Stuff and thangs 
Thursday, 5 September, 2013, 15:32
Posted by Administrator
Lots of new things.

First of all, Julie and I are expecting our second tiny human. She's nearing her second trimester right now, so there's all sorts of nausea and such going on, but things are looking good. Pretty excited here. As a result of this, and some unimpressive shoehorning, we have determined that my trusty 2008 Civic Hybrid can't fill the family sedan role. We will therefore be replacing Julie's 2005 Civic, which is even less appropriate, with a larger vehicle ... most likely a minivan.

That brings us on to the 2008 Civic Hybrid. Those of you who know me personally know that, despite referring to it as "trusty" in the previous paragraph, I bitch about it constantly. It's not the lack of power -- that's one of the reasons I bought it, because I was sure that I'd get myself in trouble with a powerful engine. It's the fact that, under certain circumstances, there's even less power. Given that this is my website and all, I'll elaborate.

Honda's hybrid system is called Integrated Motor Assist, or IMA. As with other hybrid systems, it consists of an electric motor that assists the gasoline engine, and a battery pack that provides power to that motor. It's different to the systems that other manufacturers use, but I'm not going to get into that; in the end, the IMA system provides "worse" fuel economy than other manufacturers' systems (air quotes because I average around 40MPG, which is pretty damn good).

There have been several lawsuits, including at least one class action suit, against Honda of America regarding the IMA battery in the 2006-2008 Civic Hybrid. Obviously, I could have joined the class, but I didn't because I wasn't experiencing the problems described by the suit. What I didn't realize was that I wasn't experiencing the problems yet. The problem in particular is that, under normal driving conditions, the IMA battery depletes itself completely, causing the gas engine to idle and run at a higher RPM in order to charge that battery. This also causes the IMA to stop providing assist altogether, as the battery can't provide sufficient current to the electric motor. The net result is that, instead of the already-low-but-sufficient-for-city-driving 110hp combined power output, the engine generates about 90hp, and the car can't get out of its own way.

I mentioned this every time I took the car in for service, and it was "addressed" with an ECU update, but the problem kept coming back. I mentioned it this morning as well, but this time the result was different: turns out, the IMA battery is going bad. Normally, this would be a tremendous "oh shit" moment because they cost $3000 to replace; however, Honda extended the warranty, probably as a result of the class action suit(s), so it's going to be replaced for $0. That makes me happy.

That said, I think I'm going to consider trading this one in as well. No better time than right after the hybrid system battery gets replaced, right?
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