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Honda Insight Hybrid Battery Pack Questions

edrotbergedrotberg Posts: 2
Boy I hate to have to be writing post, but since Honda USA has decided to turn their back on me, I feel have have no other leverage in this situation and I can only hope others considering the purchase of a Honda Hybrid and reading this post will think twice about it.

I own a Honda Insight. I've owned it for over 4 years now, and it has been a great vehicle. I have had it serviced regularly by Honda and have not missed a single scheduled maintenance visit. This June, on a trip from where I live in the California Sierras to Las Vegas, a funny thing started to happen. This drive involves a lot of hills, and traveling with my wife, we were near the load limit for the car. Driving in the mountains, you use a lot of battery - you can't help it. The good news is that you can get good recharges as you drive back downhill from you ascents. Anyhow, I noticed that once my battery got one or two "lines" below 1/2, the battery charge dropped precipitously. I mean it dropped to just 2 lines in about 10-15 seconds. Even worse, it didn't matter whether I was driving at the time or not. I tested this by pulling over to the side, putting the car in neutral and letting the engine shut down as it normally does, but the battery drain, once started always dropped to 2 lines - despite its not being used at all at the time!

Now this is not good. But to make it just a little bit worse, I still needed to bring the charge all the way back through the "drop range" in order to get it back where I could use it again. The only good thing about this trip was that the trip down to Vegas was on June 10, and the trip back on June 19. It was fortunately very mild weather in the Nevada high desert aone those dates, and I could often run without AC when at altitude. Had we been driving during the present heat wave, we would have been in very serious trouble.

So once I got back, I took the car into the dealer and explained the problem. They ran all their tests and told me the car, and the battery system was fine. I then took the mechanic who worked on the car out for a drive. I drained the battery to half, and watch carefully. Once it started to drop, I pulled over the side of the road, put the car in neutral and let the engine shut down. His jaw dropped about as quickly as the the battery did.

At this point he agreed that the battery system was not fine, but given the limited experience he had with hybrids, he needed to call Honda USA's tech advisors. They indicated that - even though the battery is "fully" warranted for eight (count 'em: 8) years, and even though it was clearly failing, that they would not fix it under warranty because it had not "failed enough" to set off their bloody IMA indicator lights. "Failed enough" - gotta love that logic!

Ok, so I escalated this to Honda Customer Service at the behest of the service manager at my dealer since their hands were tied in the matter.The upshot of all that, is that after playing over a week's worth of phone tag, Honda won't do anything to correct the problem. They do acknowledge that the battery is failing and offered to extend the battery's warranty to 125,00 miles, but what the heck good would another 2 or 3 years do me. If the battery is going to fail completely while I'm out in the high desert, that extension won't help worth beans. Further, I honestly believe that either the battery will continue to deteriorate over the next 3 or 4 years to the point where the IMA light will fail, or it will just reach a crippled point and stop detriorating. In either case, such a warranty extension is clearly worthless. They were trying to throw me a bone to shut me up and have me go away. I declined.

So now I have two choices: I can try to sell what I know to be a failing vehicle - even if Honda's morales don't mind that, mine do - or I can try to live with it until it "fails more" - perhaps leaving me in a seriously bad situation when that happens. I don't not find either of these alternatives acceptable. As such, I feel that my only recourse at this time is to let everyone I can know about this incident and warn then away from Honda's hybrid vehicles. Their battery warranty isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

My short advice to all reading this: Buy a Prius!

Most Sincerely,

= Ed Rotberg =


  • falcononefalconone Posts: 1,726
    I don't think you should give up. I think you should be tenacious and escalate your complaint even further. You should also explain to Honda Corporate that you are going to write disparaging reviews of their customer service. Perhaps that may jolt them into replacing your battery. I don't know of any failures with the Prius batteries, but I hope if there are, Toyota reacts more favorably.
  • edrotbergedrotberg Posts: 2
    Thanks Falconone,

    I may yet try to escalate this further, but I've already told them that I was writing - not disparaging - but accurate posts to many forums/blogs. I also have sent a copy of this original post to 3 top car magazines. I don't know what good it will do, but if it gets some others to ask critical questions BEFORE they buy a Honda hybrid, maybe I will have done some good.

