Consumer Reports Blasts Honda Civic Hybrid Reliability

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Consumer Reports Blasts Honda Civic Hybrid Reliability

Hybrid vehicles are considered a risky long-term purchase by some, with unknown reliability of hybrid batteries and worries of possible replacement costs. While those fears may be exaggerated, Consumer Reports has found some damning evidence on one particular model: the Honda Civic Hybrid.

For Consumer Reports’ April 2013 issue, the magazine finds that while other hybrid vehicles have an excellent reliability report, the Civic Hybrid has been plagued with serious problems.

“The Civic Hybrid, which has been a reliable car overall in most years, has a big problem with its drive battery,” the report starts.  “The 2009 model was the worst: Almost one in five owners needed a replacement hybrid battery in our 12-month survey period.”

The issues aren’t limited to just the 2009 model either. “But more than 10 percent of owners of the 2003, 2004, and 2010 models also needed one.”

Honda offers an 8 year, 100,000 mile warranty for Civic Hybrids, which can also go up to 10 years/100,000 miles depending on the state. Many of the models above should still be covered under warranty, but if they aren’t, a replacement battery isn’t cheap, coming in between $2,000 and $4,000.

According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s SaferCar.gov website, there are 9 complaints on 2009 Honda Civics, the majority of which cite the electrical powertrain as a potential safety hazard.

Honda has no official response, though the automaker did share with AutoGuide an email sent to Consumer Reports after the report was published.

“We are sorry to read that some of your Honda Civic Hybrid subscribers have experienced IMA battery issues during their ownership,” it reads. ” While the majority of Honda owners experience very few problems with their vehicles, we regret the inconvenience that any repair imposes on our customers.”

Honda also claims that a software update was issued to protect older models of the car from premature battery failures.

“Honda provided a software update to owners of 2006-2008 Civic Hybrids to help extend the life of the IMA battery and will continue to provide the most updated technology to our customers as it becomes available,” continues the email.

While Honda has yet to comment on how many battery replacements have been issued, the company did issue a technical service bulletin (TSB) in late 2012 which extends the IMA battery warranty. On vehicles that were covered for 10 years/100,000 miles, the battery is now covered for 11 years/137,000 miles. The TSB also helps vehicles that were covered for 8 years/80,000 miles, which are now covered for 9 years/96,000 miles. Replacement batteries that were bought are covered for 36,000 miles, or three years.

Honda switched to a new lithium-ion battery pack in 2012-2013 Civic Hybrid, (as well as Acura ILX Hybrid), and neither Safercar nor Consumer Reports have any reported complains with the electrical system.

Discuss this story at 8thCivic.com

  • J Johnston

    I’m not too trusting of anything Honda Corp says. Honda Canada promised to compensate Honda Civic Hybid owners in Canada once the US class action was settled. That was last October, and not a peep from Honda Canada, with Honda customer care “knowing nothing”.

    I launched a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, and Honda Canada wouldn’t even respond to the BBB, let alone try to deal with the issue.

    Watch out for Honda and what it claims.

    Jim H.

  • Ecrowder1

    I got my $100 from class action suit last month

  • NeverWillBuyHondaAgain

    Honda is full of it. My 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid battery concked out after only 39,700 miles. Honda wanted $3000 to replace it and I complained being it had such low mileage. I had taken it in numerous times with the IMA light going on starting at 3 months after purchase. The warranty, 8 years or 80,000 miles, had literally expired about 9 months time wise, 2012 when this happened. When I told Honda I wrote for an online web magazine, they replaced the lemon battery with a new one (In an after market case) for $500, instead of the $3000 they originally wanted. I also was told that new battery only had a warranty of 12,000 miles or one year, but subsequently found out it is 3 years or 36,000 miles because my car was purchased before they lowered their replacement warranty. The car only gets 29 mpg. SO much for their “technology”. Should have purchased a Toyota Prius.

  • NoThanks

    ” While Honda has yet to comment on how many battery replacements have
    been issued, the company did issue a technical service bulletin (TSB) in
    late 2012 which extends the IMA battery warranty. On vehicles that were
    covered for 10 years/100,000 miles, the battery is now covered for 11
    years/137,000 miles. The TSB also helps vehicles that were covered for 8
    years/80,000 miles, which are now covered for 9 years/96,000 miles.
    Replacement batteries that were bought are covered for 36,000 miles, or
    three years.”

