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Honda Civic Hybrid Catalytic Converter Failures



  • I have had my car since 11/07 and have about 97000 miles, since then I have replaced the CAT 2x the light came on again about a month ago with the same code. I took to the dealer and they want to charge me 1000 to replace. There is no point on replacing the thing since there is obviously another underlying problem that will continue to make the CAT fail. I asked what would happen if they just reset the light and they said that I will see a decrease in power (which I already do) and worse gas mileage which I can handle. I have until June before I need to go in for emissions testing hopefully I can figure something out by then.
    I am not even going to try to contact Honda because it seems that they could care less about this ongoing problem.
  • eb240beb240b Posts: 1
    My wife has the same car 03 Hybrid 147,000 miles with same issues. Pennsylvania, according to which County you live, does not have stringent emmission laws. My question to all of you is why spend $1000's of dollars on a converter when all it's doing is causing a check engine light to come on? If the converter is not physically leaking exhaust and causing a loud noise who cares?? Yes sure you might lose some MPG's but to me I'm not spending that kind of money on something thats not making the car undriveable. I would rather junk her car and spend 1000's of dollars on a new car prefferably not a civic hybrid. But thats just me.
  • Another one of these, at only 65000 miles. I received the car from my dad when he passed away in June. It hadn't been driven at all this year, but the 8yr part of the warranty expired and American Honda (of course) won't honor the <80,000 part even though the car was parked for most of the last 10 months.

    What garbage. This is definitely enough to keep me away from any Honda in the future. Kind of like why I won't get on United AIrlines anymore after being a 1K for many years.

    Oh, I also inherited my dad's Prius. What a vastly superior car than the Honda, and it gets over 50 mpg compared to maybe 42 with this 2003 HCH. The Prius rides better, is quiet inside, doesn't rattle, and is loaded like a Lexus. Before I had one of each, I considered the Honda approach to hybridization better, but now comparing them side by side, it's See-Ya-Later Honda.

    I'm keeping this pile o crap until the end of the year when the carpool stickers expire, and then off to the resale market it goes.

    Needless to say, I'm not spending a dime on fixing the 1420 problem...
  • bengalzonabengalzona Posts: 2
    edited February 2011
    I have a question for anyone who has had the OEM kits installed (or installed them themselves). Does this make the check engine light to go off?

    Both of my CCs have gone bad on my 2004 Civic Hybrid (122,000 miles). I got the estimate from the auto shop today (non-dealer) and my eyes just about popped out of my head: 2800 bucks! The car itself is hardly worth that much. But, after reading some of the posts here, I'm seeing that this is common. I plan on calling Honda on Monday, but doubt if I get any satisfaction from them.
  • Hi, I don't have an OEM kit, but I haven't changed my CC either. You are definitely right, the car isn't worth the CC cost and the question you should ask is why you want to change the CC. If you want to replace the CC so your car's exhaust is cleaner, you can change it, but from other experiences, it seems that both OEM and aftermarket CC's will have issues again after a short while.

    I have a 2003 HCH with almost 170,000 miles. Both CCs have been bad, my check engine light has been on, and my IMA light has been on, and both the bushings on my front control arms have been broken for several years now. But I decided that I would keep driving the vehicle, fixing only what is hazardous or necessary to keep the car going, until it dies. And you know what? It keeps on going. The only thing I need to do is make sure to change the transmission fluid every 30k miles or earlier and the car keeps running smoothly. And that's one question I ask a lot of people on the forum, it's a design issue and if Honda isn't going to do anything for us and if we are not selling/trading in the car for another, I don't see much incentive to continue fixing the vehicle. Those problems will continue to come back, perhaps within 2 years of normal driving I'd estimate. See what Honda will do for you, but I wouldn't worry too much about the check engine light. I had the check engine light go on around 40k miles, and I'm the original owner of my car. I've had the transmission replaced once while under warranty and the same slipping/shuddering problem came back after another 45k miles. Good luck!
  • bengalzonabengalzona Posts: 2
    edited February 2011
    Thanks for that information, rileyyh. I want to try and get another two years out of the car and I'm a little concerned that the performance will degrade so much that it makes the car useless within that time. It is tough times for me economically and I can't really afford another car. Yet, I have to have a car for my business (real estate appraisal). I've been ignoring the engine light for about 8 months, but just recently I've seen a noticeable loss of compression and pickup. It's not too bad at this point. My other concern is when I have to get the emmisions tested later this year. Have you had a problem with emmissions testing?

