HCH-II Recalibrations (Recal). What are they ?

Discussion in 'Honda Hybrids' started by msantos, Aug 6, 2009.


Have you ever had a re-calibration of the SoC on your HCH-II ?

  1. What is a recalibration?

  2. Never. At least not yet.

  3. Yes, I get them once in a while (at most 1-2 per month)

  4. Yes, I get them at least once a week

  5. Yes, I get them once every day

  6. Heck yes... I get a recal during every commute

  7. Heck yes... I get a recal during every commute and I also have the IMA light ON

    0 vote(s)
  1. pasadena_commut

    pasadena_commut Well-Known Member

    Is there an upper voltage point on the battery pack which will during normal driving cause the SOC to calibrate without a forced recal? I understand that over time the computer's estimate of the SOC will vary, but it seems to me if the battery voltage hits the target voltage (165V at 21C, or whatever) it is aiming for during a recal, but during normal driving, it should be able to reset its SOC estimate at that point. Does it?
  2. hunter44102

    hunter44102 Well-Known Member

    I believe I found a way to stop my re-cals that happen every Wednesday. (On Wednesdays at lunch, I drive 1 mile to lunch, then back 1 mile. When I drive back home a few hours later, it ALWAYS crashes and starts a re-cal).

    I made it stop by just staying in the 'S' gear when I do my two 1 mile (non highway) trips. I need to do it a few more times to be sure.

    For those of you getting many recals, (even if they happen on your longer drives), pay attention if you had a short drive -just prior- earlier before you took the long trip.
  3. Mr. Kite

    Mr. Kite Well-Known Member

    I have been averaging at least one recal a day for close to a year now. Some days, I get two. It does not appear to be seasonal at all. I took my vehicle in recently and finally had all the software updates done. It did not change the frequency of the recals. One of the service people called the Honda Tech line today (where I have an open case). American Honda's stance was that my vehicle's behavior is totally normal.

    A few things to note:
    • My vehicle has never had the check engine light or IMA light come on.
    • I have done the power reset sequence with no change in behavior.
    • My overall fuel economy is still doing really well. My last year's average was slightly lower, but that was due to no longer using an engine block heater and a shorter work commute during that year. I'm at 55mpg lifetime over 51K miles. Today, I had a 74mpg round trip of a 33 miles, so the car is still very capable.
    • I rarely FAS, but I did more frequently a few years back.

    One other thing that happens that I find strange: Sometimes after the car does a recal, I feel that the displayed charge is not increasing like it should. On more than one occasion, I have then observed the displayed charge quickly jumping from 4 all the way to 8 bars. This has been during times when I was no longer charging and in some cases not even moving. Has anybody else experienced this? Also, has anybody else experienced this frequency of recals without having the IMA light ever come on?

    Any thoughts or suggestions?

    Luckily, I bought a 7 year/120,000 mile Honda Care Warranty for $900 from Saccucci Honda when the vehicle was new. :)
  4. msantos

    msantos Eco Accelerometrist

    Hi Mr. Kite;

    Yes, however unsettling this 4->8 bars behavior may be, it is still considered "normal".

    In fact, starting with the initial 2008 software update, this phenomenon has become very common for some folks more than others and yet, the vehicles still deliver optimal performance. Simply put, I would not worry much about as long as the vehicle does not show any FE deficits.

    However, a higher frequency also concerns me a bit but even on this note I've been re-assured that even if it happens once every day it is not an indication of imminent failure at all. Still, in these cases I would note the events and report them to the service department at each visit, just in case. ;)


  5. Kacey Green

    Kacey Green Well-Known Member

    I still wish there was a way for the car to let me know it needs a recal, and for me to have that delayed until I hit the highway, it seems to want to go off at the worst of times.

    I'll be getting my software checked after our HDS gets the latest updates.
  6. msantos

    msantos Eco Accelerometrist

    Hi Kacey;

    I would wager that in the absence of an explicit indicator, a stagnant SoC is a pretty good clue in most cases.
    In other words, while a 70+ MPG average along with a chronically high SoC is very exciting, the system really wants to visit the other outer threshold too - at least once in a while. ;)


