How many recals is too many for a three-year old HCH-II?

Discussion in 'Honda Hybrids' started by Spock, Mar 12, 2012.

  1. Spock

    Spock Active Member

    Hi all,

    I've been a very interested reader of the site since buying my '09 civic hybrid at the end of January, but today was my first time posting. I have a lot of questions which I haven't seen answered previously, but that certainly doesn't mean answers don't exist - if you're familiar with a thread please just let me know and I'll check it out.

    The most urgent thing on my mind is I've been having what to me appear to me a lot of problems managing SoC on my car. I've scrolled postings ranging from people claiming that several recals a day are normal for them, to such an unreliable SoC and high number of recals that the owner considers the car "unsafe". This is of course without the IMA light coming on. The recal thread itself I found useful - and perhaps I just didn't excavate it enough - but I've yet to find a definitive answer.

    I experienced my first recal (the first one I noticed anyway) very shortly after purchasing the car on January 30th. I bought it certified used with 21,000 miles on it. I immediately thought something was wrong, but on perusing the internet quickly became convinced that recals are normal and not that big a deal. Of course I took comfort in the fact that the car was certified and, minus the battery which to the best of my knowledge is warrantied to 80,000 miles, carrying Honda care's extended coverage bumper to bumper through 100,000 miles. Though I didn't keep a journal of recalibration events, my sense was that it was not unusual for me to have one every few days when I first bought the car.

    Again, I don't have documentation of this, but I know for a fact that these events have become more and more frequent, even as I've become more and more used to the car and using every technique possible (without killing my enjoyment of the car of course) to responsibly manage SoC through minimizing assist, regenning on downhills and to stoplights, etc. Last Monday I took the car into the dealer and they said there was nothing wrong with it (all they did was check for diagnostic codes though, I asked them ahead of time what they were going to do and they said they were going to run a test, if I'd known it was just codes I could have used my scangauge and saved them the trouble.) I told them thanks for looking at it, however that I wasn't convinced, and that I was going to start logging the events and get back with them maybe if it persisted and certainly if it got worse or the IMA light came on.

    And so I started logging the events: two recals on Monday, forgot Tuesday, two recalibrations on Wednesday, three on Thursday, two on Friday, one or two Saturday, and one yesterday. None today but I haven't driven anywhere. So that it's clear what my understanding of a recalibration event is in case I've got it wrong, the car kicks into forced regen, then I lose all but one or two bars of charge, then once I'm full the regen stops. The first time it happened to me I believe it had to dip to four bars, MAYBE lower, for this to happen, but lately it will recal at five or even six bars. Since I've not set up my Scangauge to look at SoC yet (which I mean to do soon), this makes it very frustrating to try and manage charge, especially because my sense is that the car is so agressive at assist in general but ESPECIALLY when at eight bars of charge (thus impossible to keep it topped off), giving me really only one bar of charge to work with before I have to start worrying about a forced regen rearing its ugly head.

    Actually unless the car is still warm from a recent (last hour or two) trip, at this point it seems virtually impossible for me to start it and drive off without getting a forced regen just in the time it takes to warm the battery up enough to be able to start recapturing energy from braking or engine braking. Again, I am driving with a very easy foot - RPMs almost NEVER above 2000. In the last week I have managed to get the car to or from work once or twice without recal by grandmaing it to ludicrous extremes (2.3 miles away, a terrible commute distance for a hybrid if I dare say so)- and again yesterday, somehow, without having to uberpamper it - and have considered these significant victories. There doesn't seem to be any way to change my driving behavior to really fix it, however. Because the recals are pretty much inevitable at this point when I get in the car to drive anywhere, I have even taken to EVing the vehicle from the stoplight next to my apartment complex (assuming the light is green and oncoming traffic cooperates) all the way to my parking spot, because if I'm going to take a big FE hit anyway I may as well max it out beforehand. I'm sure this just puts the nail on the recal coffin, but honestly, they've become an unavoidable fact of HCH-II ownership at this point.

