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Honda Civic Hybrid IMA Problems



  • viawviaw Posts: 34
    all i have to say is "F'in Honda"!!!!
    all they say is that it's OUR damn driving habits. that's the only excuse they can think of.
    F.U. Honda!!!!!
  • jack000jack000 Posts: 16
    So I did some snooping around on the ecomodder forums. Turns out, there was someone with the same battery issues we've seen here (not surprising). He Built a grid (trickle) charger for the car out of 48V power supplies to "re-balance" the NiMH battery pack.

    I wondered why the battery would even need to be rebalanced, surely Honda and their "perfect" IMA system (as I was told by the mechanic at the dealer) would monitor such things.

    I look at my trusty service manual, and nope. They only have 24 battery sensors for 132 cells.

    So I go ahead and order the power supplies, fuses, and rectifiers (diodes). I pop out the rear seat and hook the negative end of the charger to the negative lug, and the positive to a wire on the BCM (I dont remember exactly which one at the moment). I put a 12v adapter and fan on the vent (to cool off the battery) and calibrated it to 198 volts (1.5 volts/cell).

    I needed to make sure the current was a C/10 so that the cell would recombine all of the excess gas from 'overcharging' (this is in the design of NiMH cells). so a 5.5AH pack needs a 550ma charger. I used the Meanwell RS25-48 PSUs and wired them in series with an LPC 35-700 adjustable supply along with the fuses and diodes.

    I charge up the car for 24 hours (2x capacity so that any cells that are way off can catch up) and start the car. After a few hours of it recalibrating, etc. There are little to no recalibrations AND mileage is back up to 45+mpg (from 36mpg). This is AFTER the software patch. I have a solar panel that I plan on hooking up to the charger to use while I'm parked.

    So far so good. NOTE: Do NOT turn on the car with the charger activated. It WILL throw a code and can possibly confuse the BCM and it will take longer for your car to recalibrate to the battery.

    This is purely informational. If you decide to do anything described here, you do so at YOUR OWN RISK. Please take proper precautions when working with the battery and power supply, as they are HIGH VOLTAGE and produce enough current to KILL.

    Ecomodder forum: blems-insight-civic-13610.html

    Grid charger schematic: _2.pdf
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    edited May 2011
    The update that was made to your car in 2000 had nothing to do with performance. It corrected a bug that allowed the car to overcharge the battery in sub-zero weather (and damage it). The ECM update in 2001 MAY have affected your mileage, but it was in no way related to the battery system - it changed the engine timing to correct a problem with the emissions.

    What happened is that the update you had coincided with the battery failing. We see a LOT of insights (three per week) and most get 120,000 - 180,000 miles on their initial batteries. One group of drivers does not. That is the drivers that either drive very little (less than 5,000 miles per year) or drive infrequently (don't drive daily). There is also the odd case of the driver that lives at the top of a large hill. Any one of these will result in premature failure. Last year I had a customer that lived in manhattan and drove his car only on weekends. He had 5 batteries in 10 years in 35,000 miles. He came to us because his warranty was up, we balanced his battery and installed a charger. Now he plugs in the car on Friday night and I don't expect he'll ever have another problem.

    If these driving patterns match yours, you need a charger as well. There are a few of them being sold by different people. Call me so that we can figure out what can be done to get your battery functional again. I believe it can be saved.

    BTW, I've never known an Insight that didn't run out of battery long before finishing a 15-20 mile uphill grade - or did you mean 15-20 degree grade?

    If you are experiencing a loss of power immediately after starting the car in the morning, it is a recal (recalibration event) from sitting. Revving the engine is actually the correct procedure, but since the engine is cold, I'd recommend just letting it sit and idle instead. The battery power will return in 45-75 seconds.

    With a little TLC, you'll be back to 70 mpg. Honda won't help you because your car is 11 years old.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    edited May 2011
    Why didn't they build in a BMS and only monitor 12 cells at a time? Because it would have added several hundred dollars of electronics to an already expensive car.

    Now, a few notes for you because you seem technically inclined.

    The battery is 6.5 Ah at 0.2C (the standard way of measuring)
    1.6V is the terminal charge voltage for healthy cells (actually 1.65V, but that's risky)
    C/20 is more acceptable for a fanless setup, so if you plan to do this again, go with 350Ma. With the electronics built into that fan, I assume you tapped in above the PWM module, but what speed do you have it running at?

    Also, please limit the charge to 8-12 hours, because your battery isn't starting out empty.

    Lastly, your battery will benefit most from several charge/discharge cycles, not just one.

    Also, be aware that 2003-2005 Civics have 120 cells and 2006+ have 132 cells.
  • yzerman123yzerman123 Posts: 9
    Hello Ogre_GEV,

    You spoke about a customer living in Manhattan who drove his Insight infrequently and needed to replace the battery often.

    My situation is similar. I live in the downtown core of my city and I drive my 2006 HCH infrequently. My battery started deteriorating at about 40,000 miles. I'm now at roughly 50,000 and mileage is definitely down.

