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Honda Civic Hybrid Engine Questions

I have been a happy owner of my Honda Civic Hybrid since I first bought the car new in 2003 (that model year). I have had no real problems with the car (other than when an SUV backed into the front of my car while it was parked and did some significant damage – but insurance covered it and I thought it was kind of ironic damage) until just the other day.
On a hot Sunday, I drove my car for about an hour and a half to a father's day lunch. Got to my destination - car was fine. Left my destination and stopped off at a super market to buy a cake - car was fine. Tried to start my car to leave the supermarket - car wouldn't start. Initially, the engine would not even turn. I paused for a minute and tried again. The engine started, and sounded fine. I shifted into drive – the engine died. Tried a few more times, same results. No warning lights were on the dashboard. Engine temperature was fine. Charge level was fine. Still waited for a while. Tried again. Engine started in park. Worked in neutral. But as soon as I shifted to drive, or reverse, the engine died. Tow truck guy was perplexed. The first garage we took it to, which specializes in Hondas, was also perplexed, but thought it might be the hybrid battery. We then brought it to the Honda dealership. They have spent several days on it, and claim that it is not the battery, but they can’t figure out what is wrong. To make matters worse, we JUST past our 3 year, 30,000 mile warranty. We don’t trust the Honda dealer though – since the hybrid batter is still under warranty, we suspect they are desperately looking for something else to blame the problem on. Is anyone familiar with a problem like this? This is definitely changing my attitude towards Honda hybrids, just as we are considering getting a new car in a year or so.
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Comments

  • kentmoonkentmoon Posts: 44
    Recently, my car civic 06 hybrid is not shutting down at stop light as it used to. Does anyone know what is going on? Thanks.
  • midnightcowboymidnightcowboy Posts: 1,978
    Sometimes you just gotta take it to a dealer to get an answer. This is one of those times ;)
  • As I'm now shopping for a new car, I've been doing lots of research about hybrids lately--the newest Civic hybrid especially. I've been reading as many articles and anecdotes and opinions that I've been able to find. And I've been doing lots of comparison shopping: hybrid Honda Civic, normally-aspirated Civic EX, Scion tC, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Prius, and just recently, hybrid Toyota Camry.

    After spending plenty of time with each of these cars (except the Camry, which I'm told will be arriving in late May, early June), I thought that I'd decided to buy the hybrid Civic. But as the moment of purchase is nigh, I've been feeling really scared. And after reading your post, I feel even more afraid...because I've read other reports of the same problem.

    Just recently I read an update of a long-term test of the '06 HCH, and the reviewer reported that "There was a period of about 500 km when it didn't auto-stop at all...Subsequently, the auto-stop feature 'returned' and now the car is stopping and starting as designed."

    The reasons I want a hybrid are the decreased petrol use and the decreased emissions, to which the auto-stop feature contribute. Any glitches with that technology just might be a deal-breaker for me--especially when I consider that the transition from auto-stop isn't always seamless anyhow, and that the acceleration of the HCH isn't exactly exemplary.

    I've read of no such apparent hiccups with the Toyota Synergy Drive. Gosh though, other than the drivetrain, I really don't like the Prius. But that's really the only other option, unless I wait for the hybrid Camry or hybrid Altima.

    I know that the kudos for the HCH are plenty, but I just want to be sure that my money will be well spent on a car that I'll be happy with for the next half-decade. So I don't want to just ignore the criticisms/ reservations that I've been feeling and reading about. Ya know?

    :confuse: :confuse: :confuse:
  • Kent,

    Have you made sure that all the conditions are being met to allow the car to go into auto-stop per the owner's manual?

    1. Front window defogger can't be on.
    2. Heat can't be on high (Not sure how "high" this is, but it won't kick in under many climate control conditions)
    3. Battery pack is charged at least 5 bars - I know mine won't kick in if I have 4 bars of charge and the battery pack goes into a "regen" mode while driving (not the typical regen on coasting or braking).

    Make sure you understand all these caveats before you take it in.

    Eric
  • pro2rpro2r Posts: 2
    I just bought my '06 HCH and for the most part I love it (the front seat headrests are really my only complaint). I've had the car three days and I noticed this morning that the engine doesn't always shut down at every stop. Sometimes it shuts down but then comes back on. I didn't know if it was a problem. Now that I've read some of these postings I'm curious.
  • davem7davem7 Posts: 35
    It sounds like your engine isn't heated sufficiently for the auto stop to function. On a cold start it can take from 5-10 minutes for it to do so. Even after being heated if you leave the car shut off for 15-20 minutes it may take 2 or 3 minutes after restarting for the auto stop to resume. Other common causes of auto stop failure are driving too slow when applying the brakes, not hitting the brake pedal hard enough, a/c , heater, or defroster running too high.

