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Honda Civic Hybrid IMA Problems

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Comments

  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    "Ogre, Your abundant opinions lack all basis in fact. For example, what do you really know about my driving habits? Show your data. "

    I speak to hundreds of Civic, Insight and Accord owners each month. How many do you speak to? I race in mpg races (and sometimes win). I teach people how to drive their cars economically - in person - on test drives at least once per week. Most are surprised when they pull 60mpg out of their Civic or 75 out of their Insight. If you never got over 40mpg in that car then either there is a mechanical problem, or you drive in a manner that is not economical.

    You don't have to drive economically, just most hybrid owners do because they want to get big mpg numbers.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    "Right now I'm only getting about half of the miles on a tank of gas compared to 6 months ago. My driving habits haven't changed a bit. I blame the car. "

    I agree, but the driver was stating that they had never gotten above 40 mpg in the first place. The loss of economy is definitely due to battery failure or due to the new programming, but it wasn't very good to begin with.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    "Maybe not in a fantasy world with no wind or hills, but in the real world where bursts of Torque are necessary to maintain highway speeds, the IMA does make a difference in overall economy. "

    Bursts of torque are not necessary to maintain a steady highway speed with hills and wind. They are necessary if you are simply keeping up with traffic. What's the difference in time between traveling a steady pace and traveling lock-step with traffic? A few minutes per trip? Do the math.

    Adjustments for wind and hills can be slow and gradual and not involve any assist at all. Think of laying on the assist being similar to kicking an automatic car (not a CVT) down a gear. You can accelerate just fine without the transmission kicking down. Likewise, you can accelerate your Civic gently without using any assist.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    "My dream fix would be if Honda will ultimately replace the NiMH battery packs with LIon (or allow it as a chargable upgrade to a warranty replacement). My understanding is that the next generation of HCH will have LIon packs. One can always hope. "

    Lithium Ion or Lithium Polymer batteries are not better than NiMH, they are just smaller and lighter. NiMH can withstand much more abuse than Lithium. The BMS of a lithium battery will keep that battery properly balanced, but it is needed to run at all. If the NiMH batteries had a BMS, nobody would be posting in this thread.
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    You have a bad battery again. If you get one from Honda, or someone reputable who refurbishes them, you will get a warranty. Used batteries are a crap shoot.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    "The dealership claims that "because the car likely sat for 3-6 months in an auction yard" that it depleted the battery so far that it killed most of the cells."

    The dealer is actually telling the truth (imagine that, an honest dealer). I'll explain below.

    "I find this hard to believe because it is not using the batttery when it is not "assisting" is it?"

    Here's what is going on. NiMH cells "self-discharge" automatically. That means that they lose a certain percentage of charge each week. The problem is that once the cells are no longer new, the rate of self discharge will be different from cell to cell. This means that over a few week or month period, one cell might lose 20% of its' charge while another loses 50% and another loses 80%. So what happens when you start to use it? The car drains the battery until one set of 12 cells (it looks at them in 12 cell groups) either passes below a minimum voltage as an average of the 12 cells, or one of the individual cells totally bottoms out at 0V and then reverses. At this point, the car detects it and issues a "recal" which a number of people here are experiencing.

    The problem is that the car never charges above 80% (average) in order to increase the lifespan of the cells. So the full cells (slow self discharge) stay full, and the empty cells (fast self discharge) never get full.

    As you use the battery, the car puts a proportionately heavier load on the empty cells than on the full ones. This accelerates the problem. After a while the pack tears itself apart as the empty cells are over stressed and the full ones sit doing nothing.

    From 30 people (myself included) who have cars that have sat due to accident or other problems, we've been able to establish a rule that seems to hold true. "If a healthy battery is left to sit for 90 days or more, it will fail 8 month +/- 2 months after being put back into service." The battery didn't fail because it sat, it failed because it was used after it sat. If you had some way to charge it prior to using it, the problem would not have occurred.

    Your car sat for months and then it died a while later. It wasn't a very healthy battery, so it failed even sooner than the 8 month adage.