    I have been getting good mileage since buying the car - I have averaged 49mpgs over about 2350 miles, including lots of city driving, on the Civic's admittedly pessimistic mileage computer, nothing I can complain about, but not only do I think it should be significantly better given how much I've learned and extended the hypermiling habits I already had to mesh specifically with this car, I'm concerned about the life of the battery. In settings where the car isn't slamming the battery like it was going out of style (i.e highway driving), although I've struggled to get amounts comparable to what some drivers report for super highway mode, I have managed to average high fifties and up to 63 mpgs (again, on the civic's computer) over a 45-50 mile stretch of highway and interstate. I'd like to point out I live in central/southern Indiana and do a lot of my highway driving in this area, which contrary to popular belief is actually quite hilly, and it is nigh on impossible to keep IGN in the 28-36 range (which I don't know if the civic years differ in SAHM, but seems to be the appropriate range) on many stretches of road without varying speed to an extent that is not just annoying to other drivers, but unsafe (i.e quickly dropping 5-10+ miles below the speed limit without braking).

    Anyway, so while any dealer I go to is going to tell me to quit complaining about poor fuel economy, I can see the forced regen kicking the crap out of it every time it recals and I can't imagine it being a good indicator of the current health of the hybrid battery, or good for the battery, period. The absolute last thing I want to have happen is for my juicepack to give out just after 80,000 miles and for me to be out two grand to replace it.

    Another thought - I bought the car off-lease, and as I said, certified used which entails a detailed inspection, and physically it looks to be in really good shape. However, I haven't even hit 25,000 miles yet and the tread on the OEM Dunlops is almost gone already, which leads me to wonder what kind of owner was taking care of this majestic machine before me (not sarcastic - I love the car, I'm just really concerned about this.) I snagged the car at a base price several thousand below blue book, which at the time I thought was a phenomenal deal - and I certainly mentioned the tires in talking them down - but even with Honda standing behind it through the certification and extended warranty I am beginning to wonder if maybe it wouldn't have been a bad idea to have the car inspected by my own private mechanic before I drove it off the lot.

    On another note, does the Civy's internal MPG calculator max out at 150?

    I've got more questions but I figure one thing at a time! The hybrid battery is my single biggest concern about the car ATM.

    Thanks,
    Spock
     
  2. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    This is coming from a 2000 Insight driver - a recal every 4-6 months would be normal.

    It's probably maxing at 150mpg, but you can switch to metric if you think you are in elite hypermiling mode....that's what some here have had to do.
     
  3. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Welcome to the site, Spock!

    It does sound like you are having very frequent recals. I'd add to that log with notes about exterior temperature, time the car had been sitting since last runtime, and bar at which the recal started.

    Which tires are going through the tread quickly? Some HCH IIs have bad geometry in the back and it chews through tires like nobody's business. If this is the pattern you see I believe there is a service bulletin about it somewhere in Honda's system. If it is all 4 showing severe wear I'd check to see if the tires have been rotated regularly -- it could still be just the rear of the car chewing them up in that case.

    Just a note -- the computer in the HCH is one of the few that regularly underreports mileage. That means you should see better results at the pump than the car indicates.

    Good luck and keep us posted!
     
  4. Spock

    Spock Active Member

    Chuck that definitely sounds like too many then, as though I know there are differences between the hybrid architecture on the insight and civy (hence no MIMA :(), that sounds like way too much.

    RLC I will start adding those details to the log. The thing recaled on me at six bars today after being parked less than two hours in 60 degree weather, so while I've observed cold weather definitely makes everything a whole lot worse the problem clearly persists beyond that.

    Is there anyone on the forum who's had experience with a dying HCH battery pack? What did the pack do in its last years/days? How easy was it to get Honda to replace it?

    Thanks a lot!
    -Spock
     
  5. Spock

    Spock Active Member

    Oh and the wear is even on the four tires.
     
  6. Harold

    Harold Well-Known Member

    The tires that come with the car wear fast. I believe the company get very low material quality tires cheap? You can purchase the same tire and get 3 times the life, go figure! H
     
  7. mmrmnhrm

    mmrmnhrm Well-Known Member

    Fast? My OEM's went 45k miles... pretty good for shop rubber.
     
