[xfloat=LEFT]http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/500/HCH_FAQLogo.jpg[/xfloat]Manuel Santos - CleanMPG - December 20, 2008 This FAQ is dedicated to new owners of the second generation Civic Hybrid who often have questions concerning their new car. It is also likely that existing owners may find a few informative bits in it as well. As before, I invite existing HCH-II owners to submit any additional tips/info that may be of help to the community. 1-What is an HCH-II? The popular acronym “HCH-II” refers to the second generation of the Honda Civic Hybrid released in the fall of 2005 as a 2006 model and replaced by the 2012 model. 2-What kind of a hybrid is the HCH-II? The second generation Civic Hybrid is sometimes called a Full Hybrid (mainly because it can travel on electric/battery power for short distances) and other times it is also called a Mild-Hybrid (since it provides a start-stop mechanism that shuts down the gas engine when idling at a stop). However, to be accurate the HCH-II is neither of the above. The correct definition is that of a “Power Assist Hybrid” mainly because the electric motor plays such a significant role in propelling the vehicle that the primary power source (the gas engine) can be significantly downsized without a significant loss in usability. and again, it "can" be propelled by battery power too. The difference between it and a contemporary Full Hybrid is the way in which the recovered electric energy is used and the additional architectural accommodations to sustain a more robust and capable electric only propulsion. 3-What is the car’s maximum speed and acceleration? Its is unlikely that the HCH-II will exceed speeds above 180 KM/h (112 MPH) and the acceleration can vary depending on the State of Charge of the hybrid battery pack. For instance, with a battery pack sporting a 60-100% charge, the HCH-II will sprint from 0-100 KM/h (0-60 MPH) in approximately 12 seconds. With a poorly charged battery pack the acceleration times will be very poor, sometimes reaching well into the 16 seconds. 4-Can I plug in my car? Certainly. But only to the household outlet for the purpose of energizing an Engine Block Heater (EBH), if you have one that is. It is unlikely that a worthy aftermarket plug-in kit will ever be produced that will charge the hybrid batteries. 5-Why can’t I convert my car to a plug-in hybrid? Unlike many of today’s full hybrid vehicles, the HCH-II architecture does not lend itself well to plug-in use since the electric motor (max of 20 hp) is not powerful enough to propel the car from a standstill. While it would still be possible to retrofit it with additional battery extenders, the benefits of such retrofit would be subjected to too many mechanical losses which would diminish the benefit of such a conversion - especially when compared to other hybrids more suitable to such conversions. 6-How clean is the HCH-II? As a fuel efficient hybrid the aspect of greenness is often asked by new owners often interested in more than the advertised fuel consumption figures. The HCH-II is a really clean vehicle – more so than others that may have the same or even lower fuel consumption ratings. For instance: The HCH-II is rated as an Advanced Technology Partial Zero Emissions Vehicle (AT-PZEV) in that it produces very little CO2 and other evaporative emissions. But while there are many AT-PZEV hybrids and even a good handful of PZEV non-hybrid vehicles in the market, the HCH-II is so far the only hybrid that receives a Tier 2/Bin 2 rating which is representative of its low smog forming emissions as well as other particulate emissions. This rating is just one level below that of a fully electric vehicle which receives the best rating of Tier 2/Bin 1. 7-Can it drive in (battery) electric only? Yes it can. This can be achieved seamlessly during very specific conditions for most people and can often be evoked at will by experienced drivers under a wider array of scenarios. Contrary to the beliefs of many new owners, driving the vehicle on battery power only is NOT a desirable technique under ordinary circumstances since the final energy cost is very high and it will ultimately impact the vehicle's average fuel economy. This is in fact true for any contemporary hybrid vehicle but particularly dramatic on the HCH-II. So, don't do it unless you managed to acquire a good state of charge or you want to impress your friends with a bit of silent running. Procedure to induce electric only propulsion: Make sure that the car's engine is warmed up and that the ambient temperatures allow for this type of operation. For a list of the operational modes please see the temperature transition charts in this article: A Hybrid Owner’s winter survival guide The vehicle speed should be steady between 