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2001 Insight
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This is a 2001 Insight with an IMA battery that was replaced in 2014 by Bubblebee(out of warranty now). I would grid charge it about every other month, attaining a 176-ish charge. Around 6 months ago I had the first occurrence of this sequence of symptoms:
  • Both assist and charge bars did not move from zero
  • IMA and Check Engine lights turned on
  • IMA battery appeared to drain very quickly
  • When braking, there's a bit of a lurch when the charge seems like it would engage
At the time, I disconnected the 12V battery to reset the computer, did a grid charge, and it went back to normal for daily use.

Now due to the quarantine, I let the car sit for a number of months. Before trying to use it I did a 48 hour gird charge on the IMA, up to 176. I took the 12V battery out and charged it. It was drained initially, but has since started the vehicle over multiple days and has not drained quickly. When I turned the car on, right away I received the same symptoms as mentioned above. I tried driving it for a couple minutes and then parked and disconnected the 12V for a minute, and reconnected it. Then the assist/charge seemed to be working, giving the expected acceleration and IMA battery level(IMA and check engine lights also went off). I then let it sit for about 1 hour and went to test it again. However the lights were back on and the assist/charge was not working again!

Does anyone have any thoughts about potential troubleshooting directions? I do not currently have any codes for it with the above symptoms. I did notice this one blue wire, which seems to be a ground for a ballast being disconnected, should this be connected to the battery brace perhaps? ( ) Possibly related?

Any input would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!
 

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That wire is non standard and not likely connected to your problem.

First things first check your engine grounds and 12v battery condition.
12v lead batteries do not like being left flat.

48 hrs charging is a long time for an older cell IMA replacement pack.
Those early cells had a tendency to leak electrolyte like sieves or expand especially when overcharged.

I suspect you have one more cells that are very bad.
You could try carefully measuring the voltage taps to see what the ten voltages are.
Measure them accurately and post them here.

The pack will probably have to come out and apart for further investigation after that.

Eli will probably see and comment in due course.
 

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2001 5S "Turbo"
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Aftermarket installation. Black wire with an eyelet connection is probably a ground wire. No guarantee though.
Check the cont. of the wire with a meter to ground, and does it show as being Hot (12V)?
 

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48 hrs charging is a long time for an older cell IMA replacement pack.
Those early cells had a tendency to leak electrolyte like sieves or expand especially when overcharged.
I suspect you have one more cells that are very bad.
These are the first/second things that came to my mind as well.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Much appreciated all!.

I'll measure that wire soon Willie. Thanks! It does look like a ground, based on the light ballast diagram that I found for the blue box it's connected to. I haven't noticed any problem with the light tho.

The 12V and grounds do look to be fine. However I will double check the 12V.

By voltage taps, do you mean inside the IMA battery compartment?

This forums is amazing, and it's great to see the passion people have for the vehicle. I do have experience doing hobbyist electrician engineering, so I'm not afraid to do research, open the pack and replace individual cells.

A couple questions about that if you don't mind: You can buy individual cells online? Any suggested location? What tools are required fro replacing individual cells? I imagine a soldering iron and multimeter, but anything else in particular? Or if an older thread that goes over that information comes to mind, that would be really great.
 

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2001 5S "Turbo"
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If you put your Location in your Profile, someone may come forward with the info on rebuilding the battery.
There are numerous threads her at ICN about that. SEARCH is your favorite tool.
 

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By voltage taps, do you mean inside the IMA battery compartment?
Yes, that's what he meant. Here's a link to a pic/diagram: The quintessential Insight NiMH voltage thread

You can buy individual cells online? Any suggested location? What tools are required fro replacing individual cells? I imagine a soldering iron and multimeter, but anything else in particular? Or if an older thread that goes over that information comes to mind, that would be really great.
There's lots of older threads that go over that... But in the meantime, easier to just say that, no, you can't replace cells (well, you can, but...) The closest you get is sticks (6-cell modules). Bumblebee probably sells those. But, chances aren't good that that's all you need - to replace a stick or two...

Probably start with voltage taps like Peter mentioned, get some sense of just where the pack's at.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Hey All. Thanks!

First let me say that I found that the wire shown in my original post was a ballast for an aftermarket light that was disconnected without being removed. So that's solved, thanks for the input.

