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.
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