  7. Mainiax

    Mainiax Member

    Msantos - You seem to be pro Honda and a hybrid authority, why is it that Honda will not officially acknowledge the hybrid problem with the falling SOC resulting in long and frequent periods with NO assist.? I am sure you know we are not exaggerating the problems we are experiencing. Your explanation of “recalc” is good but you also mention a faulty battery cell will cause a fluctuating SOC. Doesn’t a bad battery cell qualify for an IMA replacement, it would if it was a 12v battery? Honda insists the car is operating within its designed specifications. I can not understand how Honda can continue denying that there is a problem with the IMA battery/system unless error codes/lights are present. I find it difficult not to believe that the software I initially received to correct the falling SOC did not lower the threshold for error conditions. I had the IMA and Check Engine lights come on and software got them to go out but they never came back on even though the occurrence of the falling SOC got worse and worse. I mean many times daily. Maybe you can explain the follow numbers when the dealer put their diagnostic box on my car: day 1 test results: SOC rate of 66%, and useable charge of 11%, second day test result: SOC of 66%, useable at 13% and third day’s test: SOC of 67% with useable of 16%. No one at the dealership could explain these numbers and Honda America’s response to the numbers “ The IMA battery might be deteriorating but not sending codes or DTC’s. Until stored DTC can be pulled indicating IMA needs replacing no replacement authorized by Honda at this time”.
    I apologize directing my frustrations at you if you are not connected with Honda in some way but with your many detailed explanations I just have the feeling you are connected with Honda of Canada.
  8. msantos

    msantos Eco Accelerometrist

    Hi Mainiax;

    These recalibrations have been occurring for many of us since the car's first year of age. For other owners, it happened 2 or 3 years later.
    In my 2006, the first recal happened almost a year later while my 2007 took just a bit longer to exercise one... and it just happens to be the way the system was designed to behave. In other words, expect these recalibrations to occur first in the most demanding of situations and then a bit more frequently as the car ages. Owners that operate their vehicle is demanding situations (harsher climates, topography, etc) may also experience these sooner and on a more aggressive basis.

    Now, for owners of older HCH-II's that reported an IMA failure due to an indicated battery deterioration, Honda opted for an outright and prompt replacement of the pack as a means of containing and studying the problem. These replacements were not met with much resistance from Honda since it was very important to actually assess the state of health of the battery pack as a whole as well as the cells within each of the modules that triggered the discrepancy. In the majority of the earlier replacements, it reportedly found that the failed packs were not that bad after all and that with a series of software updates, the deterioration could in most cases, not only be contained but even reversed.

    In other words, just because the original software shipped with the car was a bit "high-strung" and determined that battery deterioration was taking place, does not mean that the damage IS "as reported". The software updates not only allow Honda to correct these earlier settings but also distribute new adjustments to the regenerative algorithms and routines that can help mitigate these occurrences.

    In a way, this is an unfortunate situation for Honda since many owners will still regard a software update as a means to mask the symptoms, thus allowing Honda to skirt a battery pack replacement when in fact, knowing what I know, it is not really so.

    Managing this generation of battery packs as well as the other on-board systems, is literally a science that Honda engineers took into account by making the HCH-II one of their most software update-able models ever. That is why we've been recommending from day 1 that HCH-II owners consider the software update opportunities as important as the regular oil changes. Naturally, while I cannot convince everyone of this, I accept it as an enhancing attribute and a sign of (hopefully) better things to come.

    Finally, even the dealership technicians that are up to date in their training, will often need assistance and direction from Honda because quite frankly, they are at the end of a technical chain of knowledge.

    It is always up to Honda's engineering support team to decide what the HDS readings truly mean... and since I don't expect most technicians to know how to properly drive these cars anyway, I would also not expect them to make authoritative sense of what they see on screen... unless the diagnostic checklist tells them so.
    The service literature does not explain the why's, just what to do if a reading is observed to fall within a boundary of indicated values. That is all they can do.

    As always, I will suggest that you keep your dealer informed of your car's progress and let the software update do its work. It took time for the discrepancy to appear and it will likely take some time for the symptoms to subside.

    In the process, keep a detailed account of your interactions with the dealer and whatever feedback they can provide as well as an account of the car's behavior and unique episodes. If the car's exhibits noticeable drive-ability issues then by all means, communicate that to the dealer and urge them to act on it in their interactions with Honda. If you can, take a service adviser or a technician for a drive to demonstrate as sometimes, seeing is believing. In some cases a different dealer is all it takes to get the ball moving again in your favor.

    Good luck, and let us know how it all unfolds. :)

    Last edited: Jul 4, 2010
  9. Mainiax

    Mainiax Member

    Hello Msantos - Thank you for replying to my recent complaint regarding my 2007 HCH-II and here I go again. It is rather long winded. Hopefully your replies will help those of us with what we feel is a problem but not a problem per Honda. I know that not all HCH-II owners are experiencing what I am but then again maybe a lot more are and don’t know it because I doubt many HCH-II owners use their hybrid instrumentation like I do thus they do not see what is going on and only experience a slug of a car at times then it goes away.

    My vehicle started having the falling SOC 27 months from my date of purchase and having only 7714 miles of use. Honda authorities have mentioned I do not use the car enough. I put on about 100 miles a week using it 1 to 3 times. Honda’s only mention of vehicle use is in the manual under vehicle storage and states “If this vehicle is unused for over one month, the service life of the 158v nickel-metal-hydride battery will be reduced and the battery may be permanently damaged” It also says it should be driven about 30 minutes a month to keep the IMA battery charged and in good condition. My use meets Honda’s requirements. I live in New England so heat is not an issue and the vehicle is parked in a heated garage during the cold months. The 12v battery has been tested a couple of times and has been found to be good and a power reset has been done twice but did not cure my problems. I must say I was very please with the operation of the car until the frequent falling SOC starting 7+ months ago.

