Honda Civic Hybrid: Battery Unreliable, Consumer Reports Says

2009 Honda Civic Hybrid

2009 Honda Civic Hybrid

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Automaker Honda used to be the darling of Consumer Reports, with its models perpetually scoring better than average in CR testing.

The 2012 Honda Civic dampened the publication’s enthusiasm for the Honda brand; it was the first Honda Civic we can recall that wasn’t recommended by CR, thanks largely to a redesign rushed to market to cut costs.

Now comes word from Consumer Reports that earlier Honda Civic Hybrid models, previously deemed reliable, may suffer from premature high-voltage battery pack failures.

As Autoguide explains, the April issue of Consumer Reports contains a look at hybrid vehicle reliability. The earlier Honda Civic Hybrids, particularly the 2009 model, don’t measure up well against the competition.

Over a 12-month survey period, nearly 20 percent of 2009 Honda Civic Hybrid owners required a battery replacement, while the replacement rate on 2003, 2004 and 2010 Civic Hybrid models exceeded 10 percent.

For owners outside of warranty, the cost of replacing the battery that feeds the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system can range from $2,000 to $4,000. That's a substantial expense for a non-luxury vehicle that’s less than a decade old.

Though Honda has not issued an official statement on the matter, a Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) published in late 2012 extends the warranty on the IMA drive battery.

Cars that were previously covered for 10 years or 100,000 miles are now covered for 11 years or 137,000 miles, while cars originally sold with an eight-year, 80,000-mile warranty are now covered for nine years or 96,000 miles.

Customers who’ve already replaced the drive batteries are also extended a warranty, though only for three years or 36,000 miles.

Honda claims that a software update (for 2006-08 Civic Hybrid models) helped to extend IMA battery life, and the automaker promises it will “continue to provide the most updated technology to our customers as it becomes available.”

That’s little solace to the owners who’ve had to replace IMA batteries, especially outside of the new and extended warranty coverage.


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Comments (7)
  1. Hoping these problems won't afflict my 2012 Insight down the road. I knew the risk going in, though.

  2. Chris, Honda began using a different battery pack in the Civic Hybrid in 2012, and I believe the same applies to the Insight. There have been no major issues reported with the new pack thus far.

  3. yeah that software update really messed up the mpg for 06-11 hybrid drivers... go figure.

    insight 10-12 uses the same pack but smaller

    12 + civics uses lithium ion

    glad my prius at 300,000 km has no issues so far (KNOCK ON WOOD)

  4. Here is a link to the Consumer Reports bit about the Civic Hybrid.

  5. I have a 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid, First of all when I bought this car they told me and Honda was advertising 50 MPG, THE HIGHEST I EVER GOT WAS 38 MPG ON THE HIGHWAY!! Second Honda replaced the batteries a little over a year, then they replaced them about two more years, then they replaced them again about two years. They made me pay $1,200. contribution, I said you give a 3 year warrantee and they said the last set of batteries were covered under the first set for warrantee purposes!! DON'T EVER PURCHASE A HONDA HYBRID FOR ANY REASON, HONDA SELLS JUNK HYBRIDS AND WILL NOT STAND BEHIND THEIR PRODUCTS!!!

  6. Honda hybrids are gas cars with electric assist (except for the new accord). An under powered ICE with an electric system that is supposed to compensate (although I have heard it doesn't).
    Toyota hybrids are electric cars with gasoline assist. A lot of assist as the traction battery is small. They give you a small taste of electric car operation which is nice.
    I like Honda but not for hybrids. New accord appears to be an electric car with gas assist.

  7. I have had continued problems from day one with my 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid. IMA, battery, engine lights come on and failure to keep running. They have replaced they say the IMA but the lights keept coming on. Honda should have recalled these cars.
    I just had to have it tolled in to a dealer. and now they want $3T plus labor to replace it. The IMA light can kill the
    regular batter as well. Never again a Honda.

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