08 HCH II IMA Battery Options

Discussion in 'Honda Hybrids' started by mjbcanuck, May 30, 2016.


Gamble on getting a Honda battery for free or buy a Bunblebee battery now

  1. Gamble on Honda (save money)

    2 vote(s)
  2. Bumblebee (or Dorman) battery (fix it now)

    0 vote(s)
  1. mjbcanuck

    mjbcanuck Member

    OK, I'm new to a forum like this and I have done some research, but I thought I would put my situation out there for comment on the options I have come up with.

    Situation: Vehicle has 122,000 km. Purchased new in the US in May 2008. Had a $10k USD accident in 2012 (low speed side-swipe, two doors and rear quarter panel), however the repairs have held up wonderfully and the car is otherwise in really good condition. Legally imported into Canada in June 2012, Honda factory warranties transferred to Honda Canada and letter from Honda Canada obtained.

    Driver: Versed with the tech of hybrid cars from research, knows how to drive the car efficiently, but is no hypermiler.

    In the last six months, the battery has gone from 'normal' operation to a point where it only will force charge by the recal method, no 'soft' forced regen at all. The SoC gauge will operate as such:
    1. From 8 bars, the gauge will drop, over time, to 4-5 bars.
    2. The performance of the battery will decrease noticeably during use, from great assist in acceleration at 8 bars to feeling like it's gas only at 4-5 bars. This is also how I know the next step is coming.
    3. At 4 or 5 bars, the SoC will drop to 2 bars and the recal process begins.
    4. The recal is short (compared to my memory of the first recal I saw some years ago,) and in about 5 mins of driving, the SoC is up to 4 bars and I get my AS back.
    5. The SoC gauge rises instantly from 4 bars to 8 bars and regen braking disappears until I use some assist.
    6. AS appears to work as it always had, except just before the recal, when I will get no AS. This is yet another sign that a recal is impending.
    7. If the car has been parked for a couple of days, regardless of the SoC level, a recal occurs within 2 to 3 km of driving.

    From all the research I have done, I am of the belief that my battery pack is very unbalanced. Like many other posts, I have no IMA or CE light. I do have a code scanner, and I have checked for codes (some cars do store pre-codes where a code will set indicating that an event occurred, but not significant enough to turn on the CE light. My old Ford did this when the engine would miss periodically, but not enough to set a misfire DTC,)

    Warranty status: Main 8 yr/ 80,000 mile warranty on the IMA system ended 11 May this year. I am now in the warranty extension period to 9 yrs / 92,000 miles under the TSB for the battery. Note that as my car is an American market car, my warranty is measured in miles, not km.

    12 volt battery status: Replaced in March 2016.

    I have spoken with Honda Canada, their unwavering stance is no IMA light/DTC code, no warranty replacement of IMA battery no matter what logs, journals, video, etc. I may make/keep. Again, no surprise here based on what I have read.

    My researched options:

    1. Drive the car until IMA/CE light comes on with the appropriate DTC for battery failure or 11 May 2017 and take the 'refurbished' (cough, cough) battery from Honda.
    2. Install a grid charger into the car.
    3. Replace the battery out of pocket with a re-manufactured (new NimH cells) battery. As far as I know, only Bumblebee and Dorman make such a battery.
    4. Take the car to the Hybrid Shop (there is one near me;) to have the pack reconditioned.
    5. Keep driving until the battery completely lets go (assuming no IMA/CE light before the warranty runs out,) and I am forced to do something because at that point the DC-DC converter will stop charging the 12 volt battery (with exceptions, but too much micromanaging a drive for my taste.)

    Option 2 requires modifying the wiring to install the harness for the charger/discharger. Though I have the skill, I would rather not tamper with the wiring. The Hybrid Shop has told me that Honda packs usually do not pass their tests after re-conditioning and they end up recommending a Bumblebee battery, so Option 4 appears to be off the list. Option 1 has the best price point, but of course the IMA/CEL has to come on before next May. Even if this happens, all my reading tells me that the Honda pack is no better than Option 4 and at best this buys me 2 to 3 years tops. Option 5 is really no option at all as that would be the status quo, and that is the reason I am writing this to begin with.

    So, that leaves Option 3. Before taking this $2,800 USD plunge (with shipping, but not including GST at the border;) for a Bumblebee battery I was hoping that others may weigh in with anything I have missed or may want to consider. I would like to leave the car as stock as possible. I bought this car over the Prius because is was the most 'car-like' of the two and my wife is a complete noob about anything automotive. She only knows how to call 1-800-HUSBAND when something seems to go wrong. I think the car has plenty of life left in it to support the cost of replacing the battery pack with a Bumblebee.

