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Honda Civic Hybrid IMA Problems



  • I am third week into the software updates and still losing IMA every time I drive. Highway driving seems to bring the charge up to 4-5 bars, but then back down to 2 not long afterward. I have had some close calls the last few days when accelerating without assist.

    Today the I drove 30 miles to work, trying to charge whenever possible. Parked at 11:00am with 6 bars. Got in the car at 7:00 pm to go home and had 2 bars with no assist.

    ALSO, my current average MPG has dropped to 37.

    I had hoped to drive this car for 10 years! But if it needs a $4500 battery every 2 years.....well...forget it!
  • jack000jack000 Posts: 16
    If you need a new pack, try rebuilding it with the Headway cells that I mentioned. You can get them from EVcomponents for $19/cell. In order to access the battery, you need to remove the entire rear seat (which is probably why the technicians are very reluctant to service hybrids properly). You'll need 50 headway cells in series. You can go for the regular cells at 10AH. Total cost without shipping: $950!!!. If you need any help I have the service manual for the 06-09 HCH.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    edited August 2010
    So where have you gotten a BMS computer to use with these lithium cells? 2006+ Civics are expecting 132 NiMH cells in 11 packs of 12 cells each. In order to switch to lithium, you would have to replace the MDM with a custom one that could interface to the stock ECM. The stock computer can't charge or balance lithium batteries.

    For that matter, how are you welding the cells together? Solder will flow at the 100 amp draw that is 20 bars of assist so they have to be welded.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    >  Do you consider recals resulting in no assist a safety issue?

    No I do not. No more than when you deplete the battery while climbing a long hill.

    Inconvenient and annoying, yes. Unsafe, no. The car's engine has more than enough power to run without the 10 hp of IMA assist.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    All civic hybrids are within their 8 year warranties unless they have a salvage title.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    The 2 bars with no assist was a recal. The charge didn't actually drop to 2 bars, it just showed you 2 bars as it retested the battery. The gauge then climbed to the actual charge amount. It sounds like your battery may be on the way out, but since you are seeing more of this activity since the update, you MAY be experiencing convulsions that the battery is going through as the new software reconditions it. Recals can happen because the battery improved. You're going to have to give it a couple more weeks. Either the battery is going to improve and stop recaling or it will die and you'll get an IMA light and a new battery under warranty.

    Yours may have been too far gone to save - or not.

    Please let us (or at least me) know how you do with it.
  • mainiaxmainiax Posts: 12
    > The car's engine has more than enough power to run without the 10 hp of IMA assist.

    When I purchased my 07 HCH-II I remember the electric motor was rated at 20 hp, not the 10 you say it is. The ICE was rated at 110 hp. Yes the car runs with only 110 hp but why not just purchase a low powered car in the beginning. The regular Civic had 140 hp at the time and it weighed less than the hybrid. Would have had a/c when I wanted too. On average I bet the regular Civic got about 10/12 mpg less than the HCH-II and cost $5,000 less. A lot of gas could have been purchased.

    If you lose your assist because you used all the energy in the battery climbing a hill then you are well aware that you have no assist available but when it happens randomly such as making a left turn with on coming traffic or merging into traffic then it can be a safety issue and a dangerous one. For the first 27 months I do not ever remember seeing a recal and then all of a sudden I was getting many daily and Honda said I had no problem. Even though I no longer have this vehicle I am still upset with Honda's attitude. It was a nice car for the first 27 months.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    Sorry - typo. 20hp - aka a sudden 15% drop in power. The insight has a 68 hp engine with a 10hp electric which is about the same 15%.

    It takes 18-25 hp to drive the average car down the highway at 65 mpg. Probably about 20 for the civic and about 15 for the insight.

    Are you driving so that sudden reduction in power will cause someone to hit you? A hybrid is not a sports car. You should not be driving it at it's limits.

    I'm used to old cars. Old unreliable cars. I've had classic sportscars that could not be trusted not to stall if you punched the gas. I NEVER turn left when I've got traffic bearing down on me, nor do I punch it to try to squeeze in front of someone when merging. I live in the land of aggressive drivers (NYC) and it only adds a few seconds (not minutes) per trip to drive defensively.

