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Battery not being charged

5293 Views 31 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  atlaw4u
Hey Insighters. I just bought a 2000 model and it does not seem to be charging at all when I brake. Isn't that when the bulk of the charging is supposed to take place?

My first day the car had a full charge and did fine on the highway. As soon as I got into city driving it would not charge at all and within 20 minutes I was down to 2 bars.

I took it to the dealer. After the mechanic spent all day on the phone with Honda he did the following ... orage.html

He basically removed a fuse, ran it for a while to recharge it, put the fuse back in and anounced it was good to go. Short story long, $90 later I'm driving home and the bar is steadily going down again. It would not recharge at all when I was braking.

I'm taking it back to the dealer in the morning, but am not opptimistic. I've read a lot about recals in the forum, but I haven't read much about Insights not charging upon braking.

Please help!

Mike Mush
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Do you see any bars light up in the charge gauge when you take your foot off the gas or step on the brake? If so, I would suggest checking the 12v battery, if it is going out then the 144v pack will try and keep charging it. I have a 2002 and replaced the 12v a few months ago and my SOC now rarely drops more than 1-3 bars during normal driving.

Easy test: drive at ~35mph and take your foot off the gas, you should see 4 or more bars light up and the car should slow down almost as much as if you were braking.

I would be surprised if the 144v pack or something else was failing and not giving a code that the dealer could read. You can check if there are any temporary codes by turning the key to ON and watching the Engine Light. It will turn off after about 20 seconds if there is no code or it will flash a few times if there is a temporary code. That could at least be something to approach the dealer with.
Maybe you have not stayed in gear. In order for the charge to take place, you need to do it, for the electric engine to turn and do the charging.
Once you are at very low speed (5 MPH for example) then you press the clutch pedal and get out of gear
dazey and yves,

Thanks for your help. I do see 4 bars light up in the charge gauge when I take my foot off the gas, but not when I step on the brake. When I step on the brake the bars go away instantly.

I drove around for about 45 minutes and was able to get the charge up from about 3 bars to half way. I was pretty regularly getting 4 bars while driving, nothing while braking, and a good charge if I downshifted to brake.

Does that still sound like the 12v battery? If so is there anything special I need to do after they change it? The folks at the dealer, god love 'em, know nothing about the Insight.

Thanks so much for your help.

Mike Mush
I am sorry to repete but I am still not sure that you are in gear and the clutch is engaged while you brake.

When you see the 4 bars of charge with the accelerator foot off, if you just press the brake pedal with the same foot (do not use the clutch or shifter), do not you see the charge level go to the maximum.

I hope that it is just this. Else it really is a dealer issue. Something is wrong.

When I see the 4 bars of charge with the accelerator foot off, I press the brake pedal with the same foot (not using the clutch or shifter), I do not see the charge level go to maximum. It is at this time when the bars go away all together.
Then you really need to go to a dealer for this, it is not normal and you miss, like you wrote, "the bulk of the charging"

The only time I see this happening is when the ABS kicks in. There is a data connection between the ABS and the hybrid control that stops the recharging when the ABS is On. Since I am sure you are not experiencing ABS at that time, something must be bad either in the connection wires, ABS or the ECU (or MCM?)
But there should be a code appearing.

Have you checked that when you brake, the rear brake lights are effectively On
When I break the brake lights are coming on. I was affraid it might not be a simple fix. Like I said the dealer has no idea what is going on with hybrids in general.

Do you think it could be something as simple as replacing the 12v battery? I'm scared to think of how long and how many trips it will take to the dealer for them to fix it correctly.

Almost certainly NOT the 12v battery.

As long as you are applying the brake while still in gear and not
clutched and above 20 MPH (higher the more CHRG will show) and the SoC (state of charge) and thermal limits of the battery are "happy", and the ABS unit is not active then the IMA CHRG indicator should show charging. Usually more than just 4 bars (but it does vary).

So as you see its a long list of "and" conditions. And this is assuming that the signals are getting _all_ the way through. E.g. just because the brake lights are working doesn't mean that the brake light switch signal is reaching the PCM and then the PCM is passing on the info to the MCM.

Yah it *sounds* complicated, but taking the approach of making a list, then eliminating each item one at a time will eventually yield the source. Then the repair can be performed.

