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Honda Insight Hybrid Battery Pack Questions

edrotbergedrotberg Posts: 2
Boy I hate to have to be writing post, but since Honda USA has decided to turn their back on me, I feel have have no other leverage in this situation and I can only hope others considering the purchase of a Honda Hybrid and reading this post will think twice about it.

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!

Most Sincerely,

= Ed Rotberg =


  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    I don't think you should give up. I think you should be tenacious and escalate your complaint even further. You should also explain to Honda Corporate that you are going to write disparaging reviews of their customer service. Perhaps that may jolt them into replacing your battery. I don't know of any failures with the Prius batteries, but I hope if there are, Toyota reacts more favorably.
  • edrotbergedrotberg Posts: 2
    Thanks Falconone,

    I may yet try to escalate this further, but I've already told them that I was writing - not disparaging - but accurate posts to many forums/blogs. I also have sent a copy of this original post to 3 top car magazines. I don't know what good it will do, but if it gets some others to ask critical questions BEFORE they buy a Honda hybrid, maybe I will have done some good.

    = Ed =
  • blueiedgodblueiedgod Posts: 2,803
    I kind of understand Honda's stance. I don't think that the car will leave you stranded when the battery dies completley. It still has a gasoline engine, so it will get you whereever you are going, or to the dealer to get it fixed. I would have taken them up on the warranty extention. You know the battery will die eventually, so why not take the extended warranty they are offering for free.
  • 107main107main Posts: 33
    Eds last line, "My short advice to all reading this: Buy a Prius!" leads me to believe this is a sham post by a Toyota person. What does he know about a Prius? I have read more than one time about the Prius leaving you stranded. Have not read that about a Honda. Does Ed have a problem if this is a true post? Maybe so, but car is still going, although maybe not at 100%. He does not say what miles are on the vehicle.
    I have never had any dealer replace a part that may be going bad. Unfortunately we have to wait until the part fails before replacement while warranted. They gave you more warrantly, what else do you want, be happy for the additional time!
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,845
    I think it is a question that needs to be addressed. The warranty on hybrid batteries is pretty long. If the dealer determines that the battery is only slightly deteriorated what option does the owner have? I have not seen much discussion on when does the battery need replacing. If it is 70% of the original capacity is it still good enough? Many feel they can accept a deterioration in mileage as the battery ages. I think it is going to be a big surprise for a lot of folks that like to keep their cars for many years.
  • flash4085flash4085 Posts: 2
    After reading this forum I am getting scared. I am averaging 58-59 mpg so far. I heard the warranty for the Honda Insight had gone up to 10 years and 150,000 miles in some states. I knew that I was taking a chance. What can I do to make my battery pack last longer ?? Why were only certain states chosen for the extended warranty ?? I hope Honda will extend the warranty for all states. I also heard the complete installation of a new battery pack costs about 5000 dollars. I am getting ready to start using Amsoil 0W-20.... 100% synthetic oil. I am also going to have the engine professionally flushed before using the new oil. I want to give the Insight the best chance. If anyone has any advice for a new owner I would greatly appreciate any advice.
  • I think your over reacting! I had the exact same problem with my insight last year. At about 65,000 miles I started to notice that my battery life was decreasing. Just as you said I noticed if the battery's charge dropped below half it would quickly deplete even if I started downhill and was showing charge on the battery. The reason for this is that in order to increase the life of the batteries the computers are programmed to not allow the battery to overcharge, or discharge completely. My car lasted in this condition for maybe 6 months or less. I was actually far from home and climbing a steep hill when my IMA light turned on. No problem though I down shifted, and as we all know even when fully discharged the insight will pull any hill at sixty if you work it back and forth between second and third gears. The battery continued to function just as it had before the light came on. Sure the battery capacity was diminishing, but even with the IMA light on the batteries continued to function just as they had before. I took it into my honda dealership when I got home, ( I was at about 79,800 miles by this time) and they tested and said the battery failed. They ordered me a new battery and control module, and replaced them absolutely free of charge. I even convinced my honda dealership to rent me a car for the nearly a week that my car was in the shop. By the way my parents were so impressed by my insight that they went out and bought a brand new prius. They just wore out their first set of tires, and the rear tires are severely cupped and worn on the inner edges. My father is an airplane mechanic, and knows enough about cars to open his own shop. This car has been well maintained, and never abused in any way. Like the insight the rear alignment cannot be adjusted, but the tires are wearing so poorly on the rear that he could easily go through three sets of tires on the rear before the front tires will be worn out. He contacted toyota and they said he must have hit something so hard that it bent the control arm, yet the rim is straight, and the tire has looks fine other than wear. (impossible!!) I think if he hit something that hard he'd probably remember his head bouncing off the head liner. Bottom line I could not be happier with the service I have received from honda usa, and my dad is absolutely at wits end with toyotas service. Both companies build great cars, but you'll never have as mush fun in a toyota as in a honda. We all knew when we bought our cars we bought new technology. If only microsoft could have so few bugs when they release a new product.
  • gagricegagrice San DiegoPosts: 28,845
    The 10 year 150k mile warranty on the battery and hybrid system was mandated by CARB in CA and 4 other states. It only applies to cars that are AT-PZEV rated. I don't think all Insights are rated that high. You should check with your local Honda dealer to find out. They should be able to tell you how much the battery has deteriorated from when it was new.
  • Karen_CMKaren_CM Posts: 5,020
    A reporter with a large local newspaper is hoping to talk to model year 2000- 2002 Honda Insight owners and discuss how the vehicle (and battery) is performing. Please reply to no later than Wednesday, September 26, 2007 with your daytime contact info.

