Author Topic: Honda Civic Hybrid rant  (Read 49545 times)

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Offline reagle

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Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« on: July 06, 2014, 09:16:38 am »
I put together a lengthy rant about my experience as a 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid owner over at my blog at
http://kuzyatech.com/rantour-2007-honda-civic-hybrid-hchii-troubles-or-how-not-to-treat-customers
As you may have guessed from the link title I am not a happy camper there. It also raises interesting questions about manufacturer's ability to tweak features of the car after the sale, often in the direction that does not benefit the consumer. In my case, to protect the battery it's been effectively eliminated from the use :(



Offline Galaxyrise

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #1 on: July 06, 2014, 10:09:06 am »
unf, glad I went with a Prius drivetrain.  I hope the new Civic firmware at least keeps new battery packs useful for longer, but saddling existing customers with spent batteries is very lame.

Speaking of Honda batteries...  my other car is a Honda Fit (regular ICE), also a 2007, it also has battery troubles, and dealerships also give me the run-around.  They had a similarly low threshold on replacing them, but after the battery dies once, it won't even hold a charge overnight so it got down to the "even Honda calls it dead" threshold pretty quickly.  However, the warranty only covers two replacements. 

We don't drive it enough is their refrain.  It's not like we drove it 2 miles once a week! Other cars have dealt with the usage pattern just fine. One of my coworkers had (now sold) one with the same problem.  But at least I can just get a new battery for it $60, unlike your hybrid battery pack.  amusing tidbit: trying to track down the cause was my "get into electronics" first project.  I'm on battery #5 now, and it's "scheduled" to die in a few months.  We'll see if my last round of modifications make it survive or not :)

I'm certainly not inclined to recommend Honda to anyone at this point.
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Offline ignator

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #2 on: July 06, 2014, 10:39:55 am »
I've heard this same complaint from 2 coworkers about Prius. After software updates they complained of MPG loss. These complaints were back a few years.

I see no value in owning a hybrid. For much less money I purchased a Nissan Versa manual transmission. It cost $12K, and gets better then 40MPG (36MPG highway advertised). The CVT was too mushy performance to want to drive, and I don't trust they will get 80K miles before failure.

The $12K-$20K extra cost of a hybrid will never be recovered unless you drive it ~140K to 235K+ miles more then a conventional non hybrid, in the same size class (based on 47MPG hybrid @$4/gal, $12K=3000gal, $20K=5000gal). It will be shot before that ever occurs. You may have a better figure of merit to compute a value difference between hybrid/nonhybrid. I do try to be as 'green' as possible, but those batteries are not green when original manufacture and disposal are included in the amount of toxic waist created.

That and hybrid owners are always passing me, and I'm running the speed limit. No way they are getting their advertised MPG. You may be different.

The Versa has 'gitty up and go' with 1.6L engine displacement. With AC as standard. I'm 6'2", and sitting in any of the Versa seats (front seats to full back position, 4 door with big trunk) has extra leg room. Only complaint is ergonomic comfort on long road trips (as driver, mainly pedal distance to leg length issue, plenty of head and shoulder room).
 

Offline IanB

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2014, 10:50:45 am »
That's a long rant, haven't got to the end yet. But when at the beginning I read about sticks of 6 NiMH batteries in series, I said to myself, "uh oh".

Basically, that is a huge design failure. You can't design durable, long life systems with sticks of NiMH batteries in series, and then hope the system will last. If you do that, you are screwed.

Given a series pack of NiMH cells, one of the cells will be weaker than the others, and at some point during deep discharge it will suffer a polarity reversal. Once that happens it will get weaker and weaker until the whole pack fails to perform.

You can mitigate this problem by careful selection and matching of cells before assembly, by avoiding deep discharge, and by period maintenance charges.

The maintenance charge involves running a timed C/10 charge for 16 hours to re-balance the pack. This should be done after about every 10 normal discharge cycles.

The question is, when is this battery maintenance going to happen while the battery pack is buried in the middle of a vehicle? It basically isn't.

So when NiMH batteries are installed in a car, you will experience the normal and expected lifetime of 2-3 years until replacement, and then the battery pack will reach end of life. This is true of NiMH batteries used in other applications, and cars are not special. Probably, cars are a more hostile environment than many others.

