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Honda Civic Hybrid IMA Problems



  • gregr2gregr2 Posts: 14
    Had the IMA battery changed out on my 2009 Civic last week. So far so good. MPG is back up to 38-39. I remain skeptical wheter I will get the same mpg as advertised. I am a conservative driver and was getting 42 mpg before the first battery failed.
  • 1. kristie_h, I brought up the subject of my IMA battery not working top notch which is how MB got into the economics of a hybrid. Sorry!
    2. MB, I cannot beleive you have a 2009 that has had 2 battery replacements so far. Honestly, if I were you, I would ask for a gas only car. The stress of having to bring your car into the dearlership every year to two years for a battery relacement just doesn't make sense.
    3. gregr2, where are you from? I'm having these problems in new england.
  • Last year our 2006 Civic Hybrid, stared getting about 36 miles per gallon instead of 39, which is still way below what they said it would get when new. The dealership said nothing was wrong with it. We joined a class action suit that offered us $2,000 towards a new Honda, we took a pass. Six months ago the hybrid battery was so weak, the IMA light went on. The dealer said he fixed it, but all he did was reset the warning light. One week later, the IMA battery was so weak, the backup starter and battery had to start the car in the morning. With the IMA completely dead, the car still got 34 miles per gallon. The dealership took 2 months to get us a new battery. I'm done with Honda hybrids. They claim a 1% failure rate? No way. I'd bet it's closer to 100%, than 1%.
  • BTW, after the software "upgrade", with a new battery, the1996 Honda Civic Hybrid only got 34 mpg. That tells me the upgrade is to keep the hybrid batteries from failing, mileage be damned.
  • magsmmagsm Posts: 3
    A few weeks after the upgrade, my 2009 Civic gets 32-34 mpg around town, 37 highway. I've warned those I know not to buy this car. Wish there was a better way to get the message to the population BEFORE they buy!
  • jeb858jeb858 Posts: 10
    Coming from a manufacturer background most of the time the dealership service department hands are tied by the what the tech hotline and Field Service Engineer are advising for repairs especially when it comes to an expensive battery which I need.

    At this point opening a case with Honda's customer service department. My car is not performing as it did when it was new and I will not put my wife in a cat that I don't feel is safe when it loses battery assist at the worst possible time.

    I am going to investigate the NHTSB website to look into the safety angle. Don't forget, three repeat repairs or 30 days out of service qualify for lemon law.
  • jeb858jeb858 Posts: 10
    I went to the NTSB website which is and pulled up concerns that have been filed with the Civic hybrid. I couldn't believe how many complaints have been filed for the IMA system. I will be sending mine in tomorrow morning. Take a minute to read through them and you will see the common theme....loss of battery.

    There are also concerns with the power steering and rear control arms.
  • gregr2gregr2 Posts: 14
    It is amazing that HOnda has kept this under wraps - there should be a massive recall of the cars.
  • selinzselinz Posts: 11
    I have measured and believe that I can still get 45-50mpg driving 50 miles (one way commute). The following things reduce mileage 1) AC 2) Heater 3) Cold weather 4) "non-hard" tires (3-5mpg). I switched to Yokohama 520's because they perform great and are pretty cheap. I monitor ALL of my mileage by recording the odometer reading and recording the number of gallons placed in my tank.
    I have the following observations:
    1) The Honda mileage readout is ALWAYS worse than what I actually get using the gallons and odometer calcuation. With the "hard" tires, this can be as much as 5mpg, with the Yokohamas this is usually 1 to 3
    2) I get 50mpg at 55mpg, 45 mpg at 65mph and about 41 at 75. I usually drive around 73. This is not surprising. E=1/2MVsquared
    3) My route takes me up and down three major hills, one of which ALWAYS completely drains the IMA battery (but it gets charged up on the way down. This is how it's supposed to work!). So you figure a minimum of 3 complete cycles per day, 5 days per week, 50 weeks per year and you have 2250 complete charge drain cycles minimum.
    4) Recently the car sat for a week in pretty cold (for Cali) weather, 40s or so. When I first got in it the battery read full, then immediately dropped to 2 or 3 bars. I put the car into S (a trick to make the car more aggressively charge the battery) and the IMA light came on, along with the check engine light. I continued to drive and after one commute cycle, the IMA light was off but the check engine light was on. After another day, the check engine light went off too... Thus, I believe that my battery is beginning to show some age. However, driving it daily has resulted in pretty good results. Still getting 43mpg or so...
    The car is 3 years old and I have 115K miles.
    5) I have been getting "random" power steering failures since the car was new. Quite infrequent in general, a bit more frequent in the winter. I simply stop the engine and restart it... Works almost 100% of the time on the second try.
    6) Overall I'd give the car a B+ on performance and B- on "problems."
  • jeb858jeb858 Posts: 10
    If those light were on you will have codes saved in the respective modules that control the hybrid devices. The dealer would be able to retrieve the codes and advise what the concern is.
  • I've had my 2009 HCH for about 18 months. It currently has just under 13,000 miles on it. Last year, in March, after about 7,000 miles, the IMA light came on. I took the car to the dealer and after 2 days of diagnostics, they announced that the IMA (batteries) failed. They had to get the parts shipped in and had replaced it 3 days later. My gas mileage before the replacement was around 43-48 on the highway. Afterwards, it dropped to 39-43.