17 MPH and 45 MPH on a fairly leveled road. Other speed ranges may also work depending on road grade and other factors. At higher speeds this electric mode often acts as a glide extender. Gently lift foot off the throttle pedal until the iFCD display shows 100MPG (0 L/100km) and the engine RPM is at or near 1,000 RPM. As soon as this condition is met, gently re-apply pressure on the throttle pedal until you see one or more electric assist bars. Keep the iFCD pegged at 100 MPG (0L/100km) by being gentle with the "gas" pedal. Too much pressure and the gas engine will restart. Too little and a glide condition or regeneration will be induced. You may apply as much as 4-5 bars worth of electric assist as long as the SoC allows it or the road grade permits. For additional details and illustrations please see Adapting Basic Hypermiling Techniques to the HCH-II 8-Why does Autostop not work sometimes? The Autostop is a fuel saving feature of the the Honda hybrid system (IMA) in that it causes the gas engine to stop when the vehicle comes to a stop. The Autostop feature is governed by a series of conditions that have to be met before it can activate. Here’s a short list of those conditions: The defogger and mirror deicing must be turned off. The air conditioning must be operated on a low temperature differential, on the Auto setting, or simply be turned off. The hybrid system temperatures must be within viable operating limits. If they are too high, then Autostop may not engage. Low ambient and engine temperatures will also not allow it to activate. Good SoC. Too low a battery state of charge and the system may actually be forced into a forced regeneration. Low speed stop and crawl: Only two autostops are allowed if the highest speed does not exceed 12km/h (7 MPH). Avoid abrupt or panic stops. These will suppress the autostop. Discrepancy in the transmission, hybrid system or other system fault will suppress the Autostop. Excessive electrical load on the 12V subsystem (full lights, wipers on fastest setting, etc) Check the following link for a list of temperature transition states governing the Autostop feature in the HCH-II: A Hybrid Owner’s winter survival guide9-What are those extra gauges good for? Yes, those hybrid specific gauges have a purpose and are hardly decorative. In other words, it is very difficult (if not impossible) to get good fuel economy unless we learn to use these gauges properly. This is a recommended use for each gauge: Instantaneous Fuel Economy Display (iFCD). This gauge can be toggled between engine temperature display and fuel consumption. Frankly, the engine temperature display is not helpful and not accurate enough to be of any use, so leave it in the fuel consumption gauge instead. State of Charge (SoC). This indicates the current charge level of the hybrid battery. The ideal charge level is 5-7 bars and depending on the displayed valued, it should help you determine what techniques/measures you can take to maximize your fuel economy. If the charge is too low, focus on using less electric assist by moderating the use of your gas pedal. If it is high enough (7-8 bars), then maybe you can afford to extend your gliding a bit longer or even operate on electric only around your neighborhood. The Assist/Regen Gauge. This gauge will help us assess the use or creation of electric energy stored in the battery pack. The key to greater fuel economy is to keep the electric assists as low as possible and to reduce the number of Regen bars when stopping. This approach may appear counter-intuitive for many new owners but it represents the single most important factor in helping calibrate one’s foot whether accelerating or decelerating. Please read Tarabell's article for additional technique details and insights. Adapting Basic Hypermiling Techniques to the HCH-II 10-Why does the braking feel weird? Until a new owner becomes familiar with the transitions from regenerative to hydraulic braking, these transitions will be more pronounced – especially in moderate to abrupt braking attempts. This is often marked by a noticeable change in the feel of the brake pedal and the car’s response to the braking action. The ideal braking attitude is to apply the brake pedal pressure in such a way that you’ll see no more than a few regenerative green bars. Of course, this also means that stops and deceleration will have to be mostly planned which once again promotes anticipatory driving – long known to be a safe and fuel efficient technique. By moderating the pressure on the brake pedal with some anticipation, the transitions will soon become unnoticeable, particularly when the vehicle slows down below the 12 KM/h (7 MPH) threshold. 