I love my 2003 Civic Hybrid. It’s reliable. It gets me from A to B, safely. It’s fuel efficient. It has an 80 HP engine on gasoline and additional 30 HP on battery electric power. Not much requirement for fossil fuel. When I stop at a traffic light, the engine shuts off automatically. This car emits very little carbon monoxide (CO) pollutant. In California, it is considered a “green” car. The State gave me perks like driving on the car pool lane alone and a one-time tax deduction. When it was a couple of years old, it used to give me 56 miles per gallon, and it was a huge cost saving for my daily 150 mile commute. Even though now it’s giving me a mere 45 MPG, it’s still more efficient than most cars out there.
As standard equipment, this car has an O2 sensor and equipped with a catalytic converter to scrub out CO from the exhaust. Just last week, the “Check Engine” light came on, so I promptly took it to the dealer for servicing. They checked the on-board computer to determine what problem it detected. They told me the code indicated a catalytic converter problem and needed a replacement. They quoted $1300 for it! That’s pretty expensive! I considered the fact this is a hybrid, it doesn’t emit much CO and the State of California already declared I do not need to do smog checks on it until January 2010. Replacing the catalytic converter, at this point, doesn’t seem that important. Maybe I’ll go and shop around for a better price on an OEM part.
While I was reading the Civic Hybrid Yahoo Groups mailing list, someone mentioned a product update 07-036 to update the on-board computer’s software that corrects a false reading on the O2 sensor and Catalytic Converter failure. This looked familiar because the service manager at the same Honda dealer had told me about the update last year. He even wrote it down for me. So, once again I called the dealer and told him about it, but he could not confirm such update. I called another dealer in my area and they said the same thing. I’m at a loss. Maybe the internet is wrong? Maybe Honda lied? That won’t be the first time for either of them.
Driving home from work last Friday, the check engine light mysteriously turned itself off. I think this confirms there’s a software glitch or a bad O2 sensor. I’ll continue to find other dealers who can confirm this. Meanwhile, I’m just going to go on my daily commute – not needing another $1300 catalytic converter.