    The auto stop is very finicky but if none of the above conditions apply it's time to visit the service dept.

    I have a block heater installed on my '06 HCH and it reduces by approx. 50% the time it takes for the auto stop to function after a cold start.
  • As an added piece of info to my recent posting, I just spoke with the dealer, and apparently, they still have no idea what the problem is. On Monday, they will remotely access a diagnostic machine in California to try to figure this out (we are located on the East Coast). They have had the car since Wednesday.
  • pojamanpojaman Posts: 25
    The car is 14 months old with 18000 miles ,the MIL(malfunction indicator light) came on 3 weeks ago. Took it to the dealer to get the fix for a recall ,something about the big battery harness behind the back seat prone to pinching and shorting when passengers are sitting in the back,so I ask the dealer to check the little yellow light in the left corner of the dashboard. The code reader showed that the o2 sensor was kaput. They send me home without the fix since Honda did not have the spare part to install in my car. I'm not too happy about that. My mileage has dropped from 49 mpg to 42mpg since the light is on. Can the faulty oxygen sensor damage my Catalic converter,or anything else for that matter. They told me to keep on driving til the get the new part. :confuse:
  • nrnrnrnr Posts: 1
    Has anyone heard of this lawsuit which tested Toyota hybrids against Honda hybrids (don't know year(s) or model(s)) and found that Honda odometers at 1500 miles should have actually read 2000 miles as compared with Toyotas?
  • ozgirlozgirl Posts: 1
    Hi, just wondering did you ever figure out the problem with your hybrid engine shutoff when shifting to drive. I was in a car accident yesterday on a very busy major highway. I was driving along and noticed my engine reving high, so I looked at the shifter and I was in S I pushed the shifter to drive and my car died in the fast lane of the highway. I was hit and numerous other cars almost wrecked but managed to avoid hitting each other ( a miracle). I have had my car for a year its an 05 model. I have not had any problems like this, but I have never had to shift S to Drive. I was wanting to know of any incidents like this relating to car dying when put in drive. Thanks :sick:
  • jojayjojay Posts: 1
    This seems similar to the thread of transmission/CVT trouble--but not sure as I have the 5-speed manual transmission. Does this sound familiar to anyone: the car increasingly bucks/hesitates at low throttle, and it's getting worse. Not showing any codes. Mechanic says EGR looks fine. Dealer and also local "honest/competent" mechanic say, put in fuel-system cleaner and drive it another 500+ miles and see if a warning light comes on. Great. Now I've got the system cleaner in the tank but meanwhile the problem's growing more frequent and I can't drive it at light throttle once it's warmed up--I either have to coast, or accelerate harder than I like to (so much for my average mileage, which has dropped from 54.4 to 51.4 and going down). And it's doing it on coast sometimes too, which is darn scary at highway speeds. 51K miles on this car. Any ideas what to do next? Thanks all!
  • I have not heard of the testing you mentioned, but that sure is an advantage to the Civic owner. My problem is the opposite. My odometer on my 05 Civic Hybrid had been running hot. I compared it against several different makes, forgien and domestic and they were all in agreement with each other. I went to the service department of the dealer where I bought it, who complained that I should have compared it against another Honda. When I had the opportunity, I took my daughter's 05 Accord Hybrid on the same trip that I take every weekend and it ran 1/10th hotter. I installed the next larger size tire on the Civic and now the odometer is a tad slower than the aforementioned cars, with the exception of the Accord, but it is a lot closer in accuracy. Also, I ran several speed tests against three different radar signs, using the cruise control. At 30 to 45 mph the speedometer was dead on, so I assume the same accuracy is there at highway speeds.
    I first read about the Honda odometers in the Wall Street Journal around March of this year, and I thought I would have heard from Honda by now. I'm disappointed that I haven't, so I'm trying to find out what to do about this. The article said that the affected cars would get an extended warranty, or that the owners could choose to get cash back.
  • I have an 07 with about 1,000 miles. Today, I left home and stopped at two stop signs and then at a stoplight. Maybe 1/4 mi total. After waiting at the light 30 sec. or so in auto stop condition, I took my foot off the brake, the car sounded funny starting and gave a little lurch, then took off. I looked down at the gauges just as the battery charge indicator dropped from 5 bars to one. At that point I had no electric assist whatsoever and no charging when braking. Car is pretty sluggish in that mode. After about another 1/4 mi. I had to stop again and got recharge again. No CEL or other signal.

