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Honda Civic Hybrid Catalytic Converter Failures



  • tomjwhitetomjwhite Posts: 2
    Thanks for your note. My CheckEngine light did go out, after more than a week. It has not relit. So, I'm with you, I'm going to drive the car until circumstances say otherwise.

    Given that the light went out, I wonder whether the Honda dealer really understood the implications of the diagnostics, much less the ridiculousness of handing me an $1100 estimate for a repair that doesn't seem necessary.

    If my CheckEngine light were still on, I'd be looking for a second opinion from a more reliable shop.

  • HondaCare refuses to consider any further support after warranty, after fist converter failure at 60k and second at 80k. O2 sensors also replaced at 80k. Failure agan now at 100k miles. Obvious design defect on Honda;s part, but I'm stuck with it. Only choice is to ignore and run with 'inefficient' catalyst.

    Any other suggestions?
  • eirromeirrom Posts: 1
    We've just been told that our 2nd Catalytic Converter in our 2003 Honda Hybrid is bad. The first one was replaced at 92K by Honda for free after we raised hell about since it had failed in 2007, within 4 years of the so called 8-year warranty, although our mileage had been to 92K. We've had nothing but periodic "check engine" warning light since then...the last time, about 4 weeks ago, our dealer advised us to replace all the spark plugs for a mere $257...then just two weeks after that we again get the "check engine" light....drove the few hundred miles to see if it would self-correct...but it stayed on. Now the dealer says the 2nd CC has failed, at 40K miles since it was installed 2 years ago, and it will now cost us $1,334 to replace. Wow, that's a lot of dough for a CC that likely won't last beyond 30K miles or so and will probably go the way of the previous two CC's.

    I can't but suspect that there's some flaw in the function, design or engineering of the 2003 Civic Hybrid, and that we are all being taken for one long ride by American Honda in its refusal to own up to this matter.

    We are holding off replacing the CC for a 3rd one in the hope that either there's an alternative and more affordable CC out there we could get for our hybrid and most importantly that our hybrid won't self-destruct or worse yet, catch on fire and explode as the Service Manager who's pushing us to replace it on our own dime seems to be trying to scare us into doing.

    Is there anyone out there with advice, knowledge and who could point us to any more affordable and equally effective alternatives?

  • As you can tell from December 08 my catalytic converter was replaced, now after just 8 months that wonderful check engine light came back on again with the code we all know so well. Luckily I am still under 80k and it is still covered under warranty. Not amused at this being an issue and possibly happening again later when I am not covered under warranty. :mad:
  • stan29stan29 Posts: 13
    When your warranty is up you tell your dealer you will be happy to help by calling the Honda Regional office and have them send you the part(catalytic converter) for free, which they have been doing since they have not fixed the problem on your car. The fix is usually a software correction as the engine is running too lean because of the computer. There was a maint alert (or whatever they call it) on this problem and you should have been notified to bring your car in for the software fix.
    This will save you the $1100 cost for the part, but you still will pay 1-2 hours labor in an out of warranty situation.
  • gm88gm88 Posts: 2
    A few months ago the MIL (check engine light) on my 2003 HCH came on at 95000 miles with a P0134 code. I followed the instructions in the factory service manual, which indicated that it was just an intermittent failure and that the system was OK. I reset the code and 2 weeks later passed a state emissions test. About a month later, the MIL came on again with a P0420 code. Since then, the MIL has turned on and off by itself a couple times. Today it was on again, so I checked it and found another P0420 code. I am eligible for another state emissions test in May 2011. So I'm wondering, what should I do at this point? Back in 2007, I had the ECM update recall service done "to prevent code P0420". I haven't yet taken it in to the dealer for these recent MIL issues, but from what I'm reading here, it sounds like I can get a replacement of the catalytic converter just for the cost of labor, but that it could fail again within the 12-month/12k warranty. In that case, should I wait until May 2010 to take it to the dealer and get the converter replaced, so that it's still under warranty in May 2011 when I can get another state emissions test?
  • I have an '03 civic hybrid. Reading this column I am amazed at how many of these problems I have had as well. Right down to the rattle in the passenger side dashboard which I too have gotten used to after having them try to fix it repeatedly. My 02 sensor went last year (around 105,000 miles). Now my check engine light and IMA light are on (115,000 miles). The dealership is saying it is my Catalytic Converter and my IMA battery and that they are no longer covered under warranty. I am going to get a second opinion and see if there is anything I can do.
  • Sounds like I'm having the same issue many of you have experienced with your catalytic converters. I have about 110,000 miles on my car right now and a couple weeks ago the engine light came on. The code detected a bad 02 sensor which I had replaced (dang those little things are expensive!). It wasn't 2 days before the light was back on. I took it back to the mechanic (not a honda dealership) that replaced the sensor and he tells me now that the code is for a failed catalytic converter and that the part from Honda is $900!!! I did get the ECM update that was to resolve the lean burn that "could" cause the cat to fail. Well, the car was running on the wrong setting for almost 3 years before the ECM update was done so the damage to the catalytic converter could have already been done when I bought it in 2006.

