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Honda Civic Hybrid IMA Problems



  • vidarvidar Posts: 16
    First, don't upgrade the software. I have a 2005 civic hybrid, and never got any software updates. Reading posts in about the 700 range onward, it appears that the upgrades were a 'patch' to extend battery life. Thus in turn kills the amount of battery torque available during acceleration. Also figured into degrading gas mileage. As for 43 mpg, consider that when the A/C unit is running it scavenges 6 to 8 mpg from the car.

    Considering the IMA light, you will need to see how fast the battery discharges during hard acceleration, and how long it takes to recharge. On my car at 167k miles on the odometer, a 'to the floorboard' acceleration will take the battery to slightly less than half charge within a mile, then will induce a slight charge at cruising speed for about 5 minutes ( 3/4 battery capacity is when the induced charge goes to neutral). I am unfamiliar with the available gauges on a 2003.

    A/C running and most miles I am running at interstate speed I get about 37 mpg on new Bosch plugs. Not good as compared to what it was new, but there is plenty of sensors, etc that I probably need to replace or get calibrated.
  • gchybridgchybrid Posts: 2

    I have HCH 2003 with 109K miles. IMA light came on yesterday. Do I need to take it to the dealer right away? What are my options?

    Would appreciate any suggestions.
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    Have the code read to see what the problem is. I think Auto Zone will do it for free. It is probably a bad battery. If it is, you can either buy a refurbished one or have it refurbished.
  • I traded my 2007 HCH for a 2011 Jetta Sportwagen TDI. I am averaging 34 mpg driving the same route that I was averaging 38 in my HCH. BUT, I feel safe, I'm no longer angry, and I can actually pull out into traffic without waiting for so long that others are honking behind me! I get about 41 mpg hwy, which is slightly better than the HCH. I couldn't get more than 38 out of it since the software update/battery replacement last year. The first year I owned it, I got 45. I thought I would have that car forever, and I felt so good when I purchased it. Fuel economy was great, and I was reducing my carbon footprint. My family needed a larger car, but I didn't want to go back to 30 mpgs max in a sedan or less in a small SUV. The Sportwagen was the perfect solution. I have plenty of go under the hood, excellent fuel economy, and more space for our belongings. Looking forward to our first family vacation in 6 weeks, where 2 weeks ago I wondered how the Civic would tolerate a road trip in 80-90 degree weather loaded to the gills. I was afraid we wouldn't make it.

    I'll be signing off the forum. I have followed for over a year now. I am happy to be rid of the car that caused me and my family so much stress. What a disappointment. I hope you all find a solution.
  • I have an 03 Civic Hybrid. 188,000 and on its 2nd battery pack, transmission rebuilt a year ago. Idling at stop lights (a/c on - not in econ mode) or in a fast food drive thru; the engine will stutter and shake the car and act like it is about to stall. When the gas pedal is pushed, there is a delay before finally moving the car. Aslo gas mileage has dropped from 39 to 34 and now at 28mpg over the last 3 months. Want to look at simple things first - Honda says it can't be a fuel filter, haven't had and service other than oil changes in 11 months. Any ideas?
  • mabecanemabecane Posts: 46
    Honda is right about the fuel filter, the civic does not have a fuel filter. Try pouring injector cleaner in the fuel tank. Check your air filter. Check if your spark plug wires have any cracks. Change spark plugs or at least clean them.
  • I'm wondering if anyone has seen an IMA error light come on running the latest software update on a HCH II? My battery performs negative recalls 2-3 times each way on my commute, 5-6 times every day. The negative recalls are followed by 2-3 minutes of forced regen, after which the battery meter shows full. This "full" battery discharges again in 5-10 minutes under relatively mild driving conditions (60 mph on the highway with the cruise control, typically), after which the cycle starts again.

