New NiMH IMA Battery in 2006 HCHII Experiencing Problems

Discussion in 'Honda Hybrids' started by Mic123, Apr 17, 2012.

  1. Spock

    Spock Active Member

    Re: New Lithium IMA Battery in 2006 HCHII Experiencing Problems

    Mic also would like to wish you good luck in getting this resolved and reiterate the pls keep us informed. I would like to know how it goes as well. I will be going through this exact same process very soon since my IMA light came on today :cool:
     
  2. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Re: New Lithium IMA Battery in 2006 HCHII Experiencing Problems

    You too, Spock? :(
     
  3. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 2010 Prius (CAN Touring) Staff Member

    Re: New Lithium IMA Battery in 2006 HCHII Experiencing Problems

    What year is yours?
     
  4. Mic123

    Mic123 Active Member

    Re: New Lithium IMA Battery in 2006 HCHII Experiencing Problems

    I scanned the two-page document about Calibration that I got from the mechanic at the dealership, but I don't know how to post it here on the forum. Any ideas?

    I called Honda Customer Service and was able to get them to recommend a better dealership to take my car to here in Houston and happily they won’t charge me for the diagnostic at the other dealership either. I’ll be dropping it off next Saturday, April 28th. I expect that they will find the same basic information that the first dealership did. I wasn’t privy to all of the diagnostic information that the first dealership’s diagnostic tool gathered, but the two points I am focusing on with Honda is that my five month old battery only has 75% charge capacity and I am experiencing recals almost daily. I really don’t know what to expect from Honda. They’ll probably refuse to do anything and that ultimately leaves me turning to the option I am already planning on, trickle charging the battery. I’ll let you know what happens after I take the car to the dealership and talk with the customer service people at Honda Corp. again.
     
  5. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Re: New Lithium IMA Battery in 2006 HCHII Experiencing Problems

    Mic, you can use the Gallery link found in the sidebar or at the top of this page to upload images. Just follow the directions presented by each page after clicking that link to get it into our system. Once uploaded you can view each image in the gallery and find a link underneath which can be embedded in posts to either share the location or "inline" the picture.
     
  6. Spock

    Spock Active Member

    Re: New Lithium IMA Battery in 2006 HCHII Experiencing Problems

    Yuuup!! But I couldn't be happier, I've been waiting for this to happen. I can't remember who gave me this advice, but I did call Honda at the beginning of April to tell them "I went to the dealer last month. My IMA battery is in an advanced state of deterioration and the dealer says there's nothing wrong with it because it's not coding. I'm not an engineer but I expect it to fail in the next year or so if not sooner. I want you guys to have my back when this happens." The lady seemed pretty nonplussed and, while helpful, basically told me that wasn't how these things worked and that I shouldn't have called.

    I don't doubt for a minute that calling was a good idea!! Now my IMA light is on and they have a detailed record of the problem already...

    Give me mah battery :Banane26:!!
    :)
    -Spock
     
  7. Spock

    Spock Active Member

    Re: New Lithium IMA Battery in 2006 HCHII Experiencing Problems

    09 25000 miles :eek:
     
  8. Spock

    Spock Active Member

    Re: New Lithium IMA Battery in 2006 HCHII Experiencing Problems

    Mic don't know about the forums but couldn't you just upload the doc to some free hosting and post a link?

    I don't know what Honda will do, I'd like to think they'll try and help you out. Honda has got to be figuring out by now that they need to be taking much better care of their batteries in order to save both money and their reputation, as they are super-fragile compared to those of other comparable hybrids.

    One would hope!

    -Spock

    P.S.
    Not entirely their fault, from what I understand they were locked out of an exclusive agreement for arguably far superior battery designs by Toyota and Panasonic. But definitely they need to be doing a lot more to catch up, the HCH battery fiasco is losing them a lot of customers.
     