    I've read on here that some of you were able to get Honda to pay for the part and you covered the labor. What are my chances of getting this done. I'm a pretty loyal customer and follow my maintenance to a "T" I own two civics (the other is a 06 civic) and I'd like to stay positive about Honda but this seems like my catalytic converter has failed due to faulty settings put out by Honda. Shouldn't a catalytic last the life of the car?

    Any thoughts on going with an aftermarket Cat.? I'd rather not have to cough up $1100 on this part! Thoughts???
  • Same here -- I have 106,800 on my 2004 HCH, and I have been dealing with the intermittent MIL since around 85k miles.

    It started out very periodic and has gotten more and more persistent, so I finally took it in to get read (for free at AutoZone) and got the P0240 and P0136 (I think those are the right codes) that indicated that my cat. conv. was bad and that I needed a new O2 sensor.

    I am arguing now with Honda corporate and the service manager for my local dealership that the issue was caused by the ECM issues as indicated earlier in this forum, which was "fixed" once for me by the dealership in 2007. I moved from living out of town with a 90-mile round trip commute 5 days a week to living in town with a 3-day telecommute schedule shortly after the ECM reflash I got at around 75k miles, so it's been about 2 years since then but I've only put on 30k miles (including a couple of road trips).

    I find it real hard to believe that this couldn't be a direct cause/effect relationship, and especially seeing how Honda's covered the part cost with multiple people in my exact situation across the country if they cause enough of a ruckus, and I plan on raising hell until they cover it for me. This is my first Honda, and will be my last if they don't cover this situation for me, regardless of what warranty I may or may not be covered by.

    This is a matter of responsibility and good versus bad business practice. When they know that this is an issue (hence the recall "reprogram ECM" notice I got in 2007), they should cover the damage that was caused. Either the ECM update caused the cat. conv. to go out, or the cat. conv. was damaged by the time I hit 75k miles and the last 25-30k I've put on it has just presented the symptoms. I'll let the forum know of my final outcome. Thanks!

  • the way, has anyone had enough experience to comment on the long term implications of installing one of these DAVICO converters? I'd like to know if they tend to last 10k miles or if they're good for 60k-100k+? Has anyone here installed one? 05-Honda-Civic/ProductInfo.aspx

  • I'm with you on this. I have an 03 with just about 110,000 miles. I've got the glowing engine light and a p0420 code and was told by a Grismer Mechanic (who just replaced a bad 02 sensor) that my cat is shot and needs replaced. He said its been fried. I also took my honda in for the ECM update in 2007 to have the computer flashed and updated so that "the engine doesn't burn lean anymore which could cause premature failure of the cat. converter". I haven't brought it in to the dealership yet because I'm trying to get enough ammunition to cause a ruckus and get Honda to cover the part. I think the bad setting caused the failure of my cat. converter even before the update. It just happend to start throwing the symptoms at around 103,000.

