Update: Honda Civic Hybrid IMA Battery Replacement

After spending quite a bit of time at my local Honda dealership’s service department, I’ve come to know my service advisor pretty well. The other day I was I his office picking up my Fit EV and someone came in to drop off his 2008 Civic Hybrid for an IMA battery pack replacement. I was surprised at how easy the whole process was for him.

I wanted to write up a quick update for visitors of my blog, since most of my views come from civic hybrid owners with deteriorated IMA batteries looking for answers.

;(

;(

Unfortunately, I no longer have my 2007 Civic Hybrid. After the 158V IMA battery module was replaced, but before I could sell it, I was rear-ended by a Nissan Rogue traveling about 30mph (I was stopped) and the car was totaled. The car held up very well and someone very lucky will get my salvaged battery pack, which only had 200 miles on it.

Apparently Honda has become much more lenient when it comes to the IMA battery replacements. My service advisor said that they are doing about 2-3 Civic Hybrid battery pack replacements per day. He told me that Honda has been approving almost all of the repair requests, even if the car is out of warranty, as long as the IMA light is on. But remember, the latest software update does a great job of keeping that light off well past the point where the battery should have been replaced. My service advisor said me only car that wasn’t approved for a warranty repair had 200,000 miles on it, was on its third owner, and had a salvage title. Sounds reasonable.

If you have a civic hybrid who’s IMA battery has failed, but the IMA light isn’t on yet, there isn’t much you can do. I have one friend who sold his car and bought a Tesla Model S. If a Model S isn’t an option for you, there are quite a few other EVs out there, all with battery management systems, unlike the Civic Hybrid. Or you can wait for the IMA light to come on. Many people find my blog searching how to destroy or wear down the Civic Hybrid battery to the point where the IMA light comes on. Unfortunately, I don’t know that there is a way to do this, aside from driving around a lot, without voiding your warranty. It’s sad that so many people have bad IMA batteries that aren’t “bad enough” for Honda to fix. However, I am glad that they have recently started replacing more IMA packs.

IMA battery location, behind rear seat

IMA battery location, behind rear seat

If you drive (or drove) a Honda Civic hybrid, I’d love to hear if you had any issues with the IMA battery and if you were able to resolve them. Leave me a comment and let me know.

Thanks for reading, and best of luck if you are dealing with a bad IMA battery!

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379 thoughts on “Update: Honda Civic Hybrid IMA Battery Replacement

  1. I just bought a 2009 rebuilt HCH with 28,500 miles on it. I was horrified to find out the Feb 2014 Consumer Report Survey for the year before found 30 percent of the 2009 HCH owners ima battery failed and that rebuilt salvage cars are not covered by the warranty for the battery. I was wondering anyone who got help from Honda for a ima battery that had a rebuilt car.
    I also wonder why the 2009 and 2010 HCH have such very high ima battery failures.the story is here:
    http://consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/02/honda-civic-hybrid-battery-reliability-gets-worse/index.htm

  2. If anyone is still referencing these comments…

    My 2007 Civic had the hybrid battery replaced in 2011 with 40K miles. This very day, with 66K miles on the car, I had to replace the battery AGAIN. After only 26K miles on the “new improved” battery. And yes, the IMA icon lit up. That’s pitiful performance from Honda.

    • You might consider trading in your Honda civic hybrid before it hits the end of the 95,000 warranty for the battery. You have exceptionally low mileage on your car.
      To keep the battery in tip top shape, you must run the car every day, and not let it sit idle. I was putting 100 miles a day on my 2006 Honda civic hybrid, but when I retired and the car was not being used. The IMA battery deteriorated, and the IMA light came on. I got a new battery, but I know it won’t last long unless I run the car everyday. Its best to trade the car in, and get a regular Honda civic

      • Hey John,

        Thanks for the reply. I do drive the car every day although sometimes not more than 10 miles, most other days @40 miles and the occasional r/t to see the grandkids which is @300 miles.