  9. Mic123

    Mic123 Active Member

    Re: New Lithium IMA Battery in 2006 HCHII Experiencing Problems

    I’m happy to report that I had a much better experience at the other dealership. The mechanic that examined my car was 10 times better than the previous mechanic and a really nice guy. He was able to tell me a few things about the IMA battery that I didn’t know and I was able to tell him a lot about the battery that he didn’t know. He let me ride around in my car with him while the diagnostic tool was hooked up. Then we took a 2012 Civic hybrid for a ride with the diagnostic tool (yes I know that it has a Lithium battery and not a very good comparison, but it’s still potentially useful).
    Concerning whether or not the battery is refurbished or new old stock (meaning it sat on a shelf in a warehouse for an extended period of time), the mechanic contacted a friend in Honda parts who told him that the NiMH IMA battery packs Honda installs are refurbished, but all of the NiMH batteries that compose the IMA battery are replaced and possibly the accompanying circuit boards. In other words the parts guy said that Honda is not selectively replacing bad batteries within the IMA pack. This information seems to contradict what the Honda Corp. customer service rep told me over the phone.

    The first time I spoke with the rep I asked him whether or not the batteries were new or refurbished. At that time he said he didn’t know, but would try to find out. A few days later I spoke with him again, and he told me that the IMA battery I received was new. This might be what he was told to say by his superiors or legal department. If something surrounding this ever went to court they could conceivably claim that the rep meant the batteries were new, even if the overall pack was refurbished. It could be that they’re both wrong and Honda really is just selectively replacing bad batteries within the pack.

    On a slightly separate note, my Panasonic contact told me that Honda hasn’t bought any NiMH batteries from them for a couple of years (I think he said 2009), so Honda is getting batteries for their refurbished packs from another supplier. I learned that Panasonic and Toyota formed a joint venture, called Primearth EV Energy Co that made the NiMH battery packs for Toyota vehicles and then later began to sell them to Honda (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Primearth_EV_Energy_Co).

    A hugely important point is the charge capacity, or as Honda calls it in their diagnostic software, “IMA Battery Usable Capacity.” The foolish mechanic at the first dealership I took my car to told me that I had 75% charge capacity, but he was erroneously labeling the SOC as charge capacity. While riding with the mechanic at the new dealership I was able to see that the diagnostic tool reads my battery as only having 33% charge capacity. My first thought was, well here’s the problem, but then when we got into the brand new 2012 Civic Hybrid and the diagnostic tool showed that IMA battery as only having 49% charge capacity. The car only had 270 miles. This baffled both me and the mechanic. I really don’t understand what is up with these numbers. We wanted to look at another new 2012 Civic hybrid just to make sure that we didn’t stumble upon a 2012 with a mostly bad battery, but there were none available. Anybody have any thoughts about this? Honda Corp. policy currently is to not replace an IMA battery until its charge capacity reads 15% or less. Why would a new hybrid start out at 49%? Has anyone ever taken their new hybrid into a dealership and recorded the charge capacity of their IMA battery? I realize that probably no one has, because you’re not going to care when your battery is functioning properly.

    The mechanic allowed me to take pictures of the diagnostic screen with my phone and I will try to post them up later tonight, but I need to remove the VIN from each picture first. I only took pictures of the diagnostic screen connected to my 2006 Civic hybrid. This is really interesting to me, because it shows what kinds of information Honda can get out of my car. Among interesting things of note from the diagnostic info, I believe that Mike from 99mpg.com mentions on his website that he has found 12 points in the HCH-II battery pack that are used for checking voltage, but the diagnostic screen only shows 11. I was speculating that the IMA system had been performing recalibrations because one of the voltage check points fell below a certain preset limit, thus preventing any of the 132 batteries from dropping too low in voltage and experiencing polarity reversal. I watched for this during the test, but we couldn’t get the car to perform a recal. We even tried deeply discharging the battery by stepping hard on the gas and then putting it in neutral while braking to prevent it from recharging the battery. We were able to discharge the battery down to one SOC bar on the dash (I didn’t record the percentage from the diagnostic tool, but I believe it was something like 22%), but the car stubbornly refused to perform a recal and once you get to a certain voltage limit it won’t give you any IMA assist, effectively preventing us from really deeply discharging the battery. The voltage at all 11 points stayed close to each other with only a few of them at times showing a 0.1V difference. Perhaps we weren’t able to deeply enough discharge the battery pack to see any of the batteries between the check points have a sudden drop in voltage. Mike from 99mpg.com demonstrates this on his website here, http://99mpg.com/Projectcars/understandingthech/ (Hit Cntrl+F and then type Civic to skip to the part where Mike specifically mentions the Civic), but it’s not entirely clear what he’s doing nor when he’s writing about Prius, Insight, or Civic battery packs. Information and graphs for all three battery systems seem to be mixed together. According to Mike’s data he had cells suddenly dropping in voltage when his overall pack was down to around 137V. I am not entirely certain, but if my memory is correct then the lowest voltage point we reached in our driving test was around 145V.

