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Honda Insight Hybrid Battery Pack Questions
I own a Honda Insight. I've owned it for over 4 years now, and it has been a great vehicle. I have had it serviced regularly by Honda and have not missed a single scheduled maintenance visit. This June, on a trip from where I live in the California Sierras to Las Vegas, a funny thing started to happen. This drive involves a lot of hills, and traveling with my wife, we were near the load limit for the car. Driving in the mountains, you use a lot of battery - you can't help it. The good news is that you can get good recharges as you drive back downhill from you ascents. Anyhow, I noticed that once my battery got one or two "lines" below 1/2, the battery charge dropped precipitously. I mean it dropped to just 2 lines in about 10-15 seconds. Even worse, it didn't matter whether I was driving at the time or not. I tested this by pulling over to the side, putting the car in neutral and letting the engine shut down as it normally does, but the battery drain, once started always dropped to 2 lines - despite its not being used at all at the time!
Now this is not good. But to make it just a little bit worse, I still needed to bring the charge all the way back through the "drop range" in order to get it back where I could use it again. The only good thing about this trip was that the trip down to Vegas was on June 10, and the trip back on June 19. It was fortunately very mild weather in the Nevada high desert aone those dates, and I could often run without AC when at altitude. Had we been driving during the present heat wave, we would have been in very serious trouble.
So once I got back, I took the car into the dealer and explained the problem. They ran all their tests and told me the car, and the battery system was fine. I then took the mechanic who worked on the car out for a drive. I drained the battery to half, and watch carefully. Once it started to drop, I pulled over the side of the road, put the car in neutral and let the engine shut down. His jaw dropped about as quickly as the the battery did.
At this point he agreed that the battery system was not fine, but given the limited experience he had with hybrids, he needed to call Honda USA's tech advisors. They indicated that - even though the battery is "fully" warranted for eight (count 'em: 8) years, and even though it was clearly failing, that they would not fix it under warranty because it had not "failed enough" to set off their bloody IMA indicator lights. "Failed enough" - gotta love that logic!
Ok, so I escalated this to Honda Customer Service at the behest of the service manager at my dealer since their hands were tied in the matter.The upshot of all that, is that after playing over a week's worth of phone tag, Honda won't do anything to correct the problem. They do acknowledge that the battery is failing and offered to extend the battery's warranty to 125,00 miles, but what the heck good would another 2 or 3 years do me. If the battery is going to fail completely while I'm out in the high desert, that extension won't help worth beans. Further, I honestly believe that either the battery will continue to deteriorate over the next 3 or 4 years to the point where the IMA light will fail, or it will just reach a crippled point and stop detriorating. In either case, such a warranty extension is clearly worthless. They were trying to throw me a bone to shut me up and have me go away. I declined.
So now I have two choices: I can try to sell what I know to be a failing vehicle - even if Honda's morales don't mind that, mine do - or I can try to live with it until it "fails more" - perhaps leaving me in a seriously bad situation when that happens. I don't not find either of these alternatives acceptable. As such, I feel that my only recourse at this time is to let everyone I can know about this incident and warn then away from Honda's hybrid vehicles. Their battery warranty isn't worth the paper it's printed on.
My short advice to all reading this: Buy a Prius!
= Ed Rotberg =