    How are you going to go about pursuading the dealership and Honda Corp. that they should take care of it? I feel like they will just say, "there is too many miles and your Warranty is gone". This is indeed a faulty part. I just need to know how to come at them

    I've also seen the aftermarket Davico converters and thought about paying $150 for one and have Grismer Automotive put it on. Not sure how long it will last. How do we go about contacting Honda Corporate (do you have the #)?
  • I called the number I found on the Honda Automotive website...

    (800) 999-1009

    The person I ended up talking with at that number forwarded my request to the service manager for the dealership that I took my car to yesterday. The guy I was dealing with before (a rep, not the manager) said that Honday declined to assist me with the repair. The lady on the phone was really kind of pushing me to say tha the dealership had specifically told me that the cause for the issue was due to the ECM settings before, however I don't think they ever committed to that specifically. I just paid them $60 to "diagnose" the problem in the hopes that Honda would do the right thing and cover this repair under the recall the same as it seems other people had been covered earlier in this thread, but apparently not (yet).

    My basic approach at this point is to cite this and other message boards I have found about this problem to document the cat. conv. damage correlation with the ECM flash, and if they flat refuse to cover it, I'll file a complaint with the corporate office and see what that gets me. I really don't expect that they will continue to put up a fight considering that I have documentation of other drivers with the exact same car and mileage issues getting Honda to cover the part, but if they put up enough of a fight and I decide to give up, then i'll probably (eventually) try out that Davico converter. There's NO way i'm putting up over $1000 to get another OEM one put in.

    Let me know if you end up with any luck and I'll let you know the same.
  • The dealer said that I needed a new IMA battery but that the cat conv. was probably ok. Honda agreed to pay 75% of the battery even though it was out of warranty. One month later the CEL came back on and they tell me I have to replace the Cat Conv. as well. That is one O2 sensor, one IMA battery, and one Cat conv. all around 100-120,000 miles. I have called Honda corporate again to see if they will help with the Converter as well. We'll see what happens.
  • Hi, I'd suggest you consider the following questions before going along with what the dealer says you need to do:

    1) What will happen if I don't replace the Cat Conv? Will my car stop running?
    2) Why do I need to replace the battery? Will my car stop working?

    I understand why a lot of people post about the troubles that everyone is facing with these parts, but it's not a dire issue.

    My 2003 Civic Hybrid has 145,000 miles on it over 7.5 years of ownership. In that period, I've gotten my transmission replaced once for free while it was under warranty. My check engine light has come on and stayed on, my battery discharges much faster than it used to, and I've been told my Catalytic Converters need to be replaced.

    I've been driving my car with a weaker battery, a check engine light, and (supposedly) broken catalytic converters for about 2-3 years now (approximately 40-60k miles). I've had no problems, no new issues.

    This is not a safety issue (e.g. airbag, suspension, brakes) and because it's a flaw in the design, even if you spend money to replace these parts, you're going to have the same issue in 40,000 miles at the latest. So why spend the money? Does the benefits outweigh the cost?

    I don't think we need to spend money to continually try to fix an unfixable design issue. I think the best we can do is notify consumer reports and BBB and honda corporation that they messed up in the design so that other people who consider buying a used civic hybrid knows.

    Also, if you haven't received it yet, there is a lawsuit against Honda regarding Civic Hybrids that will take place on 1/11/10. If the judge favors the plaintiff, then all Civic Hybrid owners will be allowed between $250-1000 rebate if you purchase a new 2009-2010 Honda (excluding fit, civic hybrid, and insight).

    As for me, I've decided that I can live with the problems and plan on keeping this car another 5 years. =)
  • Sounds like a good plan, except for the fact that I'm due for an emissions inspection by the end of the month...

    Yes, same problem here. Check engine light came on at 120,000 miles. Went the the dealer and they told me catalytic converter needed to be replaced, and quoted me $2400.

    I did get the ECM update done in 2007. I called back and spoke to the service manager today, telling them about this obviously widespread problem, but his answer was that since the check engine light hadn't come on when I got the ECM update, my catalytic converter must have been fine at that point. Had the light come on they would have extended my warranty on the cc to 180000. I told him exactly what I thought of that policy and said I would start following other avenues.