    I will take the car back in about one month to perform another diagnostic with the same mechanic and then I will definitely record the lowest voltage point. We were able to take the SOC bars on the dash down to just one and it went into forced regeneration mode, but I’m pretty sure there wasn’t an accompanying recalibration. There were no sudden drops or jumps in the SOC bars and the SOC bars never reached the top. All of the recalibrations that I have experienced went like this: SOC bars at four, step on gas, receive momentary assist then assist stops, SOC bars suddenly drop to two, forced charge regeneration up to around 6 bars, then SOC jump up to the top. Anybody have any thoughts about why we couldn’t force the IMA system into recalibration, by discharging it in the manner I described above during our test drive?

    Wow, that’s a mouthful! I am done for writing now.
     
    Last edited: May 2, 2012
  10. Mic123

    Mic123 Active Member

    Re: New Lithium IMA Battery in 2006 HCHII Experiencing Problems

    By the way, does anyone know if prismatic NiMH batteries instead of cylindrical ones were used in the Civic Hybrid during 2009-2010? It seems doubtful, but my Panasonic contact thinks that might have happened. Also, I'm still trying to learn what battery type PC2 means.
     
  11. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Re: New Lithium IMA Battery in 2006 HCHII Experiencing Problems

    Mic, I don't think Honda has installed prismatic NiMH batteries in any of their vehicles.
     
  12. Mic123

    Mic123 Active Member

    Re: New Lithium IMA Battery in 2006 HCHII Experiencing Problems

    I just spoke with the guy from Honda Corporate Customer Service who told me exactly what I expected. Because the battery's charge capacity isn't at 15% or less they won't replace the battery. I stayed very friendly and civil, but tried explaining what a simplistic approach this is to IMA battery problems. I even asked him if Honda had some internal process for looking at these issues on a case-by-case basis. In my opinion, a five month old IMA battery with only 33% charge capacity is a BAD battery. Considering the problems I’m experiencing with such a newly installed battery I strongly believe that Honda is just selectively replacing the worst batteries in the IMA pack.

    The guy also corrected his earlier assertion that the battery was new and told me that it was definitely a remanufactured battery. I’m getting really frustrated with people either telling me lies or being incredibly incompetent!!! First I’m told that I’m getting a new Lithium battery. Then I’m told a bunch of crap by the first mechanic I took the car to just a few weeks ago to deal with the new battery problems, like charge capacity at 75% when it’s really 33%, SOC can change as much as 50% with a temperature change from 70 to 80. Finally, the customer service guy who was adamant last week that I had received a new IMA battery comes clean and tells me that it is remanufactured. It vaguely reminds me of Bill Clinton during his impeachment days saying things like, “It depends on what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is” and “I’d like to withdraw that last statement.” Ridiculous!

    The Honda rep was also adamant that I am now liable for the full cost of a new replacement because the first battery was replaced under warranty and I am now at 96K miles. I told him that I was extremely disappointed with such a policy from Honda and how Nissan customer service gives a one year warranty on all parts they have replaced on my car. He then put me on hold for about five minutes and comes back on the line to tell me that he was actually wrong and Honda also offers a one year/12K mile warranty with all parts they replace.

    At least I made friends with the last mechanic who examined my car and he invited me to come back each month for quick diagnostics at no-additional charge. I’ll be able to track the deterioration of the battery.
     
  13. Mic123

    Mic123 Active Member

    Here are pictures of the diagnostic screen that I promised. I uploaded them to the gallery.
    http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/2/medium/Diagnostic1.jpg
    http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/2/medium/Diagnostic2.jpg
    http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/2/medium/Diagnostic3.jpg
    http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/2/medium/Diagnostic4.jpg
    http://www.cleanmpg.com/photos/data/2/medium/ChargeCapacity.jpg

    I tried to upload the Calibration document I mention last week, but unfortunately this site doesn't let you upload PDFs. I will have to try scanning it again later this week as a different format.
     