    "I purchased a used battery at that point, and alas 2 months later (and $750 later) it has failed again!"

    Unfortunately, you took another battery that had been sitting for many months and repeated the same process with it. It most likely came from a wrecked car and had been sitting for six or more months.

    I presume you are getting a P1447 error (2003-2004 Civic) or a P0A7F (2005-2011 Civic). The batteries CAN be repaired. They would temporarily respond to a full charging, but the damage has been done and they will continue to fail on you only a few days/weeks after charging. You'll have to fix them to get things working again.

    Or pay the dealer...
  • bobbichenbobbichen Posts: 11
    Like his comments or not, Ogre seems to have some reasonable bases for his opinions. I have had similar experience with rechargable batteries that I have purchased off of Ebay. They crap out after a short period of time. When I go to BatteriesPlus and have them build me new ones (rebuild the battery packs) they seem to last very well. This mostly NiCad experience, but the same may hold true for NiMH perhaps.

    OGRE: How come the Prius is not having these problems?
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    edited March 2011
    "How come the Prius is not having these problems? "

    AFAIK, Hondas use about 60% of their battery's capacity. Prius's use about 40% (hence the better MPG for Honda). In addition, the Gen I Prius segments its' 228 cells into four smaller sub-modules which is far less than the 120 cells that Hondas do. The Gen - II+ Prius's have only 138 cells to break up into four groups. Toyotas also perform regular maintenance cycles.

    So, they use the battery less and control it more tightly. They still die, but they stay balanced far longer.

    That being said, the original US spec Prius batteries had a nasty tendency to leak and corrode the terminals. The original Japan spec Prius (1997-1999) had the same cells as Honda in a double pack of 240 cells.
  • ttomakattomaka Posts: 10
    Many owners have reported here that their HCH's performance and fuel economy have declined significantly. I wonder whether this might also affect the HCH's qualification as a Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (PZEV.)

    Has this issue been brought to the attention of the California Air Resources Board (CARB?)
  • I have a copy of the first page of the TSB because I took my car in this AM to have other stuff done. Service rep explained to me I had already had the update done. I told him my mileage had decreased and in the morning coming out of what is a 50+ degree garage the car starts and drops to two bars. He typed all of it in and will likely do nothing. The February TSB actually updated the 12.1.2010 and the change is "Under SOFTWARE INFORMATION, a reference to more IMA software and hardware information was added." He also very nicely provided the inquiry report they had run that showed they did my update on 8.12.2010 with a failed part number 1K100-RMX-A07. Unfortunately, because I only have page one of three I don't see any reference to that at all. I see a program P/N for my car ending in A23. Should be interesting to see what they do. Today for the first time they also told me I could no longer use the oil change coupons and gouged me on the price. I saw on the news the resale value of hybrids is going up - may be time to sell.

    The TSB does contain this note:

