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Dying batteries in Honda Insight?

Discussion in 'Fred's House of Pancakes' started by Jeemz, May 2, 2004.

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  1. Jeemz

    Jeemz New Member

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    A good friend of mine has had her Honda Insight for about 3 years now. Today she told me that her mileage has dropped “significantly.†She talked w/another Insight owner with a car about the same age. He said he noticed the same thing. They both think that it’s their batteries that aren’t taking the charge the way they used to. The second Insight owner tried getting an answer from Honda Inc. and actually sued them for info. Nada. Well, they paid him $5,000 from the suit, but still no answer about the batteries.
    My questions are: has anyone with a Pri had the same thing happen: their mileage dropped due to dying batteries? Would such a thing even happen with the Pri due to the different way the Pri hybrid system works?
  2. john1701a

    john1701a Prius Guru

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    > A good friend of mine has had her Honda Insight for about 3 years now.

    That would likely mean it is a manual transmission, which doesn't manage the battery-pack well (unless the driver keeps a close eye on levels). The CVT does a much better job; it has newer software too.


    > has anyone with a Pri had the same thing happen

    The Honda design (and Ford for that matter) uses rechargeable batteries, all connected in a series. It is not modular like the pack in Prius, which has the ability to ignored dimished or damaged modules.

    I honestly don't know what kind of impact that would have on MPG, but it is worth pointing out the difference. Someone else will likely chime in with details.

    What I do know is that the Toyota design is more protective of the battery-pack, not allowing it to get drained as low as with the Honda.


    > Would such a thing even happen with the Prius

    Eventually, MPG would drop. How much, who knows? But what we do know is that it won't happen until well after 150,000 miles. And fortunately, that is all that would happen. The system itself would continue to operate just fine.

    So... how many miles were on that Insight? And in what area of the country does it live?
  3. Frank Hudon

    Frank Hudon Senior Member

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    quick story, the wife had to go downtown for a meeting 2 weeks ago and the cab that came to pick her up was a Prius, Yellow Cab here has over 40 Prius in the fleet, so the guy asks her who owns the Prius in front of the house and she say's it's her's and they get talking and she asks him how many km's are on his and he had 386,000 km's and said the highest in the fleet is over 500,000 km's so that's 300,000 miles and no one has had any hybrid related problems. If the batterys were failing they'd be doing it in this sort of application. The P's are in the fleet for a reason, fuel economy and if it was dropping one of the operators would be bitching about it by now. All's quiet on the western front at this time.
  4. Chuck.

    Chuck. Honda Enzyte Driver

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    This is a picture of my Insight on a typical recal (guys at the body shop ran it down, but I have to blush at not having put my seatbelt on at that time)

    [​IMG]

    I'll try to explain:

    The green instant mpg bar would typically be at or just right of the notch between 50 and 100 (i.e. 75-80mpg) Everything changes on a recal as you are knocked out of lean burn because of the load of forced regeration (recal). That typically pushes the mpg to 50 or 40. Note just over the upshift arrow the four green bars - that's a forced charge. On the far right of the picture is the State of Charge or SoC bar. Typically, when it's slighly over half full, it recals, going to one or zero bars in about 30 seconds.

    The early 5-speed Insights and Civics seem most vunerable to battery problems - heard less problems with Honda hybrids with CVT transmissions. Recently Honda has made recalls to upgrade the software. Believe the key thing is doing a recal at 40% charge - not 15% to extend battery life.

    Back in Feb at 94,000 miles, Honda paid $6,000 in "good will" to replace my batteries and two black boxes - I paid $450. It works better than when it was new - almost have to intentionally get it to recal these days. Honda really did not explain anything to me but just replaced it all.

    My general statement to hybrid Honda drivers is if a recal happens no more than every three months - excellent. Once every month - good condition. A recal every week or more - caution. I advise against heavy draining of battery packs on any hybrid - I'm talking about 30 or more seconds of assist on Honda's. In those situations, DOWNSHIFT - it's not worth it!

    For me, I think this battery pack will last 150,000 miles or more, putting my Insight at 250,000 miles - a good life.
  5. Frank Hudon

    Frank Hudon Senior Member

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    interesting post. Thank you.
  6. Stev0

    Stev0 Honorary Hong Kong Cavalier

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    Interesting. I'm now glad I didn't get an Insight (especially since I would have gotten manual transmission since I prefer them).
  7. TonyPSchaefer

    TonyPSchaefer Your Friendly Moderator Staff Member

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    Jeemz,
    If you really want to throw this question to some "expert" Insight drivers, head over to CleanMPG.com and ask those guys. Both co-founders are Insight enthusiasts even though one of them doesn't have his anymore, he's still a legend in the field.

    Delta's a member over there also. If you though his post in this thread is informative, you should see some of the stuff he and the others are writing over there.

    Good luck.
  8. Chuck.

    Chuck. Honda Enzyte Driver

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    I don't think that 5-speeds and hybrids are a bad mix per se. The problem is when they are lugged (or close to it) the assist is on for an extended amount of time. It's a lot better to use lower gears for acceleration. While the Insight has respectable acceleration, they are not for those that are wanting a sports car.

    This is why Honda no longer makes 5-speed hybrids - gotta cover your back side from misuse.

    Thank you for the CleanMPG mention - Tony. My recal pic is from there....

    IMHO, Honda's hybrid battery problems would have dropped dramatically to the point of being a non-issue by doing two things:

    1. Do a forced recharge at 40% instead of 15% on the early models.
    2. If they offered 5-speed hybrids, generously warn against shifting too high. They could have engineered a downshift arrow in those situations. The safe thing would be to just not have hybrid 5-speeds, although I thourghly enjoy mine.
  9. daniel

    daniel Cat Lovers Against the Bomb

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    <div class='quotetop'>QUOTE(Jeemz @ May 2 2004, 02:26 PM) [snapback]14671[/snapback]</div>

    As John and others have mentioned, the way the Prius computer manages the battery will make a battery failure an extremely rare fluke.

    However, a decline in battery function would definitely result in reduced mpg. I base this on two points:

    1. The first people to add aditional battery capacity to the Prius (without plug-in charging) saw significant improvement in mpg. The battery is able to buffer the demand for power and at least up to a point, greater capacity results in better efficiency.

    2. In cold weather there are two efficiency threshholds: one when the ICE warms up, and another when the battery warms up. A cold battery is less efficient, and in effect provides less capacity. A battery that has lost capacity due to age would perform similarly to a cold battery, and would show reduced mpg.

    It's all moot because of the way the battery is protected. But yes, it would reduce your mpg.
  10. Chuck.

    Chuck. Honda Enzyte Driver

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    Keep in mind the IMA system on an Insight is nothing like the HSD on a Prius.

    I conceed and reinterate that the battery management on early Honda hybrids let it get down to 15% when it should have been 40% when it was corrected.

    The 25 miles I drove to the dealer last Feb. with a dead battery pack I still got 80mpg cruising at 50mph. Of course, it took a long time to reach 50mph without a working Assist. Trying to say on Honda's - hybrid operation is basically limited to acceleration only - it's not like a Toyota.

    This reminds me I need to study the HSD material more - it's why I joined PC...
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