  14. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    You should not assume 33% usable capacity is a bad thing, as an example Toyota only allows usage of 65% of their battery in a Prius, IIRC.. so when new that battery would only have 65% usable capacity. GM does the same thing with the Volt. Perhaps Honda is being extra conservative.

    It could also mean that 67% of your battery is gone, but I dont think so.. that would be a battery in pretty bad shape and with high resistance (would not be able to deliver high power). Perhaps someone that knows will chime in.
     
  15. Mic123

    Mic123 Active Member

    Herm,

    I agree with you that Honda, Toyota, and others have wisely set limits on how high to charge their hybrids' NiMH batteries (i.e. limiting the SOC). I remember reading somewhere that the desired SOC for rechargeable NiMH batteries is in the 40%-80% of full charge capacity. That being said, I’m not sure I believe that the line “IMA Battery Usable Capacity” relates to what you are describing, but I could be wrong. If you watch the SOC on the diagnostic screen while driving, like I did last week, then you will see how the system tries to keep the SOC generally within the range of 40%-80%. If you look on the diagnostic screen near the top you will see the lines “Continuous Assist Power Limit of IMA Battery,” “Continuous Regenerate Power Limit of IMA Battery,” “Momentary Assist Power Limit of IMA Battery,” and “Momentary Regenerate Power Limit of IMA Battery”. Perhaps those lines relate to the upper limit of SOC that you are describing.

    One thing is certain, I am experiencing almost daily (sometimes it is daily) recals, thus the battery appears to be in pretty bad shape and thus 33% is not a desirable percentage for “IMA Battery Usable Capacity.”

    I’m curious, where did you learn that the Toyota Prius has an SOC upper limit of 65% of the full charge capacity of new battery packs? Do you know what the lower limit is? If you have images of some Toyota diagnostic screens it would be great to do a comparison with the Honda’s diagnostic!
     
  16. herm

    herm Well-Known Member

    Probably the Prius chat forums... total SOC utilization (usable capacity) of 65%, from an SOC range of 15% up to 80%, or it could be 20% to 85%

    Only Nissan allows an SOC range utilization of 93% in the Leaf, and they warn about it in the manual.
     
  17. brick

    brick Answers to "that guy."

    I have never seen anything lower than 40% in my Prius. By that point the ICE is running continuously to get SOC back to at least 45%. I have seen as high as 82% on the ScanGauge maybe three times, all after an abnormally long descent. On a normal day I rarely see anything lower than 58% or above 65%. So if Honda is quoting that 15% as usable charge capacity, that seems low but not insanely so. If they mean 15% of original usable capacity, then I humbly suggest that they are probably insane.
     
  18. Mic123

    Mic123 Active Member

    Brick,

    Good info! Thank you for sharing. You are referring to the levels and limits of the SOC just as Herm was. Another reason I believe that the value of 33% “IMA Battery Usable Capacity” refers to the actual capacity of the battery and not just an upper usable limit comes from my experience with the original IMA battery replaced last November.
    When my battery was replaced, the value of my “IMA Battery Usable Capacity” was jumping between 13% and 18% on the diagnostic tool. By that point the battery might as well have not even been there. I virtually never received assist from the battery, because it would drain whatever juice it had very quickly.

    Bottom line, Honda doesn’t want to pay for their bad design and the subsequent premature failure of their NiMH IMA batteries. I think Honda is attempting band aid fixes until the class-action lawsuit is finalized (still in the appeal period) and then they’ll really try to shut down and reject complaints about their NiMH batteries.

    Where did you get your ScanGauge and is there anything similar that would work on the HCH-II? Do you know what the actual charge capacity of the battery pack is at in your Prius?

    Has anyone seen the diagnostic screen of the Prius and possibly taken pictures? What kind of wording and information do they have that might relate to “IMA Battery Usable Capacity” or charge capacity?
     
