here i go again. IMA acting up

Discussion in 'Honda Hybrids' started by laurieaw, Oct 23, 2007.

  1. laurieaw

    laurieaw Sorceress of the North

    ok, i am getting very frustrated. my IMA is doing the up/down, charge/regen/uncharge BS again.

    i was talking with wayne last night, and he mentioned the best way to work the thing is to stay off the IMA, and use as little assist as possible, which is what i try to do. BUT....this thing gives me an assist for the smallest possible pressure i put on the pedal, in first gear just starting out, accelerating on the highway, up hills it almost pegs out sometimes.......other times it just gets low while i am driving, with no reason i can see. today on the road it was doing a forced regen with a little below half charge on the gauge. other times i will try to use assist and it will stick at 4 bars and i can't get it to add any more.

    something is just not right. sean drove it a week ago, and maybe he can explain it better than i have. it did it over the weekend, and on my way home tonight.

    i have an appointment with honda next week for an engine block heater, and i would like to go in there with enough information about how this thing is supposed to work that i can clearly tell them that's it's not right. if anyone has any ideas or input, i would sure appreciate it. or any websites that describe in detail how it's supposed to work, so i can tell the tech that no, its NOT supposed to discharge to half every time you use it.........

    thanks. whine done. for a while.
  2. msantos

    msantos Eco Accelerometrist

    Depending on your level of confidence on your dealership's technical abilities I would shamelessly dramatize the circumstances and I would "steer them towards" any of the following:

    A - A "full cycle" battery test where they test the effective battery capacity.
    B - A BCM software update (assuming you haven't had one in a long while).
    C - A BCM module replacement (assuming that it does not diagnose properly or it is too outdated).
    D - And finally, a battery pack replacement accompanied by either B or C depending on the circumstances. The normal procedure in my "neck of the woods" is to ultimately have C & D done.

    Lastly, there are many folks who just have no luck with their local dealership. Quite often the trick is to try your luck at an alternate location and even engaging Corporate or Regional Honda. Battery replacements on Gen 1 HCH's with manual transmissions are quite common... and as of my last check, Honda had performed quite a few in Canada alone.
    Given the precedents, I know for sure that if you push them a little you'll have no big trouble getting C & D performed.


  3. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Laurie:

    ___Do not worry about a little assist on any launch as Honda set up IMA hybrids up for this and the HCH-I’s and II’s are just as bad as the Insight. If you are really careful, you can launch with minimum bars for only a few seconds but it takes a light foot.

    ___As for the SoC dropping out, can you let Sean drive your HCH-I down to the Milwaukee Hybrid Group meet this coming weekend? I would like to pull the battery terminals to force a recal event upon reconnect. I am interested in how your HCH-I’s SoC runs back up with maybe 3 or 4 miles of easy highway driving. It should run up to 1 bar from full and then hang there with no assist events.

    ___Maybe you can setup a small Hypermiling group meet up in MN. for Sean, Rick and yourself? Let us say two weekends from now and I can drive, take an Amtrak or Greyhound up that way and we can do a few hour clinic?

    ___Good Luck

  4. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Laurie et al, I just spent about 50 min scouring the web for behavior characteristics of the 5spd Civic IMA system. I wasn't able to find any specific specs (such as, assist begins at X engine load), but everything I found indicated that cruising should not draw down the battery. Neither should gentle acceleration if the SOC is over 1/2. This isn't consistent with what I saw when I drove the car.

    I've been doing accelerations so slow I call them "drifting up to speed" for years. No so much recently because P&G is so much more efficient, but I'll still do it under certain circumstances. I'm talking 5mph gain over the course of 1min or so. I tried this with Laurie's car and it assisted. On a flat. I tried maintaining speed. It assisted. From 2/3rds full down to about 3/8ths, then the forced charging started (at 1 bar under 1/2), and continued as the charge dropped down to about 1/4th. It didn't recover for the entire drive of what, 20mi or so?

    I expected assist from a start, but given the acceleration rates I was using it should have dropped out as I hit 10-15mph or so. No dice. In combination with the fact that the car does not always act this way, I'd say there is something seriously wrong with the system on at least an intermittent basis.

    I did see some stuff about BCM updates/replacements online but I don't know enough about what those do to judge if that might work for this behavior.

