We've been having issues with the Odyssey's battery dying on us. On many photo shoots while using the Odyssey as a support vehicle, my fellow photographers and I often leave the side doors and/or the rear liftgate open. We need quick access to the camera gear inside, and we like to shoot protected by the shady cover the liftgate door provides in hot sunny climates. On many occasions, this has left us with a dead minivan battery -- an inconvenience when time is often short. I could easily see a family running into this problem if they were picnicking or tailgating in the minivan.

I brought this battery issue to the attention of the mechanics at a local Honda dealership when I brought the Odyssey in for its B1 service over a month ago. They checked the charge of the battery and found it was at 100 percent, and said the Odyssey's battery draining was normal, despite the fact that we have never had this problem with other minivan batteries. The Honda servicemen suggested I upgrade to a yellow top gel (deep cycle) battery, which goes for about $200. This should not be necessary for a new vehicle.

Honda's official word concerning the battery states: "Should an Odyssey owner accidentally leave the headlights on or not close a door causing an interior light to remain on, after a set period of time the BMS (Battery Management System) will automatically terminate power delivery to prevent the battery from going dead. Moreover, the BMS continually monitors battery condition and will provide a warning message while automatically turning off the interior lights when battery condition or cranking capability drops too low. As a result of the discharge protection afforded by the BMS, the battery should always have enough reserve capacity left to start the engine."

Looks like our BMS is faulty. While it's possible the Multi-Information Display has given us the "Battery Charge Low" warning message during these aforementioned instances, we are rarely sitting in the driver's seat to read it. I'll be taking the Odyssey back in to have the system checked yet again, as it is clearly not preventing full battery drainage. In the meantime, I'll keep an eye on open doors, or simply turn off the interior lights when I need to leave the vehicle's doors open.


Our Car
Months/miles in service 9/21,553
Avg econ/CO2 21.8 mpg/0.89 lb/mi
Energy cons 155 kW-hr/100 mi
Unresolved problems Battery dying
Maintenance cost $187.82 (2-oil change, tire rotation, inspection)
Normal-wear cost $0