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Honda Civic Hybrid IMA Problems



  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    >By the way, does anyone know what the "P0A7F" is? Is that the firmware update?

    Per the reference manuals that I have, P0A7F which is a "soft" DTC (it will not light the CEL or IMA) means that the battery capacity has deteriorated to less than 10% of the original 6.5Ah. This means that while it is capable of producing as much current and driving the motor as strongly, it will be depleted in only 10% of the time of a new battery. As I said before, your bad luck was that all 120 cells deteriorated at the same rate and the balance was never thrown out far enough to trigger the hard DTCs.

    It's important to note that this code does not automatically mean the battery is dead. If you then drive it aggressively down to "empty" and then conservatively drive it up to "full" a few times, the capacity might rise back up to 20% or even 50% or more.

    The software updates that they applied address issues like this and either try to prevent the deterioration or try to make it easier to recover from it.

    I know your car is not performing the way it used to, but the big question is: what kind of mileage are you getting now? Different may not mean worse (mpg-wise).
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    >P0A7F means "One of the blocks in the battery pack has deteriorated: its dynamic resistance is too high".

    No it doesn't. A false P0A7F might be thrown because of that, but not in this case. No IMA light was lit.

    Contact me privately if you want more information on this or any other OBD code.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    >The computer programing can degrade in cars
    Sorry, no they can't. If the programs "degrade", then the computer module will fail.

    The computer patches are fixes. If problems ("bugs") are found in the software, they release a "patch" (new version of the program) to fix it. As mechanical/electrical problems are discovered in the cars, the engineers find ways of adapting the computers to solve the problems or alleviate the symptoms.

    >At 80k the dealer said I needed a new trans, but erasing and reprogramming the computer fixed most of the issues.
    In other words, they had found work-arounds for the problems and updating the software made most of them go away.
  • mrlarmrlar Posts: 14
    Yes, with the update the car's MPG has really dropped. I see it in the real-time MPG meter as well as with each fillup, and the TRIP indicators. At least a 20% drop and that's with having to coax it like crazy way more than I had to before... and even still, a large MPG drop. So now I have a nice, "normal" Civic that's a shadow of its former self as far as the hybrid and MPG is concerned. And all the stuff I used to do for 3 years (like easily be able to get into all-electric "coast" mode on certain flat stretches of highway, or regularly get 5 bars of assist on the hybrid while driving) are no more. Now it's pretty much 100% gas except when accelerating from zero, or really pressing down on the pedal while driving.

    On a side note, I rode in a Tesla today. Amazing car (though only seats two). Immediate acceleration like you wouldn't believe, like a rocket. Extremely quiet, 100% electric. No problem with its batteries (of course it costs around $120,000...)
  • dowjddowjd Posts: 14
    Have a 2009 HCH with 15K miles. Last week IMA light came on. Took to Honda dealer we purchased from. Got our service invoice. They updated battery ECU & ECM/PCM... whatever they are. Also has DC=5HW00 / SC=R1100 Again whatever those are. It also lists - Defectcode 5HW00.

    Anyone know if our battery is screwed and Honda is shafting us?
  • Yes, Honda is screwing you, just as they are screwing everyone else with a HCH. When they updated your computer, they were really rigging the IMA system to preserve the battery. This lowers the performance of the car, greatly reduces the mileage, and saves them expensive replacements at your expense. The fact is they originally rigged the batteries to produce the highest mileage possible to compete with the much better Prius. This caused the batteries to wear prematurely, thus reducing the mileage. Rather than design a workable system that delivers what they promised, they are rigging the system so that it won't function optimally, but will last. I used to get between 45 and 48 MPG. They did the same to my 06 HCH and now I get 31-34 MPG. Morever, when the battery is discharged (crashed), you have all the power a standard 1.3 litre engine can deliver-- time it with a calendar. The car sucks. But the worst part is American Honda's egregious practice of denying that anything is wrong. Dump your :lemon: car.
  • dowjddowjd Posts: 14
    Do you know what those codes mean?

    My wife drives the car the most. Sometimes battery level would drop to 1-2 bars with AC on during summer (live in Central Valley California). Before IMA issue, on average we got 37 MPG local city/highway (with AC). We got better mileage on highway trips.. average 43 MPG at 70mph and could get 52 MPG at 55mph.

