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Honda Civic Hybrid IMA Problems

amyableamyable Posts: 3
I live in the desert and recently purchased an 07 Honda Civic Hybrid. Since I purchased the vehicle, the higest MPG I have achieved is 40 (cool weather and highway driving for that tank of gas). Mostly I get beween 30-33 mpg--I vary city and highway driving in a large city. I have contacted my dealership as well as Honda American, and other than giving me excuses and blaming the low mpg on my driving (I have COMPLTELY changed how I drive--no fast starts, no hard braking, crawling down onramps, etc...)they have been little help in solving the problem. I got a phone call from a guy at Honda American basically telling me that a.) the IMA doesn't work (the battery shuts down) at over 110 degrees and b.) they know about the problem and have no intentions of doing anything about it. So I'm seriously frustrated and not sure what to do from here. According to the lemon laws in my state, if the dealership can't fix the problem after 4 trips, they are supposed to provide a new vehicle--which is useless since they are getting complaints left and right from people who have bought a Civic hybrid and are now losing mpg, so why would I want another? Has anyone dealt with this, and if so, what did you do? I'm thinking of contacting a local news channel and having them address the issue, because since Honda knows about this problem but continues to leave that out of their information is, in my opinion, fraud.


  • 1stpik1stpik Posts: 495
    I've never heard of the battery shutting down because of heat, but it may be true. I suspect, however, that the real cause of your low mpg is the heavy air conditioning necessary during such hot weather.

    Light a/c use will drop mpg by 10 or more. The kind needed to fight 110 deg. temps will cost 20 mpg. You live in the hottest region of the country. There's a price to pay for that. I'm sure that your home electric bills this time of year are astronomical.

    I live in Texas with daily temps in the high 90s, and my HCH gets 50 mpg. So stick with your car until cooler temps prevail.
  • larsblarsb Posts: 8,204
    That sounds like bunk to me (the IMA shutting down over 110) and I say that because I owned and drove a 2004 HCH for 23 months in Phoenix where temps frequently exceeded 110 and I never had an IMA shutdown.

    The hotter temps will cause your MPG to drop. My Civic averaged 3-5 MPG lower in heavy A/C usage.

    Hang in there - my educated guess is that your car is not a lemon and that as you drive the car more you will get better at what it takes to achieve higher mpg.
  • 46jimbo46jimbo Posts: 12
    Try checking your tire pressure too. I run mine at 36 psi (the factory setting is 32).
  • eschatoneschaton Posts: 1
    I remember reading something about the IMA and hot weather in my owners manual. But, the sales person didn't mention it during the buying process. Buyers in the southwest should consider this issue before buying. Stick with it, your mileage should improve unless you have a mechanical or electronic defect. In my first 10 days my '07 has averaged 48 in mixed driving, with some a/c use.
  • gauger01gauger01 Posts: 13
    My IMA and check engine came on in my 2009 HCH, with just under 6000 miles. After reading these forums, I was concerned about the update they would do to the software. The IMA was acting erractically just prior and while the IMA was on. I drove about two days like this until they had an open appointment at Honda, but before I arrived, the IMA light went out, but the check engine light was still on.

    The Honda techs said I had popped code P0A7F. They upgraded the PCM and IMA.

    I'm not the best hybrid driver, but before going in my MPG readout said 39.6. Four days later it's reading 40.7! I haven't changed my driving style, so it seems, for now, that things are actually getting better.