    I'm sorry that you had battery issues, but as I explained before, technically nothing is wrong until the IMA light comes on. Someone further up this post is seeing his recals go away.
  • grunn320grunn320 Posts: 16
    Very recent recall to update software in my 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid resulted in a drastic reduction in the electric power assist function and noticeable reduction in gas mileage and power immediately following the update. This update is designed to prevent premature battery failure. My car has been transformed into a standard Civic that is significantly under powered. This loss of power makes it much more difficult to pass cars or to enter highway on ramps safely. My dealer said they cannot correct this and that the software update is irreversible. I have contacted Honda with my complaint and I am currently waiting for a response from them.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    > No way would I ever buy a hybrid again!

    Good luck with that - seriously. The industry word is that every car made by 2018 or so will be electric or hybrid.

    Mercedes has an S-class hybrid
    Porsche has a hybrid
    Ferarri has a Hybrid!

    And VW had a Hybrid Diesel Rabbit in 1987 that was very similar to Honda's IMA system. They never brought it to the US because of the problems getting the emissions to work with the diesel and the electric motor.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    >Very recent recall to update software in my 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid resulted in a drastic reduction in the electric power assist function and noticeable reduction in gas mileage and power immediately following the update.

    Very recent, like this week? We've been talking about it here. Two others report better mileage and power with it. Did you have any previous updates done?

    Try to keep track of your battery gauge. It appears you will experience normal power and mileage when it is half full or so, but Honda restricted use of the battery when it is depleted (to improve battery life). If you're regularly driving it empty, then you will see a reduction in power.

    If you had it done a couple weeks ago, then have the latest one done.

    BTW, according to Honda, this latest update doesn't address the 2009+ cars because they are already running it. We'll see if that's true or not later on.
  • grunn320grunn320 Posts: 16
    I had the recall update done last Wednesday and immediately called the dealer back the same day to complain. I took it back to the dealer today after putting over 500 miles on the car since the software update. The performance has actually gotten worse and the batteries will not charge past 4 bars. Batteries used to charge all the way. The gas engine roars but the power is so limited it feels like the transmission is slipping. I never had a complaint with this car right up until the day the dealer installed the update. Honda has ruined my car. Anyone interested in starting a class action suit, I'm in.
  • mainiaxmainiax Posts: 12
    > The industry word is that every car made by 2018 or so will be electric or hybrid.

    That may be true but in my opinion the current HCH-II is equivalent to the Model A Ford and with all of us owners of a Honda Civic Hybrid acting as beta testers the hybrids in 2018 may actually be a reliable vehicle but it isn't now.
  • targettuningtargettuning Posts: 1,371
    I do not have a Civic hybrid, however I do have a regular gas 2006 Civic so what I am about to comment on is strictly my opinion. You seem to be dispensing mostly useful information about what actually might be happening when the "less than advertised" hybrid (non) function starts to manifest itself on 2006-09 Civic hybrids. But, you also seem to be defending the company and the car's obvious defective behavior. I for one am very, very thankful I bought the non-hybrid version (although I am not happy with Honda or the gas version either). I have read post after post after post stating the thing is hopelessly under powered when the assist is gone and yet all the sympathy you can muster for being in a dangerous situation when rapid acceleration (or some anyhow) is needed is to say," Well it isn't a sports car so don't drive it like one". Sorry, not good enough! I find myself in situations from time to time (and not always through my lack of pre-planning before making a move) where the need for the ability to get out of ones own way is more than useful it is crucial. So, on this alone the car is dangerous not to mention the frustration I sense over this whole situation from owners here. The Civic hybrid is a half-a**ed attempt to send something to the market place to compete with Toyota. I don't know if the Prius is perfect, likely not, but I am sure its better than this feeble attempt. My opinion and nothing more.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    I'm a battery guy. My concern is the "won't charge above 4 bars". As has been stated in the press releases, the change to the software is that it won't allow assist below 4 bars, so naturally, your car feels like a slug.

    My question is why? Is the battery incapable of being charged? Is it being discharged at a rate that won't let it charge?

    The gauge is supposed to adjust it's range so that the most the battery can hold shows full and the least shows empty. From others' reports here, it is still working that way, so I'm guessing one of two things: the gauge was not properly calibrated by the dealer (and you haven't recal-ed yet), or your battery showed strong during the calibration and is not now.

