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Honda Insight Hybrid Battery Pack Questions

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  • Thanks - You're right, I wrote to Honda America and they called to explain just as you did, still have the original 10 years on the battery and 3 years on the control module - which is a bonus since the original warranty on this was 8 years/80,000 miles, so how I'll get 9 years on the module (6 so far plus added 3). thanks again.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    Well don't worry about the MCM and BCM modules. They are solid state, rarely fail, and can be gotten from a junkyard for less than $100 if you look hard enough.

    The battery is what you need the warranty for. It WILL wear out. How soon could be three years or 10+ (nobody knows how long) depending on your driving habits and driving style. Your 2nd pack is likely to last as long as your first one did (6? years).

    When it eventually starts to fail, you'll be out of warranty, so you should look for a rebuilder who can rebuild the battery for far less money than replacing it.
  • I have a 2002 Insight 5-speed manual transmission model and this past week for the first time my IMA indicator light came on, followed by my engine light. I didn't know what it meant and panicked that the car would blow leaving me stranded 8 miles from home without my cell phone in hand!! LOL - overactive imagination.

    Anyway, as I've been poking on the internet to find out the reasons for this, I've learned more about the IMA battery failure than I cared to know. I lost my job last August and no way can I afford two or three grand for a new battery pack. I'm not aware of any warranty like you all have been talking about -- as far as I know the only warranty on my car was the 6-year or 60,000-miler which expired in February 2008. (I currently have somewhere between 66k and 72k miles total, don't recall the exact number on the odometer.)

    Can someone give me the proper linguistic conjuration to use when visiting the dealer to ensure that I, too, get treated well with a loaner and a replacement for free? I don't do the human interface thing very well and no matter how I try I seem to give off the "go ahead and frack me over" signal. (Or else it's just old-school gender bias against girls? hehehe) Well I can't afford to be fracked over right now, being unemployed and tight on money, so if someone could PLEASE clue me in to the right "magick words" to say to get them to listen to me and give me the same royal carpet treatment so many of you have enjoyed, it would be lovely. Thanks.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    In the USA, your battery is covered by a 10 year 150,000 mile warranty unless it is a salvage title, in which case it is 8/80,000. The magic words are "Call American Honda".
  • imahelpimahelp Posts: 7
    I don't know how many people are out there claiming to "rebuild" Insight battery modules but I would never make the assumption that I could simply replace a few bad cells and expect the module of 120 cells, that are already aged and stressed by the weaker cells, will last for any length of time. What I do is replace ALL of the cells with NEW product that is warranted by the manufacturer for one year from date of purchase. The new cells are rated for 10 ah, an improvement over the 6.5 ah rated stock cells. Your 90 day warranty is probably a safe bet.
    Dealers in our area are quoting between $4000 and $5000 to replace an old and failing battery module in an Insight. I can do it for half of that, and less if it's an outright exchange.
  • PFFlyer@EdmundsPFFlyer@Edmunds Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,806
    Just a reminder, the forums cannot be used to advertise products or services. Posts that do so will be removed.

    PFFlyer@Edmunds

    Moderator - Hatchbacks & Hybrid Vehicles

  • imahelpimahelp Posts: 7
    What people should keep in mind about NiMh battery life is that, although there is some testing to suggest that these batteries can last for 30 years, that testing was done in a lab, in a controlled environment. The actual specs for NiMh cells tend to settle on "cycles" and not time. Even that is skewed because a complete charge/discharge cycle is almost never occurring in a hybrid car. The good news is that, unlike the NiCads in your old flashlight, the NiMH battery technology is much more forgiving of partial charge/discharge cycles and is way better suited for the application. There is no "memory" affect.
    What real life is showing us all is that, with new technology, trailblazers like Honda have to sometimes pick a position based on a lot of reasons and strategy, and take some risk with their warranty offers. The expanded, ten year warranty, helped ease the pain of the reality that we are experiencing.
    My personal take on all of this is simple. First; Nothing lasts forever and there are 120 opportunities for failure in a Honda Insight battery pack. A "rejuvenated" cell isn't a "new" cell and you can't undo the age and cycles that the, not yet failed, cells in the pack have been through. For my money, I will opt for new products when offered at a decent price.
    The warranty of three years that I see bandied about is probably reasonable at this point. Some of these cars are still doing OK seven years down the road, although many have had battery issues long before that, so it sounds like a reasonable risk on both our parts (Honda and the Owners) to settle on that type of warranty.
  • imahelpimahelp Posts: 7
    I'm in Southern California and my car is way out of warranty. When I was getting prices from the dealers for replacement of my failing IMA battery pack, I was being quoted between $4000 and $5000 for the new pack. One dealer gave me, in writing, a quote showing their cost to be $3800, just for the battery pack alone. That was before they applied a mark-up for labor to do the job. But I have been told by, perhaps a not to reputable source, that Honda dealers in New York have been quoting $2400? Has anyone else seen any "real" quotes on this from dealers in their area?
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    I called three dealers today:

    Majestic Honda (RI) quoted me $2000 (battery) + $465 (shipping of the battery from American Honda to them) + $330 (3 hours labor). Total: $2800.