    Community Manager If you have any questions or concerns about the Forums, send me an email,, or click on my screen name to send a personal message.

  • Don't get scared, flash. I have just over 70,000 miles on my 2002 Insight w/CVT and lifetime mpg is just less than 60. My IMA light came on a couple of weeks ago, so I took it in to the Honda dealer. Nothing seemed amiss, except for the warning light coming on, but they ran a check and found the battery module, condition monitor, and motor control module needed to be ordered/replaced. They had the car for three days and gave me a 2007 Civic to drive for free. Yes, the dealer took care of all related charges (over $5,000) and noted that the warranty had been extended to 10 years and 150,000 miles (now, in all states.)
    I asked if there was something I could do to make the new battery last longer, but they assured me that it's nothing I've done or failed to do. That if the IMA light comes on again, it's covered under the new warranty. BTW, I've been using Honda's 0W-20 oil @ 5,000 change intervals (not Amsoil).
  • rotterotte Posts: 3
    I bought my 2000 Honda Insight used in Wisconsin about two and a half years ago. Now I"m living in New Mexico, going to school here. I"m at about 135,000 miles, and while driving in the mountains my IMA light went out. What's the likelihood of Honda replacing it without me having to pay them $5,000? I've got about two pennies to rub together, so hopefully the chances are good...
  • y2k2y2k2 Posts: 1
    I have a 2002 Insight and I have over 186,000 miles. The IMA light came on 4 months ago and I took it to the dealer they said the batteries were done and I could get some new ones for $3600, do not have that kind of cash so I said no thanks and still use my car every day. I had life time little under 60 mpg, now looks like I am getting little under 50 mpg with out the IMA system working. Unless some one tells me I am hurting the car by driving it with out the IMA system I will keep driving it in till I win lotto and can by new batteries.
  • I bought a 2001 insight in 2001 for driving back and forth to work. I currently have 240,000 miles on the original batteries. This past week the IMA light came on. Today I will take my Insight to the dealer for the bad news. Has anyone replaced their batteries lately? I am trying to determine a reasonable replacement cost. Is the replacement of the batteries the only problem the IMA light indicates? Thanks.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    Current price for a replacement is $2400 less any part of it that American Honda kicks in. Where do you live? I'm just finishing a rebuild of my battery.
  • help!!! can i use an old civic battery? i seen on insightcentral about a charger/balancer? is this necessary? how do you find which modules are bad? i can pull the fuse and reset the mcm and go for a few days before ima dies again. but its getting more frequent.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    I offer an IMA battery rebuild service. Where are you located? You can contact me directly at
  • Just a heads up for everyone: I just had my 2004 Insight battery & control module replaced under warranty. I'm the original owner and have 51,000 miles on the car. The IMA light came on and the dealer recommended the replacement, gave me a free loaner while it was being done, etc. - I was treated well...

    That's the good news. The bad news is that the new battery and control module are only warrantied for 3 years/36,000 miles! I asked the service manager why this is and all he could offer was that usually replacement parts are only warranted for 1 year/12,000 miles, so I was getting a good deal (my impression of his remarks). I would've at least expected them to honor the remaining warranty on my original battery - 4 more years (I bought the car in May, 2003) or 99,000 miles. Btw, he said it would've cost $4,700 if I'd had to pay for the battery/module replacement.

    I plan to write Honda Motors to complain. Anyone had a similar experience?
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    3 years from now or 10 years/150,000 miles from when the car was made. You're covered until April 2013. Don't let them tell you otherwise.
  • Thanks, but can you clarify: "3 years from now or 10 years/150,000 miles from when the car was made. You're covered until April 2013"? They gave me 3 years - I'd rather have the 10 years from when it was made. April 2013 sounds good but 3 years from now is sooner... Sorry to be so dense, but which is it?

    Thanks again.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    It means that while the part they put in is covered for three years, the battery is still covered under the original 10 year warranty, no matter how many times they replace the battery - or when. There are many people who have had multiple battery replacements - all covered, no matter what the gap was between replacements. The dealer is lieing to you or is stupid.
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