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Honda Civic Hybrid IMA Problems

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  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    I had to pick up a couple of 2006 HCH battery packs from a junkyard today, so I used my wife's 2008 Chrysler Town & Country (3.8L V6). When I got in, I saw that the mpg meter read 12.9. I reset it and drove a mixed highway and city loop of about 40 miles. I also turned off the AC (it's December). The car has a 6 speed automatic, so I watched what the tach was doing as I drove it. I wasn't in a hurry, so I just took my time and kept up with traffic. The tach only went over 2000 twice when I had to enter a highway with lots of truck traffic (route 1&9 in NJ). The rest of the time it stayed at 1500 or 2000 depending on the gear it was in. I was not trying to save gas.

    The result? 19.8 mpg overall for the trip with a peak of 22.3 on the highway. The car is EPA rated 16/23 with a median of 18.

    My wife has a lead foot, I do not. Her minivan is so un-aerodynamic, that it's almost impossible to go over EPA without working at it. Honda's hybrids are a different story. By nature, they will perform significantly better than EPA when driven with a feather touch.
  • My IMA issues began at 5200 miles. It first started when the battery would begin to recall more frequently and at times I would not have electric motor assist due to the low battery (1-3 bars). This was a safety concern when trying to merge onto a highway. One morning I observed the recall once again, no assist when merging, when rpm reached 5000-6000, that is when the IMA light illuminated.

    The HCH was taken to a Honda dealership (not where I purchased the HCH) and it was determined that a software update was needed. A couple of days later the software was uploaded to the vehicle. Within a couple of days from that upload, the battery would start to recall at a countdown (bars: 6,5,4,3,2,1). When departing from work in the morning, the recall once again began, I accelerated to merge on the highway and the IMA light illuminated in addition to the engine light.

    The engine light would remain on at every start and the IMA light would illuminate a few minutes after. I took the HCH in to the same dealership and it was determined that a replacement battery pack would need to be ordered for replacement. The battery pack was replaced and it seems to have corrected the problem but just the other day my battery did a recall. The battery charge dropped to one bar and once again I did not have electric motor assist to merge on to the highway. The charge did eventually reach 4-6 bars after a couple of minutes in which assist was available.

    My mileage has been between 40-50mpg throughout this whole event. This thread has been very educational on the IMA/battery issues.
  • p_ohp_oh Posts: 8
    Ive been experiencing similar problems with my 06 HCH II. At around 45k miles my mileage began to drop from mid forties to mid thirties. I had the dealership do a software upgrade hoping that it would improve things but then the IMA indicator began to be very inconsistent and often dropped below 4 bars where it wouldnt provide any assist particularly on an uphill grade. Ultimately Honda replaced the battery at 70k miles (without any error codes showing) under warranty but the problem still exists so it seems like a firmware issue rather than a battery issue.
  • gregr2gregr2 Posts: 14
    I purchased a 2009 Honda Civic hybrid and was getting 41-43 mpg for the first 2000 miles. Then my IMA light came on and my moderates dropped to around 34-36 mpg. I took the car in and was told the "computer need an update". The light stayed off but the mileage stayed down around 34-36. Yesterday, the light came on again.

    It sounds like these batteries are crap. I am wondering why Honda hasn't corrected this problem since it sounds like it has been going on for several years. Interestingly, they keep selling a lot of these cars. This does not seem to be a very well-publicized problem. I was not aware of it when I bought the car and probably would not have bought the car if I had known beforehand of this problem.
  • dowjddowjd Posts: 14
    We are in the same boat. When we bought our 2009 Civic Hybrid we averaged 43mpg @70mph, but could get it up to 52mpg @55mph. After about two months our mpg dropped to about 37mpg. I thought it was due to using the AC (live in CA, central valley).

    About a month ago our IMA light came on. We took it to Honda and they did the software update. A couple days later when the car was first started, the battery would drop to one bar and would start charging after driving about 3 miles.

