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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 07-14-2005, 04:31 PM
Enthusiast
 
Real Name: Edward Rotberg
Hybrids: Insight
Posts: 8
Default Warning: Honda Hybrid Battery Warranty!!

Boy I hate to have to be writing post, but since Honda USA has decided to turn their back on me, I feel have have no other leverage in this situation and I can only hope others considering the purchase of a Honda Hybrid and reading this post will think twice about it.

I own a Honda Insight. I've owned it for over 4 years now, and it has been a great vehicle. I have had it serviced regularly by Honda and have not missed a single scheduled maintenance visit. This June, on a trip from where I live in the California Sierras to Las Vegas, a funny thing started to happen. This drive involves a lot of hills, and traveling with my wife, we were near the load limit for the car. Driving in the mountains, you use a lot of battery - you can't help it. The good news is that you can get good recharges as you drive back downhill from you ascents. Anyhow, I noticed that once my battery got one or two "lines" below 1/2, the battery charge dropped precipitously. I mean it dropped to just 2 lines in about 10-15 seconds. Even worse, it didn't matter whether I was driving at the time or not. I tested this by pulling over to the side, putting the car in neutral and letting the engine shut down as it normally does, but the battery drain, once started always dropped to 2 lines - despite its not being used at all at the time!

Now this is not good. But to make it just a little bit worse, I still needed to bring the charge all the way back through the "drop range" in order to get it back where I could use it again. The only good thing about this trip was that the trip down to Vegas was on June 10, and the trip back on June 19. It was fortunately very mild weather in the Nevada high desert aone those dates, and I could often run without AC when at altitude. Had we been driving during the present heat wave, we would have been in very serious trouble.

So once I got back, I took the car into the dealer and explained the problem. They ran all their tests and told me the car, and the battery system was fine. I then took the mechanic who worked on the car out for a drive. I drained the battery to half, and watch carefully. Once it started to drop, I pulled over the side of the road, put the car in neutral and let the engine shut down. His jaw dropped about as quickly as the the battery did.

At this point he agreed that the battery system was not fine, but given the limited experience he had with hybrids, he needed to call Honda USA's tech advisors. They indicated that - even though the battery is "fully" warranted for eight (count 'em: 8) years, and even though it was clearly failing, that they would not fix it under warranty because it had not "failed enough" to set off their bloody IMA indicator lights. "Failed enough" - gotta love that logic!

Ok, so I escalated this to Honda Customer Service at the behest of the service manager at my dealer since their hands were tied in the matter.The upshot of all that, is that after playing over a week's worth of phone tag, Honda won't do anything to correct the problem. They do acknowledge that the battery is failing and offered to extend the battery's warranty to 125,00 miles, but what the heck good would another 2 or 3 years do me. If the battery is going to fail completely while I'm out in the high desert, that extension won't help worth beans. Further, I honestly believe that either the battery will continue to deteriorate over the next 3 or 4 years to the point where the IMA light will fail, or it will just reach a crippled point and stop detriorating. In either case, such a warranty extension is clearly worthless. They were trying to throw me a bone to shut me up and have me go away. I declined.

So now I have two choices: I can try to sell what I know to be a failing vehicle - even if Honda's morales don't mind that, mine do - or I can try to live with it until it "fails more" - perhaps leaving me in a seriously bad situation when that happens. I don't not find either of these alternatives acceptable. As such, I feel that my only recourse at this time is to let everyone I can know about this incident and warn then away from Honda's hybrid vehicles. Their battery warranty isn't worth the paper it's printed on.

My short advice to all reading this: Buy a Prius!

Most Sincerely,

= Ed Rotberg =
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  #2 (permalink)  
Old 07-14-2005, 04:39 PM
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Real Name: Brian
Location: Central Florida
Hybrids: '03 HCH
Posts: 24
Default Re: Warning: Honda Hybrid Battery Warranty!!

I really feel for you. I've had many problems with my Civic Hybrid over the past year and feel pretty helpless. I don't have any specific advice on how to proceed, but persist and keep us updated. Hang in there!
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  #3 (permalink)  
Old 07-14-2005, 05:21 PM
Schwa's Avatar
Ridiculously Active Enthusiast
 
Real Name: Erick
Location: Coquitlam, B.C.
Hybrids: 2001 Prius
Posts: 1,045
Default Re: Warning: Honda Hybrid Battery Warranty!!

Maybe this is the same problem that Toyota has with their 'D' cell battery packs in the 1997-1999 Prius in Japan. Toyota changed over to rectangular cells that last longer than D cells and also have lower internal resistance so they can charge faster and 'give up' current faster. Toyota still offers to replace those Japanese models affected by the problem, and the 2000+ models have been totally free from any battery problems so far, other than the positive terminal corrosion that was a minor problem in humid areas.
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  #4 (permalink)  
Old 07-14-2005, 06:26 PM
tbaleno's Avatar  
Real Name: Tom Baleno
Location: Leominster, MA
Hybrids: 2003 - Honda Civic Hybrid CVT
Posts: 2,157
Default Re: Warning: Honda Hybrid Battery Warranty!!

