Warnings - The stuff nobody tells you - 2018 Honda Clarity Forum
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post #1 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-21-2020, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
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Warnings - The stuff nobody tells you

Hello All,

This will not be a positive post so if you are emotional about your hydrogen and/or cheerleading the hydrogen experience you should stop reading. I'll try and keep my personal opinion out of this post and only provide facts about my personal experience for the past 2 years and 8 months.

First, I just received the 1279 service message. This is the reason for my post, to warn others about this vehicle and it's costs. Plus I'm aggravated. Car has 34k miles.
1 - $24.95 rotate tires
2 - $286.83 Hydrogen Filter Service
7 - $139.95 Brake Fluid Exchange
9 - $449.95 Hydrogen Inspection

4 months remaining on the lease and I've been handed a $900+ bill. Half of that is for an 'inspection". Nothing is wrong or broken. It just needs to be inspected. Mind you, this is after the fuel cell was replaced only 4500 miles ago to the tune of $35k in warranty work. Yes, that is 35 with a thousand. I drove the car for over a year trying to get the dealer to fix the fuel cell issue before they did the work. Every time I started the car I had to clear the message about the faulty fuel cell. They would not fix it until the car would randomly drop to 35 mph while on the freeway and it became a major safety issue. The car was at the dealer for almost 2 weeks before I was given a loaner car.

Second, tires cost $250+. Good luck using the 'repair kit' to fix your tire. There is no spare. When you get towed to the nearest tire shop they will not have your tire because it is special. Obvious issues follow.

Third, only authorized Honda service centers can work on your car. If your home or business is outside of their courtesy car range it is on you to get a ride. You will not be getting a loaner car. There are