IMA battery isn't charging anymore.

  #1  
Old 03-24-2004, 07:39 PM
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I know this is REALLY long post.
It's no joke and you may want to read it.

My HCH has been back to the dealer 4 times now.
Final diagnosis is the car is working perfectly: the reason the
battery is going dead is because I'm driving for great MPG and not
getting enough regenerative braking on my HCH CVT.

The first month I had the car it worked normally.
I'd begin from a stop, which uses some assist and drops the battery
charge a little. As I drive the battery is slowly recharged.
When I climb the next hill a little assist is used, which drops the
battery a little. As I drive the battery is slowly recharged.
If I have to break or coast the battery is additionally recharged.
Unless I use ALOT of assist the battery stays pretty much over 75%.
I've always driven this car with its load: only enough gas to
sustain speed and maximamizing MPG as often as I can.
Highest acheived MPG is 62.2 earlier this month.

When the problem occurs, the battery is not recharged.
Driving the same route as above, same conditions,
I'll begin from a stop and it uses a little assist which drops the
battery charge a little. But as I drive the battery isn't slowly
charging anymore. When I climb the next hill a little assist is
used and causes the battery level to drop a little more.
As I drive the battery still isn't being recharged.
After a few more hills requiring a little assist the battery is now
drained to only 1/4 left. Now I get to the stop light and
regenerative braking recovers some, but not very much.
As I begin from the stop I use a little more assist. Now the charge
has dropped below 1/4 and the IMA realizes the battery is low and
begins its continuous charge up until it reaches 1/2.

At that 1/2 way point it stops all charging and the next few hills
uses some more assist, dropping the battery back below 1/4 and it
starts its continuous charge again. It will just keep on cycling
this mosly dead IMA battery over and over.
Then I get onto the freeway fighting this continuous cycling battery.
The car is frustraing to drive in this condition and wrecks my MPG
because it is charging 40% of the trip. (30 miles or so)

The dealer checked the car for error codes and says that since there
isn't any errors found, there is NO trouble. Period.
They have called some technicians in California and they also say
the car is working perfectly fine.
I've requested a meeting with the regional SVC manager and I've
prepared these questions which pretty much covers it I think:

(First dealer statement)
I was told that the ONLY time the car is charging the battery is
when 4 illuminated bars are in the CHARGE gauge. Without the green
charge indicators the car is not charging the battery. Period.
It was further explained that the battery is ONLY charged 3 ways:
1. Regenerative braking
2. Coasting charging with the foot off of the accelerator
3. Low battery condition continuous charge.
It is said that the car has NO capacity, NO function at all to
recharge the battery other than those 3 ways.

(My first question)
Normally the battery charges as I drive up to about 98%.
The battery will fully recover from 1/4 to 95% if driven about 5
miles.
I am not using regenerative braking, not coasting, and the battery
is not continuously charging from a low condition.
There are no charge bars illuminated...What is charging the battery?

Also, freeway driving has little or no regenerative braking or
coasting charging. What maintains the battery charge?

(Next dealer statement)
I was told by the service manager and the lead mechanic that the
reason why the battery keeps cycling a dead battery is because I am
getting too high MPG, and not getting enough regenerative braking.
Knowing the Honda Insight is rated at EPA 72MPG, the lead mechanic
said that the Insight system is similar to the HCH, but less
complicated.

(My next quuestion)
I asked the lead mechanic if the Insight, being similar will cycle a
mostly dead IMA battery. He didn't know. This needs clarification.

(My next question)
The first month I owned the car it ALWAYS maintained at least 60%
battery.
After that month this problem happened about once a week.
Then many times a week. Then many consecutive days. Now it happens
most of the time in the afternoon.

What has happened to the car to make the problem progressively
deteriorate?

(My next question)
The problem ONLY occurs after the car is parked in the drive way, in
the warm sun all afternoon. The problem NEVER occurs at any other
time.

Why does it not happen at any other time?

(Last dealer statement)
I was told by 2 Hybrid mechanics and the service manager that the
Hybrid cars are a new technology and that there is still alot of
uncertainty about how all this new technology works together.

(My last question)
Granted the technology is relatively new.
How, in this foggy cloud of uncertainty can my car be diagnosed as
not having a problem?

With reduced MPG, frustration with the vehicle and the unknown long
term effects of driving with a mostly dead cycling IMA battery, this
issue needs to be addressed and corrected.

(Finished)

What do you think?
Am I being unreasonable?
Is my car really performing normally?
The meeting with the regional manager will be the 5th trip to the
shop.