    We'll see how long that lasts.
  • I also live in the Desert ( Palm Springs Area ) and have noticed a problem with my 07 HCH. With Temperatures in the high 100+, the batteries will drain in less then 10 minutes with the air on and very light stop and go traffic. Is this a problem with this car and the temperature outside. My MPG won't go above 33 to 34 MPG. If this car doesn't like the heat, I'll be returning it in a few years.
  • After going round and round with both Honda American and my Honda dealer, they both concede that the battery DOES NOT WORK when the temperature in the car is over 100. This causes a serious drain on the car--when trying to accelerate from a green light, there are times that the car hesitates and the rpms hit 4 as the car struggles to move forward. I have contacted both a laywer, the Better Business Beureau, and the Attorney General's office regarding this issue--they WERE aware that the problem existed for my region, and they are still continuing to sell the vehicle in the southwest region. Honda says that "it's not enough of an issue to resolve at this time." If you are having this issue, please also contact your state's Attorney General's office and document the problem. This is fraud, pure and simple. Low gas mileage is the least of the issue...the fact that the car runs on the tiny gas engine alone is downright scary when you live in a large urban area where you can get killed if you are not able to accelerate away from green light or around the corner. I've never been more disgusted with a company in my entire life--they know this is happening and when the service departments call to get information, they say that it's "normal" for the car to lose power in hot temperatures. The car is not safe to drive in this weather, and yet Honda is doing nothing to solve the problem.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    What happens if you take it and leave it until it is fixed? If it is a safety issue they have a certain length of time to repair or the "Lemon Laws" go into affect. Have you reported the problem on the NHTSA Office of defects? Honda is dragging their feet until cooler weather when they can say look it works fine. File your report on this site...
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    You cannot compare the 2004 Civic Hybrid with a stick shift to the 2007 Civic Hybrid. The newer one is bigger heavier with the same puny engine. It is also a different IMA design. I look for Honda to get out of the hybrid business when they get their diesel cars on the roads here.
  • After 85000 miles and nearly a year of happy driving up and down hills, we have suffered repeated IMA failures under our usual driving conditions. The IMA battery indicator is dropping much more rapidly than before and shuts off after very little use, which is problematic on hills.

    Checks at dealer show "no problem". They suggested putting car in neutral/park and revving to 3000 RPM. This indeed charges battery and allows IMA to operate again.

    I work with NiMH batteries and it seems like a partial failure within the large battery pack- that would reduce the battery's capacity-- but would not register as a "failure" on the car's computer that measures voltage.

    One tech and one dealer say they never heard of this happening before. But apparently, others, including a lady from Marin on KGO-TV "7 on your side" (July 2, 2007), have had exactly the same problem.

    PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF THIS HAS HAPPENED TO YOU. It would be helpful to know the year, make, model and at what mileage this began to occur and what you have done about it.

    Thanks! B and V
  • stevedebistevedebi LAPosts: 4,098
    I think that the HCH uses a bunch of small batteries linked together, so some of them could be failing. However, if the Honda techs say the pack is still within spec, I'm not sure how you prove them wrong. Are you sure that you aren't using the A/C more, or that the traffic patterns haven't changed (causing you to stop more and use the batteries)?

    The news article you quoted sounds more like "normal" battery depletion - the lady does too much uphill and not enough downhill to recharge the batteries. Though of course it could be bad batteries in her case as well.
  • gagricegagrice Pahrump, NevadaPosts: 31,432
    The Insights have has several cases of battery deterioration. I would want to see the voltage readings and specs from Honda. It should still be covered by the 100k mile battery warranty. I have asked before here and gotten a lot of spin. How bad do the batteries have to get before they are contributing more pollution than is allowed under the AT-PZEV regulations? You are kind of at the mercy of the automakers with hybrids more so than ICE only cars. At least until a few independents start working on them.
  • I just got my 2007 HCH on Saturday. I live in NC and it has been close to 100 here. 93 today. I have been having issues with the IMA not working when I first get in and for the first couple of minutes after that, then it will kick in. It doesn't seem to cause any issue with the battery as the bars for the charge amount remain the same. Anybody else having this problem?? I knew if it was over 100 it could stop working (I read almost the entire owner's manual when I got it home) but it was low 90's here today and it did the same thing. :(
  • Replying to own message because I need to make a clarification/correction. The IMA did not fail, the AutoStop did, not exactly the same thing. The owner's manual does say that the AutoStop will not work until the engine is up to temp, so that's why it doesn't work in the first couple of blocks after getting in. However, it will also fail about 5% of the time at stoplights during a trip. Not sure why -- but it doesn't seem to really affect my mpg, which I'm pretty happy with. Would be interested in knowing, tho, if anyone else has this happen to them.
  • mlilleymlilley Posts: 1
    Have exactly the same problem. Was getting consistent 43-45 MPG n daily commute, always watched the charge / discharge cycle, always the same pattern, monitored RPM vs IMA assist on hills, etc.

    Then at 48,000 miles this week, BOOM. Mileage drops to 33 MPG, battery holds a charge about 25 to 30% previous capacity, engine revving way up on hills since no assist from IMA< where before in same locations, had assist, etc etc.