The only consolation I can give you is that I don't think the honda hybrid system will shut down the car when it fails. You should still be able to drive in a deteriorated state (no assist). So you won't get stranded anywhere.

The dealers hands arn't tied. They make enough money that they could replace the battery pack and eat the cost and probably not break much of a sweat if they realy wanted to. They throw in all sorts of accessories like sunroofs, alloy wheels etc. to make a sale. They can certainly replace a battery pack. Ask them if they ever want you to buy a car from them again? And ask them how much they think word of mouth about this experience will affect their reputation.

.



My hydroponics experiment
My carputer

You ever notice how hard it is to lip read cartoon characters?
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  #5 (permalink)  
Old 07-14-2005, 07:15 PM
xcel's Avatar
Ridiculously Active Enthusiast
 
Real Name: Wayne Gerdes
Location: Northern Illinois
Posts: 2,567
Default Re: Warning: Honda Hybrid Battery Warranty!!

Hi EdRotberg:

___You just saw a simple “recal” by your description. Go over to InsightCentral.net and do a search on “recal” over there. It is not a thing I would want to have happen during a climb but until it throws a Cel or IMA light, you will own a well performing Insight until such time as the Recal’s begin happening on such a frequent basis that the IMA light is thrown. This is not a catastrophic event but it can get worse over time as your pack has less capacity then it did previously.

___Good Luck

___Wayne R. Gerdes
___Waynegerdes@earthlink.net

.



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  #6 (permalink)  
Old 07-14-2005, 07:32 PM
Ridiculously Active Enthusiast
 
Posts: 839
Default Re: Warning: Honda Hybrid Battery Warranty!!

I'm very sorry to hear of your problems. I hope you hang in there, until someone sees the light . A couple of thoughts:

Find the upper levels of customer relations, and complain there. Keep on escalating. Write to Japan if need be. Polite and factual is best.

Write to CARB. Honda are not honoring the warranty.

Demand arbitration wrt your warranty. I know arbitration is not fair, but this is so left-field you should win anyway.

Demand from Honda a written explanation of criteria that they will consider battery failure. Have them explain why your situation does not satisfy them.

Have you had your error codes examined ? If nothing is popping up, the diagnostics that monitor the battery are simply inadequate, and should not be relied upon to document failure.

Make sure you have written documentation from a Honda certified mechanic regarding the battery. Include it with every letter you send.

Since you posted here, I presume you are posting at every Honda hybrid site known to man ? Good.

Check out planetFeedback. I don't know if they have direct lines to Honda, but if they do place a complaint there as well.

If all this fails, I would seriously consider writing letters to the editor to the major car magazines. This is truly unconscionable conduct, and if Honda has made this policy, consumers should know about it.

Very saddening state of affairs.

.


R2-E2
, 2G Prius.
Highway/City/Husband/Wife MPG: 56.5, as of 12/2005, 26K miles

Jac Nasser, Ford President: "We are planning to launch a hybrid version of
this car [P2000] within this year [1998]. We will also make FCEV available in
2004."
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  #7 (permalink)  
Old 07-14-2005, 09:34 PM
Enthusiast
 
Real Name: Edward Rotberg
Hybrids: Insight
Posts: 8
Default Re: Warning: Honda Hybrid Battery Warranty!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by xcel
Hi EdRotberg:

___You just saw a simple “recal” by your description. Go over to InsightCentral.net and do a search on “recal” over there. It is not a thing I would want to have happen during a climb but until it throws a Cel or IMA light, you will own a well performing Insight until such time as the Recal’s begin happening on such a frequent basis that the IMA light is thrown. This is not a catastrophic event but it can get worse over time as your pack has less capacity then it did previously.

___Good Luck

___Wayne R. Gerdes
___Waynegerdes@earthlink.net
Wayne,

I just went to Insight Central and did a search on "recal". Nothing turned up. However, I did find a section that described this occurance as "normal". Funny that the folks at Honda don't seem to know anything about this. Also, being a software engineer who has written dynamic recalibration code myself, I simply do not understand why the problem would persist after "recal". The new range of levels should be kept in non-volatile memory and be used from then forward. Even if they were kept in RAM, they should persist for the duration of an individual drive. This was decidedly NOT the case.

Thanks for the pointer.

= Ed =
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  #8 (permalink)  
Old 07-14-2005, 09:37 PM
Enthusiast
 
Real Name: Edward Rotberg
Hybrids: Insight
Posts: 8
Default Re: Warning: Honda Hybrid Battery Warranty!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by EricGo
I'm very sorry to hear of your problems. I hope you hang in there, until someone sees the light . A couple of thoughts:

Find the upper levels of customer relations, and complain there. Keep on escalating. Write to Japan if need be. Polite and factual is best.