Perhaps it may be the time to use the Georgia lemmon law.
Lemmon law says if the dealer can't fix it in 3 trips, a 4th attempt
is granted the dealership to fix the problem.
I hate to do that because I really love my car otherwise!!!!
What happens to my rights if the dealer insists ther IS no problem?

Steve & family
 
  #2  
Old 03-25-2004, 02:41 PM
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there obviously is a problem...get a 3-rd party opinion if the dealership gives you a hard time. if i was having that kind of problems i would invoke the lemon law (glad we have it)...and from a HONDA?!?! im dissapointed.
 
  #3  
Old 03-25-2004, 09:25 PM
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I would agree that something is wrong. I assume you can reproduce the conditions for the dealer because you state
The problem ONLY occurs after the car is parked in the drive way, in the warm sun all afternoon. The problem NEVER occurs at any other
time.
I also would consider getting a third party opinion but I'm not sure where you could go, given the uniquness of the technology. Another Honda dealer in a different part of town?
Unfortunately if all else fails I would push for the Lemon law. But don't give up on the Civic Hybrid in general though. There are plenty of others out there satisfied owners without any charging issues.
 
  #4  
Old 03-26-2004, 08:12 AM
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Thanks, I'm not giving up.

I truly love this fantastic and amazing car.
I think my case isn't normal, but an exception.

Just yesterday my wife & I went out to lunch with a friend.
The friend and the waitress began a car conversation.
The waitress said she drove a 1987 Jeep and wants to replace
it with the same car my friend drives, a new Jeep because with
gas prices rising and she only gets 8 mpg with her old one.

Wow, what a tempting conversation to jump into.
I told her that I get 60 or better MPG in my car.
Totally shocked and amazed (Deer in headlights) she asked me
if I drive a trycicle to work.

I said no, just that car parked outside over there. (Pointing to my HCH)
Still dazed she says "At least you can use the EV parking stations at the mall!"

And there the conversation went on from there.
Glad to tell her about it.

Love these perks!
Steve & family
 
  #5  
Old 03-29-2004, 02:44 PM
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An update:
I've had my car back from the dealer since the 26th.
Not sure what the dealer had to do to fix it, but it has been working
properly since.
He said that he reset the computer (BCM) I believe he called it.
He reseated some fuses.

Steve & famuly
 
  #6  
Old 05-21-2006, 08:19 PM
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Default Re: IMA battery isn't charging anymore.

So, is everything still ok with your battery? Do you still use your P&G techniques and maintain a normal battery charge?
 
  #7  
Old 05-22-2006, 03:07 AM
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Default Re: IMA battery isn't charging anymore.

One thing is for sure, that first dealer is full of it. The Hondas definately charge slowly even when no bars are showing. Our cars don't have alternators so IMA is alway putting out a little juice to run the 12V stuff which charges the main pack at the same time.
 
  #8  
Old 05-22-2006, 11:48 AM
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Default Re: IMA battery isn't charging anymore.

It was probably the small fan in the trunk that pumps air accross the battery. I bet it wasn't working so the battery was too hot and the safety systems shut it down.
 
  #9  
Old 05-22-2006, 12:54 PM
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Default Re: IMA battery isn't charging anymore.

It's been doing just fine.
My battery still does what is described above and really not concerned.

I use the headlights on trick which Wayne (Xcel) "turned me onto" a long time ago, which forces the IMA to charge back up to a couple bars off full.
It forces it to work "normally" so to say.

If I drive with headlights off the IMA will generally maintain a bar or two above half SOT and a few bars below. Sometimes it will run it all the way up to normal full but not very often.

I have almost 70K miles on it now and have not caused any other problems what-so-ever, and hope to run the battery past 300,000 miles.

Will it make it past 300K miles? Maybe so, maybe not.
But I will tell you that I use as little battery as possible in my daily drive, purposely keeping Assist off when given the choice.

As a secondary benefit for using less Assist, MPG's go up as well
 
  #10  
Old 05-25-2006, 04:41 PM
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Default Re: IMA battery isn't charging anymore.

Originally Posted by Hot_Georgia_2004
...I use the headlights on trick which Wayne (Xcel) "turned me onto" a long time ago, which forces the IMA to charge back up to a couple bars off full.
It forces it to work "normally" so to say...
Can you say more? What, exactly, does turning the headlights on do for you, and when do you do it, for what purpose?
Thanks.
 

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