    I would prefer to just ignore it as, obviously, that is the least expensive option. I'm glad to hear about your experience and see that that may be an option.
  • There will definitely be some decrease in power, I've noticed that. My car never went above 3k rpm but for the last year, it probably hovers around 3.3k rpm during my normal driving. The mpg displayed is usually about 39mpg, but then again I drive a bit above speed limit a lot.

    I think a lot of the fear is that the car will break down and cost money, and I've been doing the same calculations. Here's how I decided. When I went to CarMax, about 2 years ago, they said they would give me $2000 for my vehicle. The BlueBook value for fair condition was about $3000 at the time. But any vehicle that I purchase would: 1) cost me money since my car is paid off; 2) would depreciate more than $2000 in 1 year, especially if it's anything newer than a very old car; and 3) even if my car breaks down and is worth $0 in trade-in value, I could still make out on top if I can get 1 year out of it. Plus, whenever it does break down, I can sell it to a junk yard for parts or donate it and get a tax break. Also, vehicle insurance cost will probably increase if you get a vehicle with a higher value, so financially speaking, the ideal is to squeeze as many miles out of the vehicle without putting in any money other than oil change/transmission fluid change.

    My friend also has a HCH and was worried about emissions, but I've never had any emissions issues in the past 7 of 9 years having the check engine light on. But there are 2 types of emissions/safety inspection places. Some do those for the opportunity to upsell some service that you supposedly need. Some do it just to make a little money. I've been going to a Shell gas station near me and they've never tried to have me do some sort of service or change a part or anything. I tell them I want an emission or safety inspection and they do it and that's it. No upsell, no pressure. So I don't think you should have any problems with emissions. If the mechanic says something, it is possible that he may be trying to make a buck since the check engine light is on. Generally, I've had good experiences with Korean mechanic shops. They tend to lean towards discouraging any small maintenance except what is necessary for safety. My Honda dealership has been trying to have me flush the break fluid, flush the transmission fluid, replace the control arm bushings, etc. But when I took it to my mechanic and he looked at all those things, he said we don't need to do those things, just replace the transmission fluid with new to treat the shudder.

    Just remember, they are out to make money and if you replace any part, that's good for them, regardless whether you need it to be done right now. Good luck!
  • Purchased my civic Hybrid in 2004 Brand new. Within months I was have a "Judder" within the transmission. Took the car in on several occasions - They drained transmission fluid and then replaced it - drained it again (Charged double for that ) and car was fine for a while- Off and on over the next months continued with same problems - Notices from Honda forth coming in mail stated such things as may cause problems with converter. In Oct 2008 both the Transmission and both converters were replaced _ fought hard with Honda Corp-IT PAYS TO KEEP EVERY REPAIR ORDER AND DOCUMENTATION ON WHO WHERE WHEN and WHAT TIME you spoke to anyone. Honda replaced the 2 converters and the Transmission. I had to pay for labor on transmission replacement only at $1200.00 but grateful none the less. Now fast foward to 2011 and guess what I need another converter replaced!!. What was Jeff's take at Honda Customer Service 1-800-999-1009. "Miss, you have 19900. miles on your car that is 2 car life times-- Honda can't help you" Who will NOT buy another Honda??? ME!!!!!
  • good thinking with the phone number, same problem as everyone else so a few jack and cokes and a call to the honda guy cant hurt right?
  • August of 2008, got the software update done.
    September of 2008 suddenly my check engine light and IMA light goes on.
    Dealership replaced my front CC and it was under warranty at the time. That was at 75,000 miles.
    Now I"m at 119,000 miles and my check engine light is on again. This time they tell me its a p1420 code and my dealership quoted me $2300 to fix it. I'm sure that number includes the "clueless looking female" surcharge.
    Please....if there is ever a class action lawsuit for this car, count me in. I will never buy honda again!
  • My mechanic told me that "catalytic converters don't die, they get killed" e.g., by faulty air sensors (and associated software). If Honda does not have a permanent fix for the latter, then we all will be losing one converter after another. I have given up... moved my '03 Civic hybrid to another state that does not have emissions inspections and will drive it as long as I can. I too will never buy another Honda. How incredibly short sighted of them. Penny wise, pound foolish... or do they know that they would have to keep replacing and replacing these converters so it would cost them (instead of us) tons of money?
  • I got mal-function indicator 3 weeks ago and I took the car to local mechanic (not dealer). He checked and told me the codes P1420 and P1453.