    We took it back to honda and they replaced the battery. However now it only charges up to 6 bars and occasionally charges to 7,8. Now it get 40mpg at 55mph. Honda says it is operating normally for both battery and mpg.
  • magsmmagsm Posts: 3
    It is rather disheartening to read thru this 2 year long thread. I've had my 2009 Civic Hybrid since April 09. I consistently got 38 mpg driving in Atlanta - a mix of city and highway. (I drive a reverse commute). In mid-late November my mileage went down to 32mpg and sluggish performance, very bad acceleration. The peppy acceleration is why I chose it over the Prius. This past Friday (Dec 10) my IMA light went on. Took it to the dealer - they said the same thing - computer upgrade. Just got it back today after tire rotation and oil change and 'computer update'. Will post back after a week to report on performance and mileage.

    Although, after reading thru this thread I am considering trading it in - bad acceleration and so-so mileage? Sheesh. This thread is 190 messages long, 122 pages in a word document. I wonder if Honda would like me to distribute it to their showroom customers!
  • I posted last month, before I got the "upgrade".

    So, After the upgrade, my MPG dropped from 35-38, down to 29-32. This is a big drop. And, very sluggish acceleration. Besides the "upgrade", nothing's changed; my driving habits, and the way I go to work, etc.. Also, before the upgrade, I could drive 2 and-a-half weeks on a full tank. Now, it's down to 1 and-a-half weeks, so I buying gas more often, just like a regular Honda Civic. Hmmmm, somethng to ponder.

    No one still hasn't responded much, last month Honda charged me $175 for the software upgrades. Some say they got it for free. Did Honda screw me over for charging me for the upgrades? Did they charge others?
  • magsmmagsm Posts: 3
    My dealer did not charge me for the updates.
  • gregr2gregr2 Posts: 14
    Anybody know a law firm that might be willing to take on another class-action suit.? It sounds like there are enough people on this forum who have had problems they would have plenty of clients right out of the chute.
  • Not only did you get screwed by the $175 charge, you got it up the can because the "upgrades" destroy the performance of the car in order to protect the battery life and save the company money. Go ahead, call Honda! They'll insist that everything is "normal," and that you should stop driving with a lead foot. How does that feel?
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,890
    Sorry -- organizing a class action suit within our Forums isn't permitted, so let's end that particular line of conversation now and just focus on other ways of finding fixes for the issue.

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  • This thread has been helpful. A couple of questions
    1. Is it okay (safe) drive the car without the hybrid battery connected?
    2. We've got the IMA overheating code...is there any threat of engine fire from driving withOUT disconnecting the IMA
    3. What's the chance of trading this in without the dealer detecting the IMA overheating issue? I'm guessing slim to none which would affect trade-in value.
  • I just took my '09 HCH in today to be serviced for the check engine and IMA lights. My IMA and check engine lights came on last Friday when it was really cold here in NY. They said it needed a software upgrade. Before I brought it in, I noticed the car was acting a bit sluggish especially when accelerating. When I got the car back, it seemed to accelerate better. I generally get 34-37 mpg because of my commute and the amount of traffic here.

    The software upgrade was covered under my warranty. I am curious if Honda preset the check engine light to go on every set number of miles so you have to take it in for service. Guaranteed business?? I am going to watch the car closely for a week and see if the mpg and peppiness change. Also, is anyone having problems with the driver’s side window going out of its tracks? I was told by the dealer that this was a common problem and that new tracks were being ordered to fix it.
  • Hey, gang...took my 2009 Civic Hybrid in a month ago for the IMA recall upgrade, and immediately my mileage dropped from 40-42 to 36, and now has dropped to 32. I took it back to the dealer today, and they tried to tell me that it was because of the cold weather--but I pointed out to them that a month ago, Chicago was experiencing record warm weather. While I had him on the phone, I googled the problem, and discovered this thread...it shut him up pretty quickly. I read him some of the posts, including the one that suggested that Honda has purposely decreased the battery time in order to preserve the life of the battery and avoid having to replace it under warranty...he acknowledged that he saw that that could be the case. I opened a case with Honda Client Services. When I asked them whether they had had other complaints, the service rep's careful answer was that there was no service bulletin concerning this problem. I told him that was not what I had asked, and he said he had no way of knowing whether others had complained, but from his voice, I could tell that others HAVE complained.