    Wayne, I'd be up for a clinic meet. :) Selfishly, I'm in the middle of the three of us... ;) You'd be welcome at my house if you need to split the trip up and get some sleep -- I've got a guest bedroom all set up. Of course, I'm assuming you meant the weekend of the 3rd/4th? If it is the weekend after I've got my sister up to visit and I don't think I could get away.

    Laurie, if you want to have me drive your car down to Milwaukee I can leave you mine -- but I'd have to swap Friday afternoon. Any chance you'd be down in St. Cloud? I would have to return it Sunday afternoon as I've got to get to Church in the morning.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2007
  5. CitrusInsighter

    CitrusInsighter Well-Known Member

    If you're doing FE clinics on the weekend of the 3/4th, I'd probably be able to make the drive over from La Crosse, just across the border. That would be nice especially if I can't make the MiHG meet this weekend.
  6. GreenBlues

    GreenBlues Well-Known Member


    Sorry to hear you are having problems. From what I am reading, your 05 does not act like ours at all. Have you had the computer reprogrammed for the recall that was out awhile back? As for a group meet, I believe I could round up some folks that would benefit from that from around here. From what I have heard, the hybrid knowledge base varies considerably from dealer to dealer. If you are not satisfied with your dealer maybe you should consider the dealer in La Crosse. I believe the knowledge there to be top notch. Hope you get something worked out.
  7. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger


    While it's a picture of an Insight's batteries and supporting network of computers directing the charge/recharging, it should be basically the same on your Civic.

    The BCM is the little computer sitting on top of the battery pack, networked to the batteries and other units. It's duty is to determine the State of Charge.

    Early Hondas had BCMs that let the SoC go down to 15% - it's been changed since the recall to 40%. Make sure they upgraded it.
  8. laurieaw

    laurieaw Sorceress of the North

    thanks! this is most helpful. i have been in several times with similar complaints, and i think they have done 2 software updates, with not much change in performance. i am going to start my request today, and call them asking them to work on this while the heater is going on. perhaps if they have over a week to think about it, their tech will come up with something. generally, i have felt OK with their service, much better than the one that's 3 miles from where i work.
  9. laurieaw

    laurieaw Sorceress of the North

    sean, thanks for the good description. i am going to print that out and take it with me when i go to the dealer.

    as for taking the car, i will be in st. cloud at work friday afternoon, if that's not too much driving for you. and sunday afternoon, i will be at the usual :)

    wayne, is the weekend you are talking about november 3-4? that's the saturday i am having the heater installed, so i am going to be up there for most of the morning, i i am not sure what that would do to your schedule. it would then take me at least 2 hours to get to sean's. or there is sunday.....i appreciate your offering to do us a clinic up here. wow, that's way above and beyond.
  10. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Laurie, I'll plan to drive your car then.

    That weekend of the 3rd has a couple of things going on in it but I'll hold my peace until we have more input. :)
  11. laurieaw

    laurieaw Sorceress of the North

    have i mentioned that everyone on this forum is SUPER???!!!!
  12. laurieaw

    laurieaw Sorceress of the North

    i called honda service and told them i wanted them to add time to my visit in order to do some diagnostics on the IMA. i told him approximately what's been done as far as upgrades, and how it's been acting. i also told him i will have a written description, based on sean's experience last week, and anything that might act up when he takes the car to milwaukee this weekend. the service guy seemed open to that, so we shall see what happens. i am, however, going to insist that it is not acting as it should.

    thanks for all the input, and for sean and wayne for going the extra mile.
  13. MnFocus

    MnFocus hanging member :)

    barring bitter cold ,snow, sleet or inadvertant dismemberment ...I think I'm free. "Say when" I'll see what I can do.
  14. Right Lane Cruiser

    Right Lane Cruiser Penguin of Notagascar

    Dismemberment?? :eek:

    Laurie, I hope the documentation of behavior helps! I'll keep an eye on it and I'm sure Wayne will have plenty of input once he has a drive in it (provided it acts up at that point, of course).
  15. MnFocus

    MnFocus hanging member :)

    Hahaha um yeah , I work in a glass plant - it's considered a "non handbook fringe benefit."
  16. psyshack

    psyshack He who posts articles

    Off topic:

    But I worked in a glass plant once. Maint. Sparky. Walked into the hot end. Thought to myself. " OOOO God did I mess up " A new mistake in the top ten of my life. Thank god I only spent 6 months in that culet making nightmare.
  17. Mike Dabrowski 2000

    Mike Dabrowski 2000 Well-Known Member

    The MT Insight batteries can exhibit the same type of battery behavior as your MT Civic, since they are virtually the same battery pack and configuration.

