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!

414 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.

          • There is know “add” for replacing the ima battery. You need to call Honda of America, and ask them for “Goodwill Coverage” on your vehicle.
            Good Luck!

      • I had to change the battery of my 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid at 115k. No warranty. I drive it 500 miles per week since I work doing deliveries. It worries me I might have to replace it again in the future. I changed the battery this year, June, 2014. I’m considering a trade.

  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.

        • I’ve been having some of the same issues you are, particularly the low acceleration power when the battery is low. The problem I’ve been having is that I can park the car in the garage at night with 4 bars showing on the charge level and sometimes when I start it in the morning it will be down to 2 bars. On the days it does that, I’ve noticed that it will charge while driving and get to 5 bars and then, within a minute or two, will go to 8 bars, indicating a full charge.

          This morning, for the second time, took my car to the dealer without the IMA light showing. The first time I took it in, they tested the battery and it reported OK. This time, it started reporting a fault code and Honda has approved a battery replacement.

          68k miles on it and I’m going to put another 25-30k on the battery, then trade it for something else. I’m not particularly happy with Honda because they apparently have changed their software to limit the battery to a 50% depth of discharge and that, by itself, is reducing my mileage.

          • Ok, I have a 2003 and have had the light on numerous times and have ignored it and the car runs fine. It is now 11 years old and have been ignoring that light for several years. I can’t figure out why so many people freak out and think they have to run to the Honda Service Department. i did that the first time and they told me it was fine and reset it and the light went off for a while. It comes on again in a month or two and I ignore it and just drive the car. when I take it in for the yearly checkup they reset it and off I go. I think I have been really lucky but also think that some if not most of you people do what I did you might find that it runs ok and last longer than the so called replacement batteries. I know I am going to have to replace mine sometime soon but am so happy that it has lasted me this long. I have a feeling that Honda when they came out with this Hybrid had no idea what they were doing as to when to replace the batteries and also how long they might actually last, at least some of them. Anyway I hate that I am going to have to replace mine, I actually think I am going to get a Hyundai of some kind and not have to worry about a hybrid battery ever again. I have to admit the last couple of years have been a little stressful wondering when and where my car when die on me. I live in upstate New York with the horrible winters and I would hate for it to die during a winter storm on me. Anyway I have been really lucky and I know it. After years of Hondas in my family, at least 6 that I know of I hate to go to another brand but I might not have a choice.

  4. Hi I am going to buy a 2008 honda civic hybrid tomm what should I check before buying it it only 62000 km on it

    • I say go for another car. I think due to the numerous complaints I have seen on here about the Civic Hybrid you might be sorry you bought one. I have had good luck but I think I was one of a very few that has had. I know my luck is running out soon and worrying about what to buy but I know unless Honda replaces my battery for free it won’t be a Honda Hybrid.

  5. I am the owner of a 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid. I purchased it new in May 2007 in Philadelphia Pa. Around 149,000 miles, the Check Engine and IMA light started coming on intermittently. I attached my OBDII meter and saw the PA07F “Hybrid Battery Deterioration”. My gas mileage had gone from 42mpg to 33mpg. I called Honda America and explained my situation about the battery. Their response was sorry, warranty has expired (8yr/80k miles). I was hoping to get some relief on getting it replaced. I called around at various dealers for a price to replace the battery. Prices were $2600 to $3500 (parts and labor). One of the dealers called back (Conicelli). I explained that I didn’t want to become a one car Honda owner (by trading the Civic for another manufacturer) and that I had no problems with the car after 149k miles and that I never had a chance to use the extended warranty. He went to his regional service manager and they came back that American Honda would go 50/50. My cost would be $1350. Sold!. The work was done last week. They said the warranty on this remanufactured IMA battery would be 3yr/36k miles. I am hoping for another 150k miles. It does pay to call around, be nice, plead your case.

  6. Hi< I have a 2007 Civic Hybrid and I am beginning to have problems with my car. The battery light came on and I took it to the dealer to check out. The "regular"battery that I had replaced 6 months ago was fine, but since the IMA gauge kept going up and down they figured it was the Hybrid Battery deteriorating. I have 122,500 miles and they quoted me a price of $2600. I called the original Honda Dealer and they could not help me other than to give me the Honda Service Number for American Honda. So, I have called and I will wait to see what they can tell me. Any other ideas anyone has, please let me know. FYI – I did purchase an extended warranty. That cost over $900 and I never used it.

  7. I have an 08 hybrid 120mi, ima light goes on and off. def needs replaced. I know the warranty is long gone, how do I go about getting an approval?

    • Contact Honda of America, and ask them for the “Goodwill Warranty coverage” on your 08 Honda battery. They may pay half the cost.

