HCHII IMA Battery Recalibration

Discussion in 'Honda Hybrids' started by Mr. Kite, Aug 3, 2008.


How often do you experience battery recalibrations in your HCHII?

  1. never

  2. up to a few times a year

    0 vote(s)
  3. up to once a month

  4. more than once a month

  1. Mr. Kite

    Mr. Kite Well-Known Member

    My first year owning the HCHII, I never experienced a battery recalibration. During my second year, I had a few. Now, I have them probably once every week or two. When the battery recalibrates, the apparent state of charge suddenly drops down to 1 or 0 bars. The IMA system then starts a heavy charging routine.

    Here is the process taken directly from my owner's manual:

    I had another battery recalibration yesterday. I arrived at a destination having just dropped down to 4 bars. A little over an hour later when I got back in the vehicle, the battery level dropped down to 1 bar and started heavy charging. The biggest difference this time was that I had about 20 miles of interstate driving ahead of me. Every other time I had experienced a recalibration, it was during a relatively short trip (like most of my driving). I have never been able to fully recharge the battery. I have always wondered if this was a problem. A full recalibration cannot be done if it doesn't go through the full charge cycle.

    During this particular recalibration, I was able to get the battery FULLY charged. I had all 8 bars full and lost the ability to charge. What was really nice during this process was that the assist affinity was very low. I wish I could have kept it this way. Now it will be nice to see if this full recalibration will lower the frequency of these events.

    Anyway, I would like to hear everybody else's experiences with these battery recalibrations.

    Battery Corrections:

    August 2
    August 3
    August 7
    (Didn't drive any from August 8 - 17)
    August 18
    August 21
    August 23
    August 25
    September 1
    September 5
    September 6
    September 13
    September 24
    September 25
    October 3
    October 4
    October 7
    October 12
    October 17
    November 12
    November 14
    November 15
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2008
  2. GardenWeasel

    GardenWeasel Well-Known Member

    I have just over 12,000 miles - and have never had one (that I've seen). I'm sensitive to the SOC, so I'm always keeping an eye on it...
  3. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger


    I can appreciate you concerns, given I had a battery pack replaced. While I'm not an expert, I do tend to avoid long climbs and parking the Insight in the sun.

    Check to see if your Civic has all it's software updates. I know Honda has recalled hybrids in the Sunbelt and Rocky Mtns.

    For me, 55-60% of the SoC bars is the threshold of the forced recal - you probably know all about this. My experience is get a buffer (i.e. higher SoC) so short urban traffic does not trigger the recall. In my past, if I drove aggressively with the A/C on, then got caught in gridlock, I could be set up for recal and could do absolutely nothing. Your driving is not only better than what I described, but having an automatic is going to be less demanding on the battery pack than with a 5-speed.

    Trying to clarify, determine the usual SoC when recal starts and try to drive with several bars over that...if your battery pack is in decent shape - that should work.

    The other thing is trying to find opportunities to regen. One is a variation of P&G - gradual acceleration then lightly brake or coast to add to the SoC about about 66% of the bars. That, and just making sure every coast and stop gets more regen.

    My experience in Colorado is the looong climbs on I25 and I70 is the most severe IMA test - no chance to build up an Insight battery pack unless very careful. I know you said your trips are short and in the city, but I'd also try to limit the amount of Assist on climbs, accelerating prior to hills if possible.

    Hope that somehow helped.
  4. Harold

    Harold Well-Known Member

    I purchased my HCH2 Dec. 22, 2006. It is a 2006 model. About two mths. ago it had its first recalibration. I was travelling slow at about 45kph when the car seemed to stuter and miss. I increased the throttle and at the same time I notice the SOC was empty and some regen was going on. After about 5 miles the SOC was full. In the past I have had the SOC at zero on a few occasions while traveling in the mountains with no ice roughness or missing. Off late I try not to generate assist unless it is required. I am trying too be gentle with the pack. Reading msantos posts have changed my habits<grin>H
  5. Mr. Kite

    Mr. Kite Well-Known Member

    So much for my theory that the full recalibration might decrease the frequency. Today, I drove about 10 miles this morning and still had 6 or 7 bars. Then my wife drove another 10 miles and ended with 5 bars. Then we are all going somewhere together and the SoC dropped to 4 bars before we left the neighborhood. Moments later, the charged dropped down to 1 bar and started the recalibration routine. I'm beginning to wonder if I am having some issues. My lifetime mileage is just under 31K.
  6. shifty35

    shifty35 Well-Known Member


    While the recals in the Insight are typically indicative of imminent pack failure, I've read that the HCH2 tends to recal more frequently, and that these recals do not signify major pack problems.

