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Honda Civic Hybrid IMA Problems



  • I have a 2009 HCH purchased in March of 2009. Everytime the weather becomes cool and rainy and/or cool/cold and dry, my battery charge suddenly falls from almost full to almost empty, especially if i am using electric assist continuously for a few moments. However, when the weather is hot out (like 60+ all the way to 101 like it was this past summer), i could use the electric assist for miles and the battery indicator bars will slowly one by one disappear as i use more juice up. The weather here in CT is just beginning to get cooler and yet again here I am with the same issue of the battery suddenly having no juice. Then, a few minutes later after using forced charge, my battery bars jump to full in a matter of seconds. Does this happen to anyone else? Right now it will happen once in a while but by Thanksgiving when there is snow and the weather is much colder, this will be a daily occurance until late February or early March, really right before I purchased the car. Last winter, I brought it to one Honda dealership and they told me they couldn't look at it since I didn't purchase it from them, even though I get all of my oil changes done by them ...... anyhow, so I took it way back to the dealership I actually purchased it from 3 times. Each time they kept it for about a week and the general manager had NO CLUE about the hybrid system. So, he had to contact corporate several times and they eventually said this was absolutely normal. Well, I would not complain if this did not happen everday and if the gas engine could carry the weight of the car fine, but it cannot and merging on the highway is scary especially where I live in CT where my on ramp is very steep; my civic with no battery is honestly no match for the rest of the vehicles. Does anyone else have this weird "recalibration" issue.

    PS, the dealership told me this was normal for the battery to "recalibrate" which is true but sometimes the bars drop from all 8 full to only 1 full and up to all 8 full again in a matter of a minute or 2. Other times, it takes up to 10 to 15 minutes to fully recharge, so I think there really is a sensor failure here rather than an issue with the battery. Might I add, I just reached the 10,500 mark on the vehicle.
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    It is the symptom of a bad battery. However, I assume sensors could cause it also.
  • I agree with Bossless. Begin to keep a log of the problem. Record Date, mileage, outside temperature as seen on the dash, other weather conditions if you think that may have something to do with the problem and what happened, i.e., battery charge went from two bars to full charge in seconds. The more thorough the better, it will come in handy if you need to get more forceful with Honda. Report that dealer to Honda that did not want to work on your car under warranty, those service guys surely know what is happenening with the HCH and won't touch it if it is not their baby. My dealer told me of "isolated reports" of problems after the software on older model HCH were updated. Since this issue is more then a performance problem, file a complaint with the NHTSA and any one else that will listen, your state consumer advocate, or your Congressman. Sooner or later they will force Honda to act, this problem is not going away, Hopefully no one gets killed waiting for them. Does any one know what model year HCH started using the newer IMA software in the factory?
  • Picked my car up this evening after leaving it for 24 hrs. Something has been ratting behind the rear seat since the battery replacement a couple of weeks ago (or about 1000 miles). I called American Honda as soon as I dropped it off and the ended up having a case manager call me. She said she had read the letter I sent. (That was on August 67th, they just never responded to it). I told her that my car has not improved since the replacement and that I want the original software reinstalled. She continuously said they will not do it, and I continuously said that is all that will satisfy me. She then said something about the "recall" changing the way the car drives. I stopped her to ask why she said "recall" when Honda has been so persistent that it's not a recall, but an "update." I made her repeat it, and then she tried to backtrack. I told them how unfair it is to sell us a prodcut and makes claims as to its operation and reliability, only to come back later and complete change the way our product operates and expect us to be okay with that? I wouldn't go buy a fridge, then take it back to the store later to have it reprogrammed to not get cold anymore and then be happy with that. It is just not the right way to treat your customers. So, I also spoke with the service manager @ the dealership, as the service writer told me I would have to pay $110 for them to run diagnostics on it. And then possibly to fill up the gas tank to do a fuel economy test. I ended up getting so frustrated, that I told the service manager that I understand that Honda is making him tell me that nothing is wrong with my car. And he couldn't in good faith tell me that I am being irrational, there is just nothing that Honda can let him do. I got the car back, it's "operating as designed," and they somehow couldn't hear the loud rattle of not having put the car back together completely after IMA replacement. The only good thing about the experience, was that I got them to change the oil while it was there. I guess maybe I should just look for the rattle myself. I am going to cal NHTSA again, they never responded to my letter, either. I am going to try to snap some more photos and videos of my gauges at various temps, times of day, and in different driving scenarios, like I did before the replacement. I sent all of those to both Honda and the NHTSA. All they have to do is install the old software.
  • Well, I've not participated in this discussion for about a year and a half. I no longer have the lemon that was the source of my frustration. After battling with American Honda for over a year, the dealership made me a pretty good deal on a new Accord (April 2009). My dealer was sympathetic but seemed to be helpless due to American Honda's attitude of not admitting their failures. If you look back on my story, my complaints led to a new experimental battery being tested in my car and other trials. None of the things that were tried were successful in fixing the issues. I had filed complaints with the BBB (on the dealer and on Am Honda) and with the NHTSA citing safety issues when the IMA failed to assist an the car was running on the underpowered 4 cylinder engine. Finally, when the dealer wanted to get me off his back, he made me a good offer. I'm sorry that so many people are so dissatisfied and frustrated with their vehicle. I feel your pain. I don't get 40 MPG now, but there is less stress in my life.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,414
    Interesting. Honda used you as a sort of beta tester? Any more details on that?