    Because of your explanation I now know that “recalibration” MUST happen because of the inaccuracies of measuring the input and output of the electrical charge during vehicle use but it should not at the frequency that it is happening to me. The recalc ALWAYS happens after being in the drive over night and then it happens around 5 to 6 miles, 12 to 15 and then around 25. I have come to the conclusion the recalc will occur within a few miles after shutting off the car and then restarting to continue with my errands.

    When the SOC is at 1 or 2 bars there is NO assist and I feel this can put me in dangerous driving situations at times. It takes between 2 and 3 miles to regain a charge good enough for assist to be functional again. Lets say it averages 2 ½ miles to regain charge (depends on terrain). I counted 4 drops of the SOC to 1 bar during a recent 50 mile trip. That works out to be 20% (2.5x4)/50 of my trip was driven without assist available, one of the hybrids features and if I had the a/c on I’m sure it would have been worse. The sales brochure by Honda for the 2007 model year shows the hybrid has a 110 hp engine supplemented by an electric motor that I have read is rated at 20hp. The regular 07 Civic has a 140 hp engine and have read it weighs less than a hybrid. When I have a SOC at 1 or 2 bars I have no assist and I am operating a vehicle with less power potential than a regular. I paid roughly $5,000 more for the hybrid model and at times a regular Civic can out perform it.

    Your response indicates the recalibration will occur a bit more frequently as the car ages. During the recals I find my trip MPG drops about 2 to 3 miles per gallon so when it happens frequently my mpg really falls from what I could be getting if it were not for the recals. I realize the engine is working harder to operate the generator to recover the charge rather than using the energy (gas) to turn the wheels thus lower mpg. The 2007 sales brochure indicates EPA mileage of 49/51 (it has been lowered) but there should have been another notation stating “After 2 years or so your mileage will fall because of the deteriorating battery which is bound to happen”. I averaged 50.7 mpg during the first 17 months of ownership, no complaints there. I drove with the instrumentation and applied hybrid driving techniques such as slow acceleration (3 to 4 bars of assist), slowed up way before a traffic light, no inching up in stopped traffic, little use of a/c but the main reason for the mileage was not driving over 55 mph much. I would bet a regular Civic would have given better than the EPA mpg of 30/40 driving the way I did.

    I mentioned previously that the local Honda technicians put their diagnostic test equipment on my car and reported findings I have never read about on any forum. The tests were done weeks apart and after driving to the Honda dealership about 25 miles away. Two tests of the system show a SOC of 66%, 1 at 67% and usable of 11, 13, 16%. The battery should have been fully charged as it was tested within ½ hour of arriving at the dealership. No one at the dealership knew what the numbers meant and Honda America informed the local tech “The IMA battery might be deteriorating but not sending codes or DTC’s. Until stored DTC can be pulled indicating IMA needs replacing no replacement authorized by Honda at this time”. Much later I had the opportunity to ask an engineer from Honda America about the numbers and this is what I ‘think’ (I was in a high pressure situation at the time so I can’t swear to this) he said. The SOC numbers indicate the amount of charge in the battery pack. The useable charge number is the life expectancy of the battery or maybe he said it is the life remaining in the battery. A SOC of 66% is good because 75% is about the most it can be. Does this sound accurate to you? You did not mention what these numbers represent but did mention that the local techs may not know what they mean. I guess the techs are only required to perform the tests and then someone (Honda America tech line) or a manual will instruct them what has to be done to correct the problem after reporting the findings. Here they were told do nothing.

    I had the Honda service manager go for a ride with me and he noticed the drop of SOC from a good charge to 1 bar, had assist when we began the test drive and none when we returned and auto stop from functioning to not working. He gave me a written statement as to what he observed. Honda America’s verbal response was something like this, Honda dealerships make their money doing repairs so they are more likely to say something is wrong than Honda America!! Unbelievable. I hope this person was referring to warranty work.

    I felt comfortable purchasing a hybrid because my State requires a warranty of 10 years/150,000 miles on the IMA battery and 15/150,000 on the other hybrid components. I felt if the battery ever goes bad it will be covered for the time I will be owning the vehicle but here I am still within my 3 yr/ 36,000 bumper to bumper coverage and Honda says the battery is good even though they say it might be deteriorating. Honda tells me there is no test like there is for a 12v battery indicating whether or not the IMA battery is good or bad. Difficult for me to believe. Maybe the SOC and useable % I mentioned previously is the test and Honda does not divulge the bad, questionable and good parameters of the IMA battery.