    Honda of Princeton (Princeton, NJ) quoted me $2485 and said that I could bring the car in when the battery arrived and that I could wait as they installed it.

    I then called South Bay Honda (near San Francisco) and they quoted me $2800 for the battery (with the shipping) and $1100 labor for a total of $3900. This is obviously price-gouging as they can't seriously be charging $360 per hour labor. The service tech claimed that their cost for the battery was $2450.

    I will try to call some more west-coast dealers tomorrow to get some additional pricing.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    "Nothing lasts forever and there are 120 opportunities for failure in a Honda Insight battery pack. A "rejuvenated" cell isn't a "new" cell and you can't undo the age and cycles that the, not yet failed, cells in the pack have been through."

    That is certainly true, but you are implying that every cell will fail. As an engineer, you know that is not true. You also know that from the first day the battery is used, it starts to deteriorate. What matters is that the deterioration is within acceptable limits.

    A brand new Honda battery holds 6500Mah which provides 6 minutes of full boost. A typical 2000 Insight's battery will have deteriorated to about 5800-6200 Mah. This is about 5:30 of boost instead of 6 minutes - which is perfectly acceptable to most people, and is actually even hard to detect.

    I have found that a battery with P1447 errors might have cells that are only capable of 1500Mah. After reconditioning, those cells get back up to the 5800-6200 Mah range. What matters is replacing the bad cells (the ones with high internal resistance, high self-discharge rate, etc.) that caused the deterioration so that it doesn't happen again. Can another cell go bad? Certainly, but MTBF would suggest that there will be a significant amount of time before that happens.
  • imahelpimahelp Posts: 7
    .....I have found that a battery with P1447 errors might have cells that are only capable of 1500Mah. After reconditioning, those cells get back up to the 5800-6200 Mah range. What matters is replacing the bad cells (the ones with high internal resistance, high self-discharge rate, etc.) that caused the deterioration so that it doesn't happen again. Can another cell go bad? Certainly, but MTBF would suggest that there will be a significant amount of time before that happens......

    I am an engineer and your statement about MTBF makes no sense at all. The MTBF of these cells is calculated from the day they are manufactured, not from the day you "rejuvenate" them. Are you saying that you believe putting a battery rejuvenator on a battery makes it "like new" again, resetting the MTBF calcs as well? Explain that. And since the cells that you are replacing have failed, and they are part of a sampling of 120 units, how do you make the leap that they were the exception and not the rule? How can you claim that the other cells still have so much more life expectancy when cells in this lot have already failed?

    Thanks for the price gathering. There seems to be a large disparity between the Honda quotes in the San Diego area and those in New York. I'll be making calls and asking for documentation myself because, with differences of these amounts, Honda America (and their dealerships) owes Insight owners some explanations.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    ...I am an engineer and your statement about MTBF makes no sense at all. The MTBF of these cells is calculated from the day they are manufactured, not from the day you "rejuvenate" them. Are you saying that you believe putting a battery rejuvenator on a battery makes it "like new" again, resetting the MTBF calcs as well? ...

    No and stop acting like a moron. You know what I mean. If there are one or two failures in the first 8 years, there aren't likely to be much more than that in the next 8. The projected life for these batteries is 30 years. One or two will go bad early. Others will show early warning. If these are all replaced, then there is a reasonable expectation of 5-8 more years before another failure. They aren't all going to go bad at once.
  • imahelpimahelp Posts: 7
    Wow; You seem like quite the hot-head. Now you have reverted to name calling.
    I don't know how you can possibly make the claims that you do. If the whole pack is several years old and cells have just started to fail, it doesn't make any sense (except to you perhaps) that a smaller number would fail in the future versus larger numbers. The claim defies logic and common sense.
    My point was (and remains so) that if there are 120 cells in the pack and some are starting to fail, it is reasonable to guess that the remaining cells, that are just as old and deteriorated as the ones that are currently failing, will likely begin to fail also. I have no way (and neither do you) to predict otherwise. The materials have aged, nothing lasts forever, and if I can buy brand new units, I would prefer to do so rather than trickle big bucks out for "snake oil" from a slick seller that throws around technical buzz words.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    You have been insulting me and calling me names in private emails for more than a week, all because I asked you what steps you had taken to ensure your custom battery pack doesn't have a thermal meltdown at the battery contact points, or worse yet, set the car on fire.

    Honda welded the cells together for a reason, and the bus bars are half an inch wide to carry the extreme current that is produced and consumed by the electric motor.

    Now, why rebuild a battery? Let me spell it out for the non-technical people on the list and so that you don't spin it further away from the truth.

    NiMH batteries have an estimated lifespan of about 30 years under ideal conditions. The Insight certainly does not provide ideal conditions, so some of the cells will fail early. We are now at the 8 or so year mark for most of the failing packs. A careful reconditioning and testing of the cells will identify the ones that are bad, the ones that are going bad, the ones that are worn but stable and the ones that are fresh and top performers.

