New IMA Battery, Like New Car!

2006 Honda Civic Hybrid WindmillsThe IMA battery (Integrated Motor Assist) in my 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid started acting up a few months back – suddenly having a very low charge and then, a few minutes, saying it was fully charged. Finally, the Check Engine and IMA fault lights showed up – and the verdict was in. I needed to have the IMA battery replaced.

Fortunately for me, in California the IMA battery is warranted for 10 years or 150,000 miles – so Honda replaced it at no cost to me.

The difference in performance of the car – no surprise – is significant. That electric motor boost from standing stops is back and things feel almost like new!

The Bane of Batteries – My 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid


I’m back from our local Honda dealer where I got the news that my 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid needs a new IMA battery. That’s the big battery (behind the seat in my Civic) the helps boost acceleration in concert with the small gasoline engine in this car. It’s a core component of the hybrid technology.

Earlier this week, the Check Engine and IMA lights popped on on my dashboard – although, curiously, when I headed out to the dealer this morning both lights were off! But the codes were still set – which the dealer readout – and pronounced the verdict. The battery needs to be ordered and then installed – a half-day downtime.

I shouldn’t complain too much about this – it’s covered under warranty and the car really has been trouble-free to this point. I ride it hard and put it away wet – so it’s proven its worth. I’ll be interested to see how it performs after the new IMA battery is installed.

Update: 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid and Tires

I continue to be very pleased with my 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid that I purchased almost exactly three years ago. The car now has 39,000 miles on it and continues to get 41-42 miles per gallon in the everyday routine around town driving that I do. I’ve got the “Diamond Lane” stickers on the car – no longer available – and, while I actually seldom use them, they do come in handy for those occasional rush hour trips up or down the Peninsula!

Windmills at Birds Landing with my Honda Civic Hybrid

At my last regular service a couple of weeks ago, my local dealer – Anderson Honda – noted that that “tires were shot” and needed replacement. They couldn’t handle the replacement that day (a Saturday afternoon) so I decided to take a look around at other local options.

For me, exploring the options consisted of me searching the Costco web site for their best deals/recommendations and then also asking a local tire shop highly recommended by a good friend to see what they’d quote.

It took me about 2 minutes to review the Costco options – and another 2 minutes to send in an email request for a quote from the local shop (Five Points Tire Imports in Redwood City). In the process, I’d decided on the Michelin HydroEdge as the tire I wanted.

When you order online from Costco, they ship the tires to the nearest Costco – takes 5+ days or so – and then you need to schedule the local installation. Meanwhile, Five Points got back to me with what seemed like a very fair “out the door” price for the tires mounted/balanced/etc. I emailed them yesterday afternoon to schedule the install for today – and took the car in at lunchtime. An hour later, it was ready to go (thanks Manny!).

We’ll see how these new Michelin’s do with respect to fuel economy on the Civic Hybrid. Meanwhile, what I have noticed immediately is that the ride is considerably better than on my “worn out” tires! Five Points suggests rotating the tires on this car every 5-7,000 miles – and does so for free. I’ll try to remember to take them up on their offer!

Honda’s Insight – The Hybrid for Everyone

Honda Insight

Earlier this week, Honda introduced the new Honda Insight, a new, lower-cost hybrid car scheduled to be available “later this spring”. Press reports say that the new Insight will sell for several thousand dollars less than the Toyota Prius.

From the website, it appears that the new Insight is using a power train that’s very similar (if not identical) to that of the 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid that I’ve been driving (and loving) for over two and a half years.

Continue reading “Honda’s Insight – The Hybrid for Everyone”

Our Improving Quality of Life

A reader commented to Gary Richard’s Roadshow column in this morning’s San Jose Mercury News about how there’s a silver lining in the high fuel prices – our quality of life is improving. We’re driving less, polluting less, etc. There certainly are benefits – in spite of the real costs. I might agree about the positive impacts – if we weren’t as a byproduct sending so much more money off to our “friends” in the Middle East. Tom Friedman’s recent column about imposing a floor on gas prices to continue to provide an incentive for the positive behaviors makes sense!

Every Trip Is a Race for Fuel Efficiency

The Washington Post has an article in today’s edition by Michael S. Rosenwald titled “For Hybrid Drivers, Every Trip Is a Race for Fuel Efficiency“. Wow, that’s so true.

I’ve blogged before about my 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid – which life to date has average a bit over 43 miles per gallon. On the Honda, there are two trip odometers/mileage gauges – one I use for the current tank and reset every fill-up. The other hasn’t been reset “since birth” – and that’s the one showing 43 mpg.

My Honda Hybrid also shows real-time mileage along with boost/charge from/to the batteries. Does make for careful (and fuel efficient) driving – if you’re watching your mileage!

Cutting Back

The US Department of Transportation announced today that “estimated vehicle miles traveled (VMT) on all U.S. public roads for March 2008 fell 4.3 percent as compared with March 2007 travel. This is the first time estimated March travel on public roads fell since 1979. At 11 billion miles less in March 2008 than in the previous March, this is the sharpest yearly drop for any month in FHWA history.”

Wonder why? 😉

Honda Civic Hybrid Update

It’s been almost exactly 19 months since I traded my Audi A6 4.2 for a 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid. In my last update on the car – after only 100 days – I commented “So far, I’m really pleased with the change.”

Windmills at Birds Landing with my Honda Civic Hybrid

Nothing’s changed. I’ve now got over 23,000 miles on the car, it’s been in for service (oil change, tire rotation – cost about $80 each time) twice, and continues to be just what I need for getting around.

Mileage lifetime to date is now about 43 miles per gallon – this car actually gets better mileage as it’s driven and, probably more signficantly, as the driver learns how to stop being such a lead foot!

All in all, this car turned out to be a great choice for me – even if not perfectly ideal in the creature comforts category (the position of the handbrake handle against my right leg is something I’ve learned to grin and bear!).

Oil Addiction

Windmills at Birds Landing with my Honda Civic Hybrid

Tom Friedman’s column in tomorrow’s New York Times is about how the price of oil had a major influence on the collapse of the Soviet Union – and how we just might be able to do it again.

Last year, I more than halved my dependence on gasoline with my purchase of a Honda Civic Hybrid. I love this car – it’s great fun to drive and it feels great filling up on about 10 gallons of gas every 425 miles or so. My fuel economy has actually improved over the life of the car – a combination of the car and driver both becoming smarter? I’ve averaged 42.6 miles per gallon over more than 16,000 miles.

I first wrote about the Honda Civic Hybrid in May 2006 and followed that up with another report in late July titled 100 Days With A 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid and a commentary titled One Man Show based upon seeing the movie “Who Killed the Electric Car?” last September.