    Luckily (?) I was only 2 mi. from the dealer by freeway and headed directly there on mostly downhill road. By the time I arrived, battery was back to 5 bars and everything normal. Service adviser had never heard of such a thing (why was I not surprised) and stated maybe the battery had just a surface charge??? He said I should just drive it until it happened again.

    I rather doubt the surface charge bullxxxx and wonder if anyone else ever had a similar problem. My suspicion is that my foot maybe caused a double something letting off the brake and the computer misread the signal somehow.
  • We have a 2004 HCH with 90,000 miles. It will soon need the spark plugs changed. The dealer said this would run about $300. Has anyone done this themselves? Is it even possible?
  • Regarding your sudden drop in charge, the following passage can be found in the manual:

    The battery level gauge does not read the battery level directly. It calculates the level by continuously measuring the current flow, voltage, and temperature.

    Since the level is not read directly, small sensing errors can, over time, cause the gauge to read higher than the actual battery level. The system will then perform a correction, and the battery level gauge reading will drop suddenly. When this happens, IMA assist and Auto Idle Stop are disabled until the IMA battery is sufficiently recharged by normal driving. This should take only a few minutes.

    This correction of the battery level gauge is normal and does not indicate a problem. If the IMA battery develops a problem or becomes deteriorated, the IMA system indicator will come on. If this happens, have the vehicle checked by your dealer as soon as possible.
  • 2yy4u2yy4u Posts: 7
    Did anybody see this article?

    http://www.prodrive.com/p_releases.html?id=132

    Looks good to me ;)
  • buck25buck25 Posts: 1
    I own a 2005 Honda Civic Hybrid. Recently, I have been having intermittent starting problems. It has the same characteristics as if the battery was dead. After waiting approximately 2 minutes after this condition, I will turn the key, and the engine will start. What is causing this problem? I have taken the car to a Honda dealership, who had checked the battery. They verified that the battery has ample crank power.

    Thanks,

    Mark
  • I've also been having the same problem with my 05 HCH. I was waiting in the car for someone and I turned the engine off, but left the key in the ignition so that I could listen to the radio. After less than 5 minutes the dash started blinking and the radio turned off. I quickly turned the key and the car started fine. When I got home I tried to replicate the problem, so I sat for 5 minutes, but there was no blinking. I went to start the car again, but the battery appeared to be dead. I waited about 5 minutes and tried to start again and it worked fine. I thought it was a fluke, until the same thing happened two weeks later but after only 2 minutes of having the key in the ignition w/o engine running. I was scheduled for an oil change the following week and I asked the service tech @ the dealership about the battery temporarily dying on occasion, and he said "it just happens sometimes on these cars." Not exactly an acceptable answer, IMO.

    Anyone know what the deal is and how to fix it?
    Thanks,
    M.
  • rdtrojanrdtrojan Posts: 1
    i've owned my 2007 honda civic sedan for nine months now and it has been great up until last week when my power windows failed on me. I cant roll up any of my windows except for my driver side even at that when i'm lucky, plus my power locks wont work either. I have taken it to the dealership, but they wont even touch it because it is a salvaged title. I have taken it to auto electric shops only to be told that i have to have all regulators/motors replaced for 300 a piece which i refuse to pay. Recently i took the my car to midas to get my windows rolled up which they did, and after that they wanted to figure out what was wrong. After about five hours of working with my car they still couldnt find what was wrong. The mechanic told me that i didnt need new regulators/motors, he told me that those other shmucks wanted to just hustle me for my money. He did tell me that there was something wrong with my electrical system or something like that he gave me the option to keep on working on it or to just let me go with my windows rolled up, i'm sorry but i need my car everyday to go to and from work i cant afford not having my car around, so i told him that i would just take my car. Now my driver side window has completely shut down on me and none of my windows will budge. I dont know what else to do. any suggestions?
  • I have had my 2007 HCH for about 8 months now. Until the last couple of weeks the 158 volt battery would begin to recharge itself if it dropped to 1 or 2 dots -- however, in the last two weeks I have had two incidents where I was sitting at a stoplight and the battery completely drained the charge. I live in NC, and it has not been that warm here -- highest on these two days was about 81 degrees. Air conditioner was on both times.