    I've seen people have had luck contacting Honda corporate. Does anyone have any further advice.?
  • Failing that - see back in this thread - details about OEM cat' that is way cheaper ($500?) than Honda one.
  • I've got the same problems:

    Cat Converter went out on my '03 HCH in October of 2006 at 77,000 miles. I took it to Streater-Smith Honda in Conroe, TX and they replaced the CC and only charged me labor due to the 80,000 mile warranty.

    The Check Engine Light came on again in January of 2010 at 114,000 miles (after I noticed a drop of about 8mpg efficiency). Took it to Santa Barbara Honda, and they tell me it the CC is bad.

    I called Honda Care and did my best to [non-permissible content removed] up a storm. The representative filed my complaints and said Honda would not be acting on my request for parts because the warranty is up. So everyone else out there, please keep complaining to Honda. Maybe if the racket continues, we'll get our third Catalytic Converters covered.

    That is only three years and 40,000 miles on a Honda parts and installed Cat. Something is definitely wrong with the settings on our cars! If any lawyers are out there looking to pick up a class action lawsuit, get on it! :)

    Now, I've agreed to the service because I'm pretty sure you can't run on a broken CC. It causes overheating in the exhaust system, which I think leads to a backing up of exhaust and damage to the rest of the engine. I've learned that the CC isn't essential, if you can get a non-Honda mechanic to put in a third party CC, do it. If you can get someone to skip the CC process and have a straight pipe of exhaust, that works too (unless you have emissions tests to pass).

    I live in Cali, so I can't get most Cat Converters as they have to be California Legal by state standards. Most cheap ones aren't.
  • It's also been brought to my attention that this could be a rear converter O2 sensor issue. It's probably cheaper to replace this as a first step. I'm having problems figuring out exactly which O2 sensor to order. I see an "upstream", a "pre catalytic converter" and a "post converter" sensor listed on a few sites. I'm looking for the one that is on the rear converter. Which one am I looking for?
  • Maybe. The O2 sensors are equally part of the problem. The rear 2 cost $500 to replace - so beware!

    Alternatively there's this carbon de-coking treatment now available - I just had this done for $150. Figuring if this works - worth a try first.

    Symptoms are a significant drop in mile per gallon figures - mine went from 45mpg to 39mpg. Takes couple of hours - 2 weeks ago now.

    Snag is - no idea if this worked - because the snow storms here on East Coast keeping car in garage!
  • Let me know how this turns out. The dealer wants to charge me $2400 to replace the cc, which I assume would include the O2 sensors. I figure no matter what I try it will cost less than what the dealer is asking.
  • OK - the cleaning I had done is TerraClean - looks like its an OEM service - not just for Honda -

    Probably worth having this done - and then have them reset the engine codes - run for a week or two and see.

    If you still need to replacement Cat - then for non-CA folks - best way to go is OEM - see other threads here from people who had OEM cat installed - one guy even did it himself from kit.
  • As a followup to my previous post, I have given up trying to get **anything** out of Honda; they straight refused to offer me any kind of discount, coverage, etc - I talked with the regional and corporate numbers, I never got anywhere useful.

    I'm waiting on my DAVICO converter to be delivered in the mail this week; I'm counting on that to clear out the P0240 code so I can get my emissions passed and renew my registration, that's currently about 7 months past due because of this whole battle!

    Good luck to any and all who get anywhere with the "man" on this one; Honda isn't going to be getting any business from me in the future. There's too many competitors on the market, and Honda doesn't seem to want to back up their products and keep customers happy. :(

    I'll let the board know what happens with my DAVICO converter. I paid Honda $60 to "diagnose" the P0240 and was told that I needed to replace the manifold/cat conv (there's 2 but the 2nd isn't monitored by o2 sensors, etc) and the "primary" o2 sensor, which is the one that bolts into the manifold/cat conv and is called the "upstream" or "pre-cat conv" o2 sensor. I got my replacement locally at Autozone, cost me $150 this week. That got rid of the P2000 code and the P0138 code; the P0240 remains, and I'm hoping the replacement manifold/cat conv fixes that code.