    So wait, now Honda owes me $500. They made me pay for my replacement battery when it was 8 years/80,000 miles last year in 2012.

  • Honda Hybrids STINK!

    I bought a 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid and thankfully it gave me 144,000 miles before the IMA conked. Now it is past it’s warranty and they want $3,000.00 to fix it. The fact that the IMA battery has a finite lifetime and would definitely have to be replaced at some point was never disclosed to me, and it should have been. There should be a class action lawsuit on these cars. If you were told when you bought it, that if you drove it in hot weather, with the air conditioning on, it would degrade the lifetime of the battery, would you have bought it? I have numerous repairs for my vehicle over the years. Trying to be “Green friendly” was the biggest mistake I every made. These cars are LEMONS. PLEASE DON”T EVER BUY A 2003 HONDA CIVIC HYBRID! It’s been a non-stop nightmare from the beginning!

    Honda Finance are nothing better than common thieves!

  • Honda – dishonesty unaceptable

    Honda 2010 Insight uses the same drive train as the Civic Hybrid. Here is my experience – Honda’s “Fix” destroyed my mileage I went from 62 MPG from Phx to LA and back on two separate trips to 37 MPG on each subsequent trip. I returned the car to Honda and asked what was going on as they had just “serviced” the car – they denied having any kind of a problem and I was left to pay the full lease of the car with no satisfaction on the mileage I have read a number of articles about Honda’s chip “fix” they all neglect to mention the mileage issue that the chip fix appears to cause. BTW I use the cruise control to maintain a constant legal mileage on all trips.

  • Happy with Honda

    I have a 2003 Civic hybrid with 190,000 miles on it. I’ve had NO problems with the IMA battery. My only problems have been an oxygen sensor failure and the air conditioning compressor bearing went out. Lifetime mileage has dropped from 40.5 when new to 39.5 mpg. That’s not the 48 mpg Honda claimed on its sticker 11 years ago, but it’s not bad.

  • http://www.sodesigns.com daniel moss

    Do accord hybrids have the same battery issues as civic hybrids?

  • cfrsoccer

    I have a 2009 HCH. Battery pack has been replaced three times. I was told the most recent one was of a newer design lot after all the other problems they have been having. It’s a shame about the whole battery thing as it is quite a likeable car when it runs right.

  • Steve H.

    I have a 2003 HCH with 170,000 miles. First battery was replaced at 78,000 free of charge, with new 80,000 mile warranty on second one. Car is still running strong, getting 43 MPG in city driving.

  • Patrice

    This is horrible. Never buying a Honda Civic Hybrid again. And I’m going to tell all my friends to never buy a Honda Civic Hybrid. And I’m going to tell my neighbors: never buy a Honda Civic Hybrid. And I’m going to tell the random person walking down the street to never buy a Honda Civic Hybrid. And I’m going to tell anyone who listens to never buy a Honda Civic Hybrid. And I’m going to tell the world, NEVER BUY A HONDA CIVIC HYBRID!!!!!!!!!!

  • Larry Gunderson

    I’ve been hearing from people who know a lot about hybrids that Honda hybrids are no good. What a shame because I like Honda cars. How could Honda possibly botch their hybrid design so badly? They must have too many American executives involved these days.

  • Larry Gunderson

    That’s all? Hardly seemed worth it. I guess the lawyers got it all. This is a really good example of why class action suits are bad these days: the real victims get very little but the company still gets a costly punishment that causes further cuts in product or service quality. Plus, the company’s hourly employees, the people who do the real work, will certainly get punished. Everyone should ignore invitations to join class action suits unless you experienced personal injury. I ignored the Apple suit, which would have gotten me several dollars (literally). WE can diminish the “Market” for such nonsense and maybe put some crooked attorneys out of business.

  • Jim

    I have gotten to the same point. My 2005 was running fine with good mileage until the computer up date. The battery died last week and the new battery and programing have left me with a highway mileage at 20 mpg. My full size non-hybrid 6cyl truck gets mileage that good. Taking it back to the dealer today and I’m sure I will leave without any resolution to this issue.
    So to anyone reading this note….DON’T BUY A HONDA HYBRID!!!! Any time from the purchase date they can update programing w/o you having any say and ruin the reason you bought the hybrid in the first place.
    Jim

  • Tom Seaman

    My 2009 Civic hybrid had 34,500 miles when the battery pack failed last week. I regret this car purchase and am very disappointed with Honda.

