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Honda Civic Hybrid IMA Problems



  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    edited January 2011
    Yes, but which relay? I believe there are two related to the AC in that box. This problem is rare and is not actually related to the IMA system, but I have seen it in three other cars.
  • tj09hchtj09hch Posts: 14
    Update -
    So, last I posted, my local Honda dealership told me Honda was working on a fix for the update problems and they should be available this week. Just as I was planning on calling to check on the fix, my IMA and engine lights came on again. Since I was just starting on my list of errands and places I had to be that day, I didn't drive in to Honda service until I had driven 25 miles with the lights on. Interestingly, during that 25 miles, my mpg went up from 27.3 to 28.1 going up and down "hills" where I live. In addition, the auto stop was working, the green charging bars came on when I took my foot off the pedal or depressed the brake, and, while my battery gauge depleted going up a hill (3/10 mile), it recharged within a mile. In other words, the car was acting more like its original performance after the engine and IMA lights came on. Unfortunately, it still didn't have the power back. I was almost considering NOT taking it in, but I didn't want to give any excuse for not covering any warranty issues.

    Anyway, I received a call later that night, and the service rep I had been dealing with from the beginning told me the district service manager had come out to look into my car situation, and he ordered me a new IMA battery. Okay, I'm game. I don't think that's going to make a difference, but ok, it's one more step towards meeting the lemon law requirements if it doesn't work.

    When I went to pick up the car tonight, my service rep informed me that my car was the last software update. Honda was no longer doing the software update because of the problems. Yee haw! He told me that the new IMA battery is installed and, as I understand it, eveything is back to the original status. Time will tell, but on the way home, the auto stop worked, the battery recharger worked, the battery gauge only went half way down going up a long hill, AND I had power in acceleration. We stopped to fill the tank to get a reading on this battery and it currently reads 38.1 mpg. I'm cautiously optimistic.

    SO, those still driving an HCH and experiencing problems, you might want to give your dealership a call and see what the story is now. I live in Washington state (Seattle area), and it may have been a local resolution, but he said, Honda is no longer performing the software updates due to the problems that it caused. I don't know if that means reinstalling the original software, but it's worth a try.

    Good luck, and I'll repost after driving for a couple weeks and seeing if indeed things are back to the original performance.
  • It will be interesting to see if this is a local Washington phenomenon or if Honda has stopped the software update for its operations world-wide.
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    This is very interesting. Look forward to your updates. I don't see how Honda can just start undoing the update without notifying those who have it.
  • heather_07hchheather_07hch Posts: 28
    edited January 2011
    I would like to know more about this as well. What about those of us who got new batteries, but still panic when we pull out into oncoming traffic, wondering if we will make it?! Is Honda going to reinstall the previous software version? I have demanded this several times to no avail. The software update was not a fix. I have a new IMA battery with about 5,000 miles on it, and my car is still a piece. I get about 35 mpg, instead of the 42 I used to get.
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    I guess I am fortunate so far. I have both the update software and the new IMA battery and my milage is what it used to be--45-48 mpg.
  • I brought my HCH 2007 (with software updated and crapy performance after that) this morning to Honda dealership requesting the check-up and demanding that they fix car so IMA assists when going uphill. Anything less is not acceptable and I will consider it as malfunction. I warn them that I have quite often three kids at the back and it is safety issue as well.