In short, if you see hybrid vehicles with NiMH battery technology, run away. Run away fast.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2014, 10:52:44 am by IanB »
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Offline reagle

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2014, 10:53:33 am »
Well, at the moment with Civic I'd indeed be better off with a regular model. Same fuel economy as my crippled hybrid is getting, better performance and less money. Prius on the other hand is a different beast- I routinely get 60+ mpg without doing anything special, other than trying not to speed too much as the air resistance is a bit of a pain being proportional to V^3 :)  There is just a huge difference in powertrain design refinement between the two. As far as cost comparison- you'd have to look at similarly equipped Civic and back in 2007, the price premium was maybe $2k over that since Hybrid gets all the toys as standard equipment.
Still there is no reason why a car under warranty should not be properly handled by the manufacturer..

Offline reagle

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #5 on: July 06, 2014, 10:59:42 am »
Exactly- it's a 132 cells in series, and they can only look at sticks of 6. No balancing of any kind either.
I am pretty sure though you can design a well performing NIMH pack, it just takes a bit more effort. Looking at failure rates posted by http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/news/2014/02/honda-civic-hybrid-battery-reliability-gets-worse/index.htm
Prius seems to be holding pretty stable and there are over 3 millions of them in the field

That's a long rant, haven't got to the end yet. But when at the beginning I read about sticks of 6 NiMH batteries in series, I said to myself, "uh oh".

Basically, that is a huge design failure. You can't design durable, long life systems with sticks of NiMH batteries in series, and then hope the system will last. If you do that, you are screwed.

Given a series pack of NiMH cells, one of the cells will be weaker than the others, and at some point during deep discharge it will suffer a polarity reversal. Once that happens it will get weaker and weaker until the whole pack fails to perform.

You can mitigate this problem by careful selection and matching of cells before assembly, by avoiding deep discharge, and by period maintenance charges.

The maintenance charge involves running a timed C/10 charge for 16 hours to re-balance the pack. This should be done after about every 10 normal discharge cycles.

The question is, when is this battery maintenance going to happen while the battery pack is buried in the middle of a vehicle? It basically isn't.

So when NiMH batteries are installed in a car, you will experience the normal and expected lifetime of 2-3 years until replacement, and then the battery pack will reach end of life. This is true of NiMH batteries used in other applications, and cars are not special. Probably, cars are a more hostile environment than many others.

In short, if you see hybrid vehicles with NiMH battery technology, run away. Run away fast.

Offline IanB

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #6 on: July 06, 2014, 11:09:14 am »
I am pretty sure though you can design a well performing NIMH pack, it just takes a bit more effort.

Mainly, you need to keep the battery in the 30% to 100% charge range, and regularly charge it beyond 100% to top up the weaker cells. If you have five out of six cells giving you a voltage or temperature full charge signal, and you stopped there, you could leave the sixth cell undercharged. It is necessary to do individual cell monitoring, or to perform deliberate over charging to compensate for this.

The best way to kill an NiMH pack is repeated application of heavy loads while the battery is in a low state of charge.
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Offline johansen

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #7 on: July 06, 2014, 11:09:41 am »
The maintenance charge involves running a timed C/10 charge for 16 hours to re-balance the pack. This should be done after about every 10 normal discharge cycles.
[..] run away. Run away fast.

it gets worse yet.
read up on how the NiMH cell works during both charge and overcharge. basically, the cell can only marginally accept a c/10 overcharge.
worse, there are a few chemical processes which are only 66% efficient. the 33% wasted is recombined in the same chemical process as the overcharge chemical processes.

once you understand those chemical processes, you can see that you cannot charge the cell faster than C/3, because 33% of c/3 is about c/10, the overcharge rate.
this works out to a marginal 4 hour charge rate, any faster and you're venting oxygen.
the cell can safely handle burst charging well beyond c/3, because it takes time for the surplus oxygen to build up in the cell, which then recombines with the nickel plate. (the negative Metal Hydride plates are over sized to prevent the cell from venting hydrogen)
 

Offline IanB

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #8 on: July 06, 2014, 11:15:48 am »
If the car is a 2007 model, that would make it about 7 years old?

I'm not sure anyone expects NiMH batteries in constant use to have a service life greater than that. Normally you would find that after 3-5 years the battery is due for replacement, much like a regular car battery.
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Offline calexanian

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #9 on: July 06, 2014, 11:37:56 am »
I am so glad I went with a diesel Jetta! I get 45 MGP on the highway (I typically drive fresno to LA a lot) and with the low price of the car, and no batteries to worry about, I could not be happier. Once the government gets out of the way (And by government I mean the oil companies) and we can use the same tunings they use in Europe we can have the 100 miles a gallon they have over there in europes new VW's
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Offline Galaxyrise

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #10 on: July 06, 2014, 11:52:09 am »
I've heard this same complaint from 2 coworkers about Prius. After software updates they complained of MPG loss. These complaints were back a few years.

I see no value in owning a hybrid
I wouldn't be surprised if the mpg display was buggy, and the actual mileage didn't change at all. I pretty sure mine reads high even now.

