Does your PHEV need an oil change? If so, how often?
A PHEV, or Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle, is a car that uses both electricity and gas to operate.
You can plug them into charging stations to recharge their battery, but if they run out of juice, they can also use gasoline.
Needless to say, they are a bit different from ordinary cars, which is why it’s fair to wonder if they need oil changes like normal cars.
Well, the short answer is yes, they do. As for why that is, it’s not as complicated as you might be led to believe initially.
PHEVs Still Need Engine Lubrication
A PHEV may have a somewhat different engine setup than many traditional cars, but at the end of the day, it still has a lot of moving parts that need lubrication.
The combustion engine will have some work to put in every once in awhile, which means there will be moving parts in the engine.
This means you need oil in the engine, and like all cars, oil doesn’t last forever.
It needs to be changed out after a certain amount of time or distance traveled, exactly like a normal gasoline car.
However, because the combustion process doesn’t get used as often with a PHEV, you can usually stretch motor oil out longer than with normal cars.
But even so, you will need to get an oil change eventually. A PHEV can go a lot longer without an oil change, but that doesn’t exclude it from needing one.
The good news is, it’s not all that hard to know when you need to get an oil change for your PHEV.
As with most cars, you are usually informed of the proper time to do so.
PHEVs Have Oil Change Indicators
We recommend reading the manual for your car in pretty much every scenario, since it will tell you everything you need to know about your car.
Naturally, this information will also include instructions on how frequently you should change the oil in your PHEV, using both time and distance as metrics.
But we understand that not everyone reads a long-winded manual. That’s pretty understandable.
But at the very least, you should take a peek at the page that tells you what all of the lights and instruments on your dashboard mean.
That’s because one of those instruments is used to tell you when you need to change your oil.
At the very least, there will be a light that comes on to tell you that an oil change is needed.
However, most PHEVs are actually more advanced than that, and will have a more accurate measure of your oil life.
Wherever this system is located on your dashboard or electronic system, it will usually give you a rough estimate as to how much longer your oil has before needing replacement.
This is typically done as a percentage. For instance, you may be told that you have “50% oil life” left when you check the relevant instruments.
Needless to say, your PHEV wouldn’t have instruments and indicators telling you when to change your oil if a PHEV didn’t need to have oil changes.
Simply put, they do. They are no different from normal cars in this respect.
Do PHEVs Need Special Motor Oil?
OK, so we’ve established that PHEVs need oil changes just like other cars.
However, they are a bit special compared to normal cars, so it’s reasonable to wonder if they need special motor oil too.
However, this is not something you need to worry about. PHEVs use the same type of motor oil for their combustion engines as other cars.
That means you can use pretty much any motor oil you would buy off the shelves at an auto parts store, be it conventional or synthetic.
That said, we’d recommend synthetic oil overall, since it tends to last longer and be of higher quality.
You don’t have to get the most expensive brand available, however.
PHEVs are still perfectly robust vehicles that don’t need some sort of special treatment in this area. Just get the motor oil that you usually would.
Do PHEVs Need Oil Filter Changes Too?
Yes, they do. If the car uses oil, then it also uses an oil filter, and that means said filter will need to be replaced as well.
This is exactly the same as it is with normal cars. The good news is, the whole idea is just as simple as it is with normal cars as well.
Basically, whenever you change your oil, you’ll need to change the oil filter as well. It’s as simple as that, really.
Unless your manufacturer states otherwise, there shouldn’t be any special considerations when it comes to oil filters either. It just needs to be compatible with your car, that’s all.
Do I Need to Change the Oil If I Never Use the Combustion Engine?
OK, so the whole point of a PHEV is that it uses both electricity and gasoline to operate.
However, they usually only rely on the combustion engine if the electric motor runs out of juice. But what if it never does?
Maybe you have a really short commute, and you just never drive the PHEV to the point where you never use the combustion engine.
So, what happens then? Do you still need to change the oil even in that case? Yes, you do.
Motor oil wears down more quickly when it is actually being used and doing its job, but even when it’s not doing anything, it does degrade over time.
This means you’ll still need to change the oil at certain intervals, even if it never gets used.
You don’t want stale oil in the engine just sitting around, especially if the time comes to actually need it.
On that note, just be sure to change the oil at the time intervals the manufacturer specifies.
At the very least, you should change the oil once a year. It’s only prudent to at least do that much.