In preparation for the coming winter, I just bought a Honda engine block heater kit for my 2006 Civic Hybrid, which I intended to install it myself this weekend.
Well a WORD OF ADVICE to you other do-it-yourselfers out there: You may seriously want to think twice about trying to install this kit yourself.
Let me tell you why...
To start with I figured I'm pretty well qualified for such a simple task, as I'm the type of guy who does all my own maintenance work (I've even rebuilt several engines and drive trains over the years). I built from scratch, and regularly fly, an experimental aircraft. I have a great collection of tools which I've amassed from working on my vehicles and my aircraft. I even have a mini-machine shop in my garage.
This job would be a piece of cake I thought... and it actually was... until I tried to remove the engine block coolant drain plug in the almost-impossible-to-reach-spot on the rear of the hybrid engine!
I tried every combination of wrench, ratchet, breaker bar, and socket I could get on the plug, but it simply wouldn't budge no matter how hard I pulled! I had a pile of tools by the car by the time I was done and at one point I even tried a small air impact wrench. I tried to wrenching at it from the top-rear of the engine, from the side of the engine, from inside the wheel well (took the tire and wheel off); from under the car (jacked it up and put it on jack stands).
I pulled so hard on the wrench in one weird position from the passenger side of the engine, that I was afraid I could possibly break my own arm! I have nasty bruises, bleeding cuts, and scrapes from my elbows to my hands to show for this struggle.
After several hours of this, I finally threw in the towel in complete disgust. I really hated to as I don't usually give up easily at anything. But that little drain plug beat me. I can't figure out what those guys assembling that engine in Japan were thinking... sheez!
After I refilled the radiator with fresh coolant, warmed up the engine, and bled the air from the cooling system... just for good measure I tried one last time to loosen the drain plug with the engine still hot. I covered the hot engine with towels to prevent searing my arms while I wrenched at the plug from the top-rear of the engine. I did burn one knuckle anyway. I was thinking that *maybe* the difference in the coefficient of expansion between the aluminum engine block and the steel drain plug might make a difference. It didn't.
As bad as I loath letting another mechanic touch my car, now I'll have to make an appointment with the local dealer and let them try to install the block heater kit. Maybe they'll know some special trick to remove that stubborn drain plug... or maybe they'll just have better luck with the car up on a service lift.
when I went to the H and A site, on the block heater for the 06 Civics, it states 'not for hybrid' making me assume that they did something different with them. It sounds like you had a good workout trying to get that off. Reminds me of when I was trying to change a O2 sesnor on an 89 Isuzu I-Mark. I couldn't get it off (I was using an O2 socket) and I ended up bending the wrench and adapter (but not the 02 socket). I didn't even use a breaker bar, I did try using several sprays to try and loosen up any rust/etc. that may have been locking it up.
Anyway, I would double check on if the block heater can even be applied to the car. I don't see why they would exclude it completely for the Hybrids, but it almost sounds like you were trying to remove a piece that wasn't seperate (not an actual bolt, but just a casted bolt head shape >_< ) Good luck, hope they get it on there for you and treat your car kindly!
John - I feel your pain but hope I don't repeat it as I was also just thinking about that option on my (to-be-picked-up-this-week) HCH. I briefly looked through the PDF install manual and I remember it said to remove the rad drain plug but that really isn't necessary. I added a water temp gauge on my previous car and all it took was to remove a plug in the engine block and to replace it with the thermocouple insert for the water temp gauge. Sure it is safest and most wise to drain all the coolant and replace it but I'm confident that you can do this install just by removing the coolant plug and replacing it with the block heater insert. One end of the plug goes to the battery and the other to a three-prong plug. I don't see why removing the hard-to-reach drain plug is required (recommended maybe but not required). Any thoughts?
The Honda kit contains a heating element which threads into the block IN PLACE of a large diameter coolant drain plug on the rear engine block. You may "technically" not need to drain the radiator first before removing the block drain plug, but I'll bet you'd get a HUGE gush of coolant from the block if you didn't. It's probably better to go ahead and drain the radiator first (into a pan) to keep your work area a little cleaner... but that's personal preference. And you're right, you don't need to remove anything to drain the radiator, just loosen the valve on the bottom and remove the radiator cap.