    You can recalibrate it yourself. Make sure you have your radio security code and then disconnect your 12v battery for 20 seconds. Reconnect it and start the car. You will see 4 bars of regen. Hold down the throttle so that the car is revving at 3500 rpm and turn off the AC. After about a minute to a minute and a half, you should see battery bars appear. Hold the throttle until either the 4 bars of regen go out or the battery gauge stops climbing. Then let go of the throttle and take the car for a test drive.

    If this works, the gauge will range normally and you will have your assist back (except when the battery is low).

    Please let me know how this works.
  • grunn320grunn320 Posts: 16
    Thanks for the info. My battery will rarely charge up to 5 bars but quickly discharges and maintains at 4 bars. At the 4 bar level the assist function works intermittently and sometimes not at all. Battery level sometimes drops below 4 bars when I speed up or pass someone, then the assist won't work at all, when I need it the most. Prior to the software update my battery would charge the full range with power assist working down to but not including 1 bar. I'm not very mechanically inclined and not comfortable attempting the recal process myself. I don't know what a radio security code is or what to do with it. Thanks for your input.
  • jack000jack000 Posts: 16
    They come with screw holes for threading, so you don't need to weld them. You can match them up to the same voltage as the NiMH pack. As far as I know, I haven't seen any sensors on individual cells or cell sticks (please correct me if I'm wrong) so maybe one would just need to replace the sticks. I just really want to see someone try this. As a reminder these are LiFePO4 cells. They are much safer and can tolerate the same abuse as NiMH, as well as being 50% more efficient.
  • las2002las2002 Posts: 8
    My mileage is up at least 3 MPH to 41-42 in Las Vegas summer heat. Prior to the upgrade, mileage was around 38.0. Driving is mostly city with significant stop and go like on East Flamingo in Vegas. Recalls seem to be getting less frequent. Most noticeable lack of assist is above 105F with A/C on auto and set to about 76 deg.

    My car is a 2008 Civic with 23000 miles since new.

    I do miss the power of my BMW 3 series but I personally think the car is performing like the Hybrid it is. Honda here (Findley) has been providing very good service - replaced glazed brake pads free and steam cleaned the engine compartment free with my recent software upgrade.

    I'm still happy with the low fuel costs and low maintenance costs. Would I buy another Hybrid - I'm not sure?
  • mabecanemabecane Posts: 46
    I'm due to bring my 06 HCH Friday for the update but now I'm getting cold feet after reading about problems some of the owners are getting following the update. I've driven the car mostly on highway, and never noticed any problems with the battery, it seems to charge normally.
    My mileage has dropped to 45 mpg since I switched to better riding tires.
    I'm interested to know more about the calibration procedure you mentioned in your posting.
    Doesn't the computer takes over and override the procedure.
    I'm wondering if I should hold on the update and see what happens. My wife did mentioned that the bars dropped down to one once at the traffic stop. :confuse:
  • selinzselinz Posts: 11
    however, I did get my battery changed at around 130K. They chose to do it and when they did, they gave me the "4 bar mod."
    I decided to drive my last tank of gas at the speed limit (or close) and got 46mpg. This is with Yokohama YK520 tires. When I started using these tires, my mileage dropped 2 or 3 mpg.

    So if any of you are getting crappy mileage do this:
    Try to keep your RPM's between 2000 and 3500 rpm. You get very little acceleration benefit above 3500rpm and it really starts sucking gas...

    Of course, AC sucks significant mpg's (my experience is about 3-5mpg).
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    >But, you also seem to be defending the company and the car's obvious defective behavior.

    That's where we differ. I don't think it is defective behavior. Due to my work with these cars, I have a great deal of knowlege about what is going on behind the scenes when you see behavior "A" or behavior "B" and it isn't necessarily what you think it is. I do think that Honda is caught between a rock and a hard place here, because the original programming which produced the original feel of the car is now known to be bad for the batteries when used in certain ways. So their only choices are to try to fix the problem (which affects the performance of the car) or leave it alone and have people screaming at them with dead batteries that are just outside of warranty. Let's not kid ourselves - they have plenty of dead batteries inside warranty as well, so they're looking to cut those losses as well.

