Is it Safe to Drive a Honda Hybrid Car when the IMA Light is On?

By Bumblebee Batteries

IMA Light On

Honda hybrid cars, whether new or used, are prized by owners for their excellent fuel efficiency, low emissions, great longevity and overall value. Along with these benefits however, there are some factors to be aware of, one of which is the dreaded IMA light.

If your IMA light comes on, whether it is intermittent or steady, you will naturally wonder whether or not the car is safe to drive. You may also be wondering if your hybrid battery is at risk.

Types of Hybrid Cars

The IMA, or Integrated Motor Assist is essentially a back-up to the primary combustion engine. According to Honda, there are 3 different types of hybrid cars. In each type, the hybrid battery provides some or all of the power needed.
Is it safe to drive my hybrid car with the IMA light on?

The short answer to this question is “probably”. Your IMA light is most likely telling you that the hybrid battery is in need of maintenance. As long as your 12V battery light is not on, your car will most likely continue to operate without causing long-term harm. Some people drive months like this without having a major incident. However, we do not recommend that you drive your car with the IMA light on as it does present some risks.

The Risks

The first downside you may experience while driving with the IMA light on is a drop in your car’s performance. Your vehicle will feel more lethargic than normal and have slower acceleration.

This happens because your IMA is not properly assisting your engine. This puts more load on the combustion engine resulting in less power, because the supplemental power from the hybrid battery is not present.

The second downside you may experience is poor gas mileage. Your engine no longer has the electric motor to rely on for acceleration, regenerative braking, and idle stop, so you will burn more gas to keep the engine running.

What you really want to be concerned with is the possibility that your car may have trouble entering highways. Without the normal acceleration you are accustomed to, this can be quite dangerous in high traffic situations.

What if my 12v battery light is on, but not my IMA light?

If your 12v battery light is on your car is unsafe to drive. You are likely to run into issues where your car does not start. Or, in the worse case your car may outright die while you are driving it.

You want to avoid these scenarios as much as possible. Stop driving your car if you see the 12v battery light.

Our Recommendations

So, your IMA light is on and you are wondering what your options are. Here is what you can do.

Check Your Error Codes

Error codes can provide useful information into the status of your IMA. For example, on the 1st generation insight 2000 -2004, there are two error codes that could assist you.

Error code P1447 lets you know that your battery is at 10% or less. You could still get away with driving your vehicle in emergency situations.

On the other hand, code P1449 means your battery is failing and you need to get to a mechanic ASAP.

DIY types can check error codes by connecting a code reader to the car. We recommend using ScanGauge as it is a reliable code reading brand. Alternatively, depending on your location, you can usually go to any chain auto-parts store to read your error codes.

Visit a Professional

The safest bet is to visit a professional. Switching out your battery can be a complicated process, and you have less chances of ruining the integrity of your vehicle if a professional does it.

Bumblebee Batteries has a wealth of experience replacing hybrid batteries. Our process is simple, friendly, and reliable.

Replace Your Hybrid Battery ASAP When Your IMA Light Turns On

When your IMA light comes on, that usually means it’s time for you to replace your hybrid battery. If you continue to drive your car in this state, you can probably get away with it in the short term, but there are some risks, so we would rather you be safe than sorry.


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