    = Ed =
  • blueiedgodblueiedgod Posts: 2,798
    I kind of understand Honda's stance. I don't think that the car will leave you stranded when the battery dies completley. It still has a gasoline engine, so it will get you whereever you are going, or to the dealer to get it fixed. I would have taken them up on the warranty extention. You know the battery will die eventually, so why not take the extended warranty they are offering for free.
  • 107main107main Posts: 33
    Eds last line, "My short advice to all reading this: Buy a Prius!" leads me to believe this is a sham post by a Toyota person. What does he know about a Prius? I have read more than one time about the Prius leaving you stranded. Have not read that about a Honda. Does Ed have a problem if this is a true post? Maybe so, but car is still going, although maybe not at 100%. He does not say what miles are on the vehicle.
    I have never had any dealer replace a part that may be going bad. Unfortunately we have to wait until the part fails before replacement while warranted. They gave you more warrantly, what else do you want, be happy for the additional time!
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    I think it is a question that needs to be addressed. The warranty on hybrid batteries is pretty long. If the dealer determines that the battery is only slightly deteriorated what option does the owner have? I have not seen much discussion on when does the battery need replacing. If it is 70% of the original capacity is it still good enough? Many feel they can accept a deterioration in mileage as the battery ages. I think it is going to be a big surprise for a lot of folks that like to keep their cars for many years.
  • flash4085flash4085 Posts: 2
    After reading this forum I am getting scared. I am averaging 58-59 mpg so far. I heard the warranty for the Honda Insight had gone up to 10 years and 150,000 miles in some states. I knew that I was taking a chance. What can I do to make my battery pack last longer ?? Why were only certain states chosen for the extended warranty ?? I hope Honda will extend the warranty for all states. I also heard the complete installation of a new battery pack costs about 5000 dollars. I am getting ready to start using Amsoil 0W-20.... 100% synthetic oil. I am also going to have the engine professionally flushed before using the new oil. I want to give the Insight the best chance. If anyone has any advice for a new owner I would greatly appreciate any advice.
  • I think your over reacting! I had the exact same problem with my insight last year. At about 65,000 miles I started to notice that my battery life was decreasing. Just as you said I noticed if the battery's charge dropped below half it would quickly deplete even if I started downhill and was showing charge on the battery. The reason for this is that in order to increase the life of the batteries the computers are programmed to not allow the battery to overcharge, or discharge completely. My car lasted in this condition for maybe 6 months or less. I was actually far from home and climbing a steep hill when my IMA light turned on. No problem though I down shifted, and as we all know even when fully discharged the insight will pull any hill at sixty if you work it back and forth between second and third gears. The battery continued to function just as it had before the light came on. Sure the battery capacity was diminishing, but even with the IMA light on the batteries continued to function just as they had before. I took it into my honda dealership when I got home, ( I was at about 79,800 miles by this time) and they tested and said the battery failed. They ordered me a new battery and control module, and replaced them absolutely free of charge. I even convinced my honda dealership to rent me a car for the nearly a week that my car was in the shop. By the way my parents were so impressed by my insight that they went out and bought a brand new prius. They just wore out their first set of tires, and the rear tires are severely cupped and worn on the inner edges. My father is an airplane mechanic, and knows enough about cars to open his own shop. This car has been well maintained, and never abused in any way. Like the insight the rear alignment cannot be adjusted, but the tires are wearing so poorly on the rear that he could easily go through three sets of tires on the rear before the front tires will be worn out. He contacted toyota and they said he must have hit something so hard that it bent the control arm, yet the rim is straight, and the tire has looks fine other than wear. (impossible!!) I think if he hit something that hard he'd probably remember his head bouncing off the head liner. Bottom line I could not be happier with the service I have received from honda usa, and my dad is absolutely at wits end with toyotas service. Both companies build great cars, but you'll never have as mush fun in a toyota as in a honda. We all knew when we bought our cars we bought new technology. If only microsoft could have so few bugs when they release a new product.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    The 10 year 150k mile warranty on the battery and hybrid system was mandated by CARB in CA and 4 other states. It only applies to cars that are AT-PZEV rated. I don't think all Insights are rated that high. You should check with your local Honda dealer to find out. They should be able to tell you how much the battery has deteriorated from when it was new.
  • Karen_SKaren_S Posts: 5,092
    A reporter with a large local newspaper is hoping to talk to model year 2000- 2002 Honda Insight owners and discuss how the vehicle (and battery) is performing. Please reply to [email protected] no later than Wednesday, September 26, 2007 with your daytime contact info.
  • Don't get scared, flash. I have just over 70,000 miles on my 2002 Insight w/CVT and lifetime mpg is just less than 60. My IMA light came on a couple of weeks ago, so I took it in to the Honda dealer. Nothing seemed amiss, except for the warning light coming on, but they ran a check and found the battery module, condition monitor, and motor control module needed to be ordered/replaced. They had the car for three days and gave me a 2007 Civic to drive for free. Yes, the dealer took care of all related charges (over $5,000) and noted that the warranty had been extended to 10 years and 150,000 miles (now, in all states.)
    I asked if there was something I could do to make the new battery last longer, but they assured me that it's nothing I've done or failed to do. That if the IMA light comes on again, it's covered under the new warranty. BTW, I've been using Honda's 0W-20 oil @ 5,000 change intervals (not Amsoil).
  • rotterotte Posts: 3
    I bought my 2000 Honda Insight used in Wisconsin about two and a half years ago. Now I"m living in New Mexico, going to school here. I"m at about 135,000 miles, and while driving in the mountains my IMA light went out. What's the likelihood of Honda replacing it without me having to pay them $5,000? I've got about two pennies to rub together, so hopefully the chances are good...
  • y2k2y2k2 Posts: 1
    I have a 2002 Insight and I have over 186,000 miles. The IMA light came on 4 months ago and I took it to the dealer they said the batteries were done and I could get some new ones for $3600, do not have that kind of cash so I said no thanks and still use my car every day. I had life time little under 60 mpg, now looks like I am getting little under 50 mpg with out the IMA system working. Unless some one tells me I am hurting the car by driving it with out the IMA system I will keep driving it in till I win lotto and can by new batteries.
  • I bought a 2001 insight in 2001 for driving back and forth to work. I currently have 240,000 miles on the original batteries. This past week the IMA light came on. Today I will take my Insight to the dealer for the bad news. Has anyone replaced their batteries lately? I am trying to determine a reasonable replacement cost. Is the replacement of the batteries the only problem the IMA light indicates? Thanks.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    Current price for a replacement is $2400 less any part of it that American Honda kicks in. Where do you live? I'm just finishing a rebuild of my battery.
  • help!!! can i use an old civic battery? i seen on insightcentral about a charger/balancer? is this necessary? how do you find which modules are bad? i can pull the fuse and reset the mcm and go for a few days before ima dies again. but its getting more frequent.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    I offer an IMA battery rebuild service. Where are you located? You can contact me directly at [email protected]
  • Just a heads up for everyone: I just had my 2004 Insight battery & control module replaced under warranty. I'm the original owner and have 51,000 miles on the car. The IMA light came on and the dealer recommended the replacement, gave me a free loaner while it was being done, etc. - I was treated well...

