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Discussion Starter #1
howdy folks. so i'm looking for some help. here's the deal:
i have a 2003 Honda Insight (manual transmission). i just replaced the 12v battery in Sept - it was totally dead. after that, everything seemed fine, until about 2 weeks ago the IMA light came on. took it to the dealer (Honda of Slidell) who diagnosed it with the dreaded IMA pack failure code (P1447). i learned from y'all that i probably have some time left before the pack totally dies, since the battery gauge will stop cycling. now the check engine light has come on, and the battery assist doesn't seem to be kicking in at all (the gauge is just full, all the time, and doesn't deplete).

now i'm handy, but not super handy, and i'm not comfortable messing with the IMA/BCM since i know its packed with voltage and i could electrocute myself. the problem is that i don't know of anyone in this area who might work on the car to disconnect the IMA/BCM for me. any of you other users in the MS, LA or AL region (especially Gulf Coast) have a recommendation of a shop or a person who will do this work? what should i expect to pay someone for this work?

also, another piece of backstory is that the car was left sitting this past summer for 3 mos (intermittent starting and driving around the block). when i started driving the car again in September, the 12v battery was dead and now the IMA is going. is this all related? i don't actually think so b/c the car was left sitting for three months about 3 years ago, as well, and no problems. but other posts have talked about this being an issue, so.

thanks for your suggestions! i appreciate your help!
 

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You can use this set of instructions to bypass the IMA battery and continue to operate the car:

Hybrid Automotive - Honda Insight (2000-2006) Battery Bypass Instructions

You lose all the hybrid like features, but the car will run indefinitely without discharging the 12V battery. Just follow the instructions carefully and you will be fine.

The battery might respond to grid charging. An excellent grid charger is sold by the same company.

You can reset the IMA light and the CEL by disconnecting the 12V battery negative terminal for a couple of minutes. Sometimes the light will stay off for a few days, sometime come back on almost immediately.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks all! this is super helpful. i like the instructions at Hybrid Automotive - i had seen those. i'm still uncomfortable with doing this work myself, but maybe i'll be able to recruit some more adventurous friends to help (and provide tools i may be missing).

as for grid charging...sounds like from everything i've read that it may or may not work, and i'm definitely opting for the cheapest-cost-path here as i'm a grad student yet rely heavily on my car (my campus dept is only accessible by car). plus, the dealership recently told me i need new catalytic converters, so i'm not so keen on investing much in the car at this point.
 

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It really is quite simple if you just follow the instructions carefully, step-by-step. After the main switch (step 04) has been off for 15 minutes, the capacitor bank in the MDM will have discharged and the battery terminal voltage will be zero, for all practical purposes - (the large orange and black cables.) We always advise to check the terminal voltage with a voltmeter just to make sure, but the risk is very low.

In your case, the risk is even lower than a battery removal, because you don't actually have to touch the main terminals, now at 0 volts. The modification only involves removing two low voltage plugs from the BCM, as indicated. Be sure to press the plug finger latches on the plug bottoms, so that you don't break the plugs.

But, if you can find an assistant with tools, so much the better:)

BTW, I'm a Mississippi boy too. Born and raised in NE part near Tupelo. Where's Waveland, Gulf Coast?
 

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nyoder,

Welcome to the forum. Sorry to hear you're having troubles. You've already got some good advice and a good lead from Jime. Jeff at HybridAutomotive has lots of good info.

I purchased one of his grid chargers and installed the harness myself. Quite a feat for someone with no electrical savy at all. I just followed Jeff's instructions and photos. I paid particular attention to the parts about making sure the pack was off.

I had the same 1447 code you had. My grid charger (and a later added discharger unit) allowed me to nurse 2 more years from an ailing pack. Could've nursed it longer, but finally went for a new pack.

Your cel light is likely not related to the ima light. You need to get the code the car is setting. Autozone and the such can read cel codes and often does that for no charge. Another method is 'blink coding'. This link explains how. It comes from Mike Dabrowski's website (Mike Dabrowski 2000), he is a highly regarded pioneer of Insight inventions. Here is a link to a spreadsheet to interpret the codes.

There are code readers available at most auto stores. I bought one at Harbor Freight, reads all makes and models. But it won't read IMA light codes, had to blink code for that. Peter Perkins (retepsnikrep) makes and sells the OBDIIC&C which has many features including being able to read cel and IMA codes (and clear them too).

Good luck,
 

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If you feel like being a guinea pig of a sort, and you can go gas-only for an extended period of time (i.e. disconnect the IMA as the instructions say at Hybrid Automotive), then here's a suggestion. Disconnect the IMA - go gas-only - for a few months, maybe through the winter. Then reconnect say in the spring. The pack will discharge by itself over this time, and hopefully it does so deep enough that it gets rid of any 'voltage depression' and it will start to work as it should... Ideally, when you reconnect, you'd check the pack voltage at the main terminals with the key on and be able to report that - it should be really low, like around 76 volts. But sounds like that wouldn't be something you'd want to do. Anyway, just an idea... I guess more ideally you'd have a grid charger to charge the pack after the reconnect - but then again, if you intended to buy a grid charger at all, then you should buy one that's 'discharge ready' - in which case you'd just use the discharger now to discharge the pack. Overall, I no longer recommend grid charging only - unless it's just a maintenance charge on a pack that's already been discharged...
 

