Last post on Dec 09, 2013 at 4:52 PM
You are in the Honda Civic Hybrid
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Honda Civic, Hybrid Cars, Coupe, Sedan
#1080 of 1535 This Problem Began in 2000
May 16, 2011 (12:21 pm)
We bought a 2000 Honda Insight - the first in our area. Our initial mileage was 72 mpg. About 6 months later, we got a notice that Honda needed to update the software. So they did. Our mileage dropped to 60 mpg and kept dropping. We had the original battery replaced in 2006, another replacement in 2007, 2008, and 2009 all while under warranty. The battery failed again in late November 2010 when we were out of the warranty. The price quoted us then for a new battery was $2,400 BUT with just a 12-month or 12,000 mile warranty, whichever came first. We got the same runaround - "driving habits". Our mileage had dropped all the way to 50 mpg which is a 30.5% drop in mileage advertised and mileage we got intially. Honda has not treated us well at all. Honda should acknowledge they have a problem and not pass it on to the people who bought their product. We live in central California; our dealer told us to call Honda of America; we called and were told "it's your fault because of your driving habits". The Honda of America rep said "just back it out of the garage and rev up the engine for several minutes before driving" - which is pretty lame advice. The car is in our garage and we do not know what to do. Meanwhile we are driving our 1985 Honda Civic which is at least reliable. We will never buy another Honda because they won't back up their hybrid automobiles. We will never buy another Hybrid or an Electric car until improved battery technology is used and proven. The IMA system stinks. Financially, a person would have to be stupid to buy a $2,400 battery with a one year or 12,000 mile warranty. $2,400 even with gas at $4+ per gallon would buy a lot of gas for a car that is dependable and not a potential accident causer. To go north from where we live is probably a 15 to 20 uphill grade. Failure of the car on the uphill climb could cause us to end up going over a cliff by being rear ended as the car has no acceleration. It is a potential hazard. And our situation gives history to this problem and shows that Honda was aware of this for at least 11 years. The Prius came out in 2000 and we have friends who bought them - not a single complaint. We only wish we had bought a Prius.
#1081 of 1535 Re: This Problem Began in 2000 [gremlin1]
May 16, 2011 (12:59 pm)
all i have to say is "F'in Honda"!!!!
all they say is that it's OUR damn driving habits. that's the only excuse they can think of.
#1082 of 1535 How to FIX the IMA problem (at your own risk)
May 16, 2011 (3:12 pm)
So I did some snooping around on the ecomodder forums. Turns out, there was someone with the same battery issues we've seen here (not surprising). He Built a grid (trickle) charger for the car out of 48V power supplies to "re-balance" the NiMH battery pack.
I wondered why the battery would even need to be rebalanced, surely Honda and their "perfect" IMA system (as I was told by the mechanic at the dealer) would monitor such things.
I look at my trusty service manual, and nope. They only have 24 battery sensors for 132 cells.
So I go ahead and order the power supplies, fuses, and rectifiers (diodes). I pop out the rear seat and hook the negative end of the charger to the negative lug, and the positive to a wire on the BCM (I dont remember exactly which one at the moment). I put a 12v adapter and fan on the vent (to cool off the battery) and calibrated it to 198 volts (1.5 volts/cell).
I needed to make sure the current was a C/10 so that the cell would recombine all of the excess gas from 'overcharging' (this is in the design of NiMH cells). so a 5.5AH pack needs a 550ma charger. I used the Meanwell RS25-48 PSUs and wired them in series with an LPC 35-700 adjustable supply along with the fuses and diodes.
I charge up the car for 24 hours (2x capacity so that any cells that are way off can catch up) and start the car. After a few hours of it recalibrating, etc. There are little to no recalibrations AND mileage is back up to 45+mpg (from 36mpg). This is AFTER the software patch. I have a solar panel that I plan on hooking up to the charger to use while I'm parked.
So far so good. NOTE: Do NOT turn on the car with the charger activated. It WILL throw a code and can possibly confuse the BCM and it will take longer for your car to recalibrate to the battery.
This is purely informational. If you decide to do anything described here, you do so at YOUR OWN RISK. Please take proper precautions when working with the battery and power supply, as they are HIGH VOLTAGE and produce enough current to KILL.
Grid charger schematic:
#1083 of 1535 Re: This Problem Began in 2000 [gremlin1]
May 17, 2011 (4:33 am)
The update that was made to your car in 2000 had nothing to do with performance. It corrected a bug that allowed the car to overcharge the battery in sub-zero weather (and damage it). The ECM update in 2001 MAY have affected your mileage, but it was in no way related to the battery system - it changed the engine timing to correct a problem with the emissions.
What happened is that the update you had coincided with the battery failing. We see a LOT of insights (three per week) and most get 120,000 - 180,000 miles on their initial batteries. One group of drivers does not. That is the drivers that either drive very little (less than 5,000 miles per year) or drive infrequently (don't drive daily). There is also the odd case of the driver that lives at the top of a large hill. Any one of these will result in premature failure. Last year I had a customer that lived in manhattan and drove his car only on weekends. He had 5 batteries in 10 years in 35,000 miles. He came to us because his warranty was up, we balanced his battery and installed a charger. Now he plugs in the car on Friday night and I don't expect he'll ever have another problem.