    Is there any way of installing a charger to fix this problem?
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263

    Yes, you can install a charger and charge it prior to each use if it has been left unused for more than a few days. I don't know if your battery is recoverable, but it will at least arrest the deterioration. The gentleman I was talking about had less than 3,000 miles on the battery, so it had faster sudden damage while yours is a slower, more gradual thing.

    Still, without a charger, your only choices are to drive the car more, replace the battery every few years or get rid of the car.

    If you are unable to build one, contact me via email and I'll put you in touch with someone that can.
  • bobbichenbobbichen Posts: 11
    Hello, all. I know a lot of you have had issues with the HCH II. I bought mine about 6 months ago at a rock bottom price when dealers were lousy with hybrids. I thought the HCH II was an "okay" car. It got fairly good mileage, but not as well as advertised. The IMA system was kind of a pain, and distracting. It was prone to suddenly "dump" charges a couple of times a week, so you would have to drive like a granny to get the charge back up. It road rough as a buckboard on our bad Midwestern streets. Recently I noticed that with gas up over $4 the prices of these things had jumped by $2 to $3k at the retail/wholesale. I took the opportunity and traded my HCH II in on a late model V6 SUV. (I don't drive that much so the gas won't kill me. Basically buy low and sell high, as it were). I paid about $13.5k for my 2008 HCH in December and received $15.5k on trade. Not a bad deal. If you are sick of the hassle of the IMA system and Honda, you may want to consider trading or selling your car while gas is still north of $3.75. As gas prices come down, so will the value of the various hybrid models. Best of luck to you all.
  • I sold mine also. Unfortunately, I wanted a Subaru SUV because they only sell PZEVs here and knew if I waited the prices on them were going to go sky-high also or they would not be available. I also wanted to trade it in before too many people heard about the issues and the value went down. Got enough for my 2007 to drive the SUV for three years for free, and got some money back. I was afraid to drive my car anymore. I am getting about 2/3 of the mileage in the SUV of the hybrid - for $30-40 more a month it was worth it to know when I press the gas pedal the car will actually move, not stall or have no pickup. I wanted to keep my car but was pretty sure I was going to be killed in it because of the pickup and stalling issues. :lemon:
  • jack000jack000 Posts: 16
    I had the fan running at full blast with a separate 12v power supply.
    I had done several cycles on it... the first one was the 24 hour cycle and just a few 8-12 hour overnight cycles after that.
    I have an '09, and the charger was delivering ~210 volts.

    After a few weeks of driving, IMA light went on and then went off.
    I took all my charging stuff out of the battery compartment, and brought it in.
    There was a battery degradation code and an internal short code. They ordered and installed a new battery for me and the new pack performs spectacularly. MPG has increased from 45 to 53!
    No 'recals' every morning and I've had the new pack for more than a week.

    Also, the dealer told me the new battery was 'improved' over the old one but that's all he knew. Does anyone know what changes and improvements were made to the pack?
    My guess is they went with a different NiMH cell that can withstand higher temps and doesn't get imbalanced as easily.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    edited June 2011
    The codes were left over from before you charged it.

    My best guess on "improved" is that they have finally run out of their stockpile of Sanyo cells and have switched suppliers. Panasonic/Sanyo sold off their NiMH division a couple years ago. I've known about the changed chemistry for a while, but yours is the first I've run across.
  • lunitalunita Posts: 1
    Went thru the things you guys went thru with Honda, but did not complain much......what the hell few less miles per gallon etc................but on Sunday May 29th as my wife and I were traveling to the gulf coast cruising along about 65 miles an hour on just shuts lucky I'm a right lane vehicles was daytime.....etc..... got to side of started right up! We are now looking to sales mgr. told my wife she convinced herself there is a problem! Looks like we can't deal with honda, so would like any info on who I can contact to take this to step email address is cccl98@
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    edited June 2011
    A failure of the battery can't cause the car to shut off especially at highway speeds. It could cause it not to restart from auto-stop, or if it stops charging the 12V battery it could die on you, but you would have noticed the alternator light on for 20 miles and at the end the dash would go crazy winking on and off and the car would stumble like it had run out of gas.

    It can't just die. I think something else happened and you are attributing it to the battery because you know there is something wrong with it.

    Even with a total instantaneous failure of the entire IMA electronics system, the gas engine would not shut down like that.
  • mabecanemabecane Posts: 46
    The DC converter is probably the culprit, there was a recall about a couple months ago for the 2006 model. In some cases the fuses get blown and some of the components stops working and you can get stranded with the engine quitting on you. I had mine replaced free of charge. I also made sure that the IMA patch was not installed on my 06. I still get 45mpg around town and over 50 on long highway rides.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    Again, that would result in a lit alternator light and the dash would go crazy reinitializing before it died.

    A sudden failure would point to some kind of hiccup in the ignition system such as the ECM activating the immobilizer circuit.