    Still, two people here report that the latest software release seems to be improving mpg and fixing their batteries at the same time, so maybe they've hit on something good.

    > I have read post after post after post stating the thing is hopelessly under powered when the assist is gone

    Put 5 adults and luggage in your car and it's about the same as a hybrid without assist. With assist, the hybrid is more nimble than yours. You can decide for yourself if that is "hopelessly" underpowered. It IS significantly less and is a real slap in the face, but the car still moves.

    > Well it isn't a sports car so don't drive it like one". Sorry, not good enough!

    As far as I know, every US owner took a driving test from a state that teaches and encourages defensive driving. Why people should feel that they don't need to continue those practices after getting their licenses is beyond me. The car doesn't stall when it regens, you just have to put your foot down harder. If you were using the entire gas pedal already to make a left turn, then you should really re-evaluate your driving habits. That kind of driving CAUSES accidents, mostly to the poor people coming the other way as they try to avoid the car that is cutting them off.

    > I find myself in situations from time to time (and not always through my lack of pre-planning before making a move) where the need for the ability to get out of ones own way is more than useful it is crucial.

    I agree, but can't you just stomp on the gas? Any hybrid owner that regularly uses full throttle acceleration (note that I said "regularly") is not getting the benefits of the car that they bought. They are killing their gas mileage.

    > So, on this alone the car is dangerous

    No, it is not.

    > not to mention the frustration

    Now that is something that I'm in full agreement with you about. The people here have every right to be angry about the annoyance of the changes in performance. They need to continue to raise hell about it - AFTER they completely understand what is going on, not just in a vauge way. If the latest update results in a loss of power when the car is being driven conservatively (when the battery is more than 4 bars), then they need to make their situations known.

    But complaining about lack of assist at 2 bars when the documentation clearly told you that this was what would happen is not constructive and will not get anything accomplished. Perhaps the next release will be better at keeping the battery more full, but that will negatively impact mileage. The software is walking a thin line. There are a range of drivers with a range of styles. Some will fall outside of what the software can do, but if they make it more restrictive, the others (the majority) will be negatively impacted. There are something like 300,000 HCH cars and if all of the drivers were having these problems, it would be front page news across the country.

    Lastly, recals are bad. I hate them. Everyone hates them. Frequent recals are usually the sign of an impending failure. They are not, however, a failure. They are an attempt by the car to avert a failure. People don't realize this and assume that the effect is the cause. They are extremely annoying, but dangerous? It might reduce the performance, but it'll still outperform many production econoboxes of today and yesteryear.

    It could be far worse. In a 97-99 Prius (international spec) when the car detects a similar problem, it limits the car to 10 miles per hour. THAT would be extremely dangerous if it happened in traffic. In a later model Prius cars, it won't even let you start the car with some failures.

    Just my opinion.

    Now back to helping anyone who wants it.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    Your gauge before may have showed 20% to 40% while now it is showing 20% to 80%. Same charge, different scale on the gauge. 30% would have showed as 10 bars before while it may now only show 5 bars. The difference is that the car is acting differently at those low bars.

    > I'm not very mechanically inclined and not comfortable attempting the recal process myself.

    Perhaps a neighbor or a car-saavy person could do it for you.

    >I don't know what a radio security code is or what to do with it.

    Your radio has an anti-theft feature. When the battery is disconnected (like it would be if the radio was stolen) the radio locks up and will not work until you punch in the correct 5 digit code. This code is unique to your car and should be in your owners manual.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    > That may be true but in my opinion the current HCH-II is equivalent to the Model A Ford and with all of us owners of a Honda Civic Hybrid acting as beta testers the hybrids in 2018 may actually be a reliable vehicle but it isn't now.

    Okay, but from my experience, the gen 1 cars (2000-2006 Insight, 2003-2005 Civic, 2005-2007 Accord) are extremely reliable. They need battery work every 120,000-160,000 miles on average, but that isn't exactly the end of the world. The catalytic converter lasts about the same amount of time and costs somewhere around the same to fix.