    Now, 7,000 miles later, the IMA light came on again. I just took my HCH to the dealer yesterday. No news yet, but I suspect the IMA will need to be replaced again.

    So, after less than 13,000 miles the IMA (the thing that makes it a hybrid) fails twice. One interesting note... the service tech that was checking me in yesterday said there was a recall notice on the IMA. He couldn't see when the notice was issued though. I'll post more information when I hear back from the service tech. Also, I wanted to point out that my first failure (when the light actually came on) was in moderate weather conditions (Spring in Georgia). This last failure came in Winter. I'm not sure that weather has anything to do with my particular IMA failure.
  • Most of you with HCH's, probably, have watched your energy using and recharging indicator. Notice the difference in how much battery power is being used, after the dealership adjusts your cars computer to use less battery power. This is Honda's response to deal with failed batteries. Your car is now much less demanding on the Hybrid battery. My gas mileage isn't any better, now, than on my standard gas powered Civic. But, the batteries will last a long time, saving Honda many millions of dollars.

    When Honda first adjusted my HCH, after I complained that the IMA failure indicator lit up and poor gas mileage, I thought they just reset the light. The IMA failure light went out and mostly stayed out. The only time it briefly went back on, was when the battery was so dead, that it wouldn't start the car. Then, it went back out again. Now, I know they uploaded software to the onboard computer, to make the car put much less demand on the hybrid battery. The mileage, with the new battery, is identical to the mileage with the dead battery.
  • gregr2gregr2 Posts: 14
    my experience was identical. My battery has been replaced and my mileage has dropped about 6-8 mpg from what I first had the Honda. I agree that Honda has done something to the system to put less demand on the batteries therefore resulting in poorer mpg. A real rip off in my opinion
  • dwa2dwa2 Posts: 4
    Please advise if there are any recalls. I have a 2009 Honda Civic with 11,000 miles it. The IMA light went on this week. I brought it in and it shows a battery module deterioration. The updated the IMA battery and PGM-FI Update and told me this was a softwear issue, and that I was all set. Can I expect further problems?

    I asked if this was a recall issue and they told me no. Please advise if there are any recalls on the 2009 IMA Hybrid. The Fail Code was P07AF if anyone can tell me if this is something to worry about, please let me know.
  • beny75beny75 Posts: 1
    Hi Doug. I also have a 2006 that has 127,000 miles and the IMA and check engine lights just came on. Regarding the class action suit, I received a notice in the mail for John True v. AHMC but the rebate towards a new Honda was only $1,000. Did you join this lawsuit or a different one?
  • It sounds like my wife's 2008 HCH is doing the same thing, and the service people are basically calling her an idiot. She claims that sometimes when she needs to accelerate that the assist motor doesn't come on and the car begins to jerk. None of the tech's can duplicate the problem so they're are no help at all. Is this a recurring problem with this model? I know nothing bout hybrids but like you I don't want my wife driving a vehicle that is unsafe. Can you or someone else explain to me what the potential problem is and why Honda won't address the issue?
  • In my opinion, Honda should offer all HCH owners a refund of at least $5,000.00, to cover the added cost over a standard Civic, without any added benefit; or, fix the IMA so that the car gets the advertised gas mileage.
  • shonda3shonda3 Posts: 42
    BINGO! But, they won't. Our only hope is to keep trashing Honda-- they deserve it. When they see their bottom line affected, then maybe they'll do the right thing. For some reason, American Honda thinks that they are better off screwing their existing customer base in order to save the cost of valid repairs. That's why they have all those computer "patches" which do nothing more than disable the hybrid system.
  • Thanks to all who have posted here. Reading this has been quite educational. I have been a loyal owner of several Hondas, but I'm concerned that my/the HCH has a serious problem

    I took delivery of my 2006 HCH in January 2006 in Kansas City. We have four seasons here, but typical temperature does not fall below 0 or exceed 100 often. Put 80K miles on the car in 38 months, and I was pretty happy with it. Mileage dropped in cold weather, but still got 35-37 MPG, somewhat better in moderate temperature weather (50s to 70s).