Thanks Willie, I'm located in Glendale California and I added that to my profile.

I got the 12V replaced on warranty to rule that out. But after driving it for about 10 minutes the symptoms came back.

I removed the battery casing to test the taps, thanks for that great thread and diagram(much appreciated eq1!!).

Here's what I found: 7 sets showed 16.2 . 1 set showed 16.3 . 1 set showed 16.1 . And 1, the GH set, showed 14.9 . This is after sitting for 6 days since a grid charge and driving it for ten minutes yesterday.

Is the G/H reading low enough(relatively speaking), to go straight to replacement? I was wondering about potentially grid charging the pack a couple times in an attempt to recover them, while monitoring the taps. The mention of overcharging makes me worry about doing that. However the guide for my particular grid charger does say that leaving it plugged in will not cause damage(the older rectangular Hybrid Automotive charger). I've also been reading about the benefits of discharging. Does it seem worthwhile to rig together a discharger to see if using it, then a grid charge, would raise the G/H stick? Or does this sound like one really bad stick in G or H positions?
 

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14.9 v 16.x is well outside the battery comfort zone. It will have to come out and apart.

Sounds like you have a dead/shorted cell.
 

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I agree with what retepsnikrep says. It's possible replacing the 'GH' pair (let's call it "Tap 4") might get the pack going. I wonder if Bumblebee has any used BB sticks, ones that aren't 'bad' but simply aren't top notch. Might be worth looking into that. I don't think I'd pay top dollar for two brand new replacement sticks, at least, I'd ask about used first...

You'll have to remove the pack. When you do, I'd recommend inspecting sticks and cells more closely, look for corrosion, leakage, expansion, check cell voltages by piercing the shrink wrap with two needles and touching needles with DMM probes.* If you don't find damage or wild voltage variations among cells, then it might be worth getting replacement sticks for Tap 4. I think they need to be replaced in pairs, you generally can't just replace a single stick in a tap-pair. They need to be matched as closely as possible, something that won't be likely between your current used stick and any single replacement...

*edit: You should do two cell voltage checks, a baseline at time 1 and a comparison about 10 days later. If voltages from cell-to-cell are about the same after 10 days, then there isn't likely to be major variations in self-discharge rates. And if that's the case then it's worth trying to repair, I think.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Thanks you guys!

I waited 11 days with the battery turned off and then did another measurement of the taps. Here's what I found.

PairJune 30thJuly 11th
AB16.215.82
CD16.215.85
EF16.215.87
GH14.914.53
IJ16.115.77
KL16.215.79
MN16.215.80
OP16.215.75
QR16.315.80
ST16.215.75

It looks like they are all falling pretty consistently. And the GH pair went down a similar amount. Do you think I should grid charge it again, check the values, let it discharge some and then check them again. To see if GH is doing better than it appears? Or do you think I should move to removing the pack next? Also, if I find no leaking from the G/H sticks, should I consider buying the equipment to do an individual stick charge/discharge, in an attempt to recover it? Or just look for replacements?

That's interesting to hear about the pairing. They need to be very close voltages within pairs to not have a problem? If I remove the sticks and find G to be a normal voltage and H doing poorly, are the odds good that a single tested used stick would work if it has a similar voltage to the good G stick(say within 0.5 volts after grid charging)?
 

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Forget "G" and "H". One of them has a bad cell, so you have to replace them both. The car manages the pack via stick pairs and it's not likely you'd find a match for the one remaining stick. So you need a pair. Even replacing a pair, you'll still have potential issues with how that pair matches the others - but at least you've eliminated the potential of having an intra-mismatched pair...

I think I'd pull the pack and inspect all the cells like I mentioned before, simply because one cell has failed and they're known to fail, so it's possible others are on their way. If you don't find any of the things I mentioned before then I think it'd be worth calling Bumblebee and seeing if they'll sell you some sort of replacements.
 

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^ I think it varies quite a bit, depending on usage patterns/climate, whether newer or older iteration of cells, maybe other things. Seems like I've read around here of peoples' packs failing after 2 or 3 years, this 6 year case, and some - perhaps even the oldest ones - that are still working fine...
 
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