    Dealer says everything checks out OK. My guess is, charging system, Electric motor/generator, and voltage regulation is all OK, and that battery shows proper voltage,,,,BUT, current storage capacity is shot due to losing a batch of cells in the battery.

    Anyone else weigh in?

  • mickeyrommickeyrom Posts: 936
    What is IMA?
  • wistlowistlo Posts: 13
    IMA = 'Integrated Motor Assist', the trade name of Honda's hybrid technology.
  • fabregasfabregas Posts: 1
    I have 2006 HCH. Exact thing happen on a cool rainy day. IMA battery indicated 3 bars when it happened! I have 12K miles on it.
    This is can cause a fatal accident!!! esp. if you need to accelerate to make turns or merge!!!
    So does putting the car in neutral/park and revving to 3000 RPM really help resolve this problem?
    thanks in advance!
  • kevlinkevlin Posts: 1
    my 2007 hybrid civic's battery drains completely after going uphill for about 2 minutes - then the engine revs and it smells like something is on fire - basically the car won't go anymore - the weather is cool (no high ambient temperature issue) - it happens everytime i go up a hill of any significance - i simply don't understand why honda won't acknowledge there is a problem with these cars - has anyone pursued this to the top of the corporate ladder yet
  • gshibergshiber Posts: 1
    Have '07 Civic Hybrid: Several days ago noticed no charge and no assist indicated on the gauge with only 2 bars charge showing. Naturally the Auto stop did not work. Manual said the charging system was correcting itself and in a few minutes it would recover. The IMA icon did not appear so system is supposedly OK. Without the assist I have lost power and mpg has fallen. It has been hot here -- hi 90s for several days. When I rev my engin -- still no charge. Made appointment with dealer. Will see him in 2 days from today. From reading messages on this forum, it sounds like the dealer will tell me everything checks out OK -- but it isn't OK ... it isn't working as I bought it... what do I, or can I do. Are my batteries shot at 13,000 miles? Unbelievable. Advice/comments
  • sorshasorsha Posts: 6
    2006 honda civic hybrid 27,000 miles.

    I took my car in for recall work, to find out why there is a thump when I brake, and why my shifter gets so hot.

    They claimed to have done the recall work and could find out nothing about the brakes or the transmission.

    My car was not having the IMA issue until after I left the dealership.

    I had to turn around and come back to the dealership, who claimed that the IMA cutting out was normal. I pitched a fit and they had me drive a brand new hybrid around in the rain, to redline no less, in order to prove to them that I was correct.

    They kept my car friday, saturday, sunday and end of day monday claimed that the car was fixed and that it was not showing the problem anymore, that when I came to pick up the car they would talk to me about it more.
    However, on friday, they updated 3 cpus and could think of nothing else to do.

    I show up, drive my car and it seems fine. I get a form from them indicating there is an investigation by american honda into the problem. The form has questions such as :what is the ambient temp? was the ac on? and I am to fill it out and fax it over to american honda if and when the problem occurs again. when this happens, american honda will release a software update that will change the cutout point for initiating at 102 degrees to 115 degrees...

    after the problem occurring again, my dealership saying they could do nothing, and american honda saying it was not their problem. I am not in a pickle with a car that will sometimes assist, sometimes wont.

    the temp outside can be anywhere from 75 degrees to over 90. It happens with my ac on, off, on auto, windows down or up. with the batter fully charged or nearly empty.

    I am SO frustrated because my dealership does not even want to try to repair the car anymore, american honda is not even concerned, and i am daily encountering highspeed traffic and bridges that I have to floor my car to drive through.

    please help!
  • I have a HCH 2006. I have the same problem. Dealer tells me its the heat. He also stated it could be the battery is going bad. I bought used and the place I bought it from is suppose to replace the battery. I hope. Has anyone else found out what is causing the problem?
  • sorshasorsha Posts: 6
    So far from talking to American Honda and my dealership, they are clueless. There was a form from American Honda that asked questions about what the temps and your driving is like when the problem occurs that is supposed to help American Honda find a resolution and determine the cause of the problem.