  8. Harold

    Harold Well-Known Member

    Yes that is, but I only got around 45,000 Kilometers. Normally I get double that from new tires and the replacements are not wearing nearly as fast. Same brand! H
     
  9. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    cheap OEM tires, you will soon have the opportunity to get some quality rubber.
     
  10. Spock

    Spock Active Member

    Herm and Harold, good to know that the heavy tread wear isn't necessarily an indicator of neglect or abusive driving and that I'll be getting some quality rubber soon. Thinking about the Hydroedges, but that's another story.

    The recal saga continues!

    At RLC's advice I started logging some more data about when these events happen. This has been informative even in a short time as it seems to indicate that the pack really isn't capable of storing much charge at all, even if the car is still warm from its last trip.
    The last two days:

    3/16
    FR and recal driving
    60s temp
    recal at six bars
    time since last drive = <2hours

    3/17
    #1
    FR and recal driving
    70s temp
    recal at six bars
    time since last drive = <2hours

    Finally and very tellingly, we have today's second recal which happened a little more than an hour ago:

    #2
    FR and recal driving
    66 degrees
    recal at six bars
    time since last drive = 11 hours

    I started driving at eight bars of charge, was down to seven before I made it out of my parking lot. In the remainder of my very easy 2.3 mile drive I dropped to six bars and started a two bar FR. Just as I was getting to work there is a left turn I have to take just before a busy intersection, and I threw some juice into the pack braking so an oncoming vehicle could pass, then of course had to use some modest assist to get going again - certainly not as much as I had just fed the pack. Well either during the braking or immediately after, the pack suddenly plummetted to three bars and three bar FR.

    Will continue to log until the IMA light comes on (which I think is inevitable with this pattern of decline), or until I've got enough logged evidence to prove a continual decline together with grossly unacceptable performance.

    Thanks everyone for the help I will keep you posted,
    -Ryder aka Spock
     
  11. Spock

    Spock Active Member

    Hi Guys,

    The recal saga continues! Log is messy and inconsistent at the moment but it'll look prettier whenever I show it to a dealer.

    BTW, I called another dealer yesterday (one who doesn't have an ulterior motive in proving there's nothing wrong with the car they sold me), and he didn't seem to know much about hybrids either - he didn't know what a recalibration was, for starters. But he was certainly very attentive in listening to me and giving his opinion on what they could do to help me - which didn't sound like much. I mention that I'd read online about IMA replacements, that clearly there was some way to test the integrity of the battery without the IMA light coming on, but he didn't seem to think they could do that. Am I missing something or should I keep calling around until I find a dealer who knows what I'm talking about?

    HCH-II Recalibration Event Log

    3/5
    2

    3/6
    Not logged

    3/7
    2

    3/8
    3

    3/9
    2

    3/10
    1-2

    3/11
    One

    3/12
    none

    3/13
    #1
    FR regular driving, SoC drop coming to stop in parking lot.
    60 degrees ambient temperature
    recal at six bars
    time since last drive = >2hours

    3/14
    not logged

    3/15
    2 recals

    3/16
    FR and recal driving
    60s temp
    recal at six bars
    time since last drive = <2hours

    3/17
    #1
    FR and recal driving
    70s temp
    recal at six bars
    time since last drive = <2hours

    #2
    FR and recal driving
    66 degrees
    recal at six bars
    time since last drive = 11 hours

    This is a very noteworthy recal. I started driving at eight bars of charge. In the course of a very easy 2.3 mile drive I dropped to six bars and started a two bar FR. Things seemed to be pretty under control, but just as I was getting to work there is a left turn and I threw some juice into the pack braking so an oncoming vehicle could pass, then of course had to use some modest assist to get going again - certainly not as much as I had just fed the pack. Well either during the braking or immediately after I didn't notice, the pack threw out all pretense of not recalling and dropped to three bars and three bar FR. This is not acceptable. ALSO: auto-stopped at 3 bars (wth?)

