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Honda Civic Hybrid IMA Problems



  • bobbichenbobbichen Posts: 11
    Still settling in to my HCH. Purchased a 2008 with 45k on it in very good condition. I recently changed out the factor speakers which were a horrible joke. Sound is much improved. Like any rechargable batteries I have, I try to keep the HCH battery system jumping around. Full charge periodically, middle level. It is hard to knock it down to nothing in our flat terrain, but every once in awhile the batter dumps charge on its own (likely a software function designed to prolong battery life). When the battery is being stubborn about charging up I stop and rev above 2500 for a few minutes to give it a boost. None of this has been oppressive, though it does dent the mileage a little. I get about 34 mpg in mostly short trip stop and go, which seems to be pretty darn good. NOTE: My IMA software was never 'updated' and I don't plan to allow it to be until this whole situation is sorted out. There is obviously something to the complaints as to the flash update last Fall being poorly concevied, and likely more of a factor of Honda trying to avoid replacing batteries than improving performance. With my original IMA software I get good pep and very respectable mileage. Until I am absolutely satisfied that a flash update will not mess up my car, I'm not budging on that issue. Good luck all. Keep us informed of your updates.
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    "but every once in awhile the batter dumps charge on its own (likely a software function designed to prolong battery life)"

    You need to watch this carefully. What are the conditions and timing when this happens? Mine never did this until my battery started deteriorating. Now that I have a new battery, again, it never does this. Also, note your charge reading when you power down for the night, and compare it with the charge reading the next morning before you start it up. Mine got to the point where even though it had a full charge the night before, it would not start off of the hybrid battery the next morning (it started from the 12 volt backup starter).
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    I had a similar experience, even though my milage was not as low as yours. The problem was not solved until the battery was replaced. Since then I have on occasion averaged 50-51 mpg per tank and never below 45 mpg. The electric motor is always available for assist and makes the car seem rather peppy.
  • Dear 2009 HCH owners:
    As all of you I've been a recent victim to the IMA and check engine lights coming on, as well as a battery change. After the two lights of death appeared, I visited the dealership where they told me I needed to rev the engine up for a couple of minutes to recharge the battery before a I left home. Yeah sure; doesn't that defeat the purpose of a hybrid car in the first place?: To not have to rely on gasoline so much? Well, I went home and tried it, but obviously saw a decline in fuel economy and quantity. After a couple of days, I decided to simply let the engine recharge the battery by itself to 2 bars. It does this during the first 2 to 3 minutes after starting. After recharging up to 2 bars it stops and I'm able to leave without the IMA light showing up again (even after the battery had given the degradation indication). The IMA light hasn't illuminated and it has been 3 to 4 weeks since first indication.

    Today I got my new battery and I'm still thinking if I should try the same thing again. Anyone have any thoughts?

    P.S. I live uphill, and after getting two bars on battery charge indicator, I'm able to recharge most of it after I reach the end of the hill.
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    Revving the engine before you leave home is the most ridiculous advice a car dealer could give. If you have to do that, something is not right. You should not have to live with this situation.

    With the new battery you should not have to do anything special to operate the car. If you do, there is still a problem. I would just drive it normally and see what happens. If they have to keep working on it so be it. And if they can't fix it you should invoke the Lemon Law.
  • PFFlyer@EdmundsPFFlyer@Edmunds Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 5,808
    edited March 2011
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  • ttomakattomaka Posts: 10
    I have a 2008 HCH that I bought new, and I have never been able to get more than 40 MPG combined. I had the Honda-recommended software "update" to the IMA system which immediately reduced my fuel economy to 34 mpg.

    The new software has also made the car very sluggish. This is not surprising, since I now have a Civic weighed down by the IMA battery that relies primarily on a 1.3l gas engine for propulsion.

    Often while climbing a hill, the IMA will decide to recharge the dying battery. Ugh!

    I have tried to remedy this with the dealer and directly with Honda America, but they refuse to acknowledge any problem. This is the last Honda I'll ever buy.

    I also filed a safety complaint with the NHTSA (easy to do) in hopes that enough owners will complain and force NHTSA to act.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    " This is not surprising, since I now have a Civic weighed down by the IMA battery that relies primarily on a 1.3l gas engine for propulsion.
    Actually, I'd find it very surprising, as the IMA battery weighs all of 68lbs, and the power-to-weight ratio of your Civic with no battery assist is higher than a Range Rover (ie. it is quicker) and IDENTICAL to a Prius with no battery assist.

    "Often while climbing a hill, the IMA will decide to recharge the dying battery. Ugh!

    This is a common misconception. It is testing your dying battery. Climbing the hill forced the battery to go out of spec and the car is trying to figure out what the battery is capable of. The 4 bar regen that you are seeing is a test and lasts about 75 seconds.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    I hit the send button too soon. continued...

    While the car is undeniably sluggish without assist, it is not experiencing poor economy because of that. On the open road, the IMA system does not improve economy at all. It only helps in stop and go traffic. What it DOES do is make the tiny little engine FEEL like a normal sized engine, giving you the experience of driving a normal car while actually sipping gas.

    Tests of Honda Insights (2000-2006 models) have shown slightly higher gas mileage with the IMA battery disabled than with it enabled in highway and rural driving. In city driving it is slightly less due to the lack of Auto-stop. The Insight has a 3 cylinder 1.0 liter version of the same engine in your Civic. It's engine is basically yours with one of the four cylinders chopped off.

