My husband and I were just finished running errands and were less than a quarter mile from our home. My Honda Civic Hybrid kind of jerked funny. I didn’t think much of it – the transmission in the Honda Civic Hybrids are sometimes a little jumpy. This time was different. About three seconds after the car jerked, a trifecta of lights illuminated my dashboard. The IMA, Check Engine, and Battery lights all illuminated on the side of my dashboard.
Nothing evokes dread in the heart of a car owner like a check engine light. Tears almost started rolling down my eyes. My husband placed his hand on my knee and told me I probably just forgot to screw the gas cap in and let it click three times. I gave him “the look” and he agreed. Check engine light, maybe. All three lights, no.
When the IMA, Check Engine, and Battery lights all illuminated in my dash, something else very strange happened. I lost the power to my hybrid battery. This meant that to accelerate, the car had to rely solely on the gas powered engine and had no electric motor assistance. This meant that when I accelerated, it was really hard on my car.
We pulled the 2006 Honda Civic Hybrid in to our driveway and turned it off. At least it was at our house, and if it didn’t start back up we could call a tow truck on Monday to have it taken back to the dealership. When I turned the car back on, only the Check Engine light was illuminated. My husband grabbed the keys to his truck and agreed to follow me to the dealership. Although it was Saturday, the service center was still open for another hour or so and we could get the car there so that they could take a look at it Monday.
On my way to the dealership, the IMA, Check Engine, and Battery lights all re-illuminated on my dash and once again I lost my hybrid battery power. This was not cool.
Once at the dealership, the service manager informed me that since the car was out of warranty, they could not arrange for a loaner car. In addition, if it was the hybrid battery pack that has failed we were looking at about a $3,000 fix. I felt nauseous. When we arrived home we went to Google and entered what happened to our car. On the Green Hybrid forum, someone else had a similar issue and it was a sensor that failed and the cost to fix was $1,400. That’s a lot better than $3,000 but is still more than we really wanted to pay for a repair.
I left my car there and it wasn’t until Tuesday that I got a call back from the dealership. They informed me that there was a relay that failed, and that the total cost to fix it would be around $250. That’s not too bad! I was thrilled. I called my husband and told him the news. He was skeptical – a relay didn’t cause the type of problems I experienced.
I received my car back on Wednesday night. Thursday when I was going home from lunch, my car jerked and a few seconds later the IMA, Check Engine, and Battery lights illuminated my dash again. I went home, got my husband, and we went back to the dealership.
It wasn’t five minutes after I made it back to the office, that the dealership called. Guess what was wrong? Yep. A Motor Rotor Sensor had gone bad. The cost to fix? $1,400 – but the service manager agreed to discount the $250 I had already spent on the relay, since that must not have been the cause of the problem.
Knock on wood, I got my car back about a week ago. It’s been running just fine. If you own a Honda hybrid, and your IMA, Check Engine, and Battery lights come on, chances are you have a sensor that has gone bad. While this is an expensive fix, it’s far better than replacing the whole battery pack to the tune of $3,000.
My Honda Civic Hybrid has 117,000 miles on it and I admit I thought about trading her in. However, I have already sunk an additional $1,400 in her and she’s still a great car. If you are looking to purchase a hybrid, there are some great deals now with the Cash for Clunkers program. In addition, hybrids have been on the market long enough to yield several preowned hybrid options. However, if you are looking to purchase a hybrid solely to save money, you will be disappointed. They are far more electronic than many other cars, and electronic components are more expensive to fix.