasoline and electricity.

The way an electric vehicle works is that in between driving sessions, you connect it to the power supply via a plug, which charges the battery for use while driving.

When driving, the vehicle runs on the power of the batteries, which runs an electric drive train.

Braking helps recharge the battery in a process called regenerative braking.

Different types of electric cars. When purchasing an electric vehicle, you typically have a limited range of choices, though as the technology becomes more commonplace, expect to see developing technologies, such as fuel cells, continue to grow in popularity and use.

  • Battery Electric Vehicle, or BEV, operates entirely on the energy provided by a battery. This power runs an electric drive train that operates without the aid of an internal combustion engine. In addition to requiring you to plug them in between trips, many BEVs use regenerative braking to recharge the vehicle's batteries while driving. The range of 81 miles for the BMW i3 makes it a great BEV to own.

  • Fuel-cell electric vehicles represent an emerging technology that relies on the electricity produced by the reaction between hydrogen and oxygen to power the vehicle. While relatively new, look for vehicles driven by fuel cells to become more commonplace in the future. The Toyota Mirai is one of the first vehicles to use fuel cell technology.

Advantages of owning an electric car. Electric vehicles have some great incentives for those who drive them.

Electric cars run entirely on electricity, saving you at the pump.

Electric cars are also emissions free, meaning no added pollution to the air around you while driving.

Another advantage to owning an electric car is its relatively low maintenance requirements.

Disadvantages of owning an electric car While there are some great advantages to owning an electric vehicle, they also have some disadvantages.

One of the biggest disadvantages is finding a recharge point when away from home. This is a hassle when using your electric vehicles for long trips, though if you stay mainly close to home, this is not a big issue.

Saving on having to purchase gasoline is sometimes offset by the cost of the electricity to charge the vehicle in between trips.

Most electric cars have a limited range, usually between 50 and 100 miles. Hopefully, future development of the technology can improve this driving range.

Electric cars also usually cost more than other vehicle types due to the newness of the technology, but the price point should continue to decline as the technology becomes more developed and widespread.

The decision to purchase a hybrid, diesel, or electric car rests primarily on your budget and devotion to improving the environment. The improved fuel efficiency that many of these vehicles provide is worth the extra expense these vehicles might cost. Before purchasing any used hybrid, diesel, or electric vehicle, have one of our expert mechanics perform a pre-purchase car inspection.


Next Step

Schedule Pre-purchase Car Inspection

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Pre-purchase Car Inspection. YourMechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7-days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 2,000 cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Recent Pre-purchase Car Inspection reviews

Excellent Rating

(4,807)

Rating Summary
4,481
175
36
37
78
4,481
175
36
37
78

Caz

17 years of experience
57 reviews
Caz
17 years of experience
Honda Insight - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Acworth, Georgia
Patient, thorough, professional and takes his time to explain things. This is the second time I have used Caz's services, and he consistently delivers. Look forward to working with him again.
Volvo XC90 - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Alpharetta, Georgia
My husband and I are looking for a reliable used car for our teenage drivers. We had two that we were considering and wanted to have them inspected prior to purchasing. Caz did a thorough inspection of both vehicles and recommended we walk away from both. We really appreciated his transparency and knowledge. We will definitely use Caz again.

Chris

22 years of experience
2001 reviews
Chris
22 years of experience
Porsche Macan - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Irvine, California
Chris you as so knowledgeable and really out my mid at ease with the private seller purchase. Highly recommend to anyone shopping for a car :)
Lexus ES300h - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Temecula, California
Amazing guy.... called and gave me what felt to be his honest and straightforward opinion on my vehicle.... def will book him again in the future for work

Casey

19 years of experience
27 reviews
Casey
19 years of experience
Hyundai Santa Fe - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Katy, Texas
Casey is awesome. Helped me fully understand the health of the used vehicle I was buying for my mother in law. Great service and very knowledgeable for sure. Casey found only one issue we needed to deal with and was able to book the repair just a few days later.

Colby

14 years of experience
21 reviews
Colby
14 years of experience
Ford Ranger - Pre-purchase Car Inspection - Longmont, Colorado
Colby called to notify me he was in route to the inspection--to ease my mind and to ask if there was anything in particular/extra I wanted him to check out. He was going to do a pre-purchase inspection of a 2002 Ford Ranger. He assured me that I hired the right guy since he'd worked for Ford for 13 years. An hour or so later, he called me while he was driving home to discuss his inspection. I could ask him everything I wanted as we dialogued. That was so helpful! And way more personable and real than just reading the report he emailed. The report was thorough and included a test drive. He had recommendations for some work to be immediately done; rotors & brake pads. Then, included the cost for him to do that work should I choose. The price was fair and not crazy expensive. I'm still deliberating on whether to have that done or to wait for my mechanic to do it once I have the truck. Thank you again Colby.

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

Related articles

How Hybrid Cars Work
What What is a hybrid car? A hybrid car is one that uses more than one type of drivetrain to make movement. Most of the time, this means that the car takes gasoline to power an internal combustion engine and...
The Best Used Cars to Buy For Fuel Economy
Saving money on gas is an important factor to consider when buying a car. The Honda Civic, Toyota Prius, and Ford Fusion all have great fuel economy.
A Buyer’s Guide to the 2012 Chevrolet Malibu Hybrid
The The 2012 Chevrolet Malibu ECO hybrid is an interesting car in the world of mid-size family sedans. Unlike other popular hybrids, it doesn’t have a full-sized electric motor that takes over when the car starts. Instead, it uses eAssist...

Related questions

CTV pros and cons

For you who don't know, those are the cars that don't have transmission gears. They never shift. They just continuously have a range to drive a car. The reason they are doing that is because they get a better gas...

How Are Diesel and Gasoline Engines Different?

There are two main differences between gasoline and diesel engines. Gasoline engines use gasoline for fuel and spark ignition to ignite the fuel. Diesel engines use diesel fuel and compression for ignition to ignite the fuel. There are also many...

Mercedes Benz Vito 115CDI hot starting problem

Hi there. The glow plugs are designed to help start the engine even when the engine is hot. If the code is on for the glow plugs, check the glow plug relay and timer and see if its energizing as...

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com