    The reason you are experiencing a loss of fuel economy is twofold. The lifetime of 40 mpg or so shows that you drive your car somewhat6 aggressively - meaning that you accelerate strongly and possibly that you drive it fast. The problem is that any acceleration costs gas, and wind resistance takes a severe toll on fuel economy above 55 mph. There is nothing wrong with driving this way - most of America does - but you can't expect stellar fuel economy if you do. It's your choice.

    The second reason is that your car is spending most of it's time charging your battery (which eats gas), but the battery is not taking the full charge, so it is being wasted. Your battery will either improve and this problem will go away, or it will get worse and it will fail and Honda will replace it under warranty.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    I think the dealer telling you to rev the engine is the stupidest idea I've ever heard and shows that they don't have any idea what is going on.

    I believe that your car is experiencing a recal in the morning due to a high self-discharge rate. The battery charge drops significantly overnight and in the morning, the car detects this and runs a calibration routine. This routine is as follows: the battery gauge drops to zero, one or two bars ( dependson the software) and the car applies a 4 bar charge. After 60-75 seconds, the charge lights go out and the gauge starts to climb to whatever level the battery is at. They make it climb slowly so as not to surprise you.

    You are misinterpreting this because you are driving the car and you think the rising battery gauge is actually the bTtery charging. A normal battery will charge at a max of 50 amps for about 5 Ah which means 6 minutes (60*5/50). You see that rise in 30 seconds or so. It's not possible to actually charge it that fast. normal charging is about 1/4 of that rate, so 24 minutes.

    To test this, start your car and just let it idle for two minutes. You'll see this behavior without ever touching the gas pedal.

    Living at the top of a hill presents a challenge for any battery. The battery is very unlikely to be full when parked and all NiMH batteries are more susceptible to self-discharge based imbalances when they are parked empty than if they are parked full. There isn't a whole lot you can do about it, so you'll just have to accept the fact that your battery will only last 80% or so of what it would if you had a commute with level driving near the end. Things you can do to minimize this are to turn off your AC just before that last hill climb and to take it easy going up to minimize the amount of assist you use. Later, when your warranty is up, get a grid charger and top up the battery overnight. This will eliminate this problem.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    Regarding the software update for a 2009.

    2009-2011 cars came from the factory with this upgrade already installed. Whatever they applied was an upgrade,but not THIS upgrade. THIS upgrade just brings the 2006-2008 Civics up to the same (or functionally the same) software as the 2009-2011 models.

    Honda (like all car manufacturers) upgrades their software constantly. This is easy to see in the 2000-2006 Insights because one of their computers was not reprogrammable - it had to be replaced. There are no less than nine different BCM computers out there for these cars.

    So what you got was a smaller update.
  • ttomakattomaka Posts: 10
    Ogre, Your abundant opinions lack all basis in fact. For example, what do you really know about my driving habits? Show your data.
    Free advice, free of value.
  • There's no point in anybody trying to minimize this problem based on alleged driving habits. When the same driver of the same car sees a sudden decrease in fuel efficiency and erratic support from the IMA, we certainly can't blame the driving habits.

    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.
  • oijibuuroijibuur Posts: 4
    "On the open road, the IMA system does not improve economy at all"

    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.
  • bobbichenbobbichen Posts: 11
    I believe it has happened 2 or 3 times since I bought the vehicle (about 2 months). The battery had been stubborn about not wanting to hold a mostly full charge the last few days so I sat in park at 3k rpm for about 1.5 minutes yesterday. Wouldn't take a full charge (max 8 of 9 bars, which I believe is the spectrum). I definitely won't say that this is not the beginning of the battery crapping out as it may well be. 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.
  • bobbichenbobbichen Posts: 11
    Some of it could be my driving, and the current temperatures (30s and 40s). I have a five mile commute with a lot of stop signs. The engine does not warm up to the point of autostop or regen braking for about 1/3 to 1/2 of the trip as it is so short. I also have conventional tires and not the high mileage version, so that may be a factor. Still, vs 40/45 stated EPG mpg, and given what I paid for it (and still being under battery warranty for another 6 years) I'm not regretting the purchase. With gas jumping into the mid $3 range again I am still only spending about $10 on gas every two weeks.
  • ttomakattomaka Posts: 10
    That is a great idea! I will re-post this on our Facebook page.
  • ttomakattomaka Posts: 10
    Some dissatisfied HCH owners started a Facebook page where they are sharing a lot of useful info.
  • ttomakattomaka Posts: 10
    I took a similar approach with my dealer and directly with Honda America. In short, they maintain that my car is performing OK, so long as it moves when the gas pedal is depressed and HONDA'S computerized system diagnostics do not indicate a problem.
    I reported my problems and attempts to fix it on a Facebook page for HCH owners.
  • I have a 2006 that I bought with a "salvaged title" because the car had been stolen and resold at auction to the person/dealer that I bought it from. Because it is a "salvaged title" the manufacturer won't honor the warranty on the battery. My battery failed after two months of having the car. 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. I find this hard to believe because it is not using the batttery when it is not "assisting" is it? I purchased a used battery at that point, and alas 2 months later (and $750 later) it has failed again! My car only has 36K on it! I was resistant to paying $2200 for a battery, and am to the point were I don't know if I should just put another used battery in and sell it right away. I have been reading on here about several people who have put mutiple batteries in their hybrids as well. I have never, with the exception of a long distance trip when I got 42 mpg, gotten over 38 mpg on my car and that is not much better than a regular civic. If anyone could give me some advice that would be great. The IMA light and check engine light are staying on again all of the time.
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