As to the block drain plug itself, I'm 99% sure I was in fact wrenching on the engine block coolant drain plug, because not only do I have the genuine Honda shop manual for the vehicle which shows it on the rear of the engine block exactly where I found it (in a ridiculous place), but also because I got a good look at it from under the car. It's definitely a plug with a crush washer under it.
As to why a Honda parts seller would identify the block heater as NOT being for the hybrid model... that beats me! One of the first things I did was verify the hybrid and non-hybrid engines both use the exact same coolant plug via the online Honda part diagrams. They do... right down to the same part number. This coolant plug and the heating element both have 28mm very fine threads.
Beside the location of the engine block coolant drain plug, the only difference you'll have when installing the Honda block heater kit between a hybrid and non-hybrid version is in the routing of the electrical harness. Routing of the harness for the hybrid version isn't shown in the installation instructions, but believe me, that's probably the easiest part of the installation when compared to everything else. In the end all you need to do is have the 120 volt plug in the grill where you can access it, and the harness zip tied neatly in the engine compartment.
One other important item of note, there's absolultely no need to remove the battery on the hybrid model block heater kit installation (as shown for the non-hybrid model). But it's still a good idea to disconnect the negative battery cable when working on the car though.
Anyway, thanks for the sympathy. I'm still a little gloomy from being outdone by a little coolant drain plug... and my arms hurt.
Last edited by gyropilot; 08-06-2006 at 04:27 PM..
My bad, I read your post correctly but by the time it got to the gray matter upstairs it interpreted the engine block coolant plug as the rad drain plug so I apologize for the confusion. I've done this (on my previous car) without draining the rad and that car had the antifreeze fill-cap not on top of the rad but near the engine (V-6 engine) which was right over the thermostat and I was able to use a turkey baster and remove almost enough coolant so removing the engine block coolant plug did not result in half a gallon of antifreeze hitting the ground. Thanks for setting me straight as the second cup of Joe had not set in when I replied. =)
This morning I emailed a local Honda dealer near where I work to inquire about how much they would charge me to drain the coolant, swap the engine block coolant plug for the heater element, and then refill the cooling system.
That initiated a polite and informative exchange where I found out there is in fact a separate Honda engine block heater kit for the hybrid model verses the non-hybrid Civics. The hybrid kit part number is 08T44-SVB-100, whereas the non-hybrid kit is part number 08T44-SNA-100.
The service writer attached a copy of the installation instructions for the hybrid block heater kit to one of his emails, which I've in turn attached here to my post. I already had the non-hybrid installation instructions from the online source where I bought the block heater kit.
In carefully examining the two sets of instructions, the block heater kits seem almost identical in content, but based on the suggested routing of the wiring harness in the hybrid model (up the back, across the top, over, and down the front of the engine), it could be that the hybrid wiring harness is longer... but then maybe not.
In any case, in eyeballing the wiring harness this weekend which I received with the non-hybrid model heater block kit I'd bought, there's *way* more than enough length to find a safe routing to the front grill.
Anyway, the local dealer told me the charge would be $56 in labor to install the heater element (with the requisite coolant drain and refill), or $164 in labor to install the entire kit. I intend to have them only install the heater element and will take care of the rest myself. The dealer was completely supportive of that.
Sorry Steve... I didn't understand your original question.
Yes, it's referring to the "Start Clutch Pressure Control Calibration Procedure."
This is done by driving the vehicle (for those of us not equipped with special Honda diagnostic tools).
1. Warm up the engine to normal operating temperature.
2. Shut off engine.
3. Restart engine, then immediately turn the headlights on.
4. Drive the vehicle in the "D" position until the vehicle reaches 37 mph (60 km/h), then release the accelerator and decelerate without pressing the brake pedal for more than 5 seconds.
Now here's the interesting part...
I'm not sure this procedure is absolutely needed unless you remove *both* the 12 volt battery and the IMA battery. The shop manual doesn't seem to be clear on this point. Now why do I think this? Well, I've disconnected the 12 volt battery on my HCHII several times, and I've only done the above procedure once. Honestly I couldn't tell any difference in the way the transmission operated afterwards. But better safe than sorry though and do the procedure.
Last edited by gyropilot; 08-09-2006 at 07:14 AM..