Write to CARB. Honda are not honoring the warranty.

Demand arbitration wrt your warranty. I know arbitration is not fair, but this is so left-field you should win anyway.

Demand from Honda a written explanation of criteria that they will consider battery failure. Have them explain why your situation does not satisfy them.

Have you had your error codes examined ? If nothing is popping up, the diagnostics that monitor the battery are simply inadequate, and should not be relied upon to document failure.

Make sure you have written documentation from a Honda certified mechanic regarding the battery. Include it with every letter you send.

Since you posted here, I presume you are posting at every Honda hybrid site known to man ? Good.

Check out planetFeedback. I don't know if they have direct lines to Honda, but if they do place a complaint there as well.

If all this fails, I would seriously consider writing letters to the editor to the major car magazines. This is truly unconscionable conduct, and if Honda has made this policy, consumers should know about it.

Very saddening state of affairs.
Thanks for your response Eric. I had already copied the content of my post here to Auto Week, Car & Driver and Road & Track magazines. I do plan to contact consumer advocacy groups, and perhaps even a lawyer. I will probably pass this info on to other boards as I find them as well.

Thanks again,

= Ed =
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  #9 (permalink)  
Old 07-14-2005, 09:37 PM
tbaleno's Avatar  
Real Name: Tom Baleno
Location: Leominster, MA
Hybrids: 2003 - Honda Civic Hybrid CVT
Posts: 2,157
Default Re: Warning: Honda Hybrid Battery Warranty!!

Maybe it does its recal under different loads

.



My hydroponics experiment
My carputer

You ever notice how hard it is to lip read cartoon characters?
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  #10 (permalink)  
Old 07-14-2005, 10:48 PM
xcel's Avatar
Ridiculously Active Enthusiast
 
Real Name: Wayne Gerdes
Location: Northern Illinois
Posts: 2,567
Default Re: Warning: Honda Hybrid Battery Warranty!!

Hi EdRotberg:

___Recal’s have been discussed literally hundreds if not thousands of times of times over at InsightCentral.net and as many times if not more in the Yahoo - Honda - Hybrid group(s). Here is a direct link to the InsightCentral.net forums search engine:

InsightCentral.net - Search --> Type in the term “Recal” without the quotes into the Search for keywords box and hit the search button on the bottom using the default search options.

___I counted at least 119 threads with hundreds of individual posts about what it is, why do Honda hybrids have them, and when if ever it is time for a new pack. I hope you find the threads of great use because what you have described so far is a very mild recal event and is absolutely nothing that Honda needs to do by your description? Honda is doing exactly what they have always done at your point of mild pack degradation. When you get a good feel as to the definition of a recal, post to this thread because I can tell many here including Honda IMA owners have never heard of it nor do they understand what it is and why one may occur. Relax until such time the degradation becomes so pronounced that you have drivability issues with it. HCH’s and even Prius’ could have one of these events although they would be hidden from the end user because there really is no good way to tell what the cap of a group of NiMH cells are worth at any given time no matter the algorithm used. Watching the actual pack voltage of a Prius II vs. the SoC meter cycling between 3 and 5 bars just this week over an extended period tells me no manufacture has a good handle on this issue just yet.

___Again, I never experienced one when I owned my Insight but I was always leery of them and avoided cycling the pack as well as exposing the pack to high internal ambient temps in parking lots on hot and sunny days at all costs. In fact, I never touched an IMA assist other then for a few seconds of every hour when it was sometimes unavoidable to see 4 bars of 20 while accelerating through second gear before up shifting into third. Most of the time under acceleration, I could keep assist at bay all the way up to highway speeds. If you can use this light acceleration/maximum SoC battery management technique, your FE will sky rocket as well. For pack temp management, always crack those windows when parked because like any car buttoned up on a 90 + degree day in the summer sun, your internal ambient will reach upwards into the 160 + degree F range pretty quickly. Look at the temp range specs of any NiMH pack and I am sure you will see why I believe temperature management of a hybrids pack is just as important as SoC management while under way.

___Finally, do not expect a tech from just any Honda dealership to understand what a hybrid is doing let alone how to attempt to diagnose one without a Honda Scan Tool and training. Unless the tech owns an Insight or HCH for himself and follows the various online forums, he is more then likely clueless about issues a hybrid owner may see over the life of his or her vehicle. There is nothing wrong with this because there are so few hybrids that come in so these guys never get the chance to get skilled on them unlike a non-hybrid Civic or Accord they probably work on multiple times a day.

___Good Luck

___Wayne R. Gerdes
___Waynegerdes@earthlink.net

.




Last edited by xcel; 07-14-2005 at 10:50 PM.
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Old 07-14-2005, 10:48 PM
 
 
 
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