    Just before 80K miles (slightly over three years), I took it into the dealer with a battery problem. They told me it was the front battery, claiming it had been discharged due to leaving an internal light on. I raised the question of whether there was a problem with the IMA system, and was told there wasn't. (After reading these posts, I've come to doubt that claim, but at least I got it in before the 80K warranty expired.) A good battery charge and clearing the code got me back on the road.

    My son took it to college, where he didn't drive it much. This winter, during a cold snap, the front battery went bad. That caused the IMA system not to work properly. As others have described, severe loss of power, lack of recharging, etc.

    My usual sources for batteries for my other cars--Wal-Mart, Sears, NTB--wouldn't touch the front battery. The only explanation I got was that they feared replacing the front battery would cause computer problems, so I had to take it to the dealer.

    The dealer replaced the front battery for $105. It also applied some software "updates" to fix the problems allegedly caused by the front battery going bad, and cleared all of the codes that were recorded on the computer. They didn't charge for these other services, perhaps because I told them about all these postings I was reading and wondered aloud if Honda has a serious battery problem it's not disclosing. The service rep. said that the new battery was a 100 month Honda battery more powerful than the 36 month Honda battery that had gone bad at 48 months.

    Son took the car back to college last week, but got only 30-31 mpg post-software updates. So I'm concerned that the main function of the upgrades was to reduce the strain on the electric portion of the drive system. Consistent with what others report, now it seems to be an underpowered Civic (due to those heavy batteries under the back seat) that cost $4k more than a Civic EX and $5K more than an LX Yet a few minutes ago I heard a Honda commercial extolling the great mileage of a new Civic Hybrid.

    I suspect the speculation on these postings is correct. In taking discovery against some companies, you find internal e-mails or memos recognizing problems and trying to figure out how to cover them up and/or avoid dealing with the problem. If there is internal recognition of the problem, then you look to see what the company has told dealers to tell customers, and what advertising it uses for the product.

    Chances are the problems aren't disclosed, because if they were sales would drop and probably not recover. Unsuspecting folks who buy the product not knowing of the problem are likely to be upset when they encounter the problem, and may feel mislead.

    Typically I keep my cars until they wear out, but now I'm concerned I should trade the car in. (Better to sell it back to the dealer than to defraud some unsuspecting member of the public who just wants reliable transportation.) I wonder what the trade-in or resale value of the car is, with these problems surfacing. Has anyone tried a trade-in and gotten burned?

    Specifically, what is the trade in value of a HCH as compared to a Civic LX with comparable mileage? One might suspect it's lower, since the dealer probably knows about these problems and might have trouble reselling it. So not only did I pay $5K more than an LX, the resale value might be lower too. That's why you read people's questions about class actions.

    Lesson: Don't let the front battery die completely. Get it changed before it discharges completely, and maybe you won't need the software upgrades. Keep the car in a heated garage if you can to avoid the strain on the battery.

    And present your story here so that we can document whether Honda will step up to the plate for its loyal customers. Good luck.
  • shonda3shonda3 Posts: 42
    You raise an interesting question. Will disconnecting the front battery erase the codes that the dealershiips have been installing to limit the hybrid system's capabilities? Does anyone know?
  • jeb858jeb858 Posts: 10
    Good Morning,
    Vehicle software updates and patches are a one way street.
    Codes can somtime be erased by disconnecting the battery but using a scan tool is much more effective. Any time codes are erased the OBDII monitors will be reset and the vehicle might drive a little different for a short time.
    All these "updates" do not address the fact that our vehicles are not meeting the expectations of the hybrid vehicle that we were so excited about when we first purchased our cars.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    No, they are installing new versions of the software.
  • My IMA failed at aprox. 100k miles when the IMA light came on, which caused the check engine light to come on also. I've been driving the car with a subsequent reduced mileage, but otherwise no serious problem. Trouble is, with the check engine light on, the car won't pass emmissions inspection in PA. I can't see replacing the IMA battery at the unrealistically high price Honda wants, but don't know what to do about emmissions inspection. I can reset the check engine light with a diagnostic computer, but the IMA light, and the check engine light both come on again as soon as the IMA tries to supply power to the IMA motor. As long as the IMA is generating, both lights stay off.