    We took car to Honda 10/28/09 and they did their thing. Will know more about MPG this next fill up and battery performance.
  • I took my 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid into a Honda dealership this morning (11-9-2009) to get the transmission fixed, as it was leaking fluid. It is under warranty. While they had the car, I had them look into why the IMA (?) battery drains sometimes. On the average, once a week, when I'm at a stop light, and with nothing running, (e.g. no A/C, heater, radio, etc...), and when the battery bar level is at 75% full. When the signal light turns green, I take my foot off the brake pedal, and press onto the gas, and BOOM, {instantly}, the bar level drops from 75% to 0% within a half second, and while pressing onto the gas, there is NO power for me to go forward. I start to coast, and people behind me are honking for me to go, but I can't. Then after 30 seconds, I start moving again, when the battery starts to charge back up Blocking traffic for 30 seconds is bad. Anyways, Honda called me to tell me there is a software updade to FIX this. Actually, there are 3 upgrades. And, they perfomed the upgrades before getting me a quote. They CHARGED me $175 for these 3 upgrades, something that should be FREE, as it's a definate PROBLEM and bad design onto the car manufacturer's part. How much does Honda charge others for the {not-so-free} computer upgrades, that fixes something that should've been fixed already, and/or should be covered under warranty?
  • dowjddowjd Posts: 14
    I think we are all getting screwed by Honda. I have always been a Honda fan, until now. I don't like being jerked around and I didn't like paying 24K for essentially a regular Civic Sedan (26City / 34Hwy) costing 18k.

    So Hondas solution... software upgrades. What? Hiding a piece of garbage using smoke and mirrors isn't going to change the fact that its still garbage.

    They know there is an issue with the IMA and batteries that "cannot be repaired at this time." So why continue to manufacture and sale them?
  • My IMA light came on the other day. The service rep said further damage could have been done if I continued to drive it. They replaced the battery module, PCM control mod, and ECM, at no cost. Total mileage for this 2003 was 48,000.
  • I have a 2003 civic hybrid and my IMA system went dead a few weeks ago. I got the 1600 code telling me my IMA system is bad, and I also got the 1445 code, (the bypass contactor malfunction). My honda dealer said that the batteries need replacing, but this site and others have said the 1443 code is for the battery.
    So, I don't know. Is code 1445 electrical or do I really need a battery?
    I have been driving it since the Honda place wants $3600 to fix it The battery light came on a few days after the IMA stopped working. I got a new regular battery for the car, but the battery light still appeared whenever it was in park or at low revs..
    So, is my problem electrical or do I really need new IMA batteries?
  • I cannot answer whether you have an electrical problem or you need a new IMA battery, but I can give everyone in this thread an update about the "need" to replace the IMA battery when the indicator light says it is time to replace it. One word: WAIT.

    I first posted on Jan. 6, 2009 about my IMA light problem (message #52). The IMA light has remainded on continuously (except for the two Honda dealers that assessed the need for a new IMA and reset the light but it comes back on within days), the malfunction light came on months ago and my corner mechanic said both were related to my IMA battery "failure" and the malfunction light indicated an overheating IMA battery.

    Well surprisingly to me (and my corner mechanic), the IMA and malfunction light remain on, I have NOT paid the $3500+ to have the IMA battery replaced AND my car still runs fine with no noticeable performance deterioration. Though I have noticed a little anomaly. The MPG indicator says my mileage has increased from around 45 mpg to about 49 mpg (last month or so), but in actuality I am getting about 42-44 mpg per tank full. Not a big issue.