    I encourage you to report this problem to American Honda because currently it would appear they do not see this as a problem worthy of immediate action.
  • Whom did you report to at Honda? Do you have the contact information? I would greatly appreciate any information! :confuse:
  • halanrhalanr Posts: 2
    Count me in also... I own an '06 HCH that after 26K miles developed the same problem as most of you have referenced. My dealership, Honda of Concord, NC has taken a hard-line stance that they cannot do anything. My battery won't charge to full capacity and suddenly drops for no reason. My mileage has gone from 46 MPG to 38 MPG (if I'm lucky and work at it!).

    It is very frustrating. I owned a 2003 HCH and had no problems with it at all. I wish now I would've kept it and not purchased this model.
  • amyableamyable Posts: 3
    I traded in my 2007 hybrid last September because they couldn't fix the problem and, while both Honda AND the dealership knew that the IMA system didn't work in temperatures over 100 degrees, they still said there was nothing they could do to help me. I traded mine in for a 2008 Civic and got a serious raw deal in the process as they rolled all the negative equity from the hybrid into the new vehicle. I just didn't trust that I wouldn't be killed in the thing when it hesitated to accelerate from a stop light. All in all, it was the worst car I ever purchased and I will not be buying anything first generation ever again. I will also never buy another Honda just on principle. They knew there was a problem, they acknowledged to me there was a problem, but they refused to do anything about it because they knew it would mean they would have to do the same for others in the same situation. I'm disgusted and disappointed.
  • My 2006 HCH has also had IMA problems. It now has about 71,000 miles.

    I was very happy with it from June 2006 until the problems started in October 2007 at about 46,000 miles after the IMA warning light came on. The dealership replaced the MCM relay and the battery control unit and did 4 software updates to the computer. Prior to the work the car was averaging 50.5 MPG in 80% highway driving. Since the work the average has dropped to 43.9 MPG in the same type of driving. The dealership always blamed the MPG drop on the replacement tires not being "low rolling resistant". Since that time the car has performed erratically. In July it started to lose the charge on the IMA battery. Finally the dealership acknowledged a problem that American Honda was aware of. The IMA battery was replaced with an experimental battery. Since then, the battery has held the charge better, but the performance is still inconsistent.

    Here is a summary of what has happened so far:

    October 12, 2007 I took the car in to the dealership for a safety recall on the brake pedal position switch. The mileage on the car was 46,653. At that time I mentioned some unusual behavior of the car. The IMA battery indicator would drop overnight. The car showed that it was charging the battery under acceleration (when it should be assisting). Sometimes the car would not respond when starting out from a stop &#150; the engine RPMs would go up, but the car did not move immediately. The gas mileage had also begun to drop. Prior to this problem the average gas mileage had been 50.5. Since the problem began the gas mileage has dropped to 43.9. The repair consisted of replacing the 12V starting battery and four software updates of the IMA system.

    October 29, 2007 the IMA warning light came on. The mileage on the car was 47,744. I took the car immediately to the dealship and they replaced the MCM relay and the battery control unit.

    January 21, 2008 I took my car in for a major regular scheduled maintenance. The mileage on the car was 52,195. After I picked up the car, I asked to speak to the service manager but he was not in. I mentioned some of my concerns to the service advisor. He asked about the tires and he told me that he has seen that some people's gas mileage has dropped into the 30's when specific tires were not installed. The tires had been replaced August 10, 2007 by Sam&#146;s Club (at 41,626 miles). They are good tires, but apparently not &#147;low rolling resistance&#148; tires. I followed up with an email to the service manager. His reply focused on the tires not being &#147;low rolling resistance&#148; tires. He had just returned from a Honda Conference and apparently one of the things they talked about was customer complaints from Hybrid owners concerning their gas mileage after replacing their tires. Since that time the focus of the problem seemed to be on the tires, although there were other abnormal behaviors of the car.

    July 7, 2008 I spoke with the service manager about the problem that had gotten more frequent and more severe. The IMA battery was not holding a charge, the performance was degraded, ad the charge/assist indicator was showing that the system was often charging under acceleration and assisting while coasting downhill, which is the opposite of normal operation.

    July 9, 2008 (mileage 66,298) the car was left with the dealership for service. The shop foreman called the Honda Tech line for more information on how to approach the problem. He informed me that my car would have a new experimental IMA battery installed, one of only five in the US. The battery was installed and the car was returned to me on July 14, 2008. I was asked to observe the performance and report back to them on the car&#146;s performance.