The simplest thing to do given the complexity of most any newer
advanced control system is to first check *ALL* fuses for correct
placement (not one missing where it should be), rating (not over nor
undersized) and condition (not blown).

IMO these guys OWE you some more time. $90 for an MCM reset is

HTH! :)
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To further expand,

If your model is a 5 speed then the clutch switch will effect IMA assist and auto stop (not sure how it may relate to IMA charging). A good place to start troubleshooting.

Have your service people read their October 02 Service news.

HTH! :)
I am confused. You say that you aren't getting any charging when you brake, but you also say that you are getting a good charge if you downshift to brake. Does this mean that the battery charges when you brake, but only if you downshift first? If that is the case it sounds possible that you are simply driving at too low of RPMs in the gear that you are braking in.
All I am saying is that the second I touch the brake pedal all charging ceases. If I down shift the battery charges nicely, but if I have to use the brake pedal I get no charging what so ever.

So I am having to drive it differently then I ordinarily would in order to charge the battery.

I am working with the seller on e-bay (who has been helpful and promises to stand behind the vehicle) and the local Honda dealer. Unfortunately the dealer has no idea on how to do anything with hybrids. I live in Fort Smith, Arkansas, which is not quite the hybrid capital of the world unfortunately.

Any suggestions?
Just a shot in the dark, but I would try setting up the "max regen" button and see what results you get with that. By doing so you should get the "braking" signal to the computer without applying any actual manual braking. It might help to narrow down if it is something related to the computer or if there's something bizarre going on with the hydraulics.

Could you please elaborate on the max regen button. I'm not sure what it is, where it is, or how how to set it up. It sounds helpful, I just have no idea what it is.


Here's the link to the thread about the button:

I would also just like to confirm that at higher speeds (50+) if you take your foot off the gas you get a few charge bars. But if you then touch the brake pedal (without down-shifting or pressing the clutch) that all charging goes away? The car should speed up slightly if you only just press the brake pedal and the charging stopped when traveling at higher speeds. This happens to me on some off ramps that have a bump and trigger the ABS while I am only slightly applying the brakes.
Err.. I think what dazey meant to say was that the car would not decelerate as fast, not that the car would actually speed up when you press the brake lightly. ;)

Just to confirm, at higer speeds if I take my foot off of the gas I get usually four bars of charge, but if I touch the brake pedal (without down-shifting or pressing the clutch) all of the charging goes away.

Just to varify, when you press the brake pedal is when the bulk of the charging should be taking place, correct?

My charge is usually around half way up if I really work at it, as far as downshifting a lot, but it seems I spend more time on worrying about the charge instead of gas mileage.
The amount of regen does normally go up when you brake. Did you try the "max regen" button like I proposed? That could provide a useful clue as to whether the braking system or the motor controller is the part casusing this behaviour. You could probrably get similar information by disconnecting the brake switch, but then you wouldn't have any brake lights for the duration of the test so I wouldn't really advise that.
I think I am seeing a clue here.

IF no matter how rapid the decel is, e.g. shifting to a lower gear form a high speed you _only_ see a maximum of 4 bars then something is limiting the maximum charge rate.

And you have verified that the MCM "knows" the correct SoC of the battery by having the MCM reset, procedure done. Which also is another clue in that the procedure did allow for a full charge.

So we "know" the IMA system is capable of providing a full charge and the SoC gauge can display it.


An _extreme_ (ouch $$$) possibility is that one phase of the IMA motor has failed or is not reaching the pack. Not an extremely difficult test to do. But it isn't a "back yard" mechanic's job either.

sippin, foxpaw was suggesting _making_ a switch to force the MCM into a charge mode. Not something simple to do AFAIK.

Until you have it checked out further I don't see anything else that can be done via a newsgroup :(

HTH! :)
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Thanks for all of the imput guys.

Here is the full run down:

When I downshift I get a very good charge, usually several bars.

When I am cruising at a steady speed, almost always four bars.

When I press the brake pedal, no charge at all.

As far as the max regen button, I was a little unclear on that. Please elaborate on the max regen.

Thanks again everyone for your patience and help. It has been fun getting to know these cool cars better.

Mike Mush
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