  8. I have a HCH 2006 purchased what seems to be known as “salvaged”. Since I have never had a Hybrid Car I don’t know if the poor performance are due to battery failure or is just the way hybrids work. Please help me here, these are the syntoms: my car has the IMA light turned on, it stalls when the car needs to climb an inclined street or park exit from total stop (sometimes it does not climb it at all so I have to step back a few meters and come out full speed as a Batmobile!), I have never detected that the gas engine stops while the vehicle is in stop, when the traffic jam is really heavy, even with the air condition off, the radio off and other non-vital systems off, the car battery (both of them) just die.
    I’m in Mexico where “normal” cars after 8 year old are obligated not to circulate one weekday per week and two weekend days per month, but hybrids can circulate any day so I want to recover the full functionality of my HCH… but I don’t know what is normal. Thanks for your help.

    • It seems that your IMA battery or system is not functioning. A healthy civic hybrd will have good acceleration at low speeds. There may be related problems with the DC-DC converter that keeps your 12V battery from being properly charged.

      The first thing to do is have a mechanic shop read and print out the OBDII error codes. This will help narrow down the specific problems. If you have a reliable local hybrid mechanic, ask them to check the connections (in case someone disabled the battery) and to give it a good long trickle charge with a grid charger. If that fails to remedy the problem, you should look into purchasing a new or refurbished battery pack.

    • While it does sound like a typical IMA battery failure, you should also have the 12 volt battery load tested and replaced if bad. These cars can hide a weak 12 volt battery very well and it will result in all sorts of other problems. If it turns out you need a new hybrid battery we can ship them to Mexico – just click my name for our website.

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  11. Well, “goodwill” battery replacement did not work for this owner! Just got off the phone with the American Honda customer service rep. I have a 2003 Civic Hybrid which currently has 119K miles. The big battery was replaced at the end of 2008 at 73K miles (under warranty). It just failed again and they want $3500 to replace it now! So, I only got 5.5 years/46K miles out of the replacement battery. So much for Honda! They also blamed me, saying I didn’t drive it enough —that it MUST be started every 2-3 days; so much for vacations or being sick! Wish they’d let potential buyers know that! So like others, I am done with hybrids and on to a good mileage Hyundai Elantra

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  13. I have had the Honda IMA 2003 Civic from new bought from a main agent in UK.
    Very low mileage as I had a firms vehicle to drive shortly after buying the Honda only 57,000 miles done . Retired to Cyprus in 2010 and earlier this year 2014 the IMA battery light lit. Complained to Honda and got nowhere, took it to a Cypriot main dealer who charged me 2,700 euros in advance and took 6 months to supply a refurbished battery which he states is only warranted for 1 year. What a rip off.
    Replaced so far oxygen sensor in 2013 and 12 volt battery just after the IMA battery was fitted. Shame an otherwise good car spoilt by this sort of thing. I initially bought two new Hondas one of which a hatchback for my wife and the IMA. I will not be buying Honda again.

  14. Perhaps I am the lucky one here. My whole family has had Honda’s and I was the last to buy-in to the brand. My brother had an Accord, Fit and Element plus an Acura. My parents had an Accord. My sister had 2 Civics and an Odyssey. I have a CR-V and a Honda Civic Hybrid.

    The IMA battery display on the dashboard started acting very strange. I have a 2006 with 107k miles. I took it in and found that I had a bad cell and an overall rating of 27%. I just got a call from the dealer and American Honda is going to replace my IMA battery for $250 +tax.

  15. I have had a lot of problems with my 2008 Civic Hybrid batteries. I got a new one when my car was about two years old because I was getting horrible gas mileage. I just got my third new battery that Honda did pay for (YAY) but there were rules. I have 153000 miles on the car. My battery was at 37%. They told me my battery had to be at 20% or less and I could not be over 170000. It only took a couple of weeks and a lot of giant hill driving to bring my battery down to 20% and I got my new battery. I do thank Honda for that. They really came through. But now my transmission is dying. Honda won’t pay for that. So I have a car with a brand new battery and getting gas mileage like it was new and I have to get rid of it. Im sad…

  16. So…when Honda replaces batteries, are they replacing them with the same batteries that have all the problems, or have they replaced them with a new design? And I’m not just referring to battery software.

    • The general consensus among those in the battery business is that Honda is using refurbished units at least for their warranty replacements and possibly all packs. These typically last only a few years. Its not clear if the batteries Honda has you pay full retail for are new or refurbished. If they say its 100% new, make sure they put that in writing. The other problem is that Honda will require you (or even do it without your knowledge) to get the latest software updates. While the software is good at hiding a weak battery, it has not proven to improve battery life. In almost all cases it drastically reduces your MPG.