    NIMH batteries like NICD batteries will develop a memory if not cycled through the full operational range occasionally.
    While Waynes MPG advice of not tapping into the assist with FAS and P&G can yield some nice numbers, the jury is still out as to what that type of battery use will do to the life of the battery.
    The Prius does a reconditioning full cycle every few months.

    A recent piece of feedback from a EE in Austrilia that just put in MIMA:

    "Just seen your battery reconditioning activity on your web site.
    What I my not have mentioned is that I have extensive professional experience with battery powered, actually battery backup power of commercial Broadcast radio stations, These are big and the best are liquid NiCad batteries.
    I have done extensive experiments to get the best life out of the batteries and here are some of my findings.

    A good quality set of NiCad batteries, both liquid and gel should last about 10 to 25 years, I currently use some that are over 15 years old and they provide a full charge like new ones, although total power stored is down 15 to 20%
    NiCad and NiMH both like to be used and used hard, but must be given a rest so they are allowed to return to about 25 degree centigrade for 2 hours.
    Although the manufactures state differently, we found that the batteries recovered better when they are completely flattened, 0 volts output. then charged at 10 to 20% of charge capacity for 12 to 6 hours. We experienced no shortening of operating life by this deep cycling.
    Our battery backup system got used each night so the batteries would be exercised and that way we also knew if a the system had any problems, before they actually needed it.

    As a side note, the building that housed the batteries was destroyed by a hydrogen explosion which came from the batteries boiling when a normal metal spanner was brought into the battery room and was accidentally dropped across a buss, the spanner welded its self, then all hell broke loose.

    It is good to see some one doing a cell recovery. I will be doing mine when the recals start."

    As a point of reference, my Insight pack with 122K on it has never had a recal, and I use it hard.
  18. laurieaw

    laurieaw Sorceress of the North

    thanks. i totally understand what wayne means about staying off the battery. the problem i am having is that it won't let me. as sean noticed, just starting up at a low crawl turns on the assist. most acceleration also causes assist, when it's in one of those discharge moods. i can't help it. and it's not acting like it did when i first got the car, that's the part that makes me suspect. perhaps wayne will find out something this weekend when he tests it..........:)
  19. Mike Dabrowski 2000

    Mike Dabrowski 2000 Well-Known Member

    I think you missed my point.:(
    A lot of battery pack issues with the Insight and early civics, has surely turned Honda engineers onto the need for pack cycling as part of normal care and feeding.

    The Civic IMA may have a battery maintenance procedure like the Prius where it occasionally trys to exercise the pack.

    If the aggressive assist behavior you are experiencing is in fact the car trying to cycle the pack a bit, and you are not allowing it to do it, you may be stuck mid procedure.

    As painful as it may be, the car may just need to be driven hard once and a while to reduce the chances of the battery memory effect developing.

    Only my opinion, but the evidence I am seeing is starting to point in this direction.
    Good Luck
  20. xcel

    xcel PZEV, there's nothing like it :) Staff Member

    Hi Mike:

    ___The real world evidence is in with 100’s of Insight packs being replaced that were cycled from one end to the other. This has lead to shorter life spans as has been seen in just every battery study ever written. This is not a memory issue but a chemistry one. As for your own pack never being recal’ed, every time you have disconnected the 12V you have forced a recal and I know you have disconnected the 12V more then a few times without a small supply to keep the BCM live, correct?

    ___Prius packs not only have an online recal event that is all but seamless to the end user and over a much smaller range than what the Honda allows, it was designed for upwards of 300,000 mini charge/discharge events (not full cycles) and thus its superior longevity. Allowing a full charge/discharge cycle limits a NiMH batteries lifetime severely and should never be considered as your pack whack procedure describes. Once every 6 months, sure. Weekly or monthly besides all the cycling MIMA inputs? That is some awfully expensive advice. NiMH’s have a limited lifespan due to charge/discharge events and allowing only minor hits allows superior longevity without question.

    ___Good Luck


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