I purchased a hybrid because I needed a new car and wanted to "vote with my wallet" for continued research in high efficiency vehicles.  I only looked at >=40mpg and I purchased based on comfort.  (I did test the Jetta, and was surprised that I liked it better than the Audi.) It's not inconceivable that I'll drive it long enough for the mpg savings to "pay off", but that wasn't a factor at all.  Going to the gas station less often has been surprisingly awesome--that should get more consideration than people usually give it.

I figure the toxicity of the battery pack is a pretty small percentage of all the nastiness generated from raw materials to end of life of the entire car, so long as I use <= 2.  (And Prius has that kind of track history.)

It definitely has a different pedal feel to the Honda Fit.  If you want vroom, you have to literally floor it. (Whereas in the Fit, you just think "I'd like to go fast" and presto, fast!)  I can put it into Sport mode, which has a more "normal" pedal feel, (with the expected hit to mileage) but now that I'm used to Eco mode, I really like the fine control of engine power.  SWMBO hates it; it's not for everyone.

What's really spoiled me are the key fobs, though.  I'm never buying another car that makes me take the key out of my pocket.  I want my house to recognize the fob, too!

(Technically, I have a Lexus, but I'm pretty sure it's a 3rd generation Prius as far as this discussion goes.)
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Offline IanB

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #11 on: July 06, 2014, 12:13:11 pm »
we can use the same tunings they use in Europe

Bear in mind standard pump gasoline in the UK has about the same octane rating, 95 RON, 91 (RON+MON)/2, as premium gasoline in the USA. So European cars are always going to have higher performance tuning than US models, unless you are willing to pay for premium fuel.

UK pumps also have "Super" fuel of about 98 RON (94 in the USA), but only high end sports cars require it. Nearly all cars in the UK just use the regular "Premium" fuel.
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Offline IanB

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #12 on: July 06, 2014, 12:17:13 pm »
I purchased a hybrid...

Do you know the battery chemistry? Is it NiMH or Li-ion?
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Offline reagle

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2014, 12:21:22 pm »
If it's a Toyota/Lexus product- it's NiMH. Toyota uses large prismatic cells though, unlike Honda's D sized cilindricals

Offline Galaxyrise

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #14 on: July 06, 2014, 12:27:11 pm »
Do you know the battery chemistry? Is it NiMH or Li-ion?
NiMH, like all(?) the non-plugin Prii so far.  Toyota has some pictures online
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Offline IanB

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #15 on: July 06, 2014, 12:28:02 pm »
If it's a Toyota/Lexus product- it's NiMH. Toyota uses large prismatic cells though, unlike Honda's D sized cilindricals

OK, no such hybrids for me then, unless the battery has a guaranteed replacement after 5 years of service at nominal cost.
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Offline IanB

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #16 on: July 06, 2014, 12:29:07 pm »
NiMH, like all(?) the non-plugin Prii so far.  Toyota has some pictures online.

I guess that reinforces my belief that the Tesla is the only game in town...
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Offline ignator

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #17 on: July 06, 2014, 12:29:26 pm »
Quote from: reagle on Today at 07:53:33 PM

Still there is no reason why a car under warranty should not be properly handled by the manufacturer..

I understand that was the main point you were making. And it looks like they are doing everything to save them battery pack replacement.

I got pissed with Honda after my wife owned a 1997 Civic. Impossible oil filter location. You had to wait till the engine cooled to change it. And it always flooded the steering linkage with oil when you removed the filter. We test drove a 2005 CRV, and found it to be uncomfortable to sit in. Same with the Toyota RAV4. She ended up with a 2005 Toyota Matrix. Probably the most comfortable long road trip vehicle. Only complaint is side mirrors give extremely poor side situation awareness. It gets 36 MPG@70MPH.
Toyota is priced from the market for me. Their Scion initially was in my view (good fuel efficiency), but now they want too much for them. And they kept changing the models as they did not want my age group to buy them (their first year Xa was perfect size, then they miniaturized it).  I'll have to see how long the Versa lasts.
I know this forum has had electric vehicle threads, the problem is that everyone thinks in terms of using them as a replacement for heat engines (using gasoline or diesel). This is a paradigm, as they really are intended for short run town machines, where the battery can be charged over-night. I don't want to say never, but getting 300 miles and 5 minute recharge is a long way off.

I owned a 1987 Chevy Sprint (100% Suzuki), 3 cylinder 1 L, it got 54MPG with a carburetor. It weighed 1400 lbs, zippy.
syncro in the first gear failed.