    Definitely a problem, but not caused by the battery.
  • Hello all, I've read most of the posts in this thread and I find my self in the same position as others here. I purchased new in early 06 an 06 HCH. It has been a good car except now the IMA battery is showing the common signs of deterioration.
    . No warning lights yet but I don't think I'm far from that. I called the Honda dealer who is 75 miles from me and ask if I could bring the car in to have the IMA battery checked I just wanted to know its condition. They said sure bring it in and we can test it and let you know its status. I got there and I told the guy that I did not want any software updates done to the car.he said ok no problem and I signed a paper stating no software updates. The guy excuses him self to go and talk to the tech who will be doing the work and comes back in a few minutes and tells me that the battery cannot even be checked without the software updates being done. Well I'm p.oed about this but I keep my cool and explain why I don't want the updates. The guy then calls someone named Chris who is the guy that the service managers go to with questions in this area. After their conversation the assistant service manager tells me that this is policy and there is no getting around it. I let this guy know that I have made a 150 mile trip that wasted not only my gas but also my time. All I got from him was an I'm sorry.
    Well that is the background on my encounter with Honda service. I've pretty much washed my hands of them. As far as Im concerned even though they say on paper they warranty their batteries the reality is they don't or at best only on special occasions.
    I make my living with electronics and the idea that keeps coming to me is why don't I rebuild the battery pack myself. The beauty of this is that the connectivity to provide for grid charging and balancing of the pack can be built in during the rebuild. There are a few web sites that talk about the Insight battery but virtually none on the HCH II. A guy on one of the insight forums talked about doing a step by step on his HCH II battery but so far has not. These guys will rebuild a gen 1 HCH but they don't mention the gen II. I've Googled for the procedure to remove the battery from the car but came up empty( I know its behind the back seat). Is there a master shut off switch like the Insight has? If I'm going to do this I want to do it safely and correctly. At this point it may be best to buy a service manual for the car. Has any Electronically savvy owner attempted this and been successful? Inquiring minds would like to know.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    There isn't a whole lot a dealer can do to "test" a battery other than install the software that you don't want. The OBD-II codes that they pull from the car, YOU can pull from the car for free at your local Autozone.

    I believe that the update will probably improve your battery (won't make it worse unless it's already terminal, will improve some, won't affect others), but there is a fairly large chance that you won't like the behavioral changes to the car. If you are the type of driver who's battery is always full, then you will likely see no difference, but if you use your battery down to almost nothing regularly, then you will NOT like what it does to your car.

    You do realize, don't you, that I am the guy at the website you mentioned? Gen-II Civics and Accords are serviced, but aren't listed because most of them are still under warranty so their owners go to the dealer. Instructions are available (and free), but they're not posted on the web, so Google can't find them. Just call or email for them.

    Contact me to discuss changes you need to make to the Gen-I test procedures to get them to work on your Gen-II.
  • markrockmarkrock Posts: 6
    I've suffered 12 months since last June when my 2007 HCH suddenly lost its ability to generate power (the warning light has never come on) (the first software update was the previous Fall). It's been a safety issue for me. I finally decided that I had to get rid of the car, so took it to the dealership where I had purchased it. They said they would test the car, and I agreed with the proviso that I would not pay for anything.
    The battery checked out fine, with "75% life remaining". They mistakenly gave it the most recent updates, so I didn't have to pay for that $100 (shouldn't have to pay for something that "corrects" the original). I live in the North Texas region, so the temp has been a factor ie worse than during the cool months. Though it's only been 2 weeks to see how the car behaves, and expecting nothing, I'm impressed enough that I no longer plan on selling it. Go figure! I have 6 more years for my needs as someone who puts on about 125 - 150 miles every day, 5 days a week. Wish me luck, as I do everyone else having trouble.
  • ttomakattomaka Posts: 10
    Ogre, What does one do to be "the type of driver who's battery is always full..." versus one to "use your battery down to almost nothing regularly"??

    I see nothing in the operation of an HCHII which allows me to control the battery charge level. They way I understand it, this is a function of the IMA control system. Please enlighten us.
  • bobbichenbobbichen Posts: 11
    FYI. For those of you knashing teeth about your IMA problems (real or perhaps upcoming) I recently sold mine for high book. I was lucky as I bought it for wholesale in December last so I made about $2k on the deal. With gas around $4 a gallon dealers are willing to pay more for hybrids. With Japan healing from the tsunami and with gas prices stabilizing this market will not last. If you want out, it might be your time. I traded into a V6 SUV (for wholesale). Not as environmentally sound, but I only drive about 50-70 miles a week or so and commute by bike a few days so it is no big deal to me personally. Happy trails.
  • I'm a driver, not mechanically inclined. I have a 2003 Civic hybrid, bought new; the IMA light come on recently. I read dome of the posts, though I don't understand info. like whether or not software needs to be upgraded. The 'round city gas mileage has dropped a bit, to about 43mpg, but I know it doesn't like hot weather in our Washington DC area, and its city driving, so I don't blame the car. And yes, I drive the battery down, though I'm willing to change that habit if it hurts the car. Thanks in advance for any and all help.
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