    This is just hearsay, but I'm hoping you have nothing to worry about?

    My Insight exhibited recal behavior at 2/3 SoC for the first year I owned it (purchased at 125k mi). Pack finally tripped the IMA light when it recalled in some serious heat about two months ago, and was replaced under warranty no questions asked.
  7. kristian

    kristian Well-Known Member

    Whatever you do, don't let them upgrade your software! (Edit: at least not the software upgrade that is available as of 7/30/08. If they want to upgrade your software, make sure you understand the effects of what the upgrade is supposed to do. /Edit). I took mine in for the steering grease recall and my 2-3 times weekly recalibration. They upgraded the software (3 versions per the service manager) as an attempt to fix the recalibration since there were no codes being thrown. Since the upgrade, my assist affinity has gone up and I've crashed on four out of five days of driving.

    Since the upgrades, it seems the recalibrations are more predictable. I will go up a hill, it will be assisting so heavily that I feel like I've got gum stuck between my shoe and the pedal that I can't scrape off. Then it will crash at the top of the hill. I've started to log the time and location of the recalibration event for my records. For reference, it was 76 degrees on the way home, I try my hardest to stay off the pack, and I don't use the A/C.

    Prior to the upgrades, the recal seemed to happen more at random, but with the increase in assist affinity, it seems to happen at the top of hills. It's predictable enough that I think I can reproduce it with a tech in the car, and I will try to do this when I bring it in (we have a big hill near my dealer).

    Here's my analogy: the IMA is writing checks that the battery can't cash. The question is: does the car THINK that it is storing more energy than it really is and it gets a wake up call when it finds out that the funds are lower than expected, or is the account not capable of holding the funds...
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2008
  8. Mr. Kite

    Mr. Kite Well-Known Member

    My wife had a trip out of town. Since I have a lot of driving to do this week, I let her take the HiHy to the airport and I've been driving the HCHII. I drove about 100 miles today. Although the SoC dropped to 4 bars twice today driving around town, I didn't have any recals. About 75 miles were mostly interstate.

    Kristian--That sucks. I wasn't sure about the upgrades. I thought I recalled reading sometime last year that that assist affinity went up a lot after the software upgrades, but I wasn't sure. From your experience, I guess that was the case.

    It would be so nice if the HCHII was permanently programmed to do the assisting and charging like it does during a recal. I thought that was awesome. I was at a full charge and you had to give it some hard acceleration to get assist--it was perfect. At 6 or 7 bars, it wasn't trying to charge very hard either.

    The poll results are interesting. Most of the "never" responses are from '08 HCHIIs. Most of the more frequent recals are from '06 HCHIIs. I wonder how well this battery will hold up. I'm almost to 31K miles. Luckily, I have an extended warranty until 120K.

    Chuck--Thanks for the info. It is just a lot harder to stay off the battery with the HCHII. If I remember correctly from driving your Insight, it wasn't that hard to stay off the pack. In the HCHII, you have to accelerate super slow to avoid assist. Shifting to S helps some, but it is still hard to avoid the battery.

    I quickly learned that the battery was not the way for good FE in the HCHII. I think I started avoiding it by my 4th tank. I even stopped doing P&G because it hits the battery so hard.
  9. kristian

    kristian Well-Known Member

    Yeah, I would like the assist to behave like it does at 1 bar too. It is nice to have starting off from a dead stop or in those rare panic situations, but I really wish you could dial it down for hills.

    BTW, I'm now batting 5 recalibrations for 6 days of driving after my commute in this morning. I will call the dealer as soon as their morning rush dies down.
  10. Mr. Kite

    Mr. Kite Well-Known Member

    I'm still driving the HCHII. I've had lots of driving to do lately and have logged over 200 miles since Monday. I have not had a recalibration since the last one I mentioned on Sunday. However, I've been driving a lot more interstate. It's much easier to manage the SoC in that type of driving. I've also averaged in the upper 60's each day. :)
  11. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    That's good the hear.
  12. Mr. Kite