    3/18/12
    not logged

    3/19/12
    FR and recal
    70s temp
    recal at six bars
    time since last drive = 8+ hours

    3/20/12
    #1
    FR and recal
    70s temp
    recal at six bars
    time since last drive = not logged

    #2 FR and recal
    70-80s temp
    recal at five bars
    time since last drive = not logged

    3/21/12
    #1
    FR and recal
    70-80s temp
    recal at six bars
    time since last drive = less than one hour

    #2
    FR and recal
    70-80s temp
    recal at six bars
    time since last drive = not logged

    3/22/12
    FR and recal
    70-80s temp
    recal at six bars
    time since last drive = <2 hours

    3/23/12
    #1
    60s temp
    recal at six bars
    time since last drive = 12+ hours

    #2
    60s temp
    recal at six bars
    time since last drive = <2 hours

    3/24/12
    #1
    60s temp
    8:55am
    recal at six bars
    time since last drive = 16 hours

    3/25/12
    60s temp
    2:20pm
    recal at six bars
    time since last drive = 14 hours

    3/26/12
    #1
    50s temp
    2:45pm
    recal at five bars
    time since last drive = 16 hours

    #2
    50s temp
    recal at six bars
    time since last drive = <2 hours

    3/27/12
    40s temp
    recal at six bars
    time since last drive = 12 hours
     
  12. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 2010 Prius (CAN Touring) Staff Member

    Frequent recalibrations are by no means normal, but unfortunately common due to both the overtaxed battery and (apparently) Honda's programming: the battery has to be near-dead before any warning lights will come on.

    A recalibration event means the computer doesn't trust it's usual, virtual perception of the battery. In other words: the battery started out with a theoretical capacity, the computer made some requests for power, did some replensishing, and is expecting a resultant current state. But when it makes another power request it doesn't get the response it expected.

    So it starts a procedure to physically determine the true condition of the battery. It goes into limp mode, and does it's level best to recharge the battery, and recalibrate it's perception of the battery.

    I suspect this culminates with it saying "ok, I've done all I can do, this is the new full charge". And that today's "full charge" could be much less than a brand new battery's full charge.

    There's at least one person here who replaced a battery that was ailing, had frequent recals, but no warning lights, and saw his performance and mpg go up significantly.
     
  13. Jess

    Jess Well-Known Member

    I've also started logging recals. So far I've experienced 11 of them in the past 6 days. 3 for today, alone. My wife was tired of hearing me complain about it so this also helps with that. Plus, when I bring it up to the dealer I want to have some backup documentation. I've had this car for five and half years and I remember getting a recal every now and then, but never to this extent. Although I just started this log, I have experienced daily recals for the past few months. Not a day goes by that I don't have one. It's frustrating because otherwise, it's been a solid car with no issues.

    Jess
     
  14. cswee1932

    cswee1932 Well-Known Member

    Having my IMA replaced about a month ago, my advice would be to keep pressing the dealer to hook the car up to their scan tool, P07AF is the failing IMA code if I remember correctly. Also make sure you press American Honda as well...after each visit to the dealer I would call them and explain my issues to them, as they keep records of all the calls. This is American Hondas number 1-800-999-1009.

    Like I said my best advice is to keep on them, there is an advisory to change any IMA's that return the above code.

    I'll keep following as I would like to know the outcome of this.

    Chris
     
  15. lightfoot

    lightfoot Reformed speeder

    As Sean says, after getting new tires take it to the best alignment shop you can find and have it aligned. Make sure they have the specs for your year HCH. The Insight-I specs are pretty weird (0 toe for less drag), and maybe Honda did something similar with the HCH?? The place I went to had the Insight-I specs on their computer.
    In the case of the Insight-I and I suspect other hybrids, car mfrs work with tire companies to get a very LRR tire for good FE. The OEM Insight-I tire is a special lightweight Bridgestone Potenza RE92 which fits ONLY the Insight-I (AFAIK). The guys at Insightcentral couldn't find any other tire that came within 5-10mpg of it.
    Cheap? Hardly. Tire Rack charges $89 each.
    As Wayne has found on his Accord, higher pressures (and lower speeds, less braking) reduce tire wear. At 62,000 miles, my OEM Insight-I tires still had > 1/32" wear left, even wear, but I got a new set because I was worried Bridgestone might discontinue them. I ran them at 65psi no problems.
     