    Just one more thing. I have a battery operated wall clock and it displays the correct time from the 1 position to 6 and then from 6 to 12 it clicks and sounds like it is working and the hands even move some and eventually they get up to 12 again but the time is not accurate. I replace the battery and the clock is now working the way it should. Yes, you can say the clock works with a deteriorating battery but not the way it should. If I reset at 12 it will keep the correct time for ¼ of a day. The same thing is happening to my IMA battery. Honda says my battery is good and yes the car does travel down the road but without hybrid features functioning at times. The charge is gone or at least it reacts as if it was gone (no assist) and yes the car is drivable but not at the same operating level as when the battery has a charge. I would accept a recalc of no more than once a week, I am getting 4 or more a day and Honda America says nothing is wrong.

    Sorry to hit you with all of this but you are the only one I know of that has any knowledge about the HCH-II so it is your shoulder I am crying on. Have I mentioned anything that is in error? It is a holiday weekend here so I have plenty of time to write and write. If you don’t respond I don’t blame you. I have finally vented my frustrations and hopefully I have discouraged at least one person thinking of purchasing a hybrid. I will not consider purchasing a Volt, Leaf or any hybrid after ownership of this vehicle. A few years ago I purchased an electric bicycle and it was more or less unless unusable using it on batteries and I said I would never have another electric vehicle but what did I do, I purchase a HCH-II! I have definitely learned my lesson this time.
    I promise I will let you know how all of this ends up. I have always enjoyed reading your posts.
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2010
  10. msantos

    msantos Eco Accelerometrist

    Hi Mainiax;

    This is indeed a very regrettable answer. Did you write down the name of the person who said that to you? In my humble opinion, that is not only unprofessional but also the kind of argument that can be insulting to dealerships who still believe in protecting the customer's interests and good "word of mouth".

    I would suggest you escalate the issue by writing a letter directed to that person's superior and also CC it to the current Supervisor of Customer Relations at Honda, your dealership's General Manager and your dealer's Service Department Manager.

    It is quite obvious that you have taken all the initial steps required to resolve this issue and it is also quite obvious that the dealer has been willing to do its part. Now, I expect Honda to come through for you sooner rather than later, as beyond this point, this type of handling of these issues cannot help either Honda nor the Honda hybrid community.

    Furthermore, from your statements it appears that the vehicle is currently saddled by a unquestionable drive-ability issue that litteraly implies it is neither performing as designed nor in a safe manner. At least in my books, having the service manager take a ride along and verify the ill behavior makes it as authoritative as it needs to be and I hope you emphasize this in a cordial but very firm and clear manner.

    Lastly, there are a lot of truly excellent and hard working people at Honda that love the products they build and they will do their best to always improve the product even after it has been delivered to the customer.
    It is on this note, that I would like to mention that a somewhat recent software update was released that addresses the "no electric assist while at Low SoC levels" issue. In fact, I've tested such updates recently with good results to report on that front. Perhaps this can help contain your primary complaint?

    With regards to the details you mentioned, I will kindly decline to pass judgement on what the figures mean since I would required more detailed information on the subject.

    However, what I can tell you is that a normally operating HCH-II will not necessarily offer diminishing FE as it ages. Quite the contrary as many of us can prove. ;) And yes, as the battery pack ages its capacity will inevitably decrease (as expected)... but the MPG's should suffer very little with all else remaining equal.

    One other thing I should clarify:
    In the HCH-II, the electric assist contribution of the electric motor may be rated at 20HP at least in terms of the brochure specifications but in reality, the HP contribution is not the primary benefit at all. This can be quite misleading since people will often refer to this number as a measure of effectiveness that is available "at all times".

    Instead, the electric motor's primary benefit is one of torque and as far as electric motors go in today's hybrids, this is where electric motors and gasoline powered engines mate very well. Electric motors offer their most at lower rpms where the ICE is weakest, and at higher RPMS the electric motors are much less effective whereas the ICE is at its best. Under some circumstances, this actually makes the HCH-II feel marginally more "powerful" than a regular Civic since a significant and instantaneous contribution of torque is available at lower speeds and lower RPMS. It is only at faster speeds that the electric motor still drains the battery pack but adds very little... and this still makes the little 1.3L engine feel underpowered when compared to the rest of the power plants in the Civic line.

    And finally, I understand your frustration regarding Honda's current position with respect to your car. Please escalate things as I indicated above and remain as cool headed as possible (I am quite certain it isn't easy given your experiences) and hopefully you'll get the attention and solution you seek.

    The HCH-II is certainly a good car and at least from my perspective, it will continue to have a place in my driveway until the next, most capable Honda hybrid is released to the market. On this note, I have made a commitment to never buy anything less than a hybrid and at least from a personal experience and statistical standpoint I have no reason to change this view.
    Like everything else, Hybrid technology is still evolving and despite this I still find it very dependable but even when it fails (and it will eventually), customers should not be afraid to make the ownership leap provided that manufacturer is there to support its product as indicated in the terms of warranty.