11-Why do I feel the car bucking when accelerating? Barring a rare defect on the transmission of a new car, chances are that your CVT is in need for some maintenance – such as an H-CVT fluid change, a CVT burnish procedure and even possibly a PCM update. This often underscores my stubborn recommendation that owners of CVT equipped vehicles perform the CVT fluid change far more aggressively than what is recommended by Honda. And this means changing it at least every two years in case the replacement mileage limits are not met. Unlike the engine oil which still has much life in it when the maintenance minder shows 15%, the CVT fluid is incredibly critical and does not take much to show its effects on the transmission’s behavior and general health. Please change it every 2 years or every 32,000 km (20,000 miles) particularly if you live in a cold climate and/or the vehicle is driven in demanding conditions (city, mountain driving, etc). The gen 3 CVT on these cars can be a very reliable and long lived component especially if the fluid condition is always at its best. 12-What is a block heater? Do I need one? If you want better fuel economy and less wear on the engine in the colder winter months, then a block heater (EBH) is for you. The block heater is typically plugged into a household electrical outlet and keeps the engine block warm via a 400 watt heating element that bolts into a specially designed port on the engine. By keeping the engine block warm the vehicles will use less fuel to warm it up to optimal operating conditions when its fuel economy is highest and exhaust emissions are lowest. Use of the block heater during the summer months is also beneficial although less plug-in time is required. So yes, you need a block heater if you want the best fuel economy possible. Please check the following link for more details about block heaters and the winterizing of your HCH. A Hybrid Owner’s winter survival guide 13-Why is my instrumented fuel economy different from the fuel economy calculated at fill-up? This type of discrepancies occur because the displayed fuel consumption is a measured estimate of how much fuel is delivered to the engine over a specific amount of time. In the case of the HCH-II, this discrepancy consists of an over-estimate of the fuel used which causes the displayed overall fuel economy to be slightly lower than the fuel economy numbers observed at time of fill-up via manual calculation. Unlike most fuel efficient hybrids on the market today, the HCH-II "tends" to display a poorer fuel economy performance than actual, which varies between 1-4%. So don’t despair when looking at the numbers displayed by your HCH. Chances are that your real fuel economy will be a bit better. 14-Why can’t I achieve the advertised fuel economy rating ? Various factors often conspire to make this goal difficult to achieve. These can range from a problem with the vehicle to driver habits and driving regime or simply weather factors. Cold weather has a significant effect on fuel economy Very hot weather also affects fuel economy Urban style driving (stop-and-go) produces significantly lower fuel economy than highway (steady state) driving. High speeds above 100km/h (60 MPH) produce diminishing returns. As speed doubles the air resistance to the vehicle quadruples and that means fuel economy will suffer. Aggressive driving and inability to leverage the car’s features is often responsible for the lower fuel economy figures. Again, keeping the engine’s RPM as low as possible and avoiding abrupt stops and decelerations are good starting points. Practicing a few hypermiling techniques will often help exceed the EPA rating for your HCH. Please check Tarabell's article for additional details into the techniques: Adapting Basic Hypermiling Techniques to the HCH-II 15-Why is my fuel economy so poor in the summer? In the summer months the ambient temperatures can get very high and this is often the time our climate control systems work non-stop. Air conditioning will always have an adverse impact on fuel economy as it requires extra energy (derived from fuel) to cool the vehicle. Despite this, it is possible to remain cool and lower the impact of air conditioning by using a few techniques found in the following link: Use your HCH-II AC with minimal FE loss 17-What is the best speed to drive at? The best low speed range is 35-55 km/h (20-35 MPH) The best high speed range is 75-100 km/h (45-62 MPH) Check Tarabell's article for the "speed vs fuel economy charts" in the following link: Adapting Basic Hypermiling Techniques to the HCH-II 18-Why can’t I get better fuel economy in the highway? Keep your speeds below 100km/h (62 MPH) and make sure you inflate your tires from a pressure setting well above the manufacturer recommended values up to the pressure rating inscribed on the tire’s sidewall. A common tire pressure for most