        The dealer didn’t answer my question about the warranty of 150K. Is that from date of purchase of the car or of the new battery? If it’s 150K total then I’ll dump the car for sure. Great marketing: Buy this car and get a 150K miles – maximum.

        • My new hybrid battery, came with a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty. I have 118,000 on my 2006 HCH. I don’t know about the 150k warranty. In California and some other states, the hybrid battery has 150k warranty, but where I live, its 95K.
          I had to pay $1859 for a new hybrid battery, because I was over the 95K warranty for hybrid battery replacement. Did you get your battery replaced for free? It sounds like your within the warranty.

          • Seems odd that a Honda factory warranty would vary depending on the area. It’s 150K here and this battery will be warranty, as was the first one.

            I’m going to go electric in the next 5 years. Lots of good choices on the horizon. I’ve had it with all the maintenance and upkeep associated with internal combustion engines.

  3. Hopefully you still check these but recently my 08 HCH has been acting up. The battery goes from full to 2 bars during a 15 minute drive (or less). I have also noticed that when my battery level is low, at times when I start to accelerate, the car sputters, as if it is going to die. When the battery level is low, it is hard to accelerate, I feel like I have to put pressure on the gas to get it to even 25 mph (quite dangerous trying to merge into traffic or the freeway). Once I reach 35-40 mph the sputtering stops. When I was climbing up a small hill, the engine light flashed rapidly but once I drove the car after that, the engine light has not lit up. I looked online and those who have the problem with their batteries say it is the IMA battery. The IMA battery for my car was replaced in Feb. of 2013. I am at 116,500 miles in CA. Am I still under warranty or do I have to pay for the IMA battery? I really do not have the funds to replace the battery.

    • In California the IMA battery warranty is 150,000. Lucky you!! I had to pay, but it sounds like your IMA battery is about to go bad. Look for the IMA light to go on soon, and take the car to the Honda dealer.
      Never buy a hydrid nickel-cadmium battery car!

      • The HCH does not use NiCd batteries. It uses Nickel Metal Hydride just like almost all other hybrids including the Toyotas. The problems with the HCH are probably because Honda’s power management software is inferior to what Toyota uses. Welcome to the 21st century where software controlled electrical systems are pervasive and the quality of the code matters a lot. Unfortunately, nobody except Honda can try to improve the code and since they have no incentive to improve the software in old cars the owners are stuck.

        • You are partially correct. There are a lot of “Opps” moments in the Honda software, something you don’t see in Toyota’s and others. These are what we see as recals (recalibrations) and if they happen under heave assist or regen, damage to the cells can occur. The other part is the battery tech itself. While Honda and Toyota did both use NiMH, Honda used NiMH dry batteries and Toyota used NiMH wet battery (with the except of the very first, non-US Prius). The dry battery is like a “D” cell flashlight battery, while the wet battery is built more like a flooded lead acid battery. A dry battery suffers from electrolyte loss much more than a flooded battery. When either battery loses electrolyte they lose capacity, but with a dry battery the resistance also increases – which then leads to more heat and electrolyte loss. Battery tech has increased greatly since Honda (Panasonic actually) first designed these cells, which is why you can now get a 8AH battery from us and others, thats better, costs less, runs cooler and will last longer.

          • Just a slight correction – electrolyte loss is not what causes hybrid batteries to fail. It is extremely rare to see a vented cell in the car environment; It just doesn’t happen. The only time you see vented cells is when the pack has been gotten into and cycled on external equipment. High rate hobby chargers will vent the cells in a severely imbalanced stick very easily, and it is hard to notice unless you slice the heat shrink open or it happens to be one of the end cells.

            I’ve seen vented cells in all of the major rebuilder’s failed packs – Hybrid Battery Repair(defunct), Hybrid ReVolt, Greentec, RochaTek, etc, but never in a “virgin” battery that has never been outside of the car.

      • Is it possible to just take it in without the IMA light showing? I really don’t want to take risks since my commute to work involves the freeway and lots of hills. Also is the sputtering of the car normal? I read most comments and it rarely mentions their car also feeling like it is going to die. Also thanks for replying so fast! I’m going crazy worrying about my car.

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