    That's the good news. The bad news is that the new battery and control module are only warrantied for 3 years/36,000 miles! I asked the service manager why this is and all he could offer was that usually replacement parts are only warranted for 1 year/12,000 miles, so I was getting a good deal (my impression of his remarks). I would've at least expected them to honor the remaining warranty on my original battery - 4 more years (I bought the car in May, 2003) or 99,000 miles. Btw, he said it would've cost $4,700 if I'd had to pay for the battery/module replacement.

    I plan to write Honda Motors to complain. Anyone had a similar experience?
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    3 years from now or 10 years/150,000 miles from when the car was made. You're covered until April 2013. Don't let them tell you otherwise.
  • Thanks, but can you clarify: "3 years from now or 10 years/150,000 miles from when the car was made. You're covered until April 2013"? They gave me 3 years - I'd rather have the 10 years from when it was made. April 2013 sounds good but 3 years from now is sooner... Sorry to be so dense, but which is it?

    Thanks again.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    It means that while the part they put in is covered for three years, the battery is still covered under the original 10 year warranty, no matter how many times they replace the battery - or when. There are many people who have had multiple battery replacements - all covered, no matter what the gap was between replacements. The dealer is lieing to you or is stupid.
  • Thanks - You're right, I wrote to Honda America and they called to explain just as you did, still have the original 10 years on the battery and 3 years on the control module - which is a bonus since the original warranty on this was 8 years/80,000 miles, so how I'll get 9 years on the module (6 so far plus added 3). thanks again.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    Well don't worry about the MCM and BCM modules. They are solid state, rarely fail, and can be gotten from a junkyard for less than $100 if you look hard enough.

    The battery is what you need the warranty for. It WILL wear out. How soon could be three years or 10+ (nobody knows how long) depending on your driving habits and driving style. Your 2nd pack is likely to last as long as your first one did (6? years).

    When it eventually starts to fail, you'll be out of warranty, so you should look for a rebuilder who can rebuild the battery for far less money than replacing it.
  • I have a 2002 Insight 5-speed manual transmission model and this past week for the first time my IMA indicator light came on, followed by my engine light. I didn't know what it meant and panicked that the car would blow leaving me stranded 8 miles from home without my cell phone in hand!! LOL - overactive imagination.

    Anyway, as I've been poking on the internet to find out the reasons for this, I've learned more about the IMA battery failure than I cared to know. I lost my job last August and no way can I afford two or three grand for a new battery pack. I'm not aware of any warranty like you all have been talking about -- as far as I know the only warranty on my car was the 6-year or 60,000-miler which expired in February 2008. (I currently have somewhere between 66k and 72k miles total, don't recall the exact number on the odometer.)