  16. Bennett

    Bennett Well-Known Member

    2.3 miles is an awful short distance to get that many recals/FRs in... At the moment I'm not sure what the difference is :) I got my HCH-II less than a week ago. It will go into a FR if the car doesn't get a chance to warm up before I zap the pack dry (eg city driving at the end of the day). The same roads at the END of my morning commute aren't a problem. I get one or two predictable FRs on my 16 mile commute (predictable as in I've had to suck the pack dry to get over a mountain without holding up traffic...). Once I'm rolling I can manage SoC pretty well staying at 6-8 bars. The short distance may be your enemy here too. If I think about it it seems to enter a FR after a burst of effort when it hits 4 bars. I get the distinct impression it's below par, but then it's a 2008 model and definitely isn't as bad as you're describing. I'm still getting about 45mpg all told.
     
  17. Spock

    Spock Active Member

    Thanks guys for the battery and tire tips. Chris I will definitely call Honda and let them know that my pack is not performing well and that I've been been to the dealer once already, and call again after each subsequent visit. Jess will keep you posted on success (or lack thereof) in getting the pack replaced under warranty.

    LF the reason I was thinking the hydroedges as opposed to a low rolling resistance tire is because in terms of treadlife they seem to match or outpace the mpg savings of the Dunlops, Michelin Energy Savers, and all comparable tires, in addition to offering better handling in winter weather (although admittedly not dramatically). I've read that Manuel recommends a set of winter tires for colder areas such as the American midwest and certainly the great white north, but that sounds like way more trouble than I want to deal with. So this is the compromise I'm thinking of at the moment - certainly for safety I don't wan't to do another partial or full winter on factory spec tires. From what I understand (which may be wrong) the savings of using the OEM Dunlops are nowhere near as dramatic as the Bridgestone tires for the Insight you're describing.

    Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, unless there's an unmissable promotion or my tread wear accelerates dramatically I won't be buying tires for at least another month or two yet.

    Best,
    -Spock
     
  18. Jess

    Jess Well-Known Member

    What is the possibility that some other component in the IMA system is causing the battery recals? I'm going to call my dealership and begin the discussion that something is not right about the IMA system, but I'm not going to jump to the conclusion that it's the battery. I feel like by bringing that up, it will immediately put up a wall between us. There is about 10k more miles until the warranty is up, so I thought I should start now.

    I've logged 29 recals in 15 days.

    Jess
     
  19. Mr. Kite

    Mr. Kite Well-Known Member

    My 2006 HCHII was getting at least 4 recals per day. I think I may have had as many as 8 in a day. I decided to make an appointment again last December to just kind of bug my dealer about it. They acknowledged that something was wrong. Their tests showed that the 12V battery was out of spec, and they replaced that. Then, they said they wanted to keep it overnight so they could test it out the next morning. It crashed immediately. When I called to check in, they told me that some techs were out driving my car trying to document the behavior with some screen shots. Later on, they called me back and said that my car threw a code while they were out driving it. I think they were going to try and replace the IMA without the code, but the code made it a non-issue. It was replaced a few days later at 77K miles. It has performed flawlessly in the 4K miles since.
     
  20. sterlingwt

    sterlingwt New Member

    Please do not buy the Michelin Hydroedges - my mpg dropped from easily getting 48+ mpg to about 40 mpg. They are great in rain, horrible in snow. Overall they are good tires and have very good handling and good build quality, but isnt good on the MPGs - even with the GreenX symbol. The tread wear is good as well - i replaced my Dunlops SP31 at 45k and now have 40k on the Hydroedges with 50% tread.
     

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