    Keep us informed and do not be concerned about the long posts. So far they've been very helpful. ;)


  11. Mr. Kite

    Mr. Kite Well-Known Member

    My car's behavior has gotten worse since the software was updated. Here is an example with 4 recalibrations yesterday and today over a total of only about 31 miles.

    3.0 mi
    3.0 mi (recal)
    5.2 mi
    6.3 mi (recal)

    3.3 mi (recal)
    3.3 mi
    3.3 mi (recal)
    3.3 mi

    My impression (not just from these two days of course) is that there is probably a stronger dependence to the number of trips than the distance driven.

    Since the most recent updates, my displayed SOC is very cyclical. After a crash, I get 1 or 2 bars. After charging, it works up to 4 bars, stays there, and then jumps to 8 bars. It slowly drops down to 4 or 5 bars and then crashes. It is just odd that I do not get much variation outside of this cycle.

    I would love it if the most recent software updates would gradually "fix" this problem, but I am not optimistic.
  12. Chuck

    Chuck just the messenger

    Does it recal more in hot weather?

    That and infrequent trips will do that.
  13. Mr. Kite

    Mr. Kite Well-Known Member

    I have not really noticed increases due to outside temp. I was getting these recals all through winter as well. Today, my morning round trip had temps in the mid 70s. The later round trip had temps in the low 80s. The temperatures yesterday were all upper 70s to mid 80s. I did not use AC any.
  14. Harold

    Harold Well-Known Member

    I don't feel owners of HCH 2 cars are being dealt with in the proper manner here. Have owners been told that Honda's is trying to come up with a fix for this issue? I wonder what percentage of HCH 2 are actually having these recalls a couple or more times in a day. It is obvious the packs in the HCH2 are flowed and a better design should be in the works to correct this problem. This is one heck of a Auto when everything is working as it was designed to do. Honda does not seem to be keeping owners of these autos informed. H
  15. Mainiax

    Mainiax Member

    Greetings Msantos;

    I probably should not not be posting when I am in this fired up mode but I can't help myself. I am very bitter about my SoC problems and feel I have every right to be. I read other sites regarding the Honda Civic Hybrid and find many HCH-II owners are experiencing similar problems.

    It makes me laugh, well actually angry at Honda, after reading your statement from your last reply to my complaints “a somewhat recent software update was released that addresses the “no electric assist while at low SoC levels issue”. I have reported this issue of no assist to Honda numerous times. The SoC rapidly drops to 1 or 2 bars putting me in a no electric assist state for 2 to 3 miles and Honda America would come back saying my car has no problems because it is operating within its designed specifications yet here they go and write software to correct the very same problem I was complaining about, no assist. I guess the current designed specifications were flawed at the time of my complaints and Honda didn‘t realize it. More likely it was a known problem but they were trying to work on a fix for the problem.

    I am complaining about what you wrote when I stated I lose the use of the 20 hp electric motor when in no assist mode and your reply was that the 20 hp rating is not really important because the electric motor provides torque in the lower ranges where the gas engine is not good in. If I lose hp or ‘extra additional torque’ I still lost the assist I should have been receiving and in some cases this can happen at a time that is very dangerous while driving. I wanted it on record that my 07 HCH-II becomes dangerous to drive at times because of no assist so I filed a complaint with the National Highway Safety Transportation Agency. Honda can not say they were unaware of the problem providing of course NHSTA checks it out. They did not with me. Guess Honda knows about it now since they have software to try and fix the problem.

    The other issue you explained in your reply, “And yes, as the battery pack ages its capacity will inevitably decrease (as expected) but the MPG’s should suffer very little”. I say, when the capacity decreases with age that means it will not be able to store all the energy it could from braking and coasting at times (the free energy). I know we can not always capture all the regenerative energy produced at times even with a good battery but a good battery will certainly store more of it than an aged battery. The available charge in the battery, no matter how it was produced, will be depleted quicker in an aged battery because there is less of it to use due to the aged battery’s lower capacity to store energy resulting in the use of the gas engine to recharge the battery more often thus lowering MPG. I contend that as the battery ages your MPG will decline, no way around it. Recals have to occur at some time too and I find they really drop my MPG when they occur and as you mentioned they will happen more frequently as the battery ages. Both of these issues are the facts of life of any hybrid and MPG will ‘inevitably’ diminish as time goes by.

    Here are 2 excerpts from your sticky post “HCH-II Recalibrations (recal). What are they?”
    “We often hear about recals from Honda Hybrid owners and we learn to fear them based on the reports of an impending traction battery failure. As the HCH-II ages, reports of these "recals" are likely to become more regular and often send other owners into a panic mode. Is this a reason to worry? Certainly not !!!” I say, If recals happen to others as they do to me resulting in no assist for 2 to 3 miles, then there IS a reason to worry because it can be a safety issue at times. Remember, I get recals many times a day.

