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My Civic hybrid is in the shop this week having major repairs to the transmission. I have had the car for about a year and a half. It has around 24,000 miles on it . Apparently, the clutch mechanism in the variable automatic transmission has failed and has to be replaced. The service manager said that this is a known problem and that Honda has issued a bulletin on the subject.

Frankly, I am quite concerned about this. A transmission should certainly hold up for more than two years. I wonder if the problem has something to do with the added weight associated with the batteries.
 

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Although not a Civic Hybrid driver, it is well known that CVT transmissions are not nearly as robust as traditional fixed ratio automatics. I would have expected the variable expanding bands in the transmission to be the weak point, however I don't believe the HCH has a torque converter, and therefore uses some kind of electronic clutch. So, that could also be a weak point in the system.

The Prius behaves like a CVT because of the power split device and the use of 3 different power sources that sometimes work opposite each other to create a certain ground speed. However, the weaknesses of flexible bands to create varying gear ratios is not there. Neither is a clutch.

I wish you the best of luck. I hope this is covered under warranty and that you receiver quality warranty service. I would strongly recommend being religious about servicing the transmission and replacing fluids. Beyond any changes you might make to your driving style, replacing transmission fluids is about the only other thing you can do to protect your transmission.

I honestly don't believe that added battery weight is the issue as the HCH is only marginally heavier than a regular Civic. This sounds to me like it might be a design issue, but it would be helpful if you provided us a little bit of a picture of the driving envrionment you are in.
 

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Offhand I've found:
Honda TSB 02-002, dated Jan. 11, 2005, symptom: A squeak, a twang, or a notchy feel when the clutch pedal is pressed.
http://www.alldata.com/tsb/Honda/110543 ... index.html
but that's for the manual transmission HCH, among other vehicles (including the normal Civic)...

unfortunately, the alldata.com TSB listings only go back to Dec.2004, so if there's something for the CVT HCH I can't view it...

looking at the brief list at nhtsa.gov, the summary information isn't enough for me to figure out what the TSB is. There is an entry for a 2004 Civic Hybrid AT, but...
 

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There is a thread regarding this on greenhybrid.com

My Dad has an '03 with 22k miles and I have an '04 with 9k miles, both with CVT, and so far so good.
 

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Yes, there is a problem. But the preventative maintenance is so simple, it's hard to judge the actual scope. However, we do know that Honda went to the trouble of designing IMA to work with a traditional automatic transmission (now available in Accord-Hybrid) rather than the "Cone & Belt" CVT (in Civic-Hybrid & Insight). (Note: The Toyota/Lexus & Ford hybrids use a "Planetary" CVT instead, which is totally different.)

That recommendation to prevent the problem the is to change the CVT fluid much sooner than the owner's manual states.
 

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Clutch

The problem has nothing to do with the CVC itself, current CVT's are highly robust. The problem lies within the automatic clutch system Honda used to replace the torque converter it was probably some manufacturing error.
 
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