    The newer cars are mostly still under warranty, so I can't draw any conclusions - yet.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    There are three temp sensors, and the battery management computer will not be able to handle any Lithium product. They will NOT work without completely replacing the computer system and nobody has created one that works for this car yet.
  • grunn320grunn320 Posts: 16
    Thanks again for the info. Where do you enter the 5 digit code to unlock the radio?
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    You just punch it in with the radio preset buttons (the number buttons). The radio will ask you for the code if it wants it.
  • grunn320grunn320 Posts: 16
    Thanks ogre GEV. I take my 2007 hybrid to the dealer again this week(3rd time) per Hondas request to have them road test it. From what I've read here, it may just be a waste of time. Thanks again.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    Get the newest update while you're there if you don't already have it. Tell them that someone mentioned that your "battery relearn" might have been done wrong (they might have just let the car idle) and that it may solve the problem.

    I had a customer last week with a 2003 (a totally different car from yours) that did the relearn at idle, and his car only would show 4 bars of battery despite me shipping it to him full. It didn't affect his performance because the 2003 has different software and has no electric AC or electric-only mode. He re-did the relearn and got the full 19 bars (2003-2005 cars will almost never show the 20th bar).
  • targettuningtargettuning Posts: 1,371
    Yes, I am an interloper on this "hybrid Civic" site, BUT I read it out of interest and with a large sense of relief that I did not choose a hybrid version in 2006 when I bought mine (although the gas version is not without its problems) so as I said I am not speaking from a position of ownership but anyone who has half a brain can follow this trail of woe. The car simply is not what people who did buy it expected.
    My car (2006 EX sedan w/auto) has 140 hp and while a full load will probably effect the performance it will never be as slow as the hybrid version with and especially, without assist...never! Further, you espouse safe driving and while I'm all for that have you been out in the real world lately? 6 out of 10 drivers don't give a crap about what is safe or even sane so YOU better be able to compensate for their idiotic moves and if the vehicle you end up with won't respond quickly enough then however safe you are just doesn't matter. I did not respond to you to start something but to simply say that hybrid owners should not have to put up with all this just because they bought the car for economy, so they should forever drive accordingly. Real world situations demand some small amount of response from the car and if this car cannot routinely deliver that then it IS unsafe. Oh, when I bought my gas Civic in 06 I took a hybrid version for an extended test drive and even brand new, in a back-to-back test drive with a gas Civic it never impressed me as being the super car you think it is. Adequate when brand new with everything operating as it should but apparently with use it is less than adequate. So, back to helping for you and back to lurking for me.
  • Ogre_GEVOgre_GEV Posts: 263
    I didn't say it was quicker. I said it was more nimble. The electric motor provides x lbs-feet of torque (sorry, I don't have the Civic number handy) which is available at 0 rpm. This means that the 0-10 mph performance of the hybrid is better than the gas model. When turning left (presumably from a stop) it will be quicker as long as torque steer doesn't get in the way.

    You are missing the point that I am agreeing with you that the car is not working the way it did when it was sold and that people should be angry and should be taking legal action, but I disagree that it is unsafe and that it is defective now. I feel that the original software was defective in terms of allowing damage to the battery system. I'm not trying to claim that it is correct now, but they have addressed that problem. Now if they can get it usable for the remaining percentage of the owners, everyone will be satisfied.

    You say that you'd better compensate for idiotic drivers moves. That is called driving defensively. Waiting until it is safe to turn left (a big enough gap) is a big one. Why? Not because the car might stumble, but any number of other things might happen. A pedestrian might decide to step out into your path, an animal might run out, a car parked at the corner might choose that instant to pull out, etc. Any of these things might leave you stopped blocking oncoming traffic. If you didn't wait for a safe gap, you're going to be T-boned, your passenger may be killed, and the oncoming driver may die. All because you're in a hurry?

    If you've left an adequate gap, a sudden recal event or a low charge condition will still allow you to complete the turn without danger. This is why I disagree with it being a safety issue.

    Hybrid owner buy a car for economy. Yes they have to drive it accordingly or they will never see the benefits. You don't buy a sports car to get good economy and you don't buy a hybrid to get a sports sedan.

    Real world situations demand a response. The car can deliver even during a recal. It can deliver more than some other cars, BUT it can't deliver as much as the owners are used to.
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