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Honda Civic Hybrid IMA Problems

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  • Dear Jeb: I am in the same boat as you and countless others. My only consolation has been killing Honda sales. So far, I have ruined five sales that I know of. It is very satisfying. People are buying VW TDIs and Toyota Priuses. Try it. You'll enjoy the revenge.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    SGI, regarding your Accord with 76K miles, did they give you a printout with the error codes? If not, go back and tell them you want (in writing), what error codes were present.

    Save this information. Your warranty is up in 4K miles, and they may have glossed over a repair that you had coming to you, or the problem may recur, and if you have proof that it happened before 80K, you will be able to get it fixed under warranty later.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    shonda3,

    BMW did a similar thing to their 3 series cars that detuned them to avoid replacing rattling turbo wastegates. After public outcry, they fixed the software to put the performance back. If enough media coverage hits on this topic (such as Consumer Reports), they will fix the problem, otherwise they are just sweeping it under the rug.

    Meanwhile, I'm not seeing anything inherently different about the 2006+ batteries over the earlier models. They seem to fail the same way and the same amount.
  • I live in CT and the weather is usually in the 80s in the summer and 20s in the winter. I own a 2009 HCH purchased back in march of 09. I now just reached 6k miles and for some reason, now with the cold weather every time i start the car and get on the main road, the battery looses almost all charge and forces itself into forced regeneration. It happened once or twice back in early november when the weather was starting to get brisk (40s and 50s) and now all of a sudden it happens every morning. Xmas eve, it was 42 degrees out which is quite warm for this time of year and it still did it. I took it to the dealership and Honda said it was absolutely normal and they did "updates" which they said the car already had... Anyways, so this morning it was 18 degrees out and the battery complelely discharged when I pulled on the main road and suddenly within two minutes was completely charged again. My ride into work is 10 miles and today it happened 3 times on the way into work and 2 times on the way home this evening. Honda claims this is normal in "very cold" weather. But 1, it's not VERY COLD and 2, so why would I spend the extra $5,000 on a hybrid if it doesn't work in the winter? I called another dealership nearby and they said the car was not made for the new england climate. Ironically, they always have special offers on these civic hybrids and I see quite a few of them on the roads everyday. Also, because of Honda's broken product, I was inconvienced by not having a car for 5 days while they tried to figure out what was wrong with it. I filed a complaint with Honda America and they said they will be getting back to me by Wednesday. I purchased a civic hybrid because i liked it and because i've owned honda's all my life, so I want my car fixed!

    Anyone else have similar problems?
  • We live in MN and the weather is much colder than what you normally have. After our first battery went out last year (just before Christmas), I discussed this with my sales guy and he did some behind the scenes checking. The word he got back was that there is a problem with the batteries and cold weather; this confirms what Honda told you. If you know any physics or chemistry, you will know that there is a temperature coefficient in the battery equations, and at low temps things slow down, which means reduced voltage and current. So, in a way this is all "normal," but it does point out a weakness in the entire technology. (BTW, there are a number of posts from SW area owners, and they have a different problem in hot weather, but it is still a temperature issue.) You can expect your mileage to drop significantly in the cold weather. How much will depend on several factors, with temp probably being most important. The gas is also re-formulated for cold weather, so that will also be a factor.

    Like you I am a long-time Honda owner, but this issue has me worried. I will post some economic calculations a little later, but as you look through this thread you will find quite a few people who are mad. Some have been treated badly, by their accounts, and Honda has not provided their own side of the story, so I don't know what to think about it.
  • We had our second battery failure recently - first they did the famous "upgrade" which caused the IMA light to go off, and then a week later the light came on and this time they said it needed a new battery.

    The service rep briefly went through the diagnostic procedure, and, to summarize, it is "Hybrid Repair for Dummies." It is a checklist procedure, and depending on the results you either do an upgrade or replace the battery. There is really no thinking involved on the part of the technician. The upgrade is done via an online connection so everything is automated.

    The point of this post is for everyone to realize where to focus their energy (and frustration, and for a few people, hatred). The techs do not have the training to know much about the system; they can only go through their checklist. I think even the service reps (the guys at the counter who greet you and try to calm you down) know very little about the actual details of these systems, so I can't fault them for not knowing every little nuance of the hybrid system.