    Now manager is dealing with it, since the software is "OK".
    I will keep you updated.
  • I got another phone call. Honda engineering is working on the issue with upgrade and solution is expected within a month. There is nothing they can do now.
  • Yeah, I kinda keep an eye on your posts, as we had our IMA replacement at about the same time and in the same kind of temps. I have a new problem as well. For the past week, the car smells like gas every time I crank it. It is very strong, like an old car that has to be damn near flooded to start. It is awful. And the transmission has skipped on me a few times going uphill in the last 3 months.
  • Just to chime in, my 2009 has 25,300 miles and I just got the call from the dealer. Took it in because the engine and IMA lights were both on - again. Last time, they updated the software. This time, they got the same codes so they're ordering a new IMA battery.
    What a disappointing vehicle.
    I've averaged 38.1 mpg since I bought the car. It's underpowered, overpriced and a huge over promise from Honda. (And by the way, we've owned 8 Hondas, including my wife's current Odyssey minivan.) The good news is, the battery replacement will be covered 100%. The bad news is, I have to go through the headache of selling or trading this car and buying another one.
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    With a 2009 having the same kind of problems as earlier models indicates Honda really doesn't have a handle on this problem or they are unwilling to correct a design flaw with the system.
  • Thanks so much for the updates, everyone. I bought a used 08 about a month or so ago. Mine did NOT have the software "upgrade" and I knew I would never allow it given all of the problems others have experienced. Interesting that theere is at least some evidence that Honda may be abandoning the "fix" overall. In the end, I suspect that they will put in a lot of new batteries and/or will have to really do a nice job on the software. People may think I am nuts buying one with all of the problems others are seeing, but I hate the Prius driving dynamics and really like the Civic. I bought it for basically mid level wholesale ($13k with 44k miles in really clean condition). I am a low mile driver (about 5k to 7k per year) which gives me a good shot at exhausting the time vs. mileage on the warranty. If I am correct, these things will be a real bargain for those willing to deal with the hassle. For those who bought new and paid full retail or close to, I suspect they will be left with a very bad taste in their mouths. Honda would be advised to consider a special rebate for prior purchasers of Insight or HCH to try to bring them back in. My opinion, yours may differ.
  • tj09hchtj09hch Posts: 14
    So I just calculated my first tank with the new battery and software rollback (so they say), and I had 35.6 mpg. I know that doesn't sound like much to some, but here in the foothills of the Cascade Mts, it's not bad. That's about what I was getting prior to the first software update. My battery is showing about half most of the time, but I haven't had an issue with acceleration. It still drains going up a hill of any distance. The auto stop is now working most of the time, even when the battery shows about 1/2, and the battery recharge on breaking and lifting my foot off the accelerator pedal is not consistent, but I'd say it occurs more than 75-80% of the time. I haven't had a chance to take it out for a highway run yet. Hopefully I can do that in the next couple weeks.

    I spoke to another couple tonight who have an 08 HCH, and they said their mileage decreased a bit, but not by much. Otherwise, they weren't having any trouble.

    I'm cautiously optimistic, but am going to contact our state AG and inquire about my rights if the battery goes out in 18 months, which is past the timeframe for a lemon law suit. Since I have already documented the problem with them, hopefully it would still stand.

    I would encourage you to stick with it, those who are still having trouble. Be in their face. The squeaky wheel, you know. It's just a shame because now I don't totally trust this car and before it wasn't ever a thought.

    Good luck, and I'll post again when I have new information.
  • How did you get them to rollback the software? How are you feeling about it now after about 10 days?
  • tj09hchtj09hch Posts: 14
    When I went in to pick up my car after they replaced the IMA battery, the service attendant I had been dealing with told me they rolled back to the original software. Previously he had told me he did not have the means by which to do that. I don't know what changed except that maybe the district service manager who came to the dealership to check out my car/complaints may have had whatever it took (authority, means, whatever). The service attendant said he told the district service manager that this was a big problem and people weren't happy about the performance of their hchs after the software update, so they reinstalled mine and weren't doing the software updates anymore.

    Now, that could be the story he gave this grumpy old lady to get her off his back and out of his office, but, on this second tank of gas, I currently have 36.2 mpg registering on the gauge. I know that sounds low for some, but when your driving consists of going up hill one way and downhill on the return, that's not bad. I haven't been able to try out a tank on strictly highway, so I'll post when I get that chance. Previously I got 47-51 mpg highway depending if I traveled north-south or east-west (across the mountains) in our area.

    The battery gauge now rides at four bars (1/2 way) most of the time, but the autostart does engage once the car is warmed up (it wasn't coming on at all unless it was "fully charged"). I don't recall it bottoming out completely like it had been doing prior to the replacement, but going up hill does drop the gauge rather quickly (which, as I have said, is most of the driving here). That could be why it pretty much stays half way. I did wonder if they (dealership) didn't adjust some setting so it wouldn't display below half, but that's just paranoia I'm sure. :-)

    My greatest concern, and I have contacted the state attorney general with this question, is if the new battery goes out in 18 months, like the old one and some others who have posted here, do I still have a lemon law claim (that would be past the 36 month time limit). Bottom line, no. The AGO did say I could still sue Honda Corporation at that time. My thinking now, while I LOVED my car before all this mess, is to cut my losses and get out from under it while it is performing well. Unfortunately, the only cars we've purchased in the past 10 years are Hondas, and I don't know what other car I would want.

  • PF_FlyerPF_Flyer Pennsylvania Furnace, PAPosts: 7,835
    edited February 2011
    tj09hch, the Senior Editor of Edmunds Green Car Advisor is interested in hearing more about your battery replacement and software being rolled back. If you would be willing to be interviewed by him, please contact me via email by clicking on my username and I'll get you connected with him.