    Thanks in advance.
    BillLin likes this.
  2. all_about_the_glide

    all_about_the_glide Well-Known Member

    I'm 5 outstanding months into a Bumblebee on my 07. It was very easy to change with a little help from a former stalwart of this forum. The original battery behaved exactly like yours and then stated tripping CELS and Hybrid dash lights when temps dropped below freezing...I drove it like that for awhile but it was agony. Should of installed the new battery months earlier.
    I was out of warranty based on miles so didn't face your dilemma, most likely I would of waited for the warranty replacement, knowing there was a Bumblebee in the future IF I decided to own the car that long.
    mjbcanuck and BillLin like this.
  3. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 2010 Prius (CAN Touring) Staff Member

    Are the Honda Canada batteries refurb'ed, not new? I'm not sure.

    Our 06 finally lit the lights, after about 3~4 years of ailing. It was diagnosed by dealership as needed new battery, about a year back. Even though it was out of warranty I urged our son (we'd sold it in the family) to give it a try, phone Honda Canada.

    They came through, gave us a free battery, we had to spring only for about $150 install cost at the dealership. Not sure how long it'll last; believe it's starting to do a little recal behaviour already, latest software and all. It'll be a while before I buy another Honda Hybrid.

    We were toying with getting a 3rd party battery, but just procrastinated, hung in there, and finally the blessed event happened. I guess my advice would be to just keep driving the bugger, it'll happen.
    mjbcanuck and BillLin like this.
  4. mjbcanuck

    mjbcanuck Member

    @glide: Great to hear the Bumblebee is working out for you. Not surprised that your failure coincided with winter temps; batteries don't perform as well when cold, that was likely enough to drop the voltage to the 'failure' point. I am so torn about driving the car as is because it is such a dog when a recal hits or the battery has a low SoC, one really has to be more attentive as you really don't want to be caught turning left across traffic and have a recal hit just as you start to accelerate...

    @Mendel: Congrats on winning the Honda battery lottery. In dealing with Honda, both corporate and the dealership, it is amazing how little the techs really understand about these cars. I get that here in AB they are a rare beast compared to the Prius, but still, you would think they would know more beyond hooking up the diagnostic tool and talking to their help desk. I get the impression that Honda would rather sweep it under the rug and hope I'll roll over, but what kind of image are they projecting by doing that? BTW, how did you score $150 install? My dealer has quoted 3 hr labor @ $155 per...

    Tonight I really tried to pay attention to a recal when it happened. The recal I had tonight (2nd today in about 10-15 km of driving,) really surprised me given that the car seemed to be driving OK without the usual warning signs. I then watched the charging process. It only took about 3-4 km and 5-10 mins for the battery to charge to 4 bars, then do its' jump to 8. As far as depletion goes, that is harder to measure because I am a big believer in regen (trying to avoid a recal for as long as I can,) both by slowing early and using 'S' instead of the brake. Both of you suggest waiting it out, and with the recal time getting shorter and shorter, perhaps the battery is on the cusp of 'lighting up', so waiting a bit longer might pay off.
  5. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 2010 Prius (CAN Touring) Staff Member

    I've had a 3rd party garage quote around $300 (US, a garage in Seattle, when we were considering Greentec battery) for the install, so yes, the install charge was quite reasonable I think.

    I get the sense Honda is very willing to give batteries to people out of warranty. Their sales of this car and it's tech have now completely tanked, never got off the ground, it's the least they can do. Hopefully yours "rings the bell" soon. :)
    xcel likes this.
  6. S Keith

    S Keith Well-Known Member

    Drag the brake and creep along with excess throttle (you should see notable assist) until a recal is triggered. Kill the engine and don't allow the regen. Open the IPU lid and check the BCM plug to locate the lowest voltage pair. Get a ~1000 Ohm 1/4W resistor and short that pair at the BCM plug for about 3-4 days until that voltage is about 1.2V lower than the others. IMA light will come on with a P1570 code and likely a P0A7F. :)
  7. mjbcanuck

    mjbcanuck Member

    OK, I little update here. The recals are getting more frequent with a least one guaranteed recal about 5 min into the first drive of the day, even if the battery pack was 'full' per the SOC gauge when I shut the car off the day before. I am getting the impression that this imbalance snowballs fairly quickly once it gets going. I am sending a letter to the President of Honda Canada (if the posties don't go on strike) to see if that might get them to loosen up. Barring that, does anyone in the know have an idea on how fast the pack implodes once the imbalance becomes very noticeable? I'm guessing that once a weak stick experiences a cell polarity reversal, the IMA and MIL lights will come on.
  8. S Keith

    S Keith Well-Known Member

    For me just after that was about the threshold of where I started to see mileage take a noticeable hit. It went from 1 recal per day to 1 per trip, then it was all downhill from there.

    Mine did that for about a year, but I had a 33 mile commute that was almost all highway with little IMA use. Stop and go would have killed it quicker.