      Trying not to sound overly commercial, but here at Hybrid ReVolt (and *some* other suppliers) we provide batteries with new, better than stock cells at a price much less than dealerships charge. Ours are 8AH, while stock was 6.5AH at best. This provides a cooler running, longer lasting pack – that is still a drop in replacement. Plus you don’t have to get stuck with the updated software. If you’re interested in what we offer, just click my name for our website.

      • What does a ReVolt battery for a 1st Gen HCH cost with shipping? Is it installable by a layman as the Youtube videos suggest? Is there any development in the aftermarket of replacement batteries for hybrids based on Li4Ti5O12? A Lithium Titanate replacement battery would be an incredible upgrade in terms of charge time, discharge rate, and cycle life (based on the performance of Toshiba SCiB cells).

        • Our new pack is $1695 with a 1 year warranty (plus $500 refundable core deposit). A 2nd or 3rd year can be added for $100 per year. Shipping is quoted at actual costs via our website, which includes return shipping of the core.

          Any replacement battery of a difference chemistry will require a BCM designed for that chemistry. Designing the replacement BCM (and adding a BMS) to interface with the car adds considerable expense to the replacement. We have been working with LiFePO4 batteries in our Plug-in Prius project and have designed our own BCM/BMS for it. Once this project is complete we have plans on making either a plug-in Civic or Insight. At this moment we feel that LiFePO4 is the best choice from both a cost and safety perspective for larger than stock replacement packs.

      • Is it possible to revert to original battery software? If and when I replace my 2005 HCH IMA battery (currently showing signs of weakening) I would prefer going back to the original software with deeper discharge and consequent better MPG.

        • For the 2003 to 2005 Civic Hybrid you can source a replacement BCM from a wrecker and easily replace it. The 2006+ Civic BCM’s are not as easy since they are encoded with the VIN.

          If you can, try to get the VIN from the donor vehicle. This way you can call a dealership to verify if there are outstanding updates needing to be done. If they say there are none, then that BCM is already updated so look for another.

  17. Could a deteriorating 12v battery cause the check engine and IMA light to come on in a 2006 hch? I had auto zone unplug and check my 12v battery and it had 12. Something volts, and read that the battery was a bad battery. Is this possible, or were they just trying to screw me into buying a new battery?

    • These cars are very good at hiding a weak 12 volt battery and can typically use a 12 volt beyond when it would fail in a normal car. Once the 12 volt gets very weak it can cause all sorts of issues during startup – including random codes and decreased mpg.

      Think of it this way. A normal non-hybrid car performs a load test (by means of the 12v starter) on the battery every time you start the car. With a hybrid, all it has to do is “boot” the computers, then the larger hybrid battery starts the engine. There is seldom a heavy 12 volt load, thus a weak 12 volt battery may go unnoticed until it doesn’t have enough power to properly start the computers – but they typically still start. Just after starting, the DC to DC converter starts and charges the 12 volt. This sudden increase in voltage, from as low as 10 volts to 13+ volts can cause erroneous sensor reading – leading to false check engine codes.

      If the parts store did a load test on the battery and it failed, then you should consider replacing it.

  18. Just left the Honda dealer because IMA light came on. I had no clue my hybrid had two batteries. The service guy tested the smaller battery he said it was fine. He said that it was more likely the hybrid battery due to the IMA light coming on and that it cost 3K to replace it. Needless to say, shocked and in disbelief I left the dealership. I phoned another Honda dealer with whom I have a relationship with. The service guy told me that there maybe a extended warranty on the battery through Honda for my vehicle (he looked it up by vin#). The first service guy told me I could continue to drive the car on its regular battery without replacing the hybrid battery is this true? and if so how does it affect the performance of the vehicle?

    • You can continue to drive it with the IMA light on, the light you need to watch for is the 12 volt battery light (failed alternator light, located under the tach). These cars don’t have an alternator, but instead charge the 12 volt from the hybrid battery. With the IMA light on your hybrid battery has about 10 to 15% of life left. This is typically enough to last 6 months to a year – which gives you time to save up for a replacement battery. Grid charging may help restore the pack some, otherwise you will need to plan on replacing the pack. We offer both grid chargers, new packs, and refurbished packs – just click my name for our website. Honda’s packs are overpriced for what they are. You can get our better than Honda pack with new cells for about $2k installed.

  19. I’m considering buying a car from someone that got one from an auto auction but the P0A7F Diagnostic Code was thrown when the check engine light came on today. Should I run for the hills or is there a slight chance of Honda taking care of this old one? (2006 with 150000 mi)

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