    The issues with my IMA have been getting progressively worse over the past 2 years, and I'm far from running out on the battery warranty. However, I'm shocked that the battery has not coded out already, based on what I'm seeing. Is it possible Honda's latest firmware update throws out the metrics for a bad battery that would cause the IMA light to come on? Is there anyone who has seen an IMA light on the latest firmware?
  • viawviaw Posts: 34
    dead on steve. i'm sure honda has purposely turned off any signal from the battery to the computer to say that there is a problem with the battery. you are not alone and in my case, i have just turned on the key in the morning without starting the engine and in about a minute and a half, the battery would drain. i loathe turning my car off for a short errand and then having to turn it back on as this actually forces the drain faster than if i'm driving longer distances.
    just a joke about these honda reps and their engineers saying that this is normal. i guess that if it happens often enough, it is considered normal. :lemon:
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    Has anyone had the IMA light come on after the software upgrade? Seems like I remember someone reporting that they had.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    The battery isn't "draining". The car is trying to figure out how much charge is in the battery. While it does it, it show an empty gauge. This is why you see it plummet and then rise again about a minute later.

    It actually takes more than 6 minutes at full assist to drain a battery, and 12 minutes to charge one.

    You're just seeing the gauge go up and down.

    The reason it happens every morning is that some of the cells are rapidly discharging overnight and the car detects that they have dropped, so it tests the battery to determine the actual capacity. Your battery is having trouble, but some of the software updates MAY exercise the battery in such a way that it actually improves. It will either improve (happen less often) or get worse (more often) and fail. Without the updates it will definitely fail.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    Drivers who accelerate more gently use less assist and therefore keep their batteries more full. Typically, these drivers drive in the right lane and keep at or below the speed limit.

    Drivers who accelerate more and "keep up with traffic" tend to use more assist and therefore have less-full batteries.

    Since the software changes primarily affect only the behavior of the car when it is below 1/4 charge, the first category of driver will not see any difference, while the latter group will potentially find themselves without any assist available (car underpowered).
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    The software update only applies to 2006-2008 cars.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    Your 2005 is identical to a 2003. The software update only applies to 2006-2008 cars. 35 mpg isn't that good, but there are some possible culprits that can be adjusted to improve it.

    First, 34 psi is the minimum to have in your tires and 44 is better.

    Try this test: adjust your tire pressure and find a nice stretch of road to drive 50 mph. Pretend that there is a raw egg taped to your gas pedal and you don't want to crack it. Drive 50 mph for 5-10 miles without accelerating or decelerating much. Open your windows and turn off the AC.

    You should get at least 50 mpg in a CVT or 55 in a manual transmission car. If you don't, then you need to check other things like alignment, CV joints, catalytic converter, etc.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    "I'm shocked the car hasn't coded out yet"

    The system is really robust and your battery is unusual in that you are getting both positive and negative recals. What this means is that under load (discharge) your battery gets worse and the car detects it and then when recharging on the highway at steady speeds it gets better and the car detects it.

    A grid charger (trickle charger) might help you immensely, but you are under warranty.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    As the previous poster said, get your codes read (for free) at an Autozone. A dealer will do nothing but charge you $3000 to replace the battery.

    P1433 - drive the car for the next 60-90 days until it dies, then replace the battery

    P1447 - same as above, but 3-6 months

    P1449 - fix it now before you make it worse

    P1570 or P1568 - fix it, its a cheap repair

    Anything else may be a non-battery problem and will be easy (and cheap) to fix.

    Don't go to a dealer. They are expensive and half of the time they have no clue.