    July 21, 2008 I received an email from the service manager asking if the new battery has solved the problem. My response was that the battery seemed to be holding its charge better, but the IMA system still seemed erratic. He then asked me to bring the car back in when the shop foremen, who was dealing with the problem, returned from vacation.

    July 31, 2008 the car was left with the dealership for regular scheduled maintenance and further investigation of the IMA problem &#150; battery not charging properly (68,649 miles). When the car was returned to me, apparently the Honda Tech line response was that Honda is still working on a fix for the issue and that what I am experiencing is a &#147;normal condition at this time&#148; according to the service invoice I received.

    August 4, 2008 I experienced another battery problem when the battery level dropped very low (2 bars) and the car&#146;s performance was terrible. I notified the service manager by email the same day, but as of today, August 6, 2008, I have not received a response.

    Unresolved problems include:
    1) There is erratic behavior of the charge/assist system. Sometimes the system charges under acceleration when it should assist and it assists when coasting downhill and it should be charging.
    2) Sometimes the charge/assist indicator will bounce between charging and assisting, and a noticeable &#147;bump&#148; or &#147;surge&#148; occurs. This happens when the car is accelerating, or sometimes decelerating down a hill when it should be charging.
    3) Although the new IMA battery was installed and for a couple of weeks it seemed to hold a charge, the battery has become discharged on one or two occasions since the installation of the new battery. The car then exhibits very degraded performance and poor gas mileage. The battery has never charged the way it did before the first IMA problem. Prior to October 2007 it would often charge fully, sometimes each day. Since the first IMA work in October 2007 it rarely charges fully.
    4) Sometimes when driving on level ground or a slight downhill grade, the gas mileage indicator drops all the way down. It stays there for several seconds and then goes back up to a normal level.
    5) At times it seems that the engine will race or rev up when I start to accelerate from a stop. The car engine goes to AutoStop when the car stops, but it doesn&#146;t seem to move immediately when it restarts the engine after I take my foot off the brake. This does not happen really frequently, but occasionally.
    6) The gas mileage of the vehicle has dropped almost 15% overall. But the gas mileage has also very frequently been inconsistent. At times the MPG is up to the 50 MPG range or more. At other times it is in the 38 &#150; 44 MPG range on the same type of road conditions, same driving patterns, and no AC use on either occasion. I drive the vehicle 30,000 &#150; 33,000 miles per year for work, so I am very familiar with the normal performance and mileage of the car, at least before the problems occurred after the IMA warning light came on in October 2007.

    I am very frustrated with American Honda for problems that they know about, but offer no real solution.
  • highmpghighmpg Posts: 9
    The erratic behavior is similar to what I have found for my 2006 HCH. I have tried a number of things - then finally I had the O2 sensor replaced (at my expense). No codes indicated it was faulty but MPG was mostly in upper 30's and low 40's at best. All gauge indications seemed inconsistent so I blamed the software & updates etc. IMA also was always peculiar in behavior.
    After a new Honda (expensive) main o2 sensor - that tells the computer how the air/fuel ratio is being maintained - all is back to an incredible NORMAL performance! MPG is also back up 20% or more.
  • Thanks for the possible solution. I'll take this to the service manager to see if this may be the solution to my problem too.
  • moffsmoffs Posts: 1
    Add me to the list of those experiencing the same problem (discharge, MPG loss, everything) AND the same NON-RESPONSE from dealership and AHC! Mine is a 2006 with 40,000 miles. It happened maybe twice in the first year and now every few weeks. Dealership told me "Heat caused the IMA not to charge". Temperature seemed consistent with first occurrences. But the last time it failed talked to the dealer and it was 85 degrees, hardly a question of overheat. But more importantly, non-charging didn't explain what was happening, discharging from 5-6 bars to 1 bar in 10 seconds while at idle!

    I really appreciate your suggestion about the O2 sensor although it is ridiculous that Honda doesn't follow up instead of you having to fund what seems like a design problem. I love the car when it it is operating like it should :) , but if their service doesn't start responding I will seriously put Honda on my "GMC list"! :lemon:
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