If these driving patterns match yours, you need a charger as well. There are a few of them being sold by different people. Call me so that we can figure out what can be done to get your battery functional again. I believe it can be saved.
BTW, I've never known an Insight that didn't run out of battery long before finishing a 15-20 mile uphill grade - or did you mean 15-20 degree grade?
If you are experiencing a loss of power immediately after starting the car in the morning, it is a recal (recalibration event) from sitting. Revving the engine is actually the correct procedure, but since the engine is cold, I'd recommend just letting it sit and idle instead. The battery power will return in 45-75 seconds.
With a little TLC, you'll be back to 70 mpg. Honda won't help you because your car is 11 years old.
#1084 of 1535 Re: How to FIX the IMA problem (at your own risk) [jack000]
May 17, 2011 (4:55 am)
Why didn't they build in a BMS and only monitor 12 cells at a time? Because it would have added several hundred dollars of electronics to an already expensive car.
Now, a few notes for you because you seem technically inclined.
The battery is 6.5 Ah at 0.2C (the standard way of measuring)
1.6V is the terminal charge voltage for healthy cells (actually 1.65V, but that's risky)
C/20 is more acceptable for a fanless setup, so if you plan to do this again, go with 350Ma. With the electronics built into that fan, I assume you tapped in above the PWM module, but what speed do you have it running at?
Also, please limit the charge to 8-12 hours, because your battery isn't starting out empty.
Lastly, your battery will benefit most from several charge/discharge cycles, not just one.
Also, be aware that 2003-2005 Civics have 120 cells and 2006+ have 132 cells.
#1085 of 1535 Re: This Problem Began in 2000 [Ogre_GEV]
May 20, 2011 (3:44 pm)
You spoke about a customer living in Manhattan who drove his Insight infrequently and needed to replace the battery often.
My situation is similar. I live in the downtown core of my city and I drive my 2006 HCH infrequently. My battery started deteriorating at about 40,000 miles. I'm now at roughly 50,000 and mileage is definitely down.
Is there any way of installing a charger to fix this problem?
#1086 of 1535 Re: This Problem Began in 2000 [yzerman123]
May 21, 2011 (4:02 am)
Yes, you can install a charger and charge it prior to each use if it has been left unused for more than a few days. I don't know if your battery is recoverable, but it will at least arrest the deterioration. The gentleman I was talking about had less than 3,000 miles on the battery, so it had faster sudden damage while yours is a slower, more gradual thing.
Still, without a charger, your only choices are to drive the car more, replace the battery every few years or get rid of the car.
If you are unable to build one, contact me via email and I'll put you in touch with someone that can.
#1087 of 1535 Prices on Civic Hybrid Sky High
May 27, 2011 (10:08 am)
Hello, all. I know a lot of you have had issues with the HCH II. I bought mine about 6 months ago at a rock bottom price when dealers were lousy with hybrids. I thought the HCH II was an "okay" car. It got fairly good mileage, but not as well as advertised. The IMA system was kind of a pain, and distracting. It was prone to suddenly "dump" charges a couple of times a week, so you would have to drive like a granny to get the charge back up. It road rough as a buckboard on our bad Midwestern streets. Recently I noticed that with gas up over $4 the prices of these things had jumped by $2 to $3k at the retail/wholesale. I took the opportunity and traded my HCH II in on a late model V6 SUV. (I don't drive that much so the gas won't kill me. Basically buy low and sell high, as it were). I paid about $13.5k for my 2008 HCH in December and received $15.5k on trade. Not a bad deal. If you are sick of the hassle of the IMA system and Honda, you may want to consider trading or selling your car while gas is still north of $3.75. As gas prices come down, so will the value of the various hybrid models. Best of luck to you all.
#1088 of 1535 Re: Prices on Civic Hybrid Sky High [bobbichen]
May 27, 2011 (10:19 am)
I sold mine also. Unfortunately, I wanted a Subaru SUV because they only sell PZEVs here and knew if I waited the prices on them were going to go sky-high also or they would not be available. I also wanted to trade it in before too many people heard about the issues and the value went down. Got enough for my 2007 to drive the SUV for three years for free, and got some money back. I was afraid to drive my car anymore. I am getting about 2/3 of the mileage in the SUV of the hybrid - for $30-40 more a month it was worth it to know when I press the gas pedal the car will actually move, not stall or have no pickup. I wanted to keep my car but was pretty sure I was going to be killed in it because of the pickup and stalling issues.
#1089 of 1535 Re: How to FIX the IMA problem (at your own risk) [Ogre_GEV]
May 31, 2011 (7:11 am)
I had the fan running at full blast with a separate 12v power supply.
I had done several cycles on it... the first one was the 24 hour cycle and just a few 8-12 hour overnight cycles after that.
I have an '09, and the charger was delivering ~210 volts.
After a few weeks of driving, IMA light went on and then went off.
I took all my charging stuff out of the battery compartment, and brought it in.
There was a battery degradation code and an internal short code. They ordered and installed a new battery for me and the new pack performs spectacularly. MPG has increased from 45 to 53!
No 'recals' every morning and I've had the new pack for more than a week.
Also, the dealer told me the new battery was 'improved' over the old one but that's all he knew. Does anyone know what changes and improvements were made to the pack?
My guess is they went with a different NiMH cell that can withstand higher temps and doesn't get imbalanced as easily.