    this software update is needed even if the vehicle was repaired using Service Bulletin 09-058, Low-Charged Battery Causes Low Power When Accelerating. As with the previous software update, the new software increases the IMA battery rate of charge, which helps to prevent early battery deterioration." This does not have a black bar and is likely not a change from 10-034's original information.
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    This is somewhat confusing to me because I know of no 12.1.2010 TSB issue. There is a 7.23.2010 issue numbered 10-034, which is the same number as your February issue. And if he said you already had the update, then it appears that the February issue does not update the software from the original 10-034 dated 7.23.2010. Can you confirm if this is correct?
  • Over the last 10 months there has been about $7000.00 with of work on my 2005 Civic Hybrid.
    New Transmission
    Struts
    Bearings
    Transmission mount
    Motor Mounts
    Wiper Motor
    Wiper linkage
    Gas door cable and other stuff.
    When the vehicle was purchased, used with 30000 miles I bought warranty from Universal Warranty and they covered everything without an argument. At 99734 miles the ima light came on with the battery failure key. The warranty had an option to exclude this part so I was stuck. The repair option with the dealer was 3000.00. I contacted Hybrid Revolt and they were going to meet me and exchange a battery pack for 1195. They were very cool. When that was being set up the dealer called me and stated that since I have a long repair history with them they contacted Honda and Honda agreed to fix it as a Goodwill Repair. They didn't charge me a dime! Kudos to Moon Township Honda for going to bat for me, Kudos to Universal Warranty for honoring everything they paid for without a hassle, Kudos to Hybrid Revolts willingness to meet me on the PA turnpike, and Kudos to Honda for fixing it for free. I won’t buy another Hybrid but I will buy another Honda at the same dealer! Who says customer service is dead? Not me!
  • tj09hchtj09hch Posts: 14
    I've not been able to access my internet for awhile, so I'm a bit late responding to this reply, but the update applied to my '09 was TSB 10-034, according to the information received from the service manager with whom I have been dealing. They could not find a TSB on my car because it specifies 06-08s, however, I was experiencing the same difficulties. They had applied the first update when I first took the car in for IMA and engine failure. If that was a mistake on their part, whatever. It ruined the car I had been driving for 18 months, and even with the subsequent update, it is still not performing as it was in the beginning; and no, my driving habits have not changed. I'm still a little old lady and drive like one.
  • materasmateras Posts: 1
    To all HCH owners unhappy with the reccomended software update for the hybrid battery problem, there is a Facebook page to share stories, links, and try and figure out what we can do together. The name of the Facebook page is "Honda Civic Hybrid - Honda Corporation Has No Honor". Check it out, Like It, and contribute. We can post here to others and that it cathartic, or we can organize and show Honda they are creating alot of angry customers who will not buy another Honda if this is how they treat their customers.
  • gnatg1gnatg1 Posts: 2
    edited March 2011
    Since Honda updated software in my 2006 HCH last August, my mileage has dropped steadily. It went from an average of 35-38 mpg to 25-28 mpg. The dealer gave it a 5 mile test drive a month or so ago and claimed it reached 40.6 mpg. I do not believe them; even to suspect they may have manipulated the gauges. They examined the car and said it was operating normally -- ????? It hasn't reached 40 mpg since it was new. They tried to tell me that the drop in mileage is due to "driving habits." No way! Nothing about my driving has changed. They even had the audacity to tell me they've not had a similar complaint. (I experienced the same patronization from Honda when I had a windshield problem.) The service repair rep told me the mileage drop was probably due to the software upgrade, but the official dealership and the corporate office of Honda is denying it. I sent a letter to Honda Long Beach's manager asking that they demonstrate to me first hand in another test drive how they achieved 40 mpg. So far I haven't heard from him. I am getting some independent test drives from authorized Honda dealers and then turning it over to the NTSB. Honda just doesn't step up to the plate and admit their technical problems.
    Trying to blame this mileage issue on the driver is ridiculous!
  • ttomakattomaka Posts: 10
    Thanks, Ogre.
    I teach people how to drive their cars economically - in person - on test drives at least once per week.
    So we now have full disclosure about your work in this field. 60mpg in an HCH? Really?
    What you are doing on this thread is muddying the fact that Honda's second-generation hybrid Civic is a flop, a defective product that never performed to Honda's claimed fuel economy for the majority of its customers and has an IMA battery system that wears out prematurely.
    To worsen matters, Honda has decided not to replace the batteries until they have failed completely and has instead imposed on us owners an "update" to the IMA firmware intended to prolong the battery system's life at the additional expense of fuel economy and the vehicle's ability to accelerate and maintain sufficient speed on the highway.
  • I would just like to share my experience with an idle battery, not that it is typical. I have an '03 HCH, which developed an IMA problem 2 years ago: the IMA and check engine light came on constantly, even after reset of the error codes. Nobody could figure out the problem, so the car sat idle for six months, while I studied information available about the hybrid system. After extesive diagnostics of the system, on my own, I found the problem, which turned out to be a bad connection in a terminal. I repaired the connection and everything started working perfectly once again. Two years later the battery is still working perfectly with the system, and I now have 115k miles. Maybe things changed after the first generation.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    The full disclosure of my work is that I repair these batteries (which I have not been hiding). I teach people how to drive efficiently or even how to hypermile if they wish. I also help them with information about related car problems. I also help them get warranty battery replacements when they are not aware they are eligible or have been lied to by dealers.