    I did not care much and continue to drive. However, the light disapper two days ago.

    So, I am continue to drive.
  • Recently received a notice regarding my 2004 HCH titled "ECM Update to improve DTC P1420 and P2000 Detection Threshold." The letter is dated September 2011. I received a similar one back in 2007 titled "Check Engine light stays on." When I had the Honda do the ECM update in 2007, my gas mileage dropped from 52 MPG to 46 MPG. I read in some other that the update changed the air/gasoline mixture in the engine. Now that I've received another notice, I'm a bit skeptical about getting the update done. I've read many horror stories about ECM changes dropping gas mileage into the 30's. Has anyone else received this notice, had the update done, and can share their experience?

    BTW, I got the P1420/P2000 at 125,000 miles, replaced the CC but didn't fix the problem. Have been driving it this way for several years. Now have 252,000 miles and still going strong. Had to replace the IMA battery pack and put in a new clutch this year. Otherwise, no problems--love the car--still looks and runs like new.
  • I received the letter a few days ago too. My check engine light has been on since January. Honda told me to replace the catalytic converter. I didn't since it was a small fortune and the light would be on for 100-1000 miles then go off for another 100-1000 miles, back-and-forth continually. I told Honda I doubt it was the CC so I've lived with the flakey light. I had to wait for the right time to get my car inspected in NY since the mechanic would clear any remnants of the code and there would have to be no new code after 50-100 miles.

    Now regarding the software update. I am really scared to screw up my 180K mile 2003 Civic Hybrid too and have pondering how to get the defective software being the flakey light fixed without losing my 45-52mpg...

    As a IT system administrator I understand that Honda keeps fixing bugs and making changes in their software. The issue is how Honda develops their software updates coupled with the fact that they can't (don't want to?) back off an update when it is bad or undesirable. Each update is likely made atop the previous, thus in a cumulative fashion. If they developed a fix just for this issue that did not require any or little other requisites then we'd be happy customers.

    I'm really not sure how to proceed on this needed software update for my car other than defer it and put up with the light then only put the software update on should I ever sell the car.
  • I have 2003 HCH. My CEL turned on in Feb. 2011 for DTC P1420. Dealer quoted me $2000. I chose to not repair, but reset the code and got it inspected in March before CEL came back on. Light was off all summer despite no repairs.

    In early Sept '11 the CEL light turned on and stayed on. A week or so later, I got the letter from Honda about the "recall" to reset the thresholds. Took my car in to dealer for software upgrade on Sept 28, 2011.

    Its been 5 days now, and the CEL is still off. I'm happy with the repair since it saved me $2000 to replace the Catalytic converter.