    The first time it happened I took it in to the dealer. I had been unable to get the battery to charge past 7 dots (it should go to 8). They test drove it, said they got it to charge all the way up -- although when I picked it up it was at 7 dots again -- and that the problem was my "driving style." Personally, I think this is a cop-out. I had had no problems with the battery draining completely before.

    The second time I got on the phone with the service manager. He had me put it in Park and rev it to 3000 and hold it there. It did eventually get to the 8th dot on the charge indicator, but I notice that whenever I do this it doesn't hold the complete charge, it will almost immediately drop back down to 7. He also wanted to say it was my driving style that was the issue, and maybe I had been driving it differently than before. Absolutely not true.

    Now I understand that if you're driving in stop and go traffic the battery is being used and not the gasoline engine, and this could cause the battery to drop its level somewhat -- but the last time I was watching the battery before it drained out and it had 3 or 4 dots on the charge. Then the autostop disengaged, and the battery drained, leaving me with only the gasoline engine, which was not enough to get on the highway with.

    Anybody have any idea if I am getting the runaround here? If what he says is true and this is normal for this car, then I wish my had my old car back! :P
  • texlibtexlib Posts: 4
    I had a 2004 and had the same problems, and now have an 06 with the same problems, took it to the dealer yesterday and had them check the battery, it was fine within specsfor a 28 month battery. I asked that they replace it anyway, going on a log trip soon, the replacement battery has 330 cold crank amps versus 290 on the old one, not sure what they would replace your 04 with, but I bet it is a stronger battery, they were clueless as well at my dealer, looked through their system and couldn't find anything.
  • texlibtexlib Posts: 4
    I looked in my manual for my 06, not there, where did you find this info, as the service manager at my Honda dealer didn't know anything about this, thanks
  • indienoirindienoir Posts: 1
    I bought my '06 HCH in Sept. of that year, new. I have had no problems with it AT ALL, until now. It has been approximately two weeks now that I've been having problems with the vehicle.

    Tired of paying for the ridiculous amount that my dealer charges for an oil change, I took the car to the family mechanic. Oil changed, no problem. That was approximately a month and a half ago. I started to notice that the oil meter was hanging out at 80%. Additionally, the mpg indicator was dropping drastically from 45 to 39. However, the odometer was ticking away, and I checked my records at what point was my next oil change, and it was coming up in about 200 miles according to my odometer. So, I decided that maybe the oil meter was screwed up in addition to needing to get my oil changed.

    Yesterday I took the car to the dealer to have it looked at and for an oil change and the 35,000 mi. inspection (which is about 2k overdue). They did their thing and changed the oil and filter and transmission fluid and that was it. I drove out of there confident that all was restored. My mileage immediately starting going up on the indicator.... and then started plummeting to 34 mpg. Furious, I called the dealer today asking for an appointment and described my problem.

    The woman in the service department gave me the run-around saying that all they would be able to do is a fuel efficiency test that would cost $100 plus gas. I told her that that was ridiculous, that the gas isn't being eaten up any faster, but the indicators seem to be screwed up. She was going to have the service manager call me back (which never happened). She also began telling me that maybe I purchased gas with ethanol in it. I have never driven my car out of the area. I buy gasoline from the same gas station that I have for the past couple of years as it's across the street from my house. I have never had a problem with the car ever. What is going on?!

    :sick:
  • bso1129bso1129 Posts: 1
    Hi Meeps,
    My 2005 Civic Hybrid has been having the same issue you describe. Once in the parking lot: I was waiting in line to exit, shut off the engine and was listening to the radio when it started to sputter on and off, and the engine wouldn't turn on afterwards, dash lights would just blink. I didn't try to start it again until over 30 min. later, and it started with no problem. My car did it again this afternoon, except this time the radio and AC shut off and dash lights started to blink AS I was driving it--seems like an incredibly dangerous prospect if I had been on the freeway!!-also, the steering began to feel stiff. I immediately pulled over, waited and at a mechanic friends' suggestion, opened the gas tank to air it out for a few minutes (he said sometimes when the cars get too hot vapor can build up in the tank? the weather was pretty hot both times this has happened) anyhow it started again as normal about 25 minutes later. I was wondering if you have gained any more insight into the problem since your post. I will likely take it into the dealer to get checked in a day or two, but am not optimistic about them finding the problem.
  • uzlessuzless Posts: 7
    2mnycats1 - Your car is OK, from what I see. A couple of things to note (I have an '06):