    The second excerpt “If the battery pack is too cold or too hot, the system expects measurement errors to be magnified and the chance of a recal increases. Very cold weather or very hot weather with AC use are typical scenarios. Please do not panic. This is absolutely normal”. How many non hybrid cars suffer lower performance (lower power) with heat or cold, yes maybe some until the engine gets to its operating temperature but will be fine after that. Use of the a/c during these hot or cold times will not put you in an unsafe driving mode by eliminating assist.

    It has been about 7 months since my car operated correctly and I have actually forgotten things regarding driving it back then but it seems to me that when my SoC bars got down to 4 bars the regen came on (green bars) and recharged the battery so I never saw a no assist situation that I can remember. I never remember ever seeing just 1 or 2 bars of charge.

    Instead of paying roughly $5,000 more for a HCH-II, I think Honda should discount the car $5,000 below a comparable equipped Civic because we are acting as their “Beta Testers.”
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2010
  16. msantos

    msantos Eco Accelerometrist

    Hi Mainiax

    If you read my statements carefully you'll see that I did not say the HP rating is "not really important". Instead, I referred to the primary objectives of the design which is to provide torque where there is very little with a 1.3L gasoline engine. This remains a design reality and I often evoke that to bring a realistic perspective on a discussion involving the 4th generation IMA architecture.

    The following picture may also help visualize the contributions of the electric motor more accurately:

    With this said, there is no denying that the lack of electric assist can affect the general drive-ability of the vehicle and this is not a desirable state to be in.
    On this note, I kindly suggest you firmly and cordially escalate your issue with the manufacturer as previously suggested.

    I hope that by now, you've also noticed that at CleanMPG we strive to get the most fuel economy and the least emissions out of any car, and especially so from these unique hybrid vehicles. But to do so, among other things (like constant focus on anticipatory/defensive driving and never exceeding the posted speed limit), we seek to minimize the use of electric assist whenever and wherever possible.

    This has several real-world side effects:
    1. The lesser and lower amplitude charge and discharge cycles will have a positive impact on the lifespan of the battery pack. By implication, this also lowers the wear and tear on the other power-train components as well - especially the legacy components.
    2. You achieve far higher fuel economy by strategically avoiding assist and if better FE and safety is truly your goal, then this means that you also must seek to avoid significant regenerations. We do not regard the regenerative energy that is routed to the battery pack as "free". Instead we regard it as "extremely expensive" because it is acquired at the expense of (1) bleeding precious kinetic energy and (2) incurring energy conversion losses that are part of the typical regenerative processes. Despite this and when you must stop or slow down, one advantage that helps elevate these vehicles above non-hybrid equivalents is that they can at least recover some of the energy loss non-hybrids typically incurr.
    So going back to our claim that fuel economy will suffer with a lower capacity: Yes, the battery pack capacity will be lower with age, but when the system is operating normally its impact on the fuel economy is hardly that significant since a regen charge is always expensive whether the pack is deep enough to take it or not. In essence, the fuel efficient objective is to avoid the charge process as that is where the more significant losses occur. But to minimize the upstream charge losses under normal operation we also have ensure we keep the downstream losses (electric assist and others) to a minimum too.

    Moreover, for many of us the MPG keeps getting better as the pack ages (and capacity diminishes).

    Battery capacity due to age should not be confused with a possible or actual malfunction state where the system is likely burning extra fuel while in a managed state condition. It is clear that your vehicle needs to be looked at competently in order to return it to its intended operational state. From your reports, the frequency and severity of the recalibrations appear excessive and therefore not normal.

    While I fully understand the basis and reasons for this argument, I will kindly remind you that as per our experiences some of us are not likely to see it that way.
    On this note, a regular Civic cannot deliver 70+ MPG as it does for many of us on an almost regular basis and also cannot do so while sporting an AT-PZEV, T2-B2 rating in addition to being as refined and quiet as the HCH-II is.
    With this said, it is certainly possible that you could be more satisfied with a regular Civic though, as what you achieve with the HCH may not be enough to justify your bottom line.

    In any case, please continue to work with your dealer to help resolve your issue in a proper and timely manner.

    Good luck.

    Last edited: Jul 8, 2010
  17. Mainiax

    Mainiax Member

    Hi Msantos
    I promised I would keep you informed about my very frequent recalibration problem with my 07 HCH-II and what Honda and I have done to correct it. Hopefully this is my final post. I am explaining this in more detail than you need but am doing this for the benefit of others.