    Bottom line: I have driven since Jan. 6th (over 10 months) and driven over 20,000 miles and this 2003 HCH has not "blown up" or anything. The IMA batttery light and malfunction light are still on and I keep waiting for something serious to happen.
  • I've been telling my wife the same thing. Just drive it like any other gasoline car, but the problem is it has stopped 3 times while my wife has been driving it in less than a month waiting for the light to change to green. Since the car doesn't have an alternator to recharge the battery and the IMA doesn't work, is this normal?
  • I finally looked online to see who else was having this same problem. I thought it was just me & that I must be crazy because the dealership always claims it doesn't happen when I take it in. I have an '06 Civic Hybrid & didn't start having problems with the battery until maybe 6 mths to a year ago. Same problems as everyone else here. Within 10 mins of driving however much charge I have goes down to either 1 bar or nothing. It's very frustrating & I am actually test driving other cars because I have to trade this in since the dealership refuses to help.
    Since there are so many people that are having the same issue has anyone heard of a class action suit being brought against Honda?
  • I haven't heard of one regarding the IMA/battery issue. After I had had my battery replaced and the software updated, I was getting the same mileage as a regular, non-hybrid civic (~33-34 mpg). Yesterday, I just went ahead and traded the :lemon: in for non-hybrid. After my experience and others listed on this forum, I've been telling my friends to hold off on buying Honda hybrids until the battery issues have been worked out.
  • Hey nataliem, whatever you do, don't let them put the "software update" on your vehicle, this drops the temperature of the battery that tells the assist to come on, so you are driving with no assist which equals no performance. If I were you, I'd wait until it fails completely so they can replace it, mine was doing the same thing, unfortunately I learned after the software update how horrible it is to drive the car. Of course it isn't bad right now as we are in the cold season in Ca. seems to be severely affected in the heat. Good luck, you can ask for a Honda Rep ride along, mine failed during both of the rides with their honda rep, but of course, "it is behaving as designed".
  • Yeah too little, too late I am afraid. They did the updates when I took it in a couple of months ago. I hope people who are thinking of buying one do their research first. I'm going to have to trade it & am now fighting with dealerships to have them pay it off. Maybe they know about the problem as well.
  • I own two 06 Honda Civics and both of them have the same problem; the IMA drops to one bubble when we first start driving them before the battery begins to recharge. When I asked the delearship to comment, they informed me that I wasn't driving the cars enough to fully charge the battery pack and that eventually he batteries would need to be replaced at a cost of $3000. My wife drives her car around town (less than 15 miles a day) and I drive on the interstate 70 miles a day. Sounds to me like an engineering issue with the car. What is the best course of action to get America Honda to respond to what seems to me to be a "design" issue with the IMA and battery pack?
  • You are doubly screwed. Honda won't do anything. They will claim this is normal. Abandon hope, live with it and pass the word; Honda intentionally goosed a bad battery design to compete with Toyota's successful Prius. Now that the batteries are failing and they are facing massive replacement costs, they are tweaking the batteries so they work less and last longer. Your car will now get 31-35 MPG. Enjoy your 1.3 liter dynamos that you overpaid for. BTW, see my earlier posts. There was a class action in California and you may qualify for $1000. toward a new Honda (non-hybrid). This is more of the bend over attitude of Honda.
  • I went online & made a complaint with the Texas Atty General but they just sent me a generic form letter with a brochure about the lemon laws. I thew them both away. I have actually traded in the car & bought something else. Pretty sad it came to those lengths but at least now I have a car that I am happy with. Oh & no it's not a Honda...I bought a Nissan.
  • It is an engineering problem, but the band aid they are using is definitely a safety issue they refuse to acknowledge. Mine is doing better now that the weather is cold, this past summer was horrible, the software update they put on my car is keeping the battery from complete failure so they don't have to replace it. Am simply waiting for it to fail and hopefully before the warranty expires. Replaced the replacement tires with OE tires and got my mileage back up to 40 - 42, so happy about that, but not looking forward to summer driving weather. If they have not put the software updates on your vehicle, don't, the batteries will fail sooner and hopefully they will replace them. I loved my car before the updates, now I hate it. Have the dealership arrange a ride along with a Honda Factory rep, maybe you can convince them to fix yours.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    What you are describing in a symptom of a battery pack that is changing. In some cases, though, the pack will plateau and stop degrading. This is why Honda won't fix it until the car proclaims that it is too far gone to use. At this point, it isn't yet "broke" so they won't "fix it". On the plus side, as soon as that IMA light pops up, they will very happily replace the battery module.
  • What about the in between time? I drive many miles on the highway, in the summertime, there is no blocks of charge and getting on the freeway is a safety concern, passing included. Honda just doesn't want to accept responsibility in their faulty product, just because there is no "error code" does not mean it is not faulty, Toyota is replacing gas pedals (get stuck on floor mats) for excessive acceleration issues (people have died), but a recent article in the Sacramento Bee, from a person who had it happen to him, did not have a mat in his truck. Sensors/Computers are not full proof, the number of incidents increased when they went from a pulley device to a computer device!
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    But your car is running. Isn't it? Losing that 10 HP that the electric motor gives you while it recals does not create an unsafe vehicle, just a wimpier one.