    Mr. Kite Well-Known Member

    I had a battery recal this morning. I was taking my kids to daycare. The outside temp was 67F and my SoC started at 6 bars. On the way there, there is a steep hill and avoiding battery is very difficult. Anyway, I got to the top of the hill and was gliding down to the daycare when my glide was interrupted by forced charging. After coming to a stop, the SoC was still showing 5 bars, but I knew what was happening. After getting back in my car, the SoC was at 1 bar.
  13. Harold

    Harold Well-Known Member

    I know one thing for sure if my HCH2 starts recal almost every time I take it out, there will be a Prius in its place in short order! This is a serious problem and it is not being addressed? Has anyone looked closer at this corroded wire at the thermostat? Cheers,H
  14. shifty35

    shifty35 Well-Known Member

    First I've heard this mentioned on the HCH2. Honda ECUs have a critical ground on the thermostat. If there is a bad connection here, all kinds of bizzare intermittent problems can result...
  15. hansonclan

    hansonclan Member

    I'm one of the ones who voted recal more than once a month. It seems to happen to me about once a week, always on my uphill commute in the afternoon, with the AC on and temps around 110F. My mileage is still satisfactory, though - last tank 55.75 MPG.

    Here's a new one that has happened three times in the last week. I have high SOC, (twice with 7 bars, once with 5 bars), and yet I get one green bar of regen even when I am accelerating. It's not what we're calling a "recal" in that the state of charge remains high. Just bothersome because I'm getting regen under conditions when I should be getting assist or nothing. AC has been on in each case - needed here in Phoenix in the afternoon.

    Has anyone else seen that?
  16. kristian

    kristian Well-Known Member

    I dropped the car off at the dealership last night and just got off the phone with my service consultant. He had two techs drive around and neither of them could reproduce the problem. They then called American Honda and found out that this is something that Honda knows there is a problem with, and they are trying to diagnose what is going on.

    Just like most of us here, they think that it is probably a temperature sensor somewhere that is causing the battery to go into panic mode. Seeing that I've experienced it in everything from 70 to 90 degree temps, I don't think that it is extreme heat causing the issue (like people are experiencing in 100+ temps).

    The service consultant went through a 20 question questionaire from American Honda with me asking about my commute (hills, distance, temperature), my AC usage (no-windows, yes-on, or yes-auto), where the car is parked (garage, parking lot, sunny, shady, etc.), and the status of the 12v battery (which they are going to check for me).

    If you are experiencing FREQUENT (like 2-3+ times monthly) battery recalibrations, I would highly recommend you bring your car in to your dealer. Give them the details about your situation and tell them to contact American Honda for more details on what to check/ask.

    I will keep updating this thread as I get more information.
  17. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Thanks for the update, Kristian -- I hope they fix your vehicle for you soon!
  18. kristian

    kristian Well-Known Member

    The weather has been cooler here for the last week and I've only had one recalibration event.

    However, one thing that is really weird: on two separate days, I've lost my ability to auto-stop. Both of those days were cool (mid 50s) and wet (although not constantly raining). Yesterday, I drove for 30 miles of suburban driving without an auto-stop. AC was off, defrost was on for about 5 miles, but not the whole time, and my SoC was always between 5-7 bars.

    This morning, it was only 49 degrees and the auto-stop worked fine, but it wasn't raining.

    This seems to further the thinking that it is a temperature sensor out of whack to me...
  19. Mr. Kite

    Mr. Kite Well-Known Member

    My vehicle wasn't driven from August 7 (when I last had a recal) until yesterday afternoon. I had another recalibration today. The weather was nice--low to mid 70s. My SoC was 6 bars. I was cruising along and noticed that their was a lot of charging and the engine wouldn't shut off when I took my foot off of the gas pedal. A few moments later, the SoC quickly dropped down to only 3 bars. From there, it continued with the heavy charging routine. Again, I had a lot of interstate driving to do and was able to fully charge the battery to the point where it would no longer provide any regenerative braking.
  20. hunter44102

    hunter44102 Well-Known Member

    I am having the same problem as hansonclan - I sometimes get the 1 green bar even on acceleration / inclines, and its difficult to get rid of.

    I bought my 2006 model recently with 48600 miles. It now has over 50k.

    So I wonder if the battery pack has lost some life, or I just have old software.

    The dealer by me doesn't want to do anything for free on my vehicle since its past 36k so I'm not sure if I can have the software updated unless I can explain to them exactly what's happening.

    I may wait and see if it gets worse.

    Is there a test procedure for the battery pack that the dealership can perform?

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