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2008 Honda Civic Hybrid


I have a 2008 Honda Civic Hybrid with about 116,000 miles on it, and recently when I was accelerating onto the interstate, it started shimmying as I got to about 59 mph. I let my foot up a little and accelerated gradually, which worked in the short run. However, I don’t usually have to accelerate so gradually, so this is unusual. This problem stopped for about a week and a half until today, when it happened again. I noticed that both times it was raining. This hasn’t happened when I’ve driven it on the interstate during this week and a half when it wasn’t raining. No indicator lights have come on during any of this, and I had it in a couple months ago for scheduled maintenance.

Any idea what it could be?

Thank you.


You’re going to have to give us a better definition of “shimmying”.

Was the steering wheel shaking or oscillating?
Was the car’s trajectory affected?
Or, was this strictly a matter related to power output?

The easy thing to do first is look at the tires to see if they are worn or just plain old and do not have the traction they should. It sounds like traction control is activating.

No, the steering wheel was not shaking or oscillating. “Shimmying” might not be quite the right word, as it was not going side-to-side. It was more of an intermittent rapid surging (and shaking) while I was accelerating, so it might possibly be related to power output.

Hope this is more clear.

The tires are not worn or old – the tread on all of them is in good shape.

“It was more of an intermittent rapid surging (and shaking) while I was accelerating, so it might possibly be related to power output…The tires are not worn or old – the tread on all of them is in good shape.”

Yes, I think that it is more likely to be related to power output than to anything related to the front end of the car.

Given Honda’s poor record of reliability with its hybrids (as drastically opposed to Toyota’s reliability record with its hybrids), I think that you need to have this problem evaluated by a Honda dealer’s service department.

Rain and trouble indicate electrical problems to me. Most common is plug wires. Many times the shimmy is actually a misfire on the cylinders.

Thank you, VDCdriver and Barkydog.


Car manufacturers publish Technical Service Bulletins when recurrent specific problems occur with specific models and model-years. They are written for their technicians, not for the general public. However most can be accessed online.

I’m not saying that a certain bulletin definitely describes what’s wrong with your car, but it might behoove you to read Honda TSB# 09-009 (Feb. 6, 2009) and see if your VIN (vehicle identification number) falls in the range given in the bulletin and whether or not the symptoms given sound like your problem or not. The bulletin (Engine Surges or Hesitates) is for some 2008 Civic Hybrid cars. An online search should be productive for you.

The “fix” requires updating software in the engine’s PCM (control module). Of course, as with any repairs, proper diagnosis should be made, first. A dealer would probably be your best bet.

Thank you. Actually, I did take it to the dealer and they said I need a new IMA battery, which would cost $2,200 for the battery alone. I was upset at the amount because I don’t have the money right now. He called Honda (headquarters?) to see if they could help me out, but had to leave them a message. I asked him to call me when he hears from them. He hasn’t called. Also, the IMA indicator light hasn’t come on, so I’m wondering if they were being honest with me. Is there some kind of instrument they use to determine this, and should I ask them to show me how they diagnose it?

I am planning to take it somewhere else for a second opinion.


In that case, I suggest you HOUND the dealer . . . because I believe your IMA battery might still be covered, under a factory extended “warranty” which applies only to that specific battery

That’s all assuming it was diagnosed in the first place

It would have been nice if the OP had said they had a dealers opinion in the original post.

“American Honda is extending the warranty coverage on the IMA battery module for some 2003–08 Civic Hybrids an additional 12 months or 12,000 miles, whichever comes first.”

Very generous…

"I am planning to take it somewhere else for a second opinion."

Did the dealer know of the TSB I referenced above? Did they mention it?
The surging is caused by excessive pressure in the transmission when the PCM CVT software needs updating with the newer software version.

I’d certainly have them pull the single page bulletin and discuss it with you.