The 1998 Chevy Metro replacement (built in Canada with too much Detroit engineering) gets 42MPG. They added 700 lbs to improve crash safety. A dog. Throttle body injection (3 cyl. 1L engine). Still running, but rust is causing structural failure.
 

Offline reagle

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #18 on: July 06, 2014, 12:37:38 pm »
Newer Hondas are LiIon, so are pretty much all the EVs since you can't possibly stuff enough NiMH to get reasonable range. It's not like LiIon is without its own issues mind you ;)
Here in NY, and a few other CARB states  (CA,CT, MD,NY,NJ, MA ,NM, OR, AP,RI, VT, WA, DC) the hybrids were sold with the 10 years/150k warranty on the hybrid bits, at least when I made the purchase. In other states it's 8 years 100k miles

Offline IanB

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #19 on: July 06, 2014, 12:38:18 pm »
When I was last visiting the UK, I took a look at the UK model Ford Fiesta 1.0-litre EcoBoost. It's the kind of car that seems to make much more sense than a hybrid, in terms of size, performance and economy.
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Offline Galaxyrise

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #20 on: July 06, 2014, 01:07:15 pm »
OK, no such hybrids for me then, unless the battery has a guaranteed replacement after 5 years of service at nominal cost.
I'll add to what Reagle said: the warranty is full coverage, no pro-rating.  I'm sure where Toyota makes the call as to whether the battery has failed, just like Honda.

The chart he linked earlier showed that after 10 years, only 5% of Prius owners have had their battery replaced. I think of it like a clutch in a manual transmission.  It'll wear out, and it's influenced by where and how I drive, but it'll last me a good long while.  At this point, I still have faith that if it wears out early, Toyota will fix it. :)

We don't have 10-year histories on Tesla batteries yet, but I presume their batteries have a limited lifespan, too.  And right now, the Tesla battery is 4-5x the cost of a Prius battery. (Of course, it's 50-60x the battery...)

The Prius electric motor isn't for adding a boost.  It's anemic.  It's for cruising.  And that lets the car baby the battery without leaving the user at a loss for power when they want it.
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Online NiHaoMike

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #21 on: July 06, 2014, 01:15:27 pm »
There are quite a few third party battery upgrades for the Prius, intended for a DIY plug in hybrid. Maybe there's something similar for the Civic.

If you just want to fix your existing battery, now you have an excuse to get a high voltage bench PSU, some HRC fuses, and a CAT IV rated multimeter.
http://ecomodder.com/forum/showthread.php/diy-solutions-honda-hybrid-battery-problems-insight-civic-13610.html
« Last Edit: July 06, 2014, 01:18:36 pm by NiHaoMike »
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Offline amyk

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #22 on: July 06, 2014, 01:19:49 pm »
In other words, the batteries and hybrid-ness are now as useful as wings on an ostrich? I guess the practice of making products that only last until the warranty is over has become commonplace in the automotive industry too. Meanwhile my vehicle is nearing 4 decades/600k km and still works like it used to, only needed a bit of periodic preventive maintenance.

Quote
Multiple class action suits later Honda still sticks to its “wait till the IMA light turns on, we’ll replace your battery” line
If they want to see that light turn on, then that's what you should give them. ;)
 

Offline xygor

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #23 on: July 06, 2014, 01:21:32 pm »
2001 Prius here.  192K miles.
1200 WH battery is operated over a 600 WH range.
Showing some signs of capacity loss.
Little or no MPG degradation though.

The first gen Prius (Japan only) used D cells.
Edit: Mine is the first generation to use prismatic cells.
« Last Edit: July 06, 2014, 01:24:18 pm by xygor »
 

Offline xygor

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Re: Honda Civic Hybrid rant
« Reply #24 on: July 06, 2014, 01:41:31 pm »
Here's some battery specs for the generations of Prii.


.                 97 Prius      00 Prius     04 Prius     2010 Prius
                  (Gen I)       (Gen II)     (Gen III)    (Gen IV)
                  Japan Only 
Form Factor       Cylindrical   Prismatic    Prismatic    Prismatic
Cells(Modules)    240(40)       228(38)      168(28)      168(28)
Nominal Voltage   288.0 V       273.6 V      201.6 V      201.6 V
Nominal Capacity  6.0Ah         6.5Ah        6.5Ah        6.5Ah
Specific Power    800 W/kg      1000 W/kg    1300 W/kg    1310 W/kg
Specific Energy   40 Wh/kg      46 Wh/kg     46 Wh/kg     44 Wh/kg
Module Weight     1090g         1050g        1045g        1040g
Module Dimensions 35(oc)x384(L) 19.6x106x275 19.6x106x285 19.6x106x285

 


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