    After my fourth attempt to get the problem repaired I realized Honda was not going to do anything until error codes or error lights reappear so when I returned home I got on the computer and did a search for class action lawyers specializing in automotive suits and found two but I did not follow up thinking it could be a later option. I then called and filed a complaint with Honda America but they said they could do nothing if the regional Honda rep said the battery was good so no help there. I next filed a complaint with the National Highway Transportation Safety Agency because I felt the car became dangerous to drive at times due to the frequent loss of assist. I received acknowledgement of my complaint but nothing more. I looked at the Honda manual “Consumer Information” that came with my car and read the section pertaining to my State. I had two options, file with my State’s Lemon Law agency, the outcome could only result in one of 2 decisions, I lose and Honda is off the hook or I win and Honda has to repurchase my vehicle. The other option was to file with the Better Business Bureau Auto Line which I did because there were 3 possible outcomes. They were: 1. nothing to be done because of no problem , 2. repair of vehicle or 3. repurchase of car. With the BBB action I would not be obligated to accept the decision but Honda would be so I figured if I lost I could still file with my State’s program. BBB filing instructions are in the Honda Manual received with the car titled “Consumer Information”.

    After sending in numerous documents requested by BBB a Hearing was held. BBB provided an arbitrator, I was present and a conference call was set up with the Honda America Mediation Division. I presented my side of the story, Honda theirs and the arbitrator would question both of us. My case boiled down to the fact that I felt the IMA battery was faulty causing numerous recals. When in the recal stage the assist and auto stop would cease functioning until the battery was recharged after 2 to 3 miles of driving and the problem was occurring numerous times a day. I stated the loss of assist could put me in dangerous driving situations, my MPG falls with each recal, I tried having the problem repaired 5 times and the car is operating much differently than it did when I purchased it.

    Honda’s defense was that I did not drive the car enough, all things deteriorate, the battery was still within its operating range, Honda would not allow a customer to be in an unsafe car, hybrid technology is still evolving and the vehicle is currently operating as its designed specifications. Honda presented no evidence such as test results to prove the IMA system was working properly, just their word and the work invoices on my car indicating no error codes present. They stated the residual IMA function was well within the remaining useful life of that system but showed no proof of it. When I asked if the car could be unsafe to drive at times with no assist, their response was “Honda would never allow a customer to operate an unsafe car” rather than committing themselves to a yes or no. With no error codes set or lights on then no problem according to Honda’s reasoning I guess but remember the lights came soon after the beginning of the rapidly falling SoC and Honda’s software update got the lights to go out. It wasn’t an easy task for the tech to do this either, he applied 2 updates after calling the Honda Tech line and the lights were still on so had to call Honda Tech line again and after the third update the lights finally went out. Activity like this, especially the second call, seems a little suspicious to the average person thinking the car must have had more problems than what Honda tech line thought or the first repair fix was just stabbing in the dark as to what to do. Software to correct the possibility of bad battery cell just doesn’t seem right in my opinion but you have indicated that in some cases it can work. I’m repeating but the car was operating perfectly for 27 months then something went bad. Did a bug develop in the software requiring the software fix, I don’t believe so. I believe it is a hardware issue and I just wanted Honda to repair the car under their 36 mo/36,000 bumper to bumper warranty and get it back to the condition it was when I purchased it and as it had operated for the first 27 months of ownership but Honda refused to do so or couldn’t. I know you have implied that the car’s original software had set standards too high resulting in error notifications that were not always faults but I must say I was really satisfied with the way the original software operated the car and very unhappy with the car after the problem arose.

    The arbitrator’s decision was made a few weeks after the Hearing and it was in my favor, Honda had to REPURCHASE my vehicle under Lemon Law regulations! My vehicle met the requirement that it had a defect that substantially impairs it use, safety or value and was not repaired. The manufacturer agreed at the arbitration that the consumer’s light use of his car could cause a premature degradation of the IMA, with the consequences experienced by the consumer. The consumer was not advised that additional driving was necessary for the car to function properly. (referring to time of purchase) The failure of the car to perform as expected and required in its ordinary usage substantially impairs its safety. The car can have inadequate power to safely operate the car in all normal and foreseeable driving situations. Because of the expected similar use of this car, replacement of the IMA is not a viable option.

    The most I expected was replacement of the IMA battery so I accepted the decision to repurchase as fast as I could!

    You recently mentioned Honda originally would replace the IMA battery when the error lights came on like my Check Engine and IMA did many months ago but changed their policy. I think they had better change their no replacement “PERIOD” policy and find a way to screen out the vehicles like mine with a serious problem and repair it. Instead of just the cost of replacing a $2,500 battery (or whatever is causing the problem ) Honda now had to repurchase my car paying big bucks because of the low mileage ( <10,000), will most likely have to replace the battery although maybe they won’t because Honda says it is good, will have to make it known to the person purchasing this car that it was declared a lemon and probably will have to sell it for less because of this, lost a customer for future Honda vehicles because of the bad experience dealing with Honda America and Honda has been tagged with the distinction that at least one of their HCH-II vehicles has been officially declared a lemon. I hope Honda thoroughly inspects this vehicle to find out what the problems are that cause the very frequent recals and then repair ALL cars with the same problem. I know there are owners with the very same problem as I had from the many posts regarding their frequent recals. I experienced a problem with the car, the arbitrator determined there was a problem but Honda continued to say the car was acting normally, even at arbitration.