    Those people who replaced theirs 3 times already should get their money back. That's not fair to them.
  • Neil, thanks for your post. My concern has to do with what the change may do to gas mileage. Since I don't live where we need an emissions inspection, my light has been on for over 100,000 miles. I would be interested in your gas mileage experience after the software change versus prior to the change. I just took a weekend trip from N Georgia to Ohio and back. Got 57 mpg going and 55 mpg on the return, speed between 65-70 most of the way. That includes the East Tennesee mountains. I truly don't want to screw that up. I don't really trust Honda to do only the threshold change and not do some other change that they haven't talked about. Softeware updates are usually cumulative and includes other prerequisite changes and updates.
  • I've had the CEL come on for the past 3-4 years on our hybrid. The dealer did the software update about 2 1/2 years ago and it did hurt the mileage. They also did the transmission shutter recall about 2 years ago which helped considerably. I use an OBD2 scanner to clear my code which seems to come on shortly after a fill up. More often with ethanol blend than 100% gasoline. My mileage is up some the last 2 months whether it has blend or 100%. The transmission fluid on Hondas needs to be changed around 30k accord to the service manual. Seems to eliminate any shutter problems on mine.
  • fjennfjenn Posts: 2
    The dealer told me $1100 for the secondary (rear) catalytic converter and 3000 for the IMA battery. I bought the rear catalytic converter on line at for 169.00 for the cat plus shipping plus I got a gasket I wasn't sure I needed for 3.90... just in case. I attempted to put in myself but if you don't have it up in the air (higher than jacks) it's nearly impossible especially for someone my size! After a couple of busted knuckles and many choice words, I called a muffler place and told them I had the parts... they put it on for $100.00 and reset the check engine light. Total was under $300.00. Oddly enough, my IMA light hasn't come back on either and I'm getting slightly better gas mileage. The better mileage makes some sense but my IMA battery light staying off does not and I can only hope it stays off! Also, I read something about the drive cycle on line and it seems to be true. The actual drive cycle is a wide variety of speeds and such - some highway, some in town stop and go. But, this may be useful... IF you put the key in and the engine is cold and turn it but DON'T start the engine you'll see the check engine light come on steady for about 10 seconds. IF it goes off and blinks 5 times - that means the drive cycle in NOT completed. It it goes off after the initial 10 seconds and doesn't blink - that means the drive cycle IS complete. It took about 50 miles... I drove it home from the muffler shop about 30 miles and the next morning I checked and got the 5 blinks. The I drove to work about 20 miles and check it many hours later after it cooled and it did NOT blink the 5 times. I took it straight to the emissions place (another 20 miles) and it passed. I hope this helps!
  • fjennfjenn Posts: 2
    Well, a few days later my IMA light came back on then went off again. Likewise with the check engine light. But, I passed inspection as I mentioned above! I going to trade the PoS in before the next inspection and I think I'll try a Ford. They get as good or better mileage than this Civic hybrid.... and Ford didn't take a bailout from what'shisname in DC! Good luck to you all!
  • sarahahsarahah Posts: 1
    I am having a similar problem and want to get the CC replaced and observe before I spend the 3k for the IMA batt. Have you had any problems since this posting? Thanks
  • pkikelpkikel Posts: 3
    Unrelated to cc, air conditioning went out last fall. IMA battery light has been on a few months, but given the age of my vehicle and milage, I don't plan on replacing the Hybrid batteries. On a positive note, Honda did finally reimburse me for the cost of replacing the cc. This was after a couple of nasty letters to Honda and filing an offical complaint with the BBB. I understand there is also a class action lawsuit against Honda for this very problem, as a lot of Civic Hybrid owners have had the same problem with the cc.

    Hope this helps,
  • I bought a 2004 HCH for my son about a year and a half ago. The check engine light has been off and on along with the IMA light. We had the recent update done by the local dealership as well which turned off all the lights but within a week they were back on. He drove the car to NY last weekend and on his way home the car started knocking badly then died in the middle of Manhatten traffic. After the cost of a tow bill to get it off the street ($70), a plane ticket home ($250) and the cost to haul the car back to TN ($750), I get an estimate on repairs from the local dealer to the tune of $4956 - PRICELESS!

    The IMA battery needs to be replace as well as the catalytic converters. Though the car will actually start now and we were able to drive it home (5 miles away), I am at a total loss on what to do. With 194,000 miles on it, I'm not sure it's worth investing another $5K in!

    I've been told two different things as far as options: Per the dealer, everything has to be replaced and done at once. Another mechanic has told me to just fix the CCs and not the hybrid batter and run it as a gas vehicle. I've done some research and have found some comments that these cars do not have an alternator and without the hybrid battery, the main battery won't charge.

    Maybe I should just consider it a loss and try to sell it for parts. Any thoughts or similar experiences?
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