    Email me privately and I'll send you some photos of odometers. 60 highway is doable for most people in a CVT gen1 civic. 63 in a MT. Driving conventionally (with traffic instead of the slow lane), 55mpg.

    Does the battery wear out in the Gen 2s faster than it should, yes! Would replacing them all help? No. There are plenty of owners going through 2nd or even 3rd batteries. For those that drive infrequently, 5 batteries are not unheard of. If they changed them all now, the problem would just start all over again and there would be a huge number of Civics with failed batteries in 2015 with no warranties and zero resale value because they're all dropping dead at the same time.

    Honda is TRYING to fix the problem, not just put an identical battery back in. The software changes SHOULD significantly increase the lifespan of the Gen2 batteries. The ones that are already gone will still fail and some of the marginal ones will return to health.

    The problem is that the only solution to making the battery last longer is to protect it, which makes it unavailable under certain usage patterns (acceleration when almost empty) or significantly reduces fuel economy (keeping the battery from getting empty in the first place). Those who naturally drive without assist most of the time tend to keep their batteries full at no penalty to their mpg, and they therefore have full use of their (full) battery when they need it. That is why some people here are NOT experiencing any loss of economy or acceleration from the updates.

    If you are experiencing a loss of mpg, you can try experimenting for a few days to see if changing you driving style will improve your mileage. Simply accelerate gently. I often tell people to imagine there is a raw egg taped to the accelerator and they should try not to break it. most people find that their morning commutes take only a couple minutes longer (I deal with lots of Beltway commuters) and that they pick up 5-10 mpg. The goal is to minimize the use of assist and to keep the tachometer revs down below 2500 when possible (2000 is better).

    I'm not telling you to do anything. I'm not telling you that you drive "wrong". This may not even apply to you. I'm just suggesting that you try it. If you do and you are successful, you'll have your old car back WITH the battery-life extending software.

    And remember that 75mph will reduce mpg by 10%-25% in ANY car when compared to 65mph due to wind resistance, and that for a 30 mile commute, 75 mph will only save 4 minutes over 65mph. Wind resistance starts to become a factor over 50mph and gets progressively worse as speed increases.
  • I appreciate your efforts to educate drivers on how to maximize their fuel efficiency and repair the dying batteries of Civic hybrids. But I and many others on this forum are well versed in hypermiling and other techniques to get our fuel mileage as high as possible.

    When I owned my Civic hybrid, I was driving consciously to maximize fuel economy. The performance and the fuel efficiency of my car deteriorated when the batteries began discharging frequently and it got worse when I did the software update. My driving style did not materially change except when I felt unsafe, such as having no battery when I was trying to turn left against traffic. I did this for four months and complained to Honda and then sold it at a loss. Maybe the batteries would have revived after a few more months of frustrating and stressful driving but I had had it.