first time HCH-II drivers is to set the tires according to the following formula: Front tire pressure= (MAX_SIDEWALL_PRESSURE - 2 PSI) Rear tire pressure= (MAX_SIDEWALL_PRESSURE - 4 PSI) Where the MAX_SIDEWALL_PRESSURE is the maximum pressure rating embossed in your tires. In addition to the above recommendations you may also wish to get your HCH-II into the SAHM mode as shown in the following link: HCH-II - SAHM "Super Highway Mode" (70-90 MPG) 19-Why can’t I get better fuel economy in city driving? Urban driving consisting of a lot of stop-and-go is the perennial enemy of most vehicles and it is no different for the HCH. If possible, choose an alternate itinerary that offers steadier and lower speeds with less stops. Use low RPM accelerations, frequent gliding and light regenerative coasting to ensure maximal fuel economy. And most important of all, drive legally and do not let yourself be pressured by the aggressive driving of other motorists. Use the FAS technique if your Autostop no longer works because of heavy stop-and-go. Watch your SoC when using FAS as overuse may force a forced regen sooner. 20-Is driving in mountainous areas bad for my car’s fuel economy? Depending on the actual topography, it can be. The key is to manage your engine RPM carefully and use the “S” or “L” transmission setting strategically and where applicable. The use of a few hypermiling HCH specific techniques (ie: gliding, DWL, etc) can also help greatly. Please note that the life expectancy of a NiMH pack is directly related to the amplitude and frequency of the change/discharge cycles… and in the case of an HCH that is regularly driven in a mountainous setting this can be a factor worth managing whenever possible. Regular commuting in such settings will undoubtedly contribute to a shorter life expectancy for the battery pack, but managing the aggressiveness of the assists with the methods described above will help a great deal. 21-What is the HCH-II coefficient of drag? The HCH-II has a low drag coefficient of 0.27. So far, it ranks among the most aero dynamic production vehicles in the market today. 22-Why are these tires so slippery in rain and snow? The factory OEM tires are rated as LRR tires (Low Rolling Resistance) and are selected for benefiting the vehicle's fuel economy. Unfortunately, these attributes also mean these tires are the absolute worst for safe operation in adverse conditions. 23-Why are these tires so noisy at highway speeds? Please check for the following conditions: Low tire pressures. Raise the tire pressure to a "recommended" setting, preferably close to or at the tire's maximal pressure rating. Perform a four wheel alignment and look for signs of unusual tire wear. Add additional insulation to the rear passenger and cargo area of the vehicle. Check for a defect in the rear control arms as identified in service bulletin 08-001 affecting primarily 2006 and 2007 models. This defect is responsible for abnormal tire wear, noisy operation and even responsible for poor directional tracking at highway speeds. 24-Why at certain times, do I hear faint noises and whining? The HCH produces a plethora of faint sounds, some emanating from the cabin (front dash) and others from the hybrid power train. These are perfectly normal and unless they increase in volume, pitch and duration, you should not be overly concerned. 25-Why does the gas engine restart when auto-stopped? When auto stopped, the gas engine can restart for several reasons. Here’s a list of the most common: In cold weather the engine will restart if its temperature falls below 68C (154F). If the battery pack state of charge (SoC) falls below 50% the engine will start to restore the charge. If the brake pedal is momentarily released the engine will restart and will remain on. If the climate control temperature is adjusted to a significantly different value from the current setting the engine may restart to help meet the additional load. If the defogger/defrost button is depressed while the vehicle is auto stopped the engine will start to compensate for the extra thermal and electrical demand. 26-How often do I change the engine oil? As often as the built-in maintenance minder gauge indicates. This usually means that a change of the engine oil should not occur until the maintenance minder indicates a value of 15% or lower... or the oil is over one year old. 27-What is the best engine oil for my car? What about the other oils? The HCH was designed to use Honda 0W20 oil, but any other synthetic of the same rating will work very well. Any other rating is not recommended and only the 5w20 rating should be used in case 0W20 oil is not available. Please note that the fuel economy will be severely affected when using anything but a 0W20 oil rating. All other oils should be Honda sourced and particularly the CVT fluid should be Honda branded with a relatively low age. Newer fluids (produced less than 2 years ago) are preferable. 