    Your responses to my prior complaints about no assist at times were to keep documentation, be cool headed and escalate my frustration. My dealership could not have done more. The service manager said he could not replace the IMA without Honda’s authorization and did not deny that there was a problem so going to another Honda dealership would have been worthless, the regional representative had already been contacted and refused a battery replacement. One of your replies stated “even the dealership technicians that are up to date in their training will often need assistance and direction from Honda because quite frankly, they are at the end of a technical chain of knowledge”. I’m certain that my dealership is also at the end of a chain, Honda’s hierarchy of importance and persuasiveness because of being a small dealership in a small town. What’s a person like me to do when we have problems and Honda America refuses help? Fortunately, I fell within the period of eligibility for help with the BBB or my State’s Lemon Law and had the time and patients to pursue the matter. What is your advise for all the others with problems like mine when they no longer qualify for this help from an unbiased third party? Keep documentation of the problems? Who do they present them to? Escalade it but how? I escaladed it and it went all the way to a top tier of Honda America Motors, (Mediation), but still no resolution until a non interested third party got involved and officially declared my car had problems that were not repaired and declared the car a lemon per lemon law rules. It is a very serious matter to have an arbitrator declare the car can have inadequate power to safely operate the car in all normal and foreseeable driving situations declaring it unsafe to drive at times. (referring to lose of assist) The arbitrator had to follow very strict lemon law guidelines in making his decision.

    I want to make it known that I realize not all HCH-II owners have problems and am not implying that all HCH-II are lemons but mine was and officially declared one.

    My troubles are over. I just wish people with similar problems could have their issues resolved too. It is very frustrating owning a vehicle with a very apparent problem but the manufacturer insists there is nothing wrong with the vehicle and nothing is done.

    Thank you for your civil replies to my recent complaints. With the serious problems I had I feel I kept my posts civil too. I was really frustrated with Honda’s position that my car had no problems and had to vent. My problem took months to come to this recent repurchase conclusion but I did prevail over Honda’s insistence that my car was ‘currently operating as its designed specifications’ resulting in no IMA battery replacement authorization.

    Last edited: Jul 20, 2010
  18. msantos

    msantos Eco Accelerometrist

    Hi Mainiax;

    Thank you for taking the time to provide such a detailed experience. I am quite sure that it provides an excellent blueprint for any car owner who is not happy with their vehicle and is getting no traction from the manufacturer either.

    I am quite happy to hear that you succeeded in resolving your problem (with much work mind you) and that these issues are now behind you.

    I also would like to thank you for making a good effort to remain balanced and objective and in the end, pursue the escalation process outside your relationship with the manufacturer. I must say, it is nice to have such a thing as a "lemon law" since I have seen at work in the US numerous instances already with similar (positive) results to yours. Unfortunately, many other countries (including my own: Canada) have no such consumer protections and owners have no other option than to persist and insist with the manufacturer until they eventually cave in. Quite often they do, but it can be a lengthy process often requiring a great deal of research on the part of the owner.

    I am not certain what will happen to your car after the buy-back. But I would hope that if it is still saddled with drive-ability issues, that it is properly flagged and auctioned or simply removed from circulation altogether as someone else may eventually (and unknowingly) be given the very same pita you had to live with. :(

    On this last note, I believe that by in large, the HCH-II remains Honda's most capable current hybrid model (I still own a flawless 2006 model)... and it sure does not help our cause if the another person comes forward with exactly the same problem in the very same car. :eek:


  19. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 2010 Prius (CAN Touring) Staff Member

    Mainiax, I'm curious:

    What is your feeling now, considering your treatment by Honda? In other words, is there a possiblity of a future Honda purchase, or have they completely poisoned the waters?
  20. Mainiax

    Mainiax Member

    Mendel Leisk
    I can’t say that I would never purchase another Honda vehicle because of my recent experience with Honda America. I doubt they are any worse than any other car manufacturer. I like my local Honda dealer and the guys that do the repairs. If I was still stuck with the HCH-II with its frequent recals with no assist with no real fix from Honda then I probably would be saying I would never own another Honda. I can say I will NEVER purchase another hybrid or an all electric vehicle.

    I do not feel the batteries have developed to the point they need to be for use in a vehicle. Current batteries do not like heat, cold temperatures, will deteriorate and lose capacity over time and are too expensive to replace. The lose of capacity resulting in the declining ability to store regenerative energy means the ICE will be charging the batteries more frequently resulting in lower and lower MPG as ownership goes on. Good mileage was the main reason for my hybrid ownership.

    I also feel I do not want to own another vehicle with a CVT. I did not have any real problems although I did have to have a software update to eliminate a clunk when it came out of auto stop. The transmission was really smooth and ran well but for some reason I had the feeling it wasn’t strong enough for long term use. Maintenance on this type of transmission is also more than a regular automatic transmission.

    I don’t really need a second vehicle at the present time but when I do I will be checking out the new Chevy Cruze.

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