Honda Insight Hybrid IMA battery replacement again

I cross posted this inquiry as a reply in the thread titled hybrid battery grid charger but thought I should also make a new post with same info. sorry if this is bad form- just a desperate Newby.
I am having a problem with my Honda Insights IMA batteries dying. Here is a summary. I gratefully welcome all sound input.
I bought my beloved 2006 Honda Insight in 2010 with 20k miles on it. In July 2011, with about 22000 miles, the car died on the street-all power gone. Dealer said the IMA battery needed replacing. The battery was covered by warranty.

In 2015 I noticed the charging indicator gauge wasnt lighting all the bars. Dealer said battery was weakened but not enough to replace at that time. Of course, it was past the 3 yr warranty.The IMA light did not come on.

A few days ago, I arrived home after a long business trip, during which I had someone start the car every few days & also drive it short distances, since someone said not driving the car would weaken the IMA battery.
The car seems to be running ok- a little shakey but the battery indicator gauge isnt lighting up much & the check engine light stays on. The IMA light is not on.The car has 55,000 miles now.

The car is at the delaers now -hence the desperate tone in my fingers. The estimate is $2000 for replacement ( they said “new” ) battery.

So, I have questions. So many questions.
This 2nd battery is only 5 yrs old & 30k miles. Is this unusual? Could the battery have been defective when it was installed? If,as I’ve read here, the dealer installs refurbished batteries, could this be the reason it is dying so soon? If so, do I have any recourse? How much does the car actually need to be driven to keep the battery healthy & how long can it be parked for? Should I try a grid charger before replacing this battery? I have more business trips coming up, what can I do to save my car? I dont want to sell her but at this point I am feeling like I’m not worthy of a car that has given me up to 71mpg. Do I have to buy a :scream: “regular” car? Thank you in advance for your assistance.

It makes no economic sense drive a hybrid 2-6,000 miles a year.
6000 miles at 70mpg and $2.50 per gallon is $214 fuel cost.
Same with 35mpg is $428 fuel cost.
So a regular Civic, Corolla etc. will cost an extra $214 per year in fuel.
Insignificant IMO.
I drive a Toyota Matrix ~6,000 miles per year and I pay about as much for gas as insurance.
I suggest you try to find an independent shop to install a used battery then sell it and buy a conventional car.
There’s no need to go to a dealer for out-of-warranty work, they generally are more expensive.

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For those who don’t know (I had to look it up), “IMA” is a brand-specific acronym that stands for integrated motor assist.


In addition to the economics of the issue, letting a hybrid sit is bad for the hybrid batteries. Hybrids need to be driven frequently to keep the hybrid batteries conditioned to last as long as possible. The OP is lucky Honda is honoring this warranty, but after that warranty expires, you should expect more of the same (repeated failure of the hybrid batteries). Honda discontinued the Insight, and I believe the reasons are that it under-performs compared to the Prius, costs more than the Prius, and has more problems than the Prius.

Yes, @houndstoothpetdental, you should buy a regular non-hybrid car based on your needs and use, but in lieu of that, it might help to plug it into the grid when it isn’t in use.

I’d replace the car, too. My Ford hybrid cautions against any long periods without driving. I image that’s contributing to your frequent battery failures.

Buy the grid charger. Hook it up once a week for about 36 hours. Terrific device that brought back 16 year old batteries after being dead and sitting in a field for over 2 years. Grid charger is the best.

Same problem with my 2003 Insight. Its third IMA battery lasted 3.5 years, just until after the end of the warranty. IMA and CEL are on. The car is running fine. The 12V battery is charging and its battery light does not come on. Gas mileage is ok, 30+mpg short distance city driving, I haven’t taken it on the highway or driven a long distance since the latest IMA battery failure. I have no problem going up hills when I gear down the manual transmission. I don’t drive the car very much. It’s not worth paying $3,000 for a new battery for three years. Using a grid charger seems like too much bother and there is no guarantee it would work on my old IMA battery. Is there any way I can turn off the IMA and CEL lights and pass the next CA emission test? I am assuming that if tailpipe emissions were checked, it would pass and do better than most cars, after all, it has a small gas engine.

Disconnecting the 12 volt battery for a short time and then reconnecting it resets the IMA and CEL lights, and everything works fine for a few months, and I passed smog inspection. I have done this maybe a dozen times in the past two years, the IMA battery is now 5.5 years old.

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I read your previous post

Your car doesn’t even get a tailpipe test . . .

Btw, unless you are talking about some custom IMA charger, hooking a trickle charger to your hybrid wont make any difference to your IMA battery. It only affects the 12v battery. Two separate systems.