    The reality is driving especially in the city requires adequate and predictable acceleration and the Civic's crappy batteries and Honda's software update has made them unsafe and unreliable for a significant share of drivers.
  • ttomakattomaka Posts: 10
    I strongly agree with you, dhilldiner. Given the severity of the problems we are experiencing with the HCH II's fuel efficiency and lack of power, it galls me when apologists for Honda come on a forum like this and suggest that our problem stems from our driving habits, not the car.
    Just accelerate more gently does not come close to explaining 33 mpg on my 2008 HCH, which is where I am now, after receiving the firmware "update."
    Honda needs to fix their problems, or face continued damage to their brand reputation. I have seen no indication from Honda that they will even admit to having a problem.
  • bobbichenbobbichen Posts: 11
    Just did my first oil change in my new/used 2008 HCH II. I know that the Toyota dealer I bought if from said they changed the oil 1500 miles (6 months) ago. I also know it was black as night on dump out. I used Mobil 1 0w30 (couldn't find 0w20 and most links indicate this should be a fine substitute infrequently). The car revs and runs much more smoothly. Additionally, my battery is charging more actively than before. Best guess is they used 5w20 dino oil which created more drag on startup. I do short trips and my first use was over this winter. Was getting low 30s with conventional tires at 35 to 40 psi. My mileage has started moving up and seems to be running in the 40s now around town, mixed. Odo is about 48k. Still not seeing any of the problems with the IMA systems that others are speaking of but I am watching it. Since I have been driving daily the battery dumps (going down to 1 or 2 bars from a full charge) seem to have dropped off.
  • mabecanemabecane Posts: 46
    edited March 2011
    I just got a letter from Honda, they are recalling my 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid to replace a DC to DC converter. The DC-DC converter is part of the IMA system and may experience an internal failure leading to stalling and malfunction of the headlights.
    I refused the IMA update last July, are they going to snick it in this time when I bring my car for the recall repair?
    Are they still installing the update?
  • I'm all for venting on Facebook but please make sure to file a safety complaint with NHTSA. The more complaints that NHTSA receives, the more likely the government will launch a formal investigation.
  • gnatggnatg Posts: 7
    I took my car into the dealership where I purchased my 2006 HCH originally and had the recall work done this morning. I asked the service rep if he could do a test drive also relating to my mileage problem. He said there was no use doing a test drive. My mileage problem was directly related to the software upgrade made last year. This is completely contrary to what my local Honda dealer told me and Honda corporate office in Torrance, CA. He also said Honda is instructing dealerships to do nothing about the complaints. He said he and his dealership do not like lying to their customers. Next step is to talk to a factory rep and then file a formal complaint with the NTSB.
  • yes, the local service representatives just sort of grimace at me now. They, also, lie. They can never "replicate the problem." I leave a garage that is never colder than 50-ish in winter, drive about two blocks, sit at the corner waiting to turn and lose all but two bars. The mileage then starts decreasing and never goes back up. Last week they were unable to have this happen. I left the dealership, drove a block, stopped at a light and had two bars. I feel sorry for them in some respects but if they would fuss a bit also that would help. Every time I go I put my request to check the IMA because one day I am going to get killed with the lack of pickup so it is costing them time and money and they need to take some action also.
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    My experience has been that the software upgrade did not solve my milage problem, but it did keep the IMA light from coming on. Since my IMA light had come on before the upgrade my dealer's response was to put in a new battery when I told him that the upgrade did not fix the problem. The new battery did solve the problem. However, since I was a few thousand miles over warranty I had to pay half the cost. That was a cost hit against my milage savings, but at least it restored the car to its previous good milage and pick-up. This was done in October 2010 and it is still working well. Maybe I should not take a chance and trade the car before the new three year battery warranty expires.
  • When I owned by HCH II last fall, I took it to the dealer and the rep was very sympathetic to the problems of frequent discharging. I then dropped it off for 2 days for him to test, and to my "surprise" he said that they had no problems with it when they test drove it. My guess is he called Honda Corporate and said it wasn't working well and they told him to lie. In retrospect, I should have demanded that I be in the car with the dealer while they test drove it.
  • I would strongly consider it. There have been several posts about the defective design (and inadequate capacity?) of the HCH II hybrid batteries that cause them to wear out prematurely because individual cells stop working. I believe Honda's programming to allow them to be depleted to 40% of their charge and hot weather are two factors leading to their early deterioration. The Prius and the Ford Fusion apparently keep their hybrid batteries air cooled to avoid them getting fried during the summer.

    Your other option would be to be prepared to replace or recondition them and this could happen after the warranty expires. Even if you are within the warranty period, there is no guarantee Honda will pony up as we all know.
  • Amen, ttomaka. My fantasy is to make the head of Honda, senior managers and customer reps and anybody connected with Honda that says the problems are due to the way we drive required to drive our HCH IIs for several months in a variety of stressful and challenging driving situations with it all secretly recorded on video.
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