    We need to keep pressure on Honda about this...my mileage is now no better than it was with my Toyota Scion....
  • It will get worse. In the cold, expect 29MPG. I keep expecting the day when I can announce that my '69 T-Bird got better mileage. Imagine that! A carbon footprint that grows and grows.
  • sgisgi Posts: 2
    Hi all - I have a 2005 Accord Hybrid and both my check engine and IMA light came on today. I'm pretty sure this is not under warranty and have not received a recall. Can anyone shed some light on this for me?
  • gregr2gregr2 Posts: 14
    I'm taking my 2009 Civic hybrid into the dealer today to have the battery replaced. I had the "upgrade", my light stayed off for a few weeks and then came back on. They said I needed a new battery. Sounds like the same story many people on this forum have had. It still boggles my mind that there's not more information about these battery failures out in the public venue. until there is more public pressure Honda will keep selling these hybrids with these defective batteries
  • Hi Kevlin- did you ever get a resolution to this? I found this w/e I was driving uphill and my car wouldn't go up. After putting the car into second and "l" the car started going downhill!

    It was actually quite scary.
  • sgisgi Posts: 2
    Hi all - here's my story. I took in my 2005 Honda Accord hybrid with 76k miles in yesterday after both my check engine and IMA lights came on. I could feel the vehicle having difficulty accelerating from a complete stop and my mpg had noticeably decreased. A diagnostic was run this morning and the service center advised me that I needed a new car battery (a regular car battery for $119). I was then told after the battery was replaced that another diagnostic would be run to determine if there were any other issues. I received a second phone call this afternoon and was informed the now infamous "software upgrade" was performed which has "fixed" the issue. The service center said a thorough test drive was completed and the car was performing "normally". I pressed as to how a software upgrade and new car battery could somehow fix the issue, why I hadn't received the upgrade sooner and what may come of this "issue" after 80k miles. All my concerns were basically blown off with the comment "I've never heard of this issue before and I wouldn't worry about any issues in the future." Hmmm...we'll see.
  • jeb858jeb858 Posts: 10
    Good Evening All,
    I really need to vent in how disappointed I am with Honda Motor Company and my 06 Civic Hybrid. I have been in the automotive industry and employed by a domestic manufacturer in the technical end of things for over thirty years and I have never been so frustrated with the lack of lack of customer service and product reliability by the once almighty and powerful Honda Corporation.

    The only reason we purchased this automobile is so my wife that I love dearly could drive in the rideshare lane by herself to and from work on the busy Southern California freeways. Of course the mileage helps with gas at the price it is at but that is secondary. About 1 1/2 years into our ownership my wife had concerns about a lack of power, low battery state, and forced regens. This was going on during the hot socal summer and I started working with my dealer on this concern but I was advised all is normal.

    To make a long story short and after many dealer visits we are at the 3 1/2 year ownership point. I have bought my wife a Escape Hybrid to drive because I do not feel safe or confident with her in the Civic trying to drive on the freeway and losing the battery, you might as well be driving in deep sand, very unsafe! I have had all the updates, patches, reflashes done and the car is still miserable to drive. I did meet with the Honda Parts and Service Director for our area to voice my concerns and he listened to my concerns and said all we need is a IMA light to come on and we could replace the IMA battery, sweet!

    We left for a trip to Arizona last week and the Honda sat all week as we took our Escape on the trip. When we arrived home I jumped in the Honda to go to the grocery store and as usual instead of using the IMA motor to start the engine the standard starter cranked her over and the engine started but to my great surprise the IMA light came on! I was never so happy to see a light come on. I plugged in my scan tool and pulled a P0A7F "IMA Battery Deterioration" and went to the dealer right away praying the light would stay on which it did. The dealer took it in and to my surprise I recieved a call later in the day that Honda would not replace my battery but install another patch and give that a try.......

    I picked up the vehicle the next day and lost all battery power within 1 mile of the dealer and the vehicle performed a regen. It also still uses the standard starter motor to start the engine. I let the dealer know and they said nothing can be done unless the IMA light comes back on.