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  • I have asked repeatedly for my dealership to revert back to the old software. I have even demanded this as the only solution to my case manger at American Honda. They refuse, and so they said they consider my case closed. I am currently averaging 36 mpg on every tank. I have driven 8,000 miles since my IMA replacement. The first two years of owning the car, I averaged about 40 mpg, and it went down as low as 26 when the battery was failing. I am a very very unsatisifed customer, and I have made numerous attempts to trade the car, but didn't feel comfortable taking a 5000-8000 loss. I don't know where that leaves me now. I just have to keep driving it, and hope that nothing happens to me or my family when the car finally just dies altogether. I have 5000 miles left on my 100,000 mile extended warranty. I hope if anything is going to happen, it is befre that runs out. I will be taking my cr back to the dealership ths weekend, to let them investigate what I believe to be a transmision issue. When I crank the car and put it into gear, it hesitates before slamming into drive. It doesn't happen much in reverse. Also, when accelerating up a hill, the car seems to skip. That's about the best way that I can describe it. I get so tired of going to the dealership. They don't like seeing me walk through the door. I always get the same story, they want me to agree to pay for the diagnostics test if it turns out nothing is wrong. And guess what. Every time they test it, they can't duplicate the problem. Shocker.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    "I have asked repeatedly for my dealership to revert back to the old software. I have even demanded this as the only solution to my case manger at American Honda."

    They can't. The old software is not available. I'm sure your dealer would like to do it for you, but he can't.
  • My sympathies for your unsafe and unreliable car. I couldn't get anywhere with the dealer, either. I sold my HCH to a dealer and bought a used VW taking a big loss. I'm deeper in debt but glad to not be dealing with the HCH. The HCHs not only have a problem with the dying batteries but I saw other problems, like transmission, when I read through NHTSA complaints. The worst problem with HCHs is they are not a big seller so you don't have a huge volume of complaints like more popular cars. Very unfortunate.
  • This forum has been very helpful. I haven't posted previously but have read the whole thing. My 2006 HCH's efficiency started dropping about 24 months ago. After a really hot Texas summer last summer with plenty of A/C and stop-and-go traffic (the kiss of death for IMA), the IMA finally died (light on and it deactivated the IMA so that I basically had a go-kart). I took it to the dealer and told them the performance had been getting steadily worse. They got a code -- I don't know the number -- that indicated the battery had deteriorated. It clearly stated this on my paperwork, and of course, their "fix" was to apply the software update. The tech told me it wouldn't actually permanently fix it with my battery in the shape it was, but they had to do it per Honda's rules. He said it would die again at some point and that I had plenty of warranty time left for it to do so and they could replace the battery then.

    After the update, my mileage was horrible, and my battery would randomly charge and discharge... we all know the story. I took it to the dealer and paid $89 for a diagnosis. They couldn't find anything... "the car is performing exactly as designed." I told them it wasn't. They offered to let the tech drive it home that night. The next day they still said everything was within the parameters Honda had set. I reiterated very politely that the car had serious problems, and their suggestion was for me to call Honda and complain. I did and Honda could not have cared less. They basically said, the dealer has to find a code to say the battery was bad. I argued that my battery was bad (and I had the paperwork that said as much) and that they had changed the software to not indicate a problem even when there was one.

    I then started taking videos of my battery monitor acting weird and e-mailing them to my service advisor. He called Honda and argued that there was something wrong but Honda said they wouldn't do anything. He was very sympathetic to me and asked me to bring the car back in. I then drove around for 30 minutes with a tech in the car because he said he'd have to have a perfect argument when he called Honda back to argue my case. Per Murphy's law, my car acted pretty well during the test drive, but did do enough weird stuff that he could use as evidence. They finally succeeded with Honda and I get a new battery next week!

    Without re-reading the entire forum, has anyone had a 2006 HCH with this problem who was also able to get a new battery? If so, how did it perform after replacement?
  • I know that I am in the Honda Civic Hybrid forum and my problem is wit a 2000 Honda Insight. The IMA battery was replaced in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009. So with the original battery (year 2000) that equals 5 failed batteries. The last battery failed in November of 2010 and I was out of the warranty by 10 months. I was given a price of $2,400 for a replacement battery with just a one-year guarantee or 12,000 miles whichever came first. With the history the car has, I cannot afford to replace the battery ever year. So "Hedy" my Honda is sitting in my garage as I haven't yet replaced the IMA battery. I was the first one in this area to get a 2000 Honda Insight and my mileage originally was 71 miles per gallon. I was notified to bring the car in for "software update" about a year later and my mileage dropped to 60 mpg and since has deteriorated to just a little over 50 mpg.

    I am looking for a little advice here. Would the lemon law apply to me? Does anyone have any suggestions? And can anyone tell me what the software upgrade on the Honda Civic Hybrid was supposed to accomplish? My dealer told me to call Honda which I did, but no one there was sympathetic to my problem.
  • My first reaction would be to advise you to sell that car ASAP. But given the history of battery replacements, the resale value is probably nil at this point. Looks like you're in a bind.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    The only reason I know of for batteries to fail that often is if you leave the car sitting for weeks at a time. If you can't drive the car at least twice a week, this WILL continue to happen. Your only solution is to "grid-charge" it. This means to charge it from 110 AC before use any time it has sat unused for 3+ days.