    If you replace the bad and going bad cells, you can expect the remaining good cells to last quite a while before any more cells die. They do give a great deal of advanced warning before failure and continue to function in a diminished capacity for a long time.

    This makes repairing a battery an appealing choice over purchasing a new one or upgrading it, because repairing costs about 1/3 of the price of replacing or upgrading and another 5-8 years of battery life without trouble is reasonable to expect.

    Why replace the 90-95% of the battery that is good?

    Please feel free to send me more nasty emails if you wish.
  • imahelpimahelp Posts: 7
    With regard to the 30 year life expectancy of NiMH batteries, may I suggest to readers of this forum that they do two things; Google the report that keeps getting referenced and consult with your local Honda Dealer or any reputable battery sales source. That should enlighten you and keep everyone honest here. Or just use your own experience as a litmus test. I'm sure that some of you have owned and used NiMH cells in other applications before. You should have some idea of how they perform and how they have failed. Trust your instincts.
    It is true that I rebuilt my IMA battery pack with new cells. I had no idea I would create such a stir by revealing my design and offering to show it to local Honda Insight owners in this forum. I stated that I used new cells and prefer that approach over buying old packs from junk yards and "rejuvenating" them. I have stated my reasons why. Apparently when people making false and/or misleading claims are called on their information, they become quite agitated. If calling a person that sells "snake oil" and offers distorted and made-up data to people, "not credible" then I guess I am guilty of "name calling" but I will let the readers decide on names like "moron" and anything else that "feels" right to them.
    In any event, I hope that the readers of this forum will do their homework. I will be happy to show you my car(s) and explain some of my mod's to you if you are local and interested in seeing them. Please do not ask me for pictures of the battery pack, schematics, parts lists etc. I am not here to help further the education of anyone or make myself feel important. I am just offering advice and another solution to what is sure to become an all too familiar problem with Hybrid cars as time goes on.
  • PFFlyer@EdmundsPFFlyer@Edmunds Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,806
    Let's keep the personal disputes off the forums please. What you do off the forums in email is your business. When it spills over onto the forums, that's where it needs to stop and stop now.

    Thanks for your cooperation and participation.

    PFFlyer@Edmunds

    Moderator - Hatchbacks & Hybrid Vehicles

  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    "nuff said. If anyone wants to know any more about rebuilding IMA batteries, they can contact me directly, or search google.

    BTW, Honda recycles the good sticks out of warranty packs and uses them in the replacement batteries. All warranty replacement batteries are "remanufactured battery module(s)" and they are ordered by the dealer from CALHAC*

    If remanufactured/rebuilt/reconditioned/"rejuvenated" batteries are good enough for Honda, they are certainly not "snake oil".

    Here is a picture of three batteries being repaired:
    image

    *Honda Service Bulletin 00-070 dated Dec '06
  • bodach1bodach1 Posts: 1
    I've owned my Insight since 2000 and recently, the battery will seem to almost discharge on its own. Generally keep it fully charged, depending on driving in the NW but two things happen: 1. will discharge rapidly after getting down about half way on the meter or 2. will almost be fully discharged when I come out in the morning to go to work.
    Any ideas? Just found this site and I am reading previous messages. Have about 125K on the car, local dealers appear to be boneheads.
    Thanks
  • imahelpimahelp Posts: 7
    The condition that you describe sounds exactly like a battery that is failing. Of course, since your car is probably still within the warranty period (assuming it does not have a salvage title) it is in the interest of the Honda dealer to play dumb and run out the clock on you I suppose. Since it's a 2000 model, you are close to the ten year mark.
    Have you had the IMA light come on and the system shut down yet? If you haven't, then maybe you should try to accomplish that by taking a drive in some areas that will really tax the system, demanding higher and more sustained current draw from the battery until the system is unable to keep up. Around southern California that is easy to do. We have lots of mountainous area. It seems to me that WV might also have it's fair share of mountain roads to drive on. You might also be able to do that by trying to use full IMA power as often as possible by driving in higher gears than you normally do and keeping the RPM under 3K while having a "lead foot" on the accelerator. Once there is an actual idiot light and obvious problem to address, you can be the one that plays dumb (except for your knowledge of the battery issue and warranty :-) and try taking it back to them again.
    Good luck!
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    When you say "discharges rapidly", do you mean within a few seconds? Or perhaps you'll just suddenly notice that the gauge reads empty (maybe when you notice that there is no assist available)? If so, this is called a "downward recal" and is an indication of a battery that is on the way out. It will happen more and more frequently and will eventually trigger a P1447 error with a lit IMA light. At that point, take it into a dealer and have the codes read. You will then be eligible for a replacement battery under warranty (assuming you don't have a salvage title). They will not replace it unless the IMA light lights. If they are a typical dealer, they have little experience with Insights and this problem isn't in their database. They may be boneheads, but I would not expect them to be able to tell what the problem is.

    You didn't say how often it does this. When it gets to multiple times per day, the end is near.

    If the dealer tries to charge you for anything, call American Honda or contact us here. This repair is free.
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