28-Can I change my own oil? You certainly can. Please note that properly accessing the underside of the vehicle will require it to be raised high enough not only to remove the aero shield without damage but also to maneuver for the extraction of the oil filter (if required). 29-Can I change the air filters on my own ? You certainly can. Please note that there are two distinct filters in your vehicle. One for the engine and one for the passenger cabin and they should be changed regularly as conditions require. Cleaning the filters with a vacuum is not a good or safe option for either filter. The engine air filter can be easily accessed through the engine bay without any tools. Just unlatch the retainers and gently force the cover slightly to the side to reveal the existing filter. To change the cabin air filer simply open the glove box compartment and empty its contents. Then, gently squeeze the rear top portion of the glove box together and pull it outwards. This will reveal the climate control intake along with the filter's side view. Grab the filter frame and pull it towards you. To insert a new filter just remove the old one from the frame first and then place the new clean filter in then reverse the procedure to insert it back into the vehicle. 30-What are the other fluids I need to change or replenish? The engine coolant fluid should be changed as per manufacturer directions. Please consult your owner’s manual and/or your dealer. Then windshield washer fluid needs to be monitored and replenished during and after an active (bug or winter) season. 31-What are the best replacement tires? The best replacement tires are those matching the original specifications and model. However, there are other equally effective tires that provide better ride quality and possibly greater durability while minimally impacting fuel economy. Such tires should be rated as LRR and are often designated as “energy saving” models. Michelin has long been known for producing highly acclaimed tires that also perform very well in hybrid vehicles such as the HCH. 32-Do I need winter tires? If you have a fair amount of ice and snow during your winter season then yes, you do need winter tires. The OEM tires are ill suited for safe winter performance. 33-My tires wear too fast. Why? Tires with an LRR rating (low Rolling Resistance) are known to wear at faster rates. While this is common knowledge in the tire industry there are a few measures owners can take to reduce the wear rates: Ensure the tires are operated at a suitable pressure which should be significantly higher than the manufacturer recommend pressure of 32 psi. Pressures approaching the maximum tire sidewall rating are best. Perform regular 4 wheel alignments on the vehicle along with wheel balancing every two years as a good start. This should be done more frequently if the vehicle is driven through potholes and harsh surfaces frequently. 34-Can I service my car at an independent (non-dealer)? Yes, if they are comfortable and willing to service your vehicle competently with Honda original parts. When servicing hybrid vehicles, the best indicator for technical competence is not "experience" but rather "training" and recognized competency. Ask the shop if they have access to the technical resources dealers have and if they have at least one technician certified for advanced platform servicing. When servicing your vehicle at a non-dealer shop please keep accurate records of the service as these may be required to fulfill any warranty claims you may have on some parts and systems... particularly those that are warranted for longer periods, such as the primary hybrid components. 35-All dealers are dishonest and charge too much? Servicing your HCH at a good and competent dealer is always a good option in addition to it not being that much more expensive than a good independent shop. Additionally, you get other free services (like software updates for the various systems in you HCH) which most independent shops are either not able or willing to provide. It has also been shown that a dealer serviced vehicle has a slightly higher resale value and is more likely to contain a greater number of genuine Honda parts. Please remember that there are also bad dealers who will perform far worse than many good independent shops. To determine which dealers are worthy of your business, don’t hesitate to ask them “point blank questions” and do shop around for the best prices and technical qualifications. A good dealer is never afraid to boast about the competency of their staff and even provide proof of their most recent training. 