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Interesting and helpful comments from all, but if you are without funds, as you say, then the battery bypass, or BCM disconnect, is the fastest and cheapest immediate solution. The 12V battery is most likely not getting charged under the circumstances you outline, so you can get stranded on the road driving it with the IMA light on. Grab a friend, turn off the battery, take off the lid and disconnect the BCM. That should put in a reliable driving mode, though you will have a bunch of lights lit on the dash, you can safely ignore them. If you have pollution inspections, the car will likely not pass that inspection.
 

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Call me during business hours and I can help walk you through it.
You can do it.
I have helped others over the phone/through email.
Not only did they learn something about their own cars, they got the satisfaction of doing it themselves.
Seriously, give me a call. what have you got to lose?

608-729-4082
 

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possible might not need new cat

... plus, the dealership recently told me i need new catalytic converters, so i'm not so keen on investing much in the car at this point.
It is very possible you do not need catalytic converter if there is not a huge amount of miles on the car. The code for the cat is P0420. TSB 07-038 addresses the ECU tendency to be too critical of the work the cat is doing, and re-programs the ECU to be more tolerant. I think in 2003 all they had to do is a software update.

My 0.02 worth,
Tim
 

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My PO420 code sets within a day. I used a scanner and the secondary O2 sensor is very stable. The lower 02 sensor wires were broken when I first bought the car and I bought a non-honda sensor. With the MPG at 66.9 with the IMA disconnected and the p0420 code set....I'm not too worried about it.
 

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stable as in the numbers dont move around much? If so, thats a worn out/bad sensor. As a reference mine jumps around from .480-.280v rather fast (0000v is LB)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
THANKS all!

I appreciate the help. I think i'll try to do the BCM disconnect myself - i appreciate the offer to walk me through it on the phone, ericbecky. I'll take you up on that - i'll be in touch later this week. It sounds like i can disconnect the BCM and then the IMA will discharge, and i can reconnect at a later date...we'll see about that. Meantime, sounds like it'll be a gas-only winter.

Best,
naomi
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Your cel light is likely not related to the ima light. You need to get the code the car is setting. Autozone and the such can read cel codes and often does that for no charge. Another method is 'blink coding'. This link explains how. It comes from Mike Dabrowski's website (Mike Dabrowski 2000), he is a highly regarded pioneer of Insight inventions. Here is a link to a spreadsheet to interpret the codes.
*thanks* for this solid info. i might invest in a code reader, since i checked the blink code link you supplied but i don't even know how to "short the pins" to start the process. but then again, i'll probably just keep letting the dealership drain me of my money and lifeforce because i still don't change my oil by myself so i have to get that done anyway. i'll check with Autozone as well. thanks to the other folks who chimed in about the catalytic converter code issue - that was a while back, and i don't have the codes handy. i certainly will check here and do more investigation before i take on another major repair like new cat's.

y'all are a big help! thanks!
 

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=nyoder;636073 but then again, i'll probably just keep letting the dealership drain me of my money and lifeforce because i still don't change my oil by myself so i have to get that done anyway. i'll check with Autozone as well. thanks to the other folks who chimed in about the catalytic converter code issue - that was a while back, and i don't have the codes handy. i certainly will check here and do more investigation before i take on another major repair like new cat's.

y'all are a big help! thanks!
Since you are short of funds, the best thing is to just bypass the battery, according to earlier directions, so that your 12V battery stays charged. Otherwise you can get stranded if it runs down. Try to find a friend who is mechanically inclined. It really isn't that hard of a job.

That way, you can do more research and reading while you still use your car safely. Good luck y'all.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
up and running again: THANK YOU!

howdy folks! a little update on what happened. with all of your sound advice, i got myself outfitted and psyched up to disconnect the BCM/IMA. in the process, i was advised to check the ground straps. since i wasn't aware of this anatomy component of the car and had certainly never replaced them, i did check, and two of them were disintegrated - one was broken and the other fell apart when i touched it. after doing a little more research, it turns out other Honda hybrid owners have had problems with this too, where the ground straps are ancient/faulty, and the car throws the "IMA is bad" (P1449 i think) code, and it is sometimes remedied by simply replacing the ground straps. sooooo. i backpedaled a little bit, and ordered the parts (had to order from Honda which took forever, but they were relatively inexpensive).

i installed the new ground straps today and - VOILA - upon starting the car again the IMA light was off (as well as the CEL, incidentally), and the battery gauge (which had been stuck on "full") was empty, and charging as the car stayed on. now the battery gauge says its full, and when i tested the car, it seemed to have full functionality of the BCM/IMA again (no idle with full battery, upshift light comes on). i think the last thing to do might be to check the voltage of the IMA, or else wait for the light to come on again and then test. but, i am very encouraged, and i appreciate all of your help getting me this far! lets hope i have a good long while left with my IMA.

i could never have gotten to this point without everyone's help - i appreciate it. special thanks to user ericbecky!

i'll post more, if the saga continues! until then - thanks and good tidings.
 

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Happy for your successes. Glad that the simple/inexpensive fix seems to have done the trick. As you learned, there are a lot of helpful folks here. Not every suggestion is always relevant, but you get lots of good ideas:)
 

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Discussion Starter #20
another update

howdy folks,
well, i spoke too soon back there in the last update. soon after i replaced the ground straps my IMA churned back to problematic and the IMA + CEL lights both came back on, IMA stopped assisting. :(

so today, i recruited a little help and finally disconnected the BCM successfully! :) so that's that, and i hope i don't have another update for you until next summer at the earliest.

thanks again Insighters!
 
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