    Email me if you want more help
  • viawviaw Posts: 34
    appreciate what you write on the blog and your insights. however, i think i can speak for those of us that these recals in the morning are not solely from over night drains. these recals occur almost every other time the car is started. it can happen every 20 minutes in relatively mild commutes. i have an hour commute every day into work and it often drains 2 and sometimes 3 times just during this one stretch. also, the recals can occur more often if your car is stressed like going uphill (which happened to me multiple times on one 30 mile stretch going up to Tahoe).
    so, yes, it's a recal problem with the system. why it occurs 4-5 times in a day (practically every day) is a problem that Honda doesn't admit to.
    just imagine you run city errands. i drive the kids to school in the morning (3 miles). it recals. get it back to full, turn off the engine drop off the kids. start the car, drive to the store (<1 mile). stop the car, charge is full. start the car again, within a minute, recals. drive home (<3 miles) and all this time, in regen mode. all this driving is 25mph zones, so light driving. get home, regen is complete. let car sit for a couple of hours and go get lunch...and whoa...guess what. car recals (always within 1.5 minutes). and this starts all over again even though i have not stressed the engine (as per manual that "drain" may happen if engine is stressed). also, you actually don't even need to turn on your engine for it to recal (obviously something it knows to do when you turn the key). so you can lose all your charge just by sitting there without the engine ever being turned on.
    so as you noted ogre, you say that my battery is having trouble, i think that's what everyone has been trying to say, maybe not in the proper technical aspect in their descriptions, but ultimately, the problem is the battery. and that is where everyone is coming from. no matter how you or anyone wants to describe the exact problem, there is a problem that Honda does not want to admit to.
    and ever since the software update, it's been crap and has worsened the performance and mileage. now you can say that it's with respect to how each of us drive, but it's obviously all relative. i used to get 48 mpg, now i get 42 after the software fix. so power, performance and efficiency has degraded at the expense of trying to "save" the IMA battery.
    the HP/torque curve with respect to RPM's shows that the battery "assists" the puny engine, but that performance is no longer valid after the software fix. it has reduced the amount of assistance, so that assist curve is practially sitting on top of that engine curve. and if it's during regen, there is no "electric assist" and is all 1.3liter engine pushing that car up a hill or accelerating onto 70mph freeway from that metering light.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    edited August 2011
    I'm not trying to dispute that your (and many others') battery has a problem. Just realize that what is causing you all the heartache is the car responding to what is normally a natural event that happens every six months or so.

    Each time a recal starts, the car thinks it is a normal aging event. Each time the recal ends, the car has determined that the battery is still functional and now has THESE specific parameters and is still within normal tolerances.

    The problem is that your battery keeps changing (or appearring to) and it keeps triggering this event. From your description, it sounds like your battery is dipping under load (starting the car), and then recovering quite a bit when you stop it even for a few minutes. This is unusual and does not match the behavior of most failing batteries that we see (and we see MANY batteries). Most will trigger a recal if they sit, or if they are put under a heavy load (freeway merge).

    Some will trigger it on a heavy charge (exiting the highway with lots of regen if the battery is very full).

    I don't know if your battery will actually fail. I hope for your sake that it does so you get a new one.

    Have you tried a few hours of AC off to see if it affects the recal behavior?

    I do feel that the software update is good for your car despite the negative mpg impact. Remember that 2009-2012 Civics have run this software since day one. The update just updates the 2006-2008 cars to match the 2009+ cars.

    So to sum up, I'm agreeing with you, but I'm explaining what is really going on, and not what appears to be going on.

    I forsee that when these cars reach 15+ years, they will need either a BMS or a plug-in charging regimen. Meanwhile, you've got a warranty. I was one of the unlucky ones without a warranty due to an airbag deployment.
  • viawviaw Posts: 34
    edited August 2011
    bummer about your warranty.
    i live in bay area cali. so i almost never have the AC on. if i do, it obviously stresses the engine more so i don't bother as it's nice and cool usually.
    as for the warranty, i'm at 110k and warranty is good til 150k. so i don't think i'll be "lucky" enough to have it die as i got the suckware fix at 85k and things don't look dire outside of the annoyance with the car/battery. i did go to arbitration with BBB and Honda, but unfortunately, BBB didn't have a clue what i was trying to present. they took Honda's word for it that "this recal is normal operation" and that's it. didn't even test drive my car to feel how impotent the car was even going up an underground garage ramp.
    easy OGRE
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    The lack of warranty got me into the battery repair business, so it's all good.

    You might want to consider a grid charger (trickle charger). Just don't tell the dealership about it. Used weekly or so it might get your battery behaving better.
  • Ogre_GEV,
    Thanks for the information. I've considered the grid charger, and would be all for it if it didn't void the warranty. In lieue of that, I plan on driving it for another 10-20K and selling it if the battery has not failed. However, if the battery meter keeps bouncing up and down like a beach ball, I may trade it in sooner.
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