36-What is the maintenance minder? The Maintenance Minder is an instrumentation display on your HCH, located below the tachometer that displays a variety of information including the information that is maintenance specific. Press the “set” button to cycle through this information and you’ll eventually see a screen that display the oil life along with other alpha-numeric character sequences that may apply. Please consult your owner’s manual or your dealer for an explanation of these service codes. 37-Who’s right? The Dealer or the Maintenance Minder in my car?Here are the golden rules: The Maintenance Minder is ALWAYS right. A good dealer will ALWAYS agree with the maintenance minder and will also encourage you to follow its service recommendations. A bad dealer will often deviate or contradict the maintenance minder. Please report such dealers to your nearest regional or national Corporate Honda office. (Address and contact information located in the back of your owner’s manual). 38-An IMA light just showed up. What now? There are several things you can do before talking your car in to the dealer or favorite shop: Check your 12V battery. A poorly charged or dying battery will cause your IMA modules to crash at boot time. If such is the case, replace or charge the battery with an external charger and perform a power reset. If the 12V battery is in good health then perform a power reset sequence and look for the IMA light to re-appear. If it does not re-appear after several days then all is likely back to normal. If it re-appears then set an appointment with your dealer. The power reset sequence is found at the end of this document. 39-My in-dash transmission indicator light "D" is blinking. What now? Book and appointment with your dealer to have your CVT looked at. At best you’ll only require a PCM update. At worst, the transmission will have to be serviced. It all depends on the DTC's the technician uncovers and what fault they report. Either way, do not delay taking it to the shop and avoid operating the vehicle over long distances until it can be looked at. 40-My hybrid battery charge drops too fast. Is something wrong? Most of the time there’s nothing really wrong and it is just a case of accumulated error on the part of the instrumentation which is often resolved with a power reset. If this does not resolve the problem and no IMA light is present then you may which to contact your dealer for a quick overview. Also check to see if the air conditioning and/or defogger is switched on as these can help deplete your state of charge very quickly. If an IMA light appears after the power reset and your 12V battery checks OK, then book an appointment with your dealer to have the issue looked at. Sometimes, other system failures (i.e: Power Steering - EPS) are behind the high drain symptoms and it is important to get these looked at as soon as possible. The power reset sequence is found at the end of this document. 41-My instrument cluster flashes when starting the car? What’s wrong? Your 12V batter is likely discharged or faulty. Recharge it or replace it with a healthy battery. 42-How long will my hybrid battery last? On average it is expected to last the useful life of the vehicle. Of course, this life expectancy also depends on other factors (driving regime, topography, climate, etc) but it is safe to assume that on average it should be able to meet and exceed the manufacturers own warranty on the part which is commonly set at 8 years for most states/provinces. 43-How long will my 12 Volt battery last? From 2 to 5 years depending on the actual operational challenges. Heavy use of accessories, length and intensity of colder winter climates, driving regime and trip duration including frequent FAS sessions may conspire to reduce the life expectancy to 2-3 years. The key to a long lived and healthy 12V battery is a consistent and healthy charge. 44-Why can’t I ever top off my hybrid battery at 8 bars of charge? You certainly can... but you gain very little by seeking such charge levels. The 8 bar charge level will occur under several of the following circumstances: A power reset was performed (see the procedure at the end of this document). A forced recalibration just occurred. Extended amounts of regeneration often incurred when descending long hills and mountains. 