Honda Civic Hybrid - LOUD grinding noises coming from the back



I purchased a used 2003 Honda Civic Hybrid in May 2009 and almost right away I began to hear a LOUD grinding noise coming from the back of the car.

I couldn’t tell at first where it was coming from (wheels, axle, IMA unit, etc?). I immediately pulled over to the side of the road, turned the car off and the noise stopped. (The utility guy working on the line across the street had heard the noise too and was staring at me wondering what I had just done to my car…Yes - it was that loud!) I restarted the car and the noise was gone. I drove to the Dealer but the noise was gone and could not be reproduced for diagnostic purposes. They “checked out the car” and couldn’t find anything wrong with it, telling me this was one of the first hybrids they had seen back in the shop. They said sometimes maybe a rock could get caught between the wheel rotor and the brake assembly and make that noise. The rock then dislodges itself and the sound goes away.

I didn’t buy the explanation because I was driving on a paved road and the sound stopped when I turned the car off but decided to see if the sound happened again. Sure enough, later that week I went over some railroad tracks and heard the sound again. This time I was able to drive it to the dealer while it was making the noise. (Thinking during the entire drive that I was surely adding further damage to whatever was acting up - the noise is VERY loud and definitely grinding - almost like a side grinder in a machine shop.)

They kept the car for a day looking it over and found out that the fan on the IMA unit in the trunk had come loose from the spindle and when I would go over a bump the fan would spin against the IMA housing and make the grinding noise I heard. They said the fan was part of a larger assembly and therefore would be more costly to replace. I had 63k miles on the car so the $500+ in costs were covered by the original manufacturer’s warranty.

It took them about 2 weeks to get the parts and complete the repair so they gave me a loaner car. Overall, the dealer took care of the problem once they identified it and I was ok with the outcome.

A week later I was back in the shop with a check engine light - but that was just a faulty temp sensor and unrelated to the first problem. Since then I haven’t had any further problems with the car. I really like the car.

Anyway, thought I would share my story here in case it might help someone else.


Wow! The same thing happened to me recently. I thought my rear brakes were going out or something. Also, my IMA light had been on. When I took my car in, they said I needed a new IMA battery, and the my 02 sensor was out, (adding up to at least $4000 in repairs!). With $115,000 miles on the car, and a miriad of other issues, I don’t think it is feasible to put that much into fixing this car when I could put it into a new one! And, as my ex-husband/mechanic says - around 100K you always have to start doing ‘big’ repairs on cars. Replace the transmission, timing belts, etc. The Hybrid has an additional ‘big ticket’ item. I can’t afford to sink $4000 into these repairs, and then turn around and get the transmission fixed, then the… UGH!