    I have a 2001 Insight. Without IMA, the car is decidedly pokey, but it will go if you give it gas. Without the IMA, it is still a lot quicker than my old Toyota Tercel (and so is an HCH without IMA).

    "getting on the freeway is a safety concern, passing included"
    Do you have any idea how much fuel economy you are willingly giving up by racing to get on to the highway?

    Driven gently, a MT gen1 HCH can get 63mpg highway and a CVT can get 58 mpg. These are the numbers I have gotten on test drives. Gen2s are about the same economy as Gen1s. On the same road, I can get 80 in a MT gen1 Insight and 70 in a CVT Insight.

    Here's the kicker: I get almost exactly the same numbers with the IMA battery disabled (about 5 mpg less). Why? Because I don't use the IMA battery much. Whenever it gets used, it has to be recharged (which costs mpg).

    If you bought your HCH for economy or to be green, then you should start to drive it that way. Your battery also may settle down when you develop a light foot.

    Meanwhile, I'll say it again: A recal-ing battery is the sign of a battery whose capacity is changing. It usually means that the battery is deteriorating, but it may only mean that it is adjusting to new driving habits. In some cases, an owner's new driving habits actually INCREASE the capacity of the battery.
  • Nonsense. I actually own a 2006 HCH with the same problems as Rosie2006's car. It is a menace when the battery is depleted. And it depletes whether or not it is utilized. Your leadfoot analysis is just plain wrong. I got 46MPG for the first two years of ownership. Then the battery took a dump (you call it a capacity change). Now, even if I drive as you say you drive, I can only squeeze 34MPG out of the car tops. Leadfoot style, I get 32MPG. The car is a piece of junk. I should have bought the Prius which doesn't have any of these problems
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    If I climb a mountain in my Insight, I am likely to drain my battery before reaching the top. Does that mean that my car becomes a "menace" because it has no more assist?

    According to, the 2006 gets slightly better mpg than the 2003-2005 models. The 2006 is 93 HP while the gen1 cars are 85 HP (and the gen1 insights are 68 HP but weigh less).

    If I can get 63 highway out of an HCH with an adjusted (new calculations) EPA rating of 38/45, why were you only getting 46 mpg out of a car that is now rated at 40/45? I even managed 53 in local traffic (20 mile loop on local streets in New York City).

    I won't dispute the fact that your mileage has probably dropped significantly now that the battery is recal-ing, but that is because the car is applying a charge to the battery almost constantly. It does this to test it to determine the SOC (State of Charge). You cannot determine the amount of charge or capacity of NiMH batteries by measuring the voltage. You must add or remove charge and monitor how it reacts as you do so. That testing is a constant 4 bar regen which sucks out 5-10mpg.

    I'm not disputing the fact that your battery is 95% likely to be failing right now. I was only telling you why Honda won't swap it out until it dies: because of that 5%, and because it has not yet failed. It costs them about $2000 plus labor to replace a battery and if 5% of them don't need it, they save an average of $100 per car. Also, people who rarely or sporadically drive their cars tend to have much shorter battery lifespans, so if they changed it right away, they might have to change it three times under warranty vs maybe only twice if they wait until it actually fails. I spoke to a gentleman today with a 2000 Insight with 30,000 miles on it whose second battery has died. What he didn't know until I told him was that he had one month left on his 10 year warranty (Insights have 10/150,000 warranties). He only drives the car occasionally, so he'll need another battery in 2-3 years.

    In case you think that what your cars are doing are isolated incidents, look back here and on the insight central board and you'll see the exact same behavior from the gen1 Insights and Civics. The only difference is that your car is a few years newer, so they had these problems a few years before you did. (And gen1 Priuses have battery problems as well.)

    Honda batteries seem to be lasting about 60,000-160,000 miles depending on how frequently the owner drives the car. Due to the nature of the gen1 Insights, they get driven a lot, so a large percentage of gen1 Insight owners have had batteries replaced. More and more 2003 HCH owners are having out-of-warranty battery problems as well.

    It's the nature of the design. You can't keep 120 cells that are in series balanced. If you want to blame someone, blame Chevron. Chevron, until a few months ago, owned Cobasys who owned the patents on NiMH. Cobasys would not allow any cell larger than a "D" cell in capacity to be built, because electric cars would be in direct competition with Chevron's gasoline business.

