Consumer Reports Reader Report Frowns On Civic Hybrids’ Battery Reliability

Hybrid cars have had to pass through public scrutiny including justified and not-so-justified criticism, and for the most part many examples exist with solid track records.

According to the April 2013 issue of Consumer Reports, its readers say the Honda Civic Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) hybrids are not among them.

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

Continuing, the report says other years averaged poorly as well.

“But more than 10 percent of owners of the 2003, 2004, and 2010 models also needed one,” it says.

This news came via AutoGuide.com which also contacted Honda for a response and was not given a direct one. Instead, a copy of the letter sent in response to CR was given.

“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.”

To make amends, Honda did issue a software update for some older Civic Hybrids.

“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.

The company has also extended the hybrid powertrain warranty which depending on which state it is in, may be 8 years, 100,000 miles or 10 years/100,000 miles. In late 2012, it issued a technical service bulletin upping coverage for the shoter warranties to 9 years, 96,000 miles, and the longer to 11 years, 137,000 miles.

The cost of a new battery is estimated at between $2,000 to $4,000 if it is not covered.

In 2012, the company also switched to a lithium-ion chemistry pack instead of a nickel-metal hydride as was used for all previous Civic Hybrids in question.

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