  • Charlotte

    I own a 2009 version and have had the battery fail twice. I don’t hate this car, but I will be selling it before the extended warranty provided by Honda expires.

  • Michelle

    I own a 2006 Model and Honda Motor Corp. will not help me with the repair costs. The cost to replace the IMA Battery is $2600 and the first issue was known at 129000 miles when I originally took the car into the dealership for the IMA light being on. The dealership did some computer update and said it was fixed. I turned my car into the dealership again last week and am at 149000 miles for a CVT update and they did a computer update as well and now the IMA light is once again on and the dealership says that the battery has to be replaced now. I should be covered because the first time I had an issue was when the car was still under 137,000 miles. The representative @ Honda Motor Corp’s name is Ken and he was absiolutely no help. He offerred me a 15% off the price of the repair and was unapologetic about the issue. I will NEVER buy a HONDA again and I will make sure all of my friends and family don’t as well. Originally when we bought the car in 2009 it only had approx. 30,000 miles on it and they said that the original battery had been replaced. So obviously something with the veh computer is causing this to occur if they keep doing updates and extending the warranties, but just not far enough to supposedly help me.

  • Michelle

    Who did you talk to that helped you out with the cost? I was not able to get any help except for a pittance offer for 15% off of $2600.

  • Roger M.

    I have a 2004 that qualified for a check for$ 2500 after the class action. The replacement battery lasted less than a year. The dealer replaced it free of charge. Now the replacement has started to fail after 18 months. Honda has offered to replace it for $500. What are they using for replacements if only guaranteed for 3 years and fail so quickly? Now they tell me the replacement only has a one year warranty! Surely they aren’t using OEM batteries. This is my first and last HCH.

  • Roger M.

    have a 2004 that qualified for a check for$ 2500 after the class action. The replacement battery lasted less than a year. The dealer replaced it free of charge. Now the replacement has started to fail after 18 months. Honda has offered to replace it for $500. What are they using for replacements if only guaranteed for 3 years and fail so quickly? Now they tell me the replacement only has a one year warranty! Surely they aren’t using OEM batteries. This is my first and last HCH.

  • Laurie Millington

    The software patch they are referring to actually ruins the way the car runs! I have a 2008, they applied the patch in 2009 and I’ve had tons of problems with not being able to rely on whether or not my car is going to move when I need it to. Somedays I have to floor it and the car sounds like its going to blow up! Quite dangerous on ice…. I have complained and complained and all honda says it drives the way it was designed! Well Honda it doesn’t drive the way I bought it!!! This is my 6th Honda and will be the last honda I purchase!

  • TS

    I have a 2004 HCH with 166,000 miles on it. Had the faulty O2 sensor issue, but that was corrected with a software update later (glad I didn’t pay for any repairs). Also had an air conditioning compressor issue; just about any car will have a problem here or there so it didn’t bother me too much. The only other issue was I had to put a new CVT in. Yikes – wasn’t happy about that, but that was 3 years ago and I’ve had no issues since. Since I was just outside of my warranty and had a good sob story, Honda helped pay for part of that repair

    I get about 41 MPG if I drive really nice. Overall, I’ve been very happy with my Honda. Sadly though, the last few weeks I’ve been getting IMA indicator lights; no change to the car’s performance though. Taking it into the dealership tomorrow. Let’s hope for good news!

  • Mark Usinger

    We just had the transmission flushed on our 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid. The transmission light came on shortly afterwards, and we too it back to the mechanic, who says the transmission is now toast. Does this sound right? 166,00 miles, and trouble free up to this point.

  • Graceobserved

    Our Honda Hybrid 2007 has been a nightmare. We have thrown thousands of
    dollars into it, mostly do to affects from the battery. The IMA battery replacement was 5000.00. The converter was another two thousand dollars. It has had new rack and pinion as well. And now we learn it needs yet 5000.00 worth or parts to get it running properly again. I highly recommend buying a different car than this one. At this point, we don’t even know what to do with it. It’s practically worthless.

  • rl

    If you are thinking about buying a Honda hybrid, don’t! This product doesn’t work. As the battery dies, the car is constantly charging the dying battery, the efficiency goes out the window. The car is actually doing worst (~26 miles/gallon) with the IMA than no having it. It’s shame this reputable company is doing such a bad engineering on the car and deceiving consumers.