    Sorry again for the long letter but it has been a long 3 1/2 years of ownership of a vehicle that was produced by a once great manufacturer. I have owned many previous Honda's over the years and stil have 3 Honda motorcycle's. It appears there are many other folks in the same boat as I am.
    Have a Merry Christmas, Jack
  • Dear Jeb: I am in the same boat as you and countless others. My only consolation has been killing Honda sales. So far, I have ruined five sales that I know of. It is very satisfying. People are buying VW TDIs and Toyota Priuses. Try it. You'll enjoy the revenge.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    SGI, regarding your Accord with 76K miles, did they give you a printout with the error codes? If not, go back and tell them you want (in writing), what error codes were present.

    Save this information. Your warranty is up in 4K miles, and they may have glossed over a repair that you had coming to you, or the problem may recur, and if you have proof that it happened before 80K, you will be able to get it fixed under warranty later.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    shonda3,

    BMW did a similar thing to their 3 series cars that detuned them to avoid replacing rattling turbo wastegates. After public outcry, they fixed the software to put the performance back. If enough media coverage hits on this topic (such as Consumer Reports), they will fix the problem, otherwise they are just sweeping it under the rug.

    Meanwhile, I'm not seeing anything inherently different about the 2006+ batteries over the earlier models. They seem to fail the same way and the same amount.
  • I live in CT and the weather is usually in the 80s in the summer and 20s in the winter. I own a 2009 HCH purchased back in march of 09. I now just reached 6k miles and for some reason, now with the cold weather every time i start the car and get on the main road, the battery looses almost all charge and forces itself into forced regeneration. It happened once or twice back in early november when the weather was starting to get brisk (40s and 50s) and now all of a sudden it happens every morning. Xmas eve, it was 42 degrees out which is quite warm for this time of year and it still did it. I took it to the dealership and Honda said it was absolutely normal and they did "updates" which they said the car already had... Anyways, so this morning it was 18 degrees out and the battery complelely discharged when I pulled on the main road and suddenly within two minutes was completely charged again. My ride into work is 10 miles and today it happened 3 times on the way into work and 2 times on the way home this evening. Honda claims this is normal in "very cold" weather. But 1, it's not VERY COLD and 2, so why would I spend the extra $5,000 on a hybrid if it doesn't work in the winter? I called another dealership nearby and they said the car was not made for the new england climate. Ironically, they always have special offers on these civic hybrids and I see quite a few of them on the roads everyday. Also, because of Honda's broken product, I was inconvienced by not having a car for 5 days while they tried to figure out what was wrong with it. I filed a complaint with Honda America and they said they will be getting back to me by Wednesday. I purchased a civic hybrid because i liked it and because i've owned honda's all my life, so I want my car fixed!

    Anyone else have similar problems?
  • We live in MN and the weather is much colder than what you normally have. After our first battery went out last year (just before Christmas), I discussed this with my sales guy and he did some behind the scenes checking. The word he got back was that there is a problem with the batteries and cold weather; this confirms what Honda told you. If you know any physics or chemistry, you will know that there is a temperature coefficient in the battery equations, and at low temps things slow down, which means reduced voltage and current. So, in a way this is all "normal," but it does point out a weakness in the entire technology. (BTW, there are a number of posts from SW area owners, and they have a different problem in hot weather, but it is still a temperature issue.) You can expect your mileage to drop significantly in the cold weather. How much will depend on several factors, with temp probably being most important. The gas is also re-formulated for cold weather, so that will also be a factor.

    Like you I am a long-time Honda owner, but this issue has me worried. I will post some economic calculations a little later, but as you look through this thread you will find quite a few people who are mad. Some have been treated badly, by their accounts, and Honda has not provided their own side of the story, so I don't know what to think about it.
  • We had our second battery failure recently - first they did the famous "upgrade" which caused the IMA light to go off, and then a week later the light came on and this time they said it needed a new battery.

    The service rep briefly went through the diagnostic procedure, and, to summarize, it is "Hybrid Repair for Dummies." It is a checklist procedure, and depending on the results you either do an upgrade or replace the battery. There is really no thinking involved on the part of the technician. The upgrade is done via an online connection so everything is automated.