    This may explain why they are unable (or unwilling, as some claim) to deal with an upgrade problem if the IMA light does not come on. If there are no error codes there is nothing they can do about it, because there is nothing that they can fix, according to their procedures. (And in this case, I have some understanding of Honda's position - you can't simply spend time and money on every complaint about gas mileage that comes along; there are too many other variables, mostly driver related. If there aren't any error codes, what are they supposed to fix?) Now, this does not excuse them from recognizing that a problem exists, but I can't blame the dealers for not being able to address this issue. The dealers are probably our best way to get the message through to Honda corporate, so we need to find a way for them to help us.
  • It is such a shame this happens? Over the summer, I would get 48-50mpg strickly back roads no highway or city. Now I get 38 but that isn't what bothers me. What bothers me is the fact I know every day when I turn onto the main road I barely have enough power to accelerate to 50mph and the fact that the battery goes through these calibrations 5 times a day means it will probably fail within a year or two as these batteries are not meant to completely drain 5 times a day! I am going to see if somehow I can break a deal with Honda to give me an LX for an equal value and keep my financing the same. I don't want an LX or EX but that is what I had before my hybrid and it worked marvelous in the heat and the cold and never once had to worry about it. Winter is November through March/April and I refuse to go through this every single year. What year is your HCH? Everyone says the second generation HCH is much more reliable than the first which I can't beleive as it is a problem either way in heat or cold. Another thing is that when I ask a question to a Honda technician, I expect an answer that is actually intelligent. I don't blame the tech for not being knowledgeable about the car, but Honda Corporate as they don't pass technical information along to the service department :[ American Honda should be calling me tomorrow so I will see what they have to say! I hope for the best and I want to keep me car!
  • I have been following this thread for a while now, and it occurred to me that no one has really discussed the economics of the hybrid. We all bought this car for one reason or another - use less gas/save the planet, save money from using less gas, making a statement, etc. But what are the actual numbers?

    Let's assume you drive a certain distance (D). The gallons required to drive this distance is calculated from the hybrid's mileage (H). So, gallons = D/H. The gallons required to drive the same distance in a regular car depends on the regular car's mileage (R), and = D/R.

    The cost to drive this distance is the number of gallons times the price per gallon (P) and = DP/H and DP/R for the hybrid and regular cars, respectively.

    So, let's assume your hybrid gets 45 mpg (no screams about upgrade mileage please, let's use the optimistic numbers), and a regular car gets 30 mpg.

    So, to drive 1000 miles using gas at $4/gal:
    Hybrid: 22.2 gal, $88.89
    Regular: 33.3 gal, $133.33
    Savings: 11.1 gal, $44.44

    Under these conditions, after about 56,000 miles, you have saved enough to cover the cost of a new battery (at a replacement cost of $2500), which means you have still saved money, even if you have to replace the battery at 81,000 miles. However, with gas at $3/gal, the break even point is at 75,000, which means it's a wash.

    Note that these calculations do not factor in the increased cost of the vehicle ($5000 est.), in which case the numbers blow up. Break even happens at 75,000 only if gas goes to $9/gal, or you are comparing against a 21 mpg SUV.

    So, the bottom line is - driving a hybrid will reduce your gas consumption, which is a good thing for many reasons. However, it is not something you should do for economic reasons.
  • spoograb:
    We have the 2009 hybrid, and the replacement battery went out at about 14,000 miles of use, almost exactly a year from when it was installed. I am assuming this is "second generation" but I have not followed the development cycle that closely. Either way, I am not impressed with this generation, whichever one it is.

    Too bad; it's a nice car otherwise.
  • Hi MB, we're specifically discussing the Civic Hybrid, and IMA problems associated with that vehicle. We have a bunch of more general hybrid topics on the main hybrid page. I think you'd find a better audience for your comments by posting in one of those discussions.

    Need help navigating? kirstie_h@edmunds.com - or send a private message by clicking on my name.