  • David Beaster

    I have a 2007 Honda Civic hybrid and the IMA battery is resetting every 10 minutes or so. I know it has problems but the dealer won’t do a thing until (they say) the IMA warning light goes on. It is still under warranty but what good is a warranty they won’t honor? In fact their is no honor with Honda America. They did a recall reboot on the battery 2 years ago, but now I am hearing from other Honda Civic owners it was only done to keep the IMA warning system from going on. I also noticed when they did the reboot the mileage per gallon dropped about 6 or 7 MPG. Honda is no longer on my list of reliable!

  • Patti

    I own a 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid. I replace my battery at 9 years 8 months. I had 101,000 miles. I had to pay $3,000 to replace. It went again at 24 months.. had a 36 month warranty. They are replacing it now…I would never get another hybrid. I am afraid to sell it to someone. I figure I have gotten my moneys worth.. Hope to trade it in a year or so…otherwise it has been a great car.

  • danwat1234

    Here is a link to the Consumer Reports bit about the Civic Hybrid. http://imgur.com/HjOrSPw

  • Tomte Boda

    Our 2 Honda Civic Hybrid have worked perfectly beyond warranty.

    I wonder if it is nationalistic americans that are paid by GM and Ford to undermine a fantastic car.

    Hybrid tech is nothing that american car manufacturers know anything about.

    Sadly they are 3 generations behind.

  • Luis Lucchini

    You should have never done a transmission flush… those things are HORRIBLE for the transmission and have never been suggested by any manufacturers. Jiffy Lube and the likes created this thing to get more money from people, and some even lie saying that its factory recommended. its not.

  • TJ

    You can’t be serious.
    As an owner of a 2004 Civic Hybrid, A 2011 CRZ, and a 2011 MKZ Hybrid I can say without a doubt the Ford hybrid system kills the Honda hybrids in quality and transparency in everyday use. It just works like a normal car with the added benefit of great fuel economy. All Honda IMA’s were very amateurish by comparison. You know you are driving a Hybrid and are making sacrifices in other areas to do so.

  • Julius K Nyerere

    I am a big fan of Japanese automakers and I would rather drive a Japanese car than have to deal with an American one. But as a starving college student, my first car, a 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid gave me major migraines. Only 3 months after buying it used (at only 102,000 miles), the IMA light came on. A few weeks after that, the battery light came on. A couple of days later, the car was completely incapacitated. Now if you think that my critique of these problems is from a nationalistic standpoint, then that is ignorant on your part (to say the least). I have not lost my love and trust for Japanese cars, but Honda surely disappointed me with this stunt.

  • annie

    I have a 2010. Had the battery replaced 3 times already. I will be trading it in @99,000 miles. While I get phenomenal gas milagage…Every 12-18 months it dies in a parking lot somewhere. A A A and warranty has been my friend.

  • Samantha

    I have a 2010–the interior arm rests are of very poor quality. The covers come off. No recalls have been made for this particular model, but recalls have been made for the same problem on other Honda models.

  • Lin Maung

    I have 2009 civic hybrid, one of the problem when i stopped at traffic light about 7-10 minutes at that time i used a/c. the engine is autostopped and battery indicator is decreased until 2 step meanwhile traffic light is green and i started engine but at that time engine has less power and IMA not assist to engine.

  • EramuzMelloon

    Like Lin Maung we too have a 2009 IMA.

    In my opinon of being an owner of a good few Japanese cars the Civic Hybrid is of poor quality.

    The IMA light lit up on the dashboard only after 6000 miles of driving,
    The Honda garage told me everything was fine. Infact what they’d done was clear the fault code knowing full well the battery system was flawed from the beginning.

    Recently I plugged in a computer and the fault code warning of Hybrid battery failure came up. Is it really worth going back to Honda as the car has only done 20’000 miles since new, I don’t think so, I’ll steer clear of Honda Hybrids in the future and use it on the petrol engine only if I have to.

    Another problem is rust. It’s starting to come through on one wing and on the roof!
    The car build quality is like a sardine tin at best compared to other makes.

    Final thoughts..

    Never again Honda!

  • Martin France

    I have a 2009 HCH with 55,000 miles and it’s performed well, averaging about 48 mpg over all driving conditions (I’ve logged every tank of gas, and they’ve ranged from 38 to 54 mpg). The IMA light comes on occasionally during very cold weather (Colorado winger), but I’ve noticed no big issues. I took it in for an oil change recently and they said they would replace the battery for free–I’m having that done next month. I guess I’m one of the lucky ones…

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