    Can someone give me the proper linguistic conjuration to use when visiting the dealer to ensure that I, too, get treated well with a loaner and a replacement for free? I don't do the human interface thing very well and no matter how I try I seem to give off the "go ahead and frack me over" signal. (Or else it's just old-school gender bias against girls? hehehe) Well I can't afford to be fracked over right now, being unemployed and tight on money, so if someone could PLEASE clue me in to the right "magick words" to say to get them to listen to me and give me the same royal carpet treatment so many of you have enjoyed, it would be lovely. Thanks.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    In the USA, your battery is covered by a 10 year 150,000 mile warranty unless it is a salvage title, in which case it is 8/80,000. The magic words are "Call American Honda".
  • imahelpimahelp Posts: 7
    I don't know how many people are out there claiming to "rebuild" Insight battery modules but I would never make the assumption that I could simply replace a few bad cells and expect the module of 120 cells, that are already aged and stressed by the weaker cells, will last for any length of time. What I do is replace ALL of the cells with NEW product that is warranted by the manufacturer for one year from date of purchase. The new cells are rated for 10 ah, an improvement over the 6.5 ah rated stock cells. Your 90 day warranty is probably a safe bet.
    Dealers in our area are quoting between $4000 and $5000 to replace an old and failing battery module in an Insight. I can do it for half of that, and less if it's an outright exchange.
  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 9,227
    Just a reminder, the forums cannot be used to advertise products or services. Posts that do so will be removed.

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  • imahelpimahelp Posts: 7
    What people should keep in mind about NiMh battery life is that, although there is some testing to suggest that these batteries can last for 30 years, that testing was done in a lab, in a controlled environment. The actual specs for NiMh cells tend to settle on "cycles" and not time. Even that is skewed because a complete charge/discharge cycle is almost never occurring in a hybrid car. The good news is that, unlike the NiCads in your old flashlight, the NiMH battery technology is much more forgiving of partial charge/discharge cycles and is way better suited for the application. There is no "memory" affect.
    What real life is showing us all is that, with new technology, trailblazers like Honda have to sometimes pick a position based on a lot of reasons and strategy, and take some risk with their warranty offers. The expanded, ten year warranty, helped ease the pain of the reality that we are experiencing.
    My personal take on all of this is simple. First; Nothing lasts forever and there are 120 opportunities for failure in a Honda Insight battery pack. A "rejuvenated" cell isn't a "new" cell and you can't undo the age and cycles that the, not yet failed, cells in the pack have been through. For my money, I will opt for new products when offered at a decent price.
    The warranty of three years that I see bandied about is probably reasonable at this point. Some of these cars are still doing OK seven years down the road, although many have had battery issues long before that, so it sounds like a reasonable risk on both our parts (Honda and the Owners) to settle on that type of warranty.
  • imahelpimahelp Posts: 7
    I'm in Southern California and my car is way out of warranty. When I was getting prices from the dealers for replacement of my failing IMA battery pack, I was being quoted between $4000 and $5000 for the new pack. One dealer gave me, in writing, a quote showing their cost to be $3800, just for the battery pack alone. That was before they applied a mark-up for labor to do the job. But I have been told by, perhaps a not to reputable source, that Honda dealers in New York have been quoting $2400? Has anyone else seen any "real" quotes on this from dealers in their area?
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    I called three dealers today:

    Majestic Honda (RI) quoted me $2000 (battery) + $465 (shipping of the battery from American Honda to them) + $330 (3 hours labor). Total: $2800.

    Honda of Princeton (Princeton, NJ) quoted me $2485 and said that I could bring the car in when the battery arrived and that I could wait as they installed it.

    I then called South Bay Honda (near San Francisco) and they quoted me $2800 for the battery (with the shipping) and $1100 labor for a total of $3900. This is obviously price-gouging as they can't seriously be charging $360 per hour labor. The service tech claimed that their cost for the battery was $2450.

    I will try to call some more west-coast dealers tomorrow to get some additional pricing.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    "Nothing lasts forever and there are 120 opportunities for failure in a Honda Insight battery pack. A "rejuvenated" cell isn't a "new" cell and you can't undo the age and cycles that the, not yet failed, cells in the pack have been through."

    That is certainly true, but you are implying that every cell will fail. As an engineer, you know that is not true. You also know that from the first day the battery is used, it starts to deteriorate. What matters is that the deterioration is within acceptable limits.

    A brand new Honda battery holds 6500Mah which provides 6 minutes of full boost. A typical 2000 Insight's battery will have deteriorated to about 5800-6200 Mah. This is about 5:30 of boost instead of 6 minutes - which is perfectly acceptable to most people, and is actually even hard to detect.

    I have found that a battery with P1447 errors might have cells that are only capable of 1500Mah. After reconditioning, those cells get back up to the 5800-6200 Mah range. What matters is replacing the bad cells (the ones with high internal resistance, high self-discharge rate, etc.) that caused the deterioration so that it doesn't happen again. Can another cell go bad? Certainly, but MTBF would suggest that there will be a significant amount of time before that happens.
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