    The criteria isn't as cut and dried as that. There's some capacity threshold. A cell doesn't have to necessarily reverse. A sagging cell can trip it. A shorted cell can trip it.

    In most cases, it's a shorted cell or a cell with such excessive self-discharge, it won't hold a charge.

    Good luck,

  9. mjbcanuck

    mjbcanuck Member

    @ S Keith. Thanks for the reply. My car is now just a city runabout. 5 to 10 miles a day, lots of stop and go. Today was 2 recals in about 10 miles. Almost had a third, parked the car with little battery left. Should be an instant recal tomorrow. I suppose the longer the car battery has a low SOC, the more deeply discharged the weaker stick will become. At this point I am hoping for an IMA light, have 10 months left on the warranty extension.
  10. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 2010 Prius (CAN Touring) Staff Member

    @mjbcanuck Does it have the latest software? There was some talk, maybe paranoia, that the software updates also made the car more reluctant to throw a code.

    Anyway, I would get the software update, if you haven't, just to make your case more watertight if-and-when it throws a code. It should be free.
  11. S Keith

    S Keith Well-Known Member

    The update is less likely to throw a code because it uses the battery less aggressively. If your goal is warranty replacement, I wouldn't install the patch until you get that new battery.

    2-3 recals in 10 miles is hopeful to show a code soon.
  12. mjbcanuck

    mjbcanuck Member

    @ Mendel: Software has been updated twice. Once in 2010 in the US which was the original update, then again this year with the Canadian version. My dealer has assured me today that if a battery code appears, Honda will replace the battery. If after next May, but before 92k miles, they offer a discounted replacement.

    The car is not driven as it once was (17 mile highway one way commute) because my wife refuses to drive the car with the battery as it is. So I drive it, and I only drive in the city with short drives usually under five miles each. The battery usually ends the day at 4 bars SOC or so, or in the middle of a recal that is not complete. I am assuming that this is putting additional stress on the weaker sticks in the pack. Maybe by the end of summer?

    In any case, because we both now drive very little, if Honda does replace the pack under warranty, we will replace the car. It seems the HCH is just not suited to such limited use. Looking at A Prius c or HR-V.
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  13. S Keith

    S Keith Well-Known Member

    Your driving situation maximizes use of the IMA system, so I think you're probably right.
    xcel likes this.
  14. mjbcanuck

    mjbcanuck Member

    Final update: I went looking at new cars out of town on the weekend. Got the usual recal right when we left. 100 miles later, no recals and the BCM actually only force charged the battery twice on the trip down (but not by the recal method). One recal when leaving to return home with no forced charging at all. Over the next two days, no recals and only forced charging. Got through all of yesterday with no forced charging at all. Today, returned to pick up a brand new HR-V and said goodbye to our HCH II. No recals, only one forced charging event.

    Not sure what changed, but the only guess I can hazard is that the trickle charging the BCM does on highway drives (and this was a total of 300 miles of 110 km/h under cruise control) seems to have rebalanced the pack, at least to the point that the recals have stopped and the car behaved like I was used to in the past.

    I will miss my HCH II, I enjoyed the 'game' of maximizing the MPG. However, as I posted previously, the driving I do now will likely lead to premature failure of the pack because of the short distances and all the stop and go with almost no highway driving.

    I hope that our HCH II winds up in good hands. Our HR-V is a competent little beast with the 1.8L engine and returned 7 l/100 km on the drive home. Not quite sticker, but MPG should improve as the engine wears in.

    Thanks all for your input.
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  15. xcel

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

    Hi Mjbcanuck:

    Just to many headaches with the HCHs over the last few years. Glad you have left it in the rear view. Feel for the next owner however.

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  16. EdwinTheMagnificent

    EdwinTheMagnificent Legend In His Mind

    It would be awfully hard for me to replace the Prius with any non-hybrid car. Think of all the wear on the ignition switch and starter ! But a lot of new non-hybrid cars now have stop/start.
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  17. rhwinger

    rhwinger Well-Known Member


    I had an 06, had the IMA replaced at 70K miles - at least they did it under warranty. Not sure how, but glad they did.

    Recalls came back and gradually got worse. I was going to put a new battery in at 190K miles when the car was stolen and wrecked. Insurance fixed the body work, but the IMA still sucked.

    Long story short - I traded it in for a '16 Hyundai Sonata Hybrid.

    I miss the service manager at my Honda dealer - he was great. But...I'm enjoying the Sonata. I know exactly how you feel. It's okay to move on.


    BillLin and xcel like this.
  18. Mendel Leisk

    Mendel Leisk 2010 Prius (CAN Touring) Staff Member

    The Civic Hybrid was my gateway drug. Got it, got disenchanted, moved on to Prius. :)
    BillLin likes this.

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