    - The IMA system is calibrated to only 'fully charge' the battery in limited circumstances. This is because NiMH batteries last longest when they're kept in the middle of the spectrum ('7' bars should be considered optimal; on the rare times when you have 8 bars, you'll see the system giving you 'extra' assist to bleed the charge meter back down to 7). At the lower end of the spectrum, 4 bars is the 'minimum' charge, and you'll see the system do 'extra' charging to bring the level back up if it drops to 4 bars. You'll also notice assist is lessened at this level. At 3 bars, assist pretty much stops, and at 2 bars, you'll lose the auto-stop function. Most of the time, my car sits between 5-6 bars of charge, it goes up to 7 bars occasionally, and 8 bars on the very rare occasion. When it's at 8 bars, you'll see it drop down to 7 after a few minutes of driving.

    - When you saw the state of charge (SoC) drop down like you did (drained down to 2 bars, then down to 0, then a big recharge), what you were experiencing was a 'recal' (or, recalibration). Your owner's manual will tell you that this meter is an 'approximate' state of charge. What happens is that the system occasionally loses track of how much juice is left in the battery; when it finds out that it's far enough out of sync, it drains the remaining charge out of the battery, and then charges it up again (thus, the recalibration). This will happen occasionally, however, if it occurs regularly (ie; at least once a day), take the car in and have it checked. Generally, if there's a real problem, the IMA light will illuminate in the dash - if this happens, there's a stored trouble code that the technician should be able to find with his / her scan tool.

    - Your A/C unit is a bit different than a traditional unit. This car has a 'dual-scroll' compressor. What that means is that the compressor can be driven by the traditional belt / pulley design, or, when the engine is stopped, by a pure electrical signal. Unfortunately, the compressor will tend to drain the life out of the battery at stop lights, etc, especially if you like the A/C cold. Try this - keep the temp dialed in at 80F, and increase the fan speed to your liking manually. You should notice that the battery SoC is better maintained, and at 80, it's still fairly comfortable. 78F or lower will drain the battery, 80F seems to be the best compromise.

    Hope this helps. Your car is OK...you just need to get used to the differences between this car and a conventional one, and the compromises made in certain areas (like what I mention above) for usability / user expectations. I'm not thrilled about the A/C issue, but now that I know the 'why' and 'how', I can cope a bit better. Especially when I get 50-52mpg from 9-10 gallons of gas at a fillup. ;)
  • texlibtexlib Posts: 4
    Hi Meeps
    I have had this problem with both my 04 and now my 06. I took it to the dealer and they didn't have a clue, so I went ahead and changed the conventional battery under the hood. The replacement was about 15% more powerful then the factory one, now waiting to see if I have the whole blinking light situation again, no problems though for the last month.
  • I suspect that the dealer may of put the wrong oil in my 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid. The car seem sluggish on acceleration and the milage is down slightly. They may of put thicker oil in it. Has this happen to anyone else and will it damage the car?
  • targettuningtargettuning Posts: 1,371
    I have a few comments regarding "wrong oil"
    1. I doubt that a Honda dealer's service department would install oil of an improper weight in one of their products. My non-hybrid 06 Civic uses 5W-20 (I believe) and unless the hybrid version uses some exotic blend or weight then it probably uses the same or similar weight oil.
    2. a simple oil change (whether or not the exact same weight oil was replaced at change) will not make any appreciable difference on acceleration or measurable change in fuel economy. I know people will dispute that but no change of oil type (from natural to synthetic) or brand (from Quaker State to Valvoline) or even weight makes any major (or minor) difference. I changed to Mobil 1 on our Civic at the 1st oil change and aside from (maybe) quicker cold weather cranking/starting I can't see a whit of difference and ended up continuing to use the more expensive Mobil 1 on the off chance that it will provide superior engine wear protection in the long run. Even that is suspect with regular changes using "dino" oil.
    3. NO replacement oil used at a change will do any damage what so ever to ANY car.....unless it the used oil from the previous customer..
  • etpetp Posts: 153
    They put the wrong oil in your car. Yours uses 0w20 synthetic. Go to wal-Mart and buy it and demand they put it in your vehicle and show you the empty bottles. This has happened to me at least once. 5w20/5w30 in non synthetic will make a big difference in your mileage man. Also they let the air out of your tires. 42 PSI man. They do this every time I have an oil change. 4 hybrids and 8 total vehicles in my family and 42 PSI for 8 years without a problem.
  • Thanks for the info,
    They probably used proper oil, but the cost was alot less than usual and my milage does seem to be down. More than likely they just over charged my at the earlier changes.
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