    If this describes your driving patterns, then it is quite likely you can revive your battery with about 18 hours of charging. The cells are probably strong but unbalanced. The damage you've done to them means that they will always be more susceptible to damage from sitting, so you'll have to charge it religiously.

    I had a customer in Manhattan with the same problem who drove his only on weekends. He now tops it up Friday nights.

    Contact me privately if you want more info (no I don't sell them but I'll point you in the right direction).
  • I have a 2007 Civic Hybrid at 70K that began exhibiting gradually degrading battery performance at around 40K. The dealer applied the latest software upgrade this summer. The software upgrade made my battery behave more predictably, though not better. Basically I could count on the IMA to "reset" every morning. No matter if the IMA readout was at full the night before, starting out the next day would cause the readout to drop to 1 or 2 bars and the car would go into forced recharge mode for 5-10 minutes. The IMA readout will hover at 4 bars for a while, then abruptly jump up to 8 bars. Sometimes it will jump up to a full reading even if the batteries are providing assist. This behavior happens, of course, during the time I would be accelerating into traffic while entering the freeway, so I could pretty much count on having the worst possible conditions for power/mileage.

    Over the last 2 months the IMA behavior has gotten worse. It has gone from resetting in the mornings to resetting any time the car sits for more than about 4 hours. Most recently, highway driving into a slight headwind cause the battery to reset several times during a c. 100 mile trip. During all this time no error code has ever shown on the dash readout.

    My questions, for any who might have a better understanding of how the IMA system works:

    1) Does this battery behavior mean my IMA battery is degrading and is likely to fail, or at least throw an error code, sometime soon?
    2) Is there any point having the dealer test the system (yet again) until I actually get an error code?

    I have an extended warranty, so I have until 100K to wait out battery failure.
  • Hi gremlin1,

    How do I go about charging my batteries from an AC 110? Where do I plug the power into my car?
  • munkegodesmunkegodes Posts: 6
    edited February 2011
    Hi again folks. Well, it's been nearly 3 months since my IMA/check engine lights came on the first time (see post #797) and then Honda put on that bogus software update as a fix. In the mean time I've been continue to get piss poor mileage (My week of all local driving was getting 26mpg...ummm...a regular civic gets just as good if not better mileage! With highway/local driving I'm getting low 30s mpg. OUTRAGEOUS!) and yesterday both lights came back on. I took a picture of it (and the miles on the car...~35,000) in case they turned back off. This morning only the check engine light is on and not the IMA.

    I dread taking it back into Honda. Though, I know last time they said the software update would "fix" my problem and if the lights came back on their give me a new battery. Hoping they stick to their word and it's not too hard of a battle but I cringe at the fact that even after replaced I may continue to get bad mileage, the new battery may die in a few years, and I also now realize the damage to the earth that mining these metals for the batteries are. So much for "green" technology, huh?
  • bosslessbossless Posts: 179
    A new battery fixed my problem. The new battery has a 3 year, 36K mile warranty.
  • Even if you're still within your original battery warranty? This is part of what I fear is that the replacement battery will die in about the same timing which would put it out of warranty. In this case I might have to consider dumping the car before that happens again. Not worth it to keep replacing the battery every few years at $3000 a pop...
  • viawviaw Posts: 34
    good luck brian.
    i would file a complaint with BBB and NHSTA(?). The BBB sent a form to fill out. Honda USA called me to bring the car into the dealer to run some checks. they took 3 days to do so and all the things i complained about (which were identical to yours) existed. battery drain in the morning. battery drain if i ran city errands every other time i turned on the car. battery drain when the engine senses some strain (uphill or prolonged freeway). everything that shouldn't happen was called normal by Honda engineering when the tech called them up to explain. i've read a lot of people has been successful in going to arbitration to get the vehicle redone with a new battery or they repurchase your vehicle.
    even the Honda USA rep who was supposed to set up the dealership was useless. i had to call every other day to remind them that i'm waiting for them to call me back with an appointment. took almost a month for her to do cuz she never called me back.
    i'm also sure that you've been told by the Honda customer service that you need to change your driving habits as well to achieve the advertised mileage. which is ridiculous since your habit has no control over any battery drain.
    either way, i'm going through with my BBB complaint.
  • Hmmm...well....light turned off today and Honda couldn't get me in until next Monday. The code should still be saved on the computer, right? Good thing I took a picture and saved the receipt from Autozone showing the code...
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