45-My car does not start. What can I do? Check to see if the transmission lever is set to “P” or “N”. If it is not then press the brake pedal, switch it to “P” or “N” and try again. Check your 12V battery. Check your fuel level Check for additional warning lights on the dash. Check the tail-pipe and look for any obstructions in the exhaust system. Snow, ICE, mud, etc (due to backing up into something hard to see) may be blocking the tail-pipe. 46-Can I use a better 12V battery in my car? Yes, but be aware that a different battery often means a different charging profile and often a higher capacity... which may have a negative impact on the fuel economy. This will cause the DC-DC to spend more time providing a charge to what is generally a more demanding unit. The best approach to selecting a better battery should not only be driven by the physical constraints (the maximum size of the new battery allowed to fit in the designated space, but also its electrical characteristics. Consult your dealer or a reputable shop when inquiring about an electrically equivalent battery replacement. 47-Can I install an HID or alternate head lights? Absolutely. However, please make sure that the installation is performed professionally and safely. You may purchase kits from a local specialty auto shop or from an online retailer but regardless of the source make sure that the wiring harnesses can be routed though the recommended wire management locations and also that the equipment – particularly the ballasts, relays, connectors, etc – are adequately protected against faults. It also helps to ensure that the ballasts are supported by a good warranty too. HID kits can not only improve the lighting effectiveness but also lower the power consumption. LED lighting can also be effective for certain applications particularly in marker lights and DRL applications. 48-Can I install a better sound system? Certainly. Please note that your fuel economy may be affected as a result of a higher 12V drain. In the end, it all depends on how one uses it. 49-Does my car have an alarm? Yes, but it is not a full featured burglary alarm. The OEM alarm will not be triggered if a window is broken or through any other kind of damage or vandal intrusion. Instead, the alarm condition will only be evoked if theft of the vehicle is attempted. 50-My driver’s window reverses and sometimes refuses to close. Please consult your dealer to resolve this issue. Typical solutions involve: Lubricating the window tracks with a Silicone or Teflon lubricant. Replacement of the window tracks Replacement of the window motor. This type of service is usually performed under warranty. 51-Is my car crash worthy and safe? The Civic hybrid is among the safest cars in the industry and the best in its class by earning top marks in all collision tests. This level of safety is made possible through the use of Honda’s ACE engineering design and construction applied to the unibody of each vehicle in addition to a full complement of airbags, and active and passive restraints. Despite this, the HCH is still not a military armored vehicle so please drive safely. 52-What fuel should I use in my car? Does it matter? Yes, it does matter. You should use a "Top Tier" fuel brand, preferably one that is known to NOT contain ethanol (if at all possible). An oxygenation (octane) rating of 87 is best. Anything above 87 may contribute to lower fuel economy and no significant improvement in the HCH-II’s emission rating. 53-My headrest gives me a neck ache. Why? Unfortunately, this is not an issue limited to late model Honda vehicles. Complaints of this type have been occurring at record breaking levels for other brands and models primarily in an attempt by their respective manufacturers to improve on the safety ratings for their vehicle. While this is a design issue with good intentions, owners are often left looking for alternate options. Here are some that seem popular: Straightening (reducing the bend) on the rods supporting the headrest. Replacing the head-rest with that of another Honda model. Quite often service departments find the Honda Accord headrests to be fitting and agreeable with many owners. Driving without headrests (these are part of the active safety restraint system) is not recommended nor safe. 54-Can I tow with my car? No. Doing so violates the warranty terms and evidence of such occurrences is easy to produce. 55-Bike racks? What and how? There are several types. Roof mounted (high impact on fuel economy particularly at highway speeds). Trunk mounted (found to cause mis-alignment of the trunk lid under heavier loads). Rear mounted hitches (recommended). These should be mounted professionally and should not sport the “towing kit”. The presence of the kit on your next visit to the dealer can have a negative impact on your vehicle’s warranty. 56-Can I install a remote starter? No. 57-What is a Scangauge? Do I need one? A scangauge is a nifty device that displays a myriad of useful information to the driver in most vehicles manufactured after 1996. Despite the excellent and helpful hybrid instrumentation the scangauge can display operation metrics that extend and complement the information present by your vehicle. Additional real time fuel economy readings, temperatures, throttle positions, fuel consumption rates, engine operating parameters and many more, are just some of the inputs that can make you a better and more efficient driver. 