    Lithium will actually be worse. The lifespan of NiMH is up to 30 years, so a failed battery can be rebuilt and the bad cells swapped out and then keep running for many years. A lithium battery lasts for 10 years - max. At the end of that time, the battery is shot. The longest-lived chemistry is probably NiCAD, but it requires special handling to keep it healthy. NiMH is the most durable and forgiving of the three chemistries.
  • Any way to clear the check engine light if IMA light comes on? I can clear it with a diagnostic, but it returns in a few minutes. Just want to drive the car without hybrid, because of high cost of battery replacement. Won't pass emmisions with check engine light.
  • Orge_GEV - Thanks for providing such detailed & solid information. I have to say though, in regards to your getting 52 & 63 MPG, those #'s are not realistic across the board. I too can also get 50-60 MPG in my 06 HCH but that is with optimal conditions (outside temp between 70-80 degrees, flat terrain, driving about 30 mph, etc). I also have an 01 Nissan Pathfinder that if I drive it like a "Hypermiler" I will also get 20-30% better fuel will anyone driving almost any car if they drove it differently. But driving like a "hypermiler" is a job in itself & most people already have a full time job in this life & thus don't want another one. The reality is that unless you drive like a hypermiler (which it's probably safe to say that most HCH owners probably don't even know how to drive this way as it takes a good deal of effort) the majority of owners will see city MPG closer to 42-44 & HWY MPG of 38-41.

    My current 06 HCH was my first hybrid purchase & it will be my last. My father-in-law purchased an 08 VW Jetta TDI & all I can say is WOW! Of course I'm doing more HWY driving these days so the TDI makes a good deal more sense given it has 240 lbs of torque, is a diesel that will go for 300k miles without blinking or needing a new $3k battery pack every 80-100k, & gets 38 MPG overall. I know VW has had some reliabilty issues but the new TDI's are rated very high. And you have to appreciate a car who's initial MPG estimates were 29/40 & owners have always consistantly been getting higher averages (new ratings went up to 30/42). Unlike the HCH which when I purchased it had ratings of 51/49 MPG... which is a joke as the new 40/45 is quite a bit more realistic overall.

    And not to mention the lack of power when using cruise control produces 5,000-5,500 RPM's to get uphills. Since most HCH owners do city driving, they don't ever have to engage their cruise control to experience this design flaw. But this is a MAJOR design flaw & deal breaker for me. Having to listen to such high, mind numbing RPM sound is not ok...not to mention the long term effects this will have on the engine (premature engine failure for sure). The HCH is not a car for anyone who does any amount of HWY driving. CITY driving ONLY & this car can make sense for people in major metro areas like NYC, Boston, etc where CITY driving is all you will ever do. Otherwise, buy one of the many regular gasoline cars that get decent gas mileage...cause the Hybrid simply isn't worth the added expense on the lot, battery replacement, & hassle. A Hybrid will not save you money after it's all said and will get to drive around in an under powered civic with a "Hybrid" badge on the back though!!!!!
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    No. The IMA system is throwing the code. What code are you getting? It isn't always the battery.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    I had the pleasure of having Wayne Gerdes (look him up on wikipedia) teach me how to hypermile. With him as copilot, driving is strenuous, and terrifying. He taught me how to get over 100 mpg city in my car, but there is no way I'll ever drive that way. He managed over 150mpg in a 2006 HCH.

    I got those figures by simply puttering along at 50mph on the highway (the speed limit here), and driving 30 on local streets (also the speed limit) and accelerating gently and braking gently. I drove it like it was an AMC Pacer and I didn't use the AC. I also kept the revs below 2500 on initial launch from lights and below 2000 the rest of the time.

    Now it has been proven that cruise control cannot return the same mileage as not using it - to the tune of 3-5 mpg so keep that in mind when you drive.

    Let me give you an example of how driving style affects mpg. I drove from NYC to Iowa, around Wisconsin, down to DC and back home last July on about 50 gallons of gas. I was driving 75 mpg and using the AC some of the time. I also had nine batteries in the car by the end of the trip (overloaded by 600 lbs). I averaged 60.5 for the 3,050 mile all-highway trip. When I drive 50-55 with the AC off, I get 75-80mpg.

    How fast are you driving when you get 45mpg highway?
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