  19. Mic123

    Mic123 Active Member

    The class action lawsuit of Rego v. American Honda is an interesting twist in the battle of hybrid owners v. Honda. You can find more information about the case here,
    http://www.topclassactions.com/laws...brid-ima-battery-defect-class-action-lawsuit-
    and here
    http://www.courthousenews.com/2012/02/13/Honda.pdf

    In the pdf of the legal documents at the bottom of page 22 and beyond they discuss how American Honda admits that the software updates they have issued change how the hybrid computer reports the state-of-charge and useable capacity.
     
  20. Spock

    Spock Active Member

    Interesting stuff Mic. Not sure what to think of this. Obviously in your personal case I think they ought to replace your battery - failure after that length of time is completely unacceptable. Clearly the technology is faulty and Honda hasn't done a good job either of making a battery that'll stand up to their claims of lasting the life of the vehicle, or responding to the obvious problems.

    Now be that as it may I've been very happy with the most recent flash update. To this day I'm convinced it is what finally popped my IMA light, and furthermore had absolutely nothing even remotely like the experience cited in this document that the new update could cause the IMA system to drastically over-report charge capacity. In fact I didn't notice any increase in reporting at all, and I became very finely attuned to the battery in its last days, as SoC management was a constant fight to dodge the inevitable recals as long as possible, and when necessary even facilitate them happening on my terms to try and avoid ending up stuck at a light with no auto-stop.

    Mostly I've been very happy with the new battery they gave me also (which they claim to have trickle-charged overnight like I asked them to.) FE has drastically increased since then - from 51.5 mpg over 4000 miles (old battery) to over 61mpg over 1000 miles with the new battery. It has taken a big dive again since then on account of buying new tires - those OEM Dunlops didn't last long, plus I bought a little early both because of a sale, and because I just wasn't too happy with them. They are low LRRs too, just the increased tread depth and the fact that I haven't gotten around to pumping them up to max PSI yet.

    Now the bad stuff. It's been less than a month since they put in the battery, and recently (very recently) I've noticed an increase in the number of single and multi-bar forced regens I've been getting. Concrete data: the first week after getting the battery put in I experienced only two multi-bar FRs, while in the past two days I've experienced just as many. No recals yet to speak of, but that don't seem right to me, not one bit. It's possible it's just everything's working harder trying to push the new amply-treaded tires along at a meager 30-something PSI. But I doubt it and I'll be posting again if this situation continues.

    If it does, you can bet all your money I'll be killing this battery too and asking them for another one. Maybe THAT one I'll try and make last by getting a grid charger.

    It's silly to me that the cutting edge in Honda IMA maintenance is being handled by one genius guy who has absolutely nothing to do with Honda...they ought to be trying to get Mike on their team.

    Anyway good luck! It's been a while since I've looked at this thread so I assume folks have already shared with you the options at hybrid-battery-repair.com...which whoops actually looks like it's not an option anymore actually now that I just checked it. Seems they've closed their doors.
    http://www.greenhybrid.com/discuss/f11/hybrid-battery-repair-com-gone-27781/

    Don't recall the year on your Civy but if it's 2005 or older there are still some options listed at that link.

    But personally I think Honda absolutely must replace your battery, warranty or no, and they've got to figure out some way to get this situation under control. Manuel has said that as long as you drive the car right there's no reason the battery shouldn't last the life of the vehicle - which I think I believe in most cases - but I have serious doubts at this point about the quality of production of these batteries being uniform, and of course the replacement batteries - forget about it!! Clearly a whole mess of these are not suitable for use, and - although I both hope and believe this is not what they are actually intended for - only really serve to get the car closer to or beyond warranty expiration.

    Be persistent in asking them to handle this situation. Be nice, be courteous (you can always ramp up but you can never ramp down once you've gone there), but keep calling and keep talking to people. I wish I could remember the thread I am thinking of - I think it is on hybridcars.com actually, but Manuel also said his experience has been that Honda is eager to do right by their customers, warranty or no. Obviously this conflicts with MANY people's experience, but I wonder how many of those drivers actually went about trying to solve their problems in a calm, persistent, and assertive fashion. My guess is most went straight to accusations and demands as soon as they came against an obstacle. As a recent (and very frustrating) experience with a major insurance company proved to me, that rarely ends well in the customer service world. Keep calm, keep on them, stay optimistic. :Banane54:

    -Spock
     

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