58-I don't like the pie-plate wheels. Can I change them for something else?Yes, you can have them changed. A popular choice is to have them replaced with rims from other Civic Models particularly the DX, LX and EX models. However, please note that original rims add to the aero-dynamic efficiency of your HCH-2 and exchanging them is likely to have a measurable impact on your highway MPG numbers. 59-What is a battery re-calibration (RECAL)?The HCH recalibration is an automatic process that is purely instrumented. In other words, there is a sub-system (BCM) in your HCH-II that is responsible for monitoring and managing the charge level of the hybrid battery pack and because of the errors incurred in measuring not only the pack's charge level but also how much energy enters and leaves the battery pack, in time this measurement becomes less precise. In the simplest of terms, a recalibration simply invalidates the current charge level by "setting' it to a low enough charge level that is enough to trigger a forced regeneration process. Often we will see the charge level dipping rapidly towards an SoC reading only 1 or 2 bars, which is equivalent to the lowest safe voltage level permitted by the Battery Condition Monitor (BCM). Because of this induced and fake low charge level, a forced regeneration (charging) will be triggered and will stay in effect until the car's SoC reaches 7 or 8 bars. When the highest safe voltage is detected (SoC at 7 or 8 bars) the BCM will request the cancellation of the forced regeneration. Please see this article for a more detailed explanation: HCH-II Recalibrations (Recal). What are they ? Owner Maintenance and diagnostics: Power Reset Procedure Disconnect the 12V battery for approximately 10-15 minutes. Retrieve your audio codes and reconnect the battery after waiting for 10-15 minutes with the battery disconnected. Enter the codes and start the car. You should notice that your battery pack’s state of charge is at 0. Go for a leisurely drive around the neighborhood and avoid high RPMS until your return. You should return as soon as the battery state of charge indicates a completely topped off battery pack. The charging process should be complete under 20 minutes. If it takes longer then set an appointment and take the vehicle to the dealer. If the SoC is full upon your return, then leave the vehicle off overnight and monitor its state of charge or other warning lights or indicators. If the SoC is lower than the level observed the previous night or if other “maintenance required” + IMA lights are on then book an appointment with your dealer and take the vehicle in for a checkup. Do the Idle Learn Procedure To ensure a steady engine idle, do the idle learn procedure after installing the (No. 23) 10 A fuse (removed only if the car has been in storage). Make sure all electrical items (A/C, audio unit, defogger, lights, etc.) are off. Start the engine. Hold the engine speed at 3,000 rpm without load (in Park or Neutral) until the radiator fan comes on. Let the engine idle for 10 minutes with the throttle closed. Charge the IMA System Battery Start the engine. Hold the engine at 4,000 rpm, and watch the IMA charge display on the gauge control module. The display should show about four green bars of charging. Continue to hold the engine rpm between 3,500 and 4,000 until the IMA battery charge display shows that the IMA battery is fully charged. Turn the engine off, then restart it to confirm that the IMA battery is fully charged. Do the Auto Idle Stop Test To improve overall fuel economy, the auto idle stop feature shuts off the engine when the vehicle comes to a stop. Make sure the IMA battery charge display shows that the battery is more than 50 percent charged. Make sure that the engine is at normal operating temperature. Turn off the climate controls and the defroster. Test-drive the vehicle above 30 mph for at least 3 minutes. Come to a normal stop, and do not release the brake pedal. The engine should stop. Make sure the engine stops and the auto idle stop indicator in the gauge control module flashes. Release the brake pedal, and accelerate normally. The engine should automatically restart when you release the brake pedal. Finally, preparing your IMA battery for long term storage The IMA battery, like all batteries, slowly discharges if unused for a long period. To prevent damage to the IMA battery, it needs to be charged every 90 days. Please refer to the procedure above to recharge the IMA battery. If the vehicle is going back into storage after charging, remove the No. 23 (10 A) fuse to prevent drain on the 12 V battery.