How to replace a hybrid battery

The popular philosophy book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” promotes a certain kind of DIY mindfulness. It teaches people to be more fully engaged in their daily life, while also fully committing to the task at hand. And while there’s definitely something admirable about taking a Do It Yourself approach to life, some things are better left to the professionals.
Case in point: hybrid car battery replacement.

How To Replace a Hybrid Battery Safely…

So rather than spending up to $4,000 at the dealership, you’ve decided to find another way. Maybe you bought a used battery online, or paid for a refurbished battery. If you have the electrical skills to refurbish a battery on your own, then you can probably handle hybid battery replacement without any mishaps. Perhaps you bought a new hybrid battery online, and want to save money by installing it yourself.
In any case, most hybrid batteries are fully capable of delivering a lethal shock to your system. So unless you want to be electrocuted in your garage, consider spending money on a mechanic that already knows how to replace a hybrid battery.

Hybrid Battery Replacement Tips

Before you break out the tools and start Googling, “How to replace a hybrid battery?” — answer a few questions. If the answer to any of these questions is no, then consider going to a mechanic.

  1. Do you know the difference between DC and AC?
  2. Have you ever replaced a hybrid battery before?
  3. Do you have heavy rubber Class 00 rated gloves rated for up to 1,000 volts?
  4. Do you have a plan for recycling or properly disposing of your old battery?

Unless you answered yes to all these questions, then you may not be able to safely replace your battery.
Most importantly, you’ll want to make sure the old battery is completely disconnected from the car. Every hybrid has a disconnect switch in a different place, so consult the manual for more information. For instance, the Honda Civic Hybrid battery disconnect switch is located behind the rear seat cushion, and requires you to remove several small screws to access the switch panel.
Second, make sure the hybrid is completely off before working under the hood. Check the dashboard lights to double and triple check. Third, beware those orange or brightly colored wires under the hood. The voltage of hybrid car batteries varies depending on the strength of the powertrain. Many Prius hybrids have voltages upwards of 273, while Honda Insight and Civic Hybrid batteries are rated at rated at 144 volts. What’s more, hybrid batteries use direct current (DC) rather than the alternating current (AC) you use in your home. DC is more powerful than AC, meaning even a partial shock could be fatal.
Again, when in doubt, always call in a professional. Safety first.