  • gregr2gregr2 Posts: 14
    Had the IMA battery changed out on my 2009 Civic last week. So far so good. MPG is back up to 38-39. I remain skeptical wheter I will get the same mpg as advertised. I am a conservative driver and was getting 42 mpg before the first battery failed.
  • 1. kristie_h, I brought up the subject of my IMA battery not working top notch which is how MB got into the economics of a hybrid. Sorry!
    2. MB, I cannot beleive you have a 2009 that has had 2 battery replacements so far. Honestly, if I were you, I would ask for a gas only car. The stress of having to bring your car into the dearlership every year to two years for a battery relacement just doesn't make sense.
    3. gregr2, where are you from? I'm having these problems in new england.
  • Last year our 2006 Civic Hybrid, stared getting about 36 miles per gallon instead of 39, which is still way below what they said it would get when new. The dealership said nothing was wrong with it. We joined a class action suit that offered us $2,000 towards a new Honda, we took a pass. Six months ago the hybrid battery was so weak, the IMA light went on. The dealer said he fixed it, but all he did was reset the warning light. One week later, the IMA battery was so weak, the backup starter and battery had to start the car in the morning. With the IMA completely dead, the car still got 34 miles per gallon. The dealership took 2 months to get us a new battery. I'm done with Honda hybrids. They claim a 1% failure rate? No way. I'd bet it's closer to 100%, than 1%.
  • BTW, after the software "upgrade", with a new battery, the1996 Honda Civic Hybrid only got 34 mpg. That tells me the upgrade is to keep the hybrid batteries from failing, mileage be damned.
  • magsmmagsm Posts: 3
    A few weeks after the upgrade, my 2009 Civic gets 32-34 mpg around town, 37 highway. I've warned those I know not to buy this car. Wish there was a better way to get the message to the population BEFORE they buy!
  • jeb858jeb858 Posts: 10
    Coming from a manufacturer background most of the time the dealership service department hands are tied by the what the tech hotline and Field Service Engineer are advising for repairs especially when it comes to an expensive battery which I need.

    At this point opening a case with Honda's customer service department. My car is not performing as it did when it was new and I will not put my wife in a cat that I don't feel is safe when it loses battery assist at the worst possible time.

    I am going to investigate the NHTSB website to look into the safety angle. Don't forget, three repeat repairs or 30 days out of service qualify for lemon law.
  • jeb858jeb858 Posts: 10
    I went to the NTSB website which is www.safecar.gov and pulled up concerns that have been filed with the Civic hybrid. I couldn't believe how many complaints have been filed for the IMA system. I will be sending mine in tomorrow morning. Take a minute to read through them and you will see the common theme....loss of battery.

    There are also concerns with the power steering and rear control arms.
  • gregr2gregr2 Posts: 14
    It is amazing that HOnda has kept this under wraps - there should be a massive recall of the cars.
  • selinzselinz Posts: 11
    I have measured and believe that I can still get 45-50mpg driving 50 miles (one way commute). The following things reduce mileage 1) AC 2) Heater 3) Cold weather 4) "non-hard" tires (3-5mpg). I switched to Yokohama 520's because they perform great and are pretty cheap. I monitor ALL of my mileage by recording the odometer reading and recording the number of gallons placed in my tank.
    I have the following observations:
    1) The Honda mileage readout is ALWAYS worse than what I actually get using the gallons and odometer calcuation. With the "hard" tires, this can be as much as 5mpg, with the Yokohamas this is usually 1 to 3
    2) I get 50mpg at 55mpg, 45 mpg at 65mph and about 41 at 75. I usually drive around 73. This is not surprising. E=1/2MVsquared
    3) My route takes me up and down three major hills, one of which ALWAYS completely drains the IMA battery (but it gets charged up on the way down. This is how it's supposed to work!). So you figure a minimum of 3 complete cycles per day, 5 days per week, 50 weeks per year and you have 2250 complete charge drain cycles minimum.
    4) Recently the car sat for a week in pretty cold (for Cali) weather, 40s or so. When I first got in it the battery read full, then immediately dropped to 2 or 3 bars. I put the car into S (a trick to make the car more aggressively charge the battery) and the IMA light came on, along with the check engine light. I continued to drive and after one commute cycle, the IMA light was off but the check engine light was on. After another day, the check engine light went off too... Thus, I believe that my battery is beginning to show some age. However, driving it daily has resulted in pretty good results. Still getting 43mpg or so...
    The car is 3 years old and I have 115K miles.
    5) I have been getting "random" power steering failures since the car was new. Quite infrequent in general, a bit more frequent in the winter. I simply stop the engine and restart it... Works almost 100% of the time on the second try.
    6) Overall I'd give the car a B+ on performance and B- on "problems."
    :surprise:
  • jeb858jeb858 Posts: 10
    If those light were on you will have codes saved in the respective modules that control the hybrid devices. The dealer would be able to retrieve the codes and advise what the concern is.
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