Outlander PHEV engine/gearbox design and high mileage

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May 29, 2023
We are considering a 2nd hand Outlander PHEV, probably 10(ish) years old based on our budget...
Having watched a number of videos online, there seems to be varying descriptions of how the electric motor(s?) and petrol engine work? From what seemed (to me) the most knowledgeable video, I understand that at low to medium speeds, even when the battery power is exhausted, the car is still driven by the electric motor(s?), and the petrol engine is used to generate the electricity needed. But then at higher (motorway?) speeds, there is some kind of automatic clutch mechanism that engages the petrol engine directly to the wheels.
Is this correct? If not, please can someone clarify how this vehicle is powered?

If this is correct, then how does the mileage driven affect the car in terms of wear and tear? Is an Outlander that has done 120k miles likely to need expensive repairs on the next few years, or does the design mean that the engine can run for much longer without needing significant work done?

Does the car record details of the miles travelled in electric only mode? If you regularly used 20 miles per day on electric only, this could be 4000-5000 miles per year without the engine running? So a 10 year old car with 120k miles on the clock may have only done 80k miles with the engine??

Any thoughts or advice would be welcomed.....
Hi there.

This video shows how the GKN transmission works and identifies the various components.


Regarding the life of the components, you could arrive at a guesstimate depending on the age of the car and the miles traveled.

For example, if you find a car that has done an average of 100 miles per day, you would guess that only 20 miles of that were done on electric only, i.e. that would suggest that the engine has been running for at least 80% of the time.

It would be relatively unlikely to find an owner that uses the full electric range, recharges during the day (five hours) and then uses the full electric range on the way home again. So it's probably safe to guess that the car's maximum electric range can only be used once per day.

However, this is highly dependent on the vehicle owner's decisions.

One of the attractions of a PHEV is that it does not need to be plugged in to charge.

There would be a subset of owners that never plug-in charge and therefore the engine would run much more often.

I'd suggest usual mechanical checks to see the state of the engine (i.e. look at the oil colour and contaminants, check the exhaust for black soot, check the coolant for contaminants. check that the engine starts instantly when the 'Charge' button is pressed.)

Hopefully others can pipe in regarding any record of electric vs engine miles.
You are correct with how it works.

I would not be concerned with anything to do with mileage. The only thig of concern is battery health. You should either get a report on it, or better still, have a test drive from full to empty and see how far it goes (anything over 20 miles is alright).
I'd suggest its worth looking at the service history and what work has been covered. As far as I know, the engine timing chain isn't in the service schedule so may be worth considering budgeting for that and getting it done as soon as you can if the car is likely to have done 80K miles or more with the engine running.

Also worth testing the range on electric only if you can as that's indicate how much capacity is left in the battery. Thing is a lot of used dealers don't tend to charge the car before a test run so perhaps not that easy to do.

Perhaps not possible but worth knowing if it was a company car or privately owned as a fair few company users may not have bothered to charge it that often, after all they were generally bought for tax breaks rather than EV capability/eco credentials.
Thanks all for your thoughts, advice and information. I will certainly try to test the battery range if possible.

Is the battery usage roughly 'linear' (assuming relatively consistent driving conditions and driving style)? If I can only test drive 5 or 10 miles, should I see 25% or 50% battery use? Does the dashboard show the remaining charge in the battery? Is there an option to show the remaining 'battery only' range, and how accurate is this?
Yes, battery usage is roughly linear as you describe. The range "guessometer" should be ignored on a test drive as it is unlikely to have useful prior data to work on.

For any test drive, insist on a full (or at least half) battery charge. With a roughly 10kWh battery, it costs about £3 to give a full charge, so there's no reason why a seller shouldn't do it. If they won't, suspect it's because they know the battery is not good or they're just plain lazy. Either way, they don't deserve your money.
Hi there,

I need badly your opinion!

I saw a 2020 model with 103500km or 64000 miles.

Does this engine souds normal for you, please?

I need to make an offer by tomorrow, and I don't know anybody owning this car.


Thanks in advance!
The only thing I could hear was that the engine sounded like it was running a little fast.

Was it in 'Charge Mode' ?

Charge mode causes the engine to run faster at rest.

There was also some shaking going on that was interesting, perhaps one cylinder misfiring from time to time?

Best way to understand a modern engine is to connect a diagnostic tool to it and see what the tool is saying.

Take it on a test drive to a friendly mechanic perhaps?

Thanks for the quick reply!

Yes, it was in charge mode. I didn't know hot to make it run otherwise than charge mode.

Once in the car, it sounds smooth, and not worrying at all, but louder than 2019 model we tested the last week. Unfortunately we didn't hear the 2019 engine running with the opened hood.

Now, when you mention the shacking, that concerns me even more. The car is sold by a professional (Ford and Mazda retailer). Their mechanic says the engine sound is normal, and there is 1 year guaranty for the engine, gearbox and the body.

Would they take a risk to accept a car that has a faulty engine, and to sell it with a 12 month guarantee??

I'll try to check it by someone else, though.

Thanks a lot!