    The point of this post is for everyone to realize where to focus their energy (and frustration, and for a few people, hatred). The techs do not have the training to know much about the system; they can only go through their checklist. I think even the service reps (the guys at the counter who greet you and try to calm you down) know very little about the actual details of these systems, so I can't fault them for not knowing every little nuance of the hybrid system.

    This may explain why they are unable (or unwilling, as some claim) to deal with an upgrade problem if the IMA light does not come on. If there are no error codes there is nothing they can do about it, because there is nothing that they can fix, according to their procedures. (And in this case, I have some understanding of Honda's position - you can't simply spend time and money on every complaint about gas mileage that comes along; there are too many other variables, mostly driver related. If there aren't any error codes, what are they supposed to fix?) Now, this does not excuse them from recognizing that a problem exists, but I can't blame the dealers for not being able to address this issue. The dealers are probably our best way to get the message through to Honda corporate, so we need to find a way for them to help us.
  • It is such a shame this happens? Over the summer, I would get 48-50mpg strickly back roads no highway or city. Now I get 38 but that isn't what bothers me. What bothers me is the fact I know every day when I turn onto the main road I barely have enough power to accelerate to 50mph and the fact that the battery goes through these calibrations 5 times a day means it will probably fail within a year or two as these batteries are not meant to completely drain 5 times a day! I am going to see if somehow I can break a deal with Honda to give me an LX for an equal value and keep my financing the same. I don't want an LX or EX but that is what I had before my hybrid and it worked marvelous in the heat and the cold and never once had to worry about it. Winter is November through March/April and I refuse to go through this every single year. What year is your HCH? Everyone says the second generation HCH is much more reliable than the first which I can't beleive as it is a problem either way in heat or cold. Another thing is that when I ask a question to a Honda technician, I expect an answer that is actually intelligent. I don't blame the tech for not being knowledgeable about the car, but Honda Corporate as they don't pass technical information along to the service department :[ American Honda should be calling me tomorrow so I will see what they have to say! I hope for the best and I want to keep me car!
  • I have been following this thread for a while now, and it occurred to me that no one has really discussed the economics of the hybrid. We all bought this car for one reason or another - use less gas/save the planet, save money from using less gas, making a statement, etc. But what are the actual numbers?

    Let's assume you drive a certain distance (D). The gallons required to drive this distance is calculated from the hybrid's mileage (H). So, gallons = D/H. The gallons required to drive the same distance in a regular car depends on the regular car's mileage (R), and = D/R.

    The cost to drive this distance is the number of gallons times the price per gallon (P) and = DP/H and DP/R for the hybrid and regular cars, respectively.

    So, let's assume your hybrid gets 45 mpg (no screams about upgrade mileage please, let's use the optimistic numbers), and a regular car gets 30 mpg.

    So, to drive 1000 miles using gas at $4/gal:
    Hybrid: 22.2 gal, $88.89
    Regular: 33.3 gal, $133.33
    Savings: 11.1 gal, $44.44

    Under these conditions, after about 56,000 miles, you have saved enough to cover the cost of a new battery (at a replacement cost of $2500), which means you have still saved money, even if you have to replace the battery at 81,000 miles. However, with gas at $3/gal, the break even point is at 75,000, which means it's a wash.

    Note that these calculations do not factor in the increased cost of the vehicle ($5000 est.), in which case the numbers blow up. Break even happens at 75,000 only if gas goes to $9/gal, or you are comparing against a 21 mpg SUV.

    So, the bottom line is - driving a hybrid will reduce your gas consumption, which is a good thing for many reasons. However, it is not something you should do for economic reasons.
  • spoograb:
    We have the 2009 hybrid, and the replacement battery went out at about 14,000 miles of use, almost exactly a year from when it was installed. I am assuming this is "second generation" but I have not followed the development cycle that closely. Either way, I am not impressed with this generation, whichever one it is.

    Too bad; it's a nice car otherwise.
  • Kirstie_HKirstie_H Posts: 10,890
    Hi MB, we're specifically discussing the Civic Hybrid, and IMA problems associated with that vehicle. We have a bunch of more general hybrid topics on the main hybrid page. I think you'd find a better audience for your comments by posting in one of those discussions.

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