    Any ideas about what I might do? Don't care if the IMA works, just want to drive the car and pass inspection.
  • I really appreciate the help some of you guys have been on the forum. I own a 2003 HCH with just under 104,000 on it. We had a new transmission put in at 96,000 on our honeymoon. For the last 6 months, we've had the check engine light on for the catalytic converter and the IMA light going on for a couple weeks and off for a week randomly. The Honda dealer has given us the updates for the computer (which we had to tell them that there were updates). Just recently, our front battery died (which is on about the 40th month of a 100 month battery). We bought the car used so we don't get the warranty on the front battery. Now the IMA and check engine lights are off. I suspect they will come back on within a week.

    My questions were:

    1. How much does the IMA battery deterioration effect the front battery?

    2. We have looked at the hybrid battery repair online out of NY. Has anyone got their battery rebuilt from a refurbishing company? Is it worth the cost?

    3. While obviously replacing the front battery, would it be wiser to repair the IMA first or the cataytic converter if only one was an option because of cost?

    4. How much damage would it be to wait until the IMA deteriorates to get it refurbished rather than now?
  • You obviously make your own decision about what to do, but I can give you some facts to help you decide.

    1. In perfect condition, the resale value of your 2003 HCH is about $6000, at best.
    2. Replacing the IMA battery will cost $3000, with a new battery, with an 80k miles warranty
    3. Depending on the catalytic converter, it can cost $1500(front converter) or $1000(rear converter). The good one will go bad shortly after the other, so you must eventually replace both.
    4. The O2 sensors will go shortly after the converters($1000 repair).
    5. The front 12 volt battery is not affected by the IMA, except that the IMA charges the front 12v battery, but will not damage it. Replacing the 12v battery is the same as in any other vehicle, and can be done yourself for the cost of a battery. The IMA disables charging of the 12v battery at engine rpms over 4000, and heavy engine load, so running for very long times under these conditions(over 75mph) will eventually cause the 12v battery to totally discharge. The red battery symbol on the dash tells when the 12v battery isn't charging.
    6. The software 'updates' will eventually cause your mileage to approach that of a normal, non-hybrid Civic, because they are designed to put less strain on the IMA battery.

    I have discovered all of this by first hand experience, the dealer will try to get you to pay to do all of the repairs. I am running my HCH without the IMA, which is almost the same as with the IMA with the software 'updates'. The only problem I have is that the check engine light is on, and the car will not pass emmissions inspection that way in my state. I am working on a way to fool the IMA system into thinking the IMA battery is OK, and not turn on the IMA light, or the check engine light.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    Smith brothers can rebuild the cat cheaply (not for CA).

    > How much damage would it be to wait until the IMA deteriorates to get it refurbished rather than now?

    That really depends on what the problem is. If you are getting assist and regen, then it will cause further deterioration of the battery and increase the number of cells that have to be replaced. if you are not getting any assist because the car is bypassing the IMA system, then it won't matter.

    Above 3500 the IMA cuts out charging the 12V battery. If the hybrid battery is good, it won't matter, but if the IMA system is not performing, your battery light will illuminate and it will stress the 12V battery. Drive more gently and you won't pass 3500 rpm.

    You will find a number of people over on Insightcentral who've had their batteries repaired and can relate their experience. The Insight community is smaller than the Civic's and they tend to be fanatical about their cars and go to greater lengths to preserve and modify their vehicles.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    >I am working on a way to fool the IMA system into thinking the IMA battery is OK, and not turn on the IMA light, or the check engine light.

    The cheapest solution is to buy a junkyard battery, put it in, pass emissions, and then take it out and put it away for a year. the junkyard pack will work fine for a short period - enough to cover 2-3 days per year of use for a decade or more.

    Or you could just fix it. ;)
  • jeb858jeb858 Posts: 10
    Code P0A7F = hybrid battery pack deterioration
  • We had the update done just before our third battery failed. Like you, I didn't see any change in how the assist operated. I can't say anything about mileage because of the cold weather and reformulated gas in the winter, but the car does not drive any different than before.

    I can't explain why some people seem to be having a problem after the update but others do not. There is obviously another factor here that we are missing.

    Were there any other notes on your service invoice? Were any other procedures performed? Ours included a "clutch learn" item, that the tech said reset the IMA settings. Wonder if that is related to any of this?
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    >The Honda techs said I had popped code P0A7F.
    That means that the battery is degraded to the point that it is running below 10% of its' original capacity. Basically, it's shot.

    >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.

    The car was devoting 5mpg or so toward charging your old battery (constantly). Your new battery does not need this, so you are seeing a boost. What was your mileage when you first got the car? It should be a little lower now because of winter gas.
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