    My gamble and fight with Honda has forced me to do this repair at my expense; I finally got a ticket for expired registration, and if I can get it updated before my court date the first week of April, they'll drop the ticket (lucky me!) ;)
  • hchybridhchybrid Posts: 12
    Just an update on the TerraClean - codes went away - but my mileage was still under normal. Then I had 110,000 service done and replaced spark plugs and tune up. That's seems to have done the trick - plus warmer spring weather - mileage back up to what I usual expect - 42 to 45mpg.
  • pkikelpkikel Posts: 3
    I've been told I need to replace the catalytic converter for my 2003 Civic Hybrid for the THIRD time at a cost of $1,800. I had it replaced the first time in November, 2006 at 67,178 miles. The cost for this replacement was covered by the original vehicle warranty. In January, 2009 at 109,580 miles it needed to be replace again. A little over two years and only 42,402 miles had passed since the last time it was replaced. I've been told this catalytic converter has an 8 year, 80,000 mile warranty and yet it had to be replaced TWICE in the span of only 6 years and 109,580 miles. Now I'm faced with replacement of this catalytic converter yet again after only 17 months and 28,102 miles have passed since the last repair. You'll notice the frequency of this repair is INCREASING. As noted above I've been informed this latest repair will cost $1,800 and that I am responsible for this cost. This repair would also replace the O2 sensor. At the request of the dealer service manager I have made my case to America Honda, but my frustration and concern is falling on deaf ears. There is obviously something seriously wrong here and Honda isn't owning up to it!
  • hchybridhchybrid Posts: 12
    This is mind boggling. If you were in California - Honda would have to replace it.

    I assume they only are giving you 1 year warranty on that second catalytic converter?

    If their warranty is that worthless - go with the OEM kit - assuming you are not in California! If you look back in the threads here - you will see $500 kit mentioned.

    Good luck. :(
  • pkikelpkikel Posts: 3
    I bought the car in California in 2003, but have resided in Illinois since 2005. You are correct on the 1 year warranty, which of course, I am now beyond as I've had the new CC for 17 months.

    Thanks for the advise...
  • hchybridhchybrid Posts: 12
    You may want to check back with the dealership in CA. I believe CA has a mandatory 8 year warranty on cat' converter on any car sold in State, Good luck.
  • I and I suspect quite a few others are waiting to hear about the Davico cat converter you purchased? How much to install? How has it worked? After you installed it did the code disappear?

    I am due for emissions inspection in a few weeks. So frustrating.
  • It's a sad, sad day in Hondaville. I have never been so disgusted with an automobile maker in my life and we've had a few doozies along the way. Here's our 2003 Honda Hybrid converter saga in a nushell:
    85,079 (Nov 07)-first rear converter replaced at non-Honda $685
    114,622 (Jan 09)-second rear converter replacement at Honda Dealer $1230
    128,455 (July 09)-third rear converter replacement and first front converter replacement at Honda Dealer (they covered rear) we paid for front $1410
    153,042 (July 10)- fourth replacement of rear converter. Honda Dealer covering 50%, but that is the DEALER as AMERICAN HONDA offered no help at all.

    Oh, and BTW, we replaced the hybrid battery last month for $2840!!! Totally regretting that choice, but at the time we had so much invested in converters that we felt we had to keep the car going and we are in a state where it will not pass inspection if Check Engine light is on.

    We don't have anything positive to bring to this forum, but I wanted to add our case to all the others here.

    We hope someone will form a class action suit. HONDA knows this is a problem and we're convinced that's why they won't help since that would be a form of taking responsibility and admitting there is a problem. We've suspected the ECM recall all along as that happened just prior to our saga beginning.

    :mad: :cry: :sick:
  • hchybridhchybrid Posts: 12
    Add to that oxygen sensors. I have 120k miles now, and these things just keep failing. I've replaced all of them, and last month, had to replace one of the new ones again - another $600 up in smoke. I'm keeping the ones now that they replace - looked nothing wrong with it to me, hardly worn. Plain old regular engine @ 30mpg and no issues suddenly starting to look good compared to 40+mpg and these bills to pay.
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