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  • How much back and forth did you have with the dealer over the 12 months + period? What do you think was most effective tactic in forcing the dealer (and I'm assuming Honda corporate) to give you the Accord? Were your complaints with the BBB and NHTSA effective?

    I'm in the same situation of going back and forth with the dealer. (I have an IMA battery discharging at least once a day and the software update has done nothing positive) My plan is to take the dealer to small claims court to force Honda to give me a new IMA battery if nothing happens, but I would prefer to get a non hybrid Civic instead. My view is the Civic hybrid is flawed and I don't really want to deal with it even if I get new IMA batteries. The engine is underpowered, the IMA batteries are prone to fail early, and we are at the mercy of Honda's software updates.
  • Read my posts, even a new battery won't solve ALL of your problems. Bossless seems to have had great luck with it. However, at this point, I just want out of the car.
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    I don't think I am the only one that it worked well for. Seems like others have said they had success too. There's something not right about your situation and they should be able to figure it out. I would be inclined to sue them through small claims court.
  • I agree with you, but I am just exasperated. I don't have the time to keep fighting them. If someone will just make me a decent trade in offer, I would jump on it.
  • twlaketwlake Posts: 2
    We had our 2008 software upgrade and Immediately had problems. Went to dealer and gave this list.

    September 29, 2010

    Honda Tech:
    These are the problems that are occurring with our 08.
    1. 2008 HCH batteries charging and discharging erratically
    2. Acceleration response is erratic, I either get the assist or I don't regardless of the level of charge on the battery. In a couple cases it seemed as if the car did not want to accelerate from a stopped position. This has put me in a dangerous situation more than once when trying to cross an intersection.
    3. How is it that the IMA batteries (@ 40-50 % charge) are assisting with engine acceleration if Assist indicator has no bars? This is telling me either the software patch isn't working or the batteries are failing or both.
    4. My fuel efficiency has not improved and instead I am seeing less MPG from 48 mpg to 32 mpg, same as a non-hybrid.
    5. Basically, the update has placed more burdens on the very small gas engine to power the vehicle with much less assist from the electric motor than before the update. Battery does not charge as high a level as before and rarely drops the batter below 4 bars. At 4 bars the electric assist is unpredictable, sometime working and sometimes stopping the assist at the worst times, like in the middle of passing or on a highway on ramp. Try getting up to speed on a highway on ramp with the small gas motor. Won't happen without the assist, to me, a safety hazard.
    6. My wife is now afraid to drive it, thanks to Hondas battery saving update. Honda has turned my HCH into a standard underpowered Civic. I paid an extra $5000 for the hybrid feature.
    Just because a voltage level looks ok does not mean the current output will be Ok.
    All we want is the car to drive the same as when we bought it. There are many examples of these problems if you go to the Internet and check (
    Tim Lake

    Ps: please attach this to your work sheet so we will both have same records.
    Result No Problem Found from Honda Corp.
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    You seem to have for sure a bad battery. Maybe other problems too. Have you ever had the IMA light come on? Honda generally accepts that as an indicator for a new battery.
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    I tested the waters with an ad on Ebay and Craig's List. The highest offer I got so far is $10K. I haven't accepted it......yet. This is a 2006 with NAV and 93K miles and advertised as having a new battery with warranty.
  • pmzpmz Posts: 26
    I'd take the $10K. I traded in my 06 with 87K with the ailing battery and received $9.8K and was very pleased. Now I drive a CR-V, no more 42mpg, but no more fear of merging neither...
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    I have mixed feelings. The car performs as well as it ever did and I get good milage, plus I have a new battery with a 3 yr. 36K mile warranty. I would let it go for $12K, but I am not sure at $10K.
  • Do you mean the 2010 upgrade?

    A very good synopsis of what a lot of us are experiencing. My view is the software upgrade highlights the serious deficiencies of the Civic hybrid. It has a very small gas engine requiring constant and consistent help from the electric motor but the combination of a small gas engine and small hybrid battery pack are not robust enough to cover all types of driving conditions, such as using AC in start stop driving in hot weather. Furthermore, some of these IMA batteries are deteriorating and are making the Civic even less predictable and safe. And the software upgrade has reduced the consistency and amount of electric power which has made the acceleration more unpredictable and unsafe.

    Even before the battery problems and the software upgrade, I had frequent discharges and no electric assistance when I was driving in hot weather with the AC running in start and stop traffic. It didn't bother me at the time but I now think it is unacceptable and unsafe. I mean, Honda should have said the car is only fit for driving in temperate weather conditions and not in start and stop traffic.
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    I think you have described the crux of the problem. However, I must say I found the system acceptable with good milage and adequate acceleration in hot Florida until the battery began to deteriorate. I'm not sure that it would be the same in a hot, hilly location.
  • The system may be acceptable in most driving conditions with a fully working IMA battery but I'm not sure it is adequate for hot and hilly locations. But the IMA batteries are deteriorating in many of our cars after 2-4 yrs of driving and adversely affecting performance in less challenging driving conditions. This mechanic that fixes IMA battery claims that the IMA batteries get fried in hot weather driving Shouldn't Honda have figured this out when it was testing its system?
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    Obviously, Honda didn't do something right. Toyota does not have these type of problems to this extent.
  • grandtotalgrandtotal Posts: 1,207
    ...but I am not sure at $10K

    Are you nuts? I would not think twice if I found someone willing to give me that money for the car, but hey if you think you can find someone who'll give you $12k then good luck. Maybe I should look into selling my car on eBay/CL next time.
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    I don't think I am nuts. This is a car that I have maintained very well. It's in excellent shape, performs well, and has a new battery with warranty. I think most everyone would agree this little car handles well and is pleasant to drive when everything is right. When you trade cars early, your cost per year goes up as compared to keeping a car that is taken good care of for the long run.
  • grandtotalgrandtotal Posts: 1,207
    I understand (and agree with) everything you have posted, and I doubt you can teach me anything about the cost of running a car. Having said that I think you have a good offer for your car and if it were me in your position I'd take it.
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    And the reason you would take it is?
  • shonda3shonda3 Posts: 42
    Cars don't go up in value. They only depreciate. Take it, takah.
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    Not a good reason. The rate of depreciation goes down in time. If the price of fuel were to go up substantially, the price of hybrids would go up too.
  • jcihakjcihak Posts: 60
    The cheapest car you can own is the one you have. Unless that car is a lemon, or has design deficiencies. After my experience and reading these forums, the HCH's defects are apparent. They are even showing up the Consumer Reports ratings for the car which is significantly worse than the non-hybrid. The cost of the batteries and CVT alone outweigh any savings in gasoline over the non-hybrid. And, the non-hybrid is much, much better to drive. I regret trading mine in for the hybrid.

    More and more people realize these facts, and don't forget that the HCH is an old design that will not be able to compete with newer hybrid designs. I am glad I got rid of mine when I did. No worries and no regrets.
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    I agree with you. However, if you have already sunk the money in the car and the defects have been repaired, and you have a new battery warranty, the car performs well, and you don't detest it, it has been well maintained and is in good shape, then wouldn't you be better off driving it---at least for the new warranty period? This car performed well and saved a lot of fuel until about 90K miles. The 50% cost I paid for the new battery wiped out a big portion of the fuel savings, but that is a sunk cost now. In other words, I can only recoup my investment by driving it. It should go at least another 90K miles without any major problems, even though I may not keep it that long. In fact I would sell it now if I didn't have to take a big cost hit--only because I prefer a little larger car with more utility.
  • grandtotalgrandtotal Posts: 1,207
    edited October 2010
    And the reason you would take it is?

    Because you want to sell it and because you have found someone ill-informed enough to pay more than it is worth. Yeah, I know, well maintained, new battery, and so on, but it's still only worth what it's worth.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 6,414
    edited October 2010
    If the price of fuel were to go up substantially, the price of hybrids would go up too.

    I'm not sure that's true, but I know something that is true. Cars that we drive around are NOT an "investment". They only go down in price as the miles pile up and or the years go by. Say the price of gas is higher a year from now. The car is a year older.

    (I feel like we're on Deal or No Deal) :P


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  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    Just because something goes down does not mean it is not an investment. A car is an investment in transportation. You get value from using it.

    True, value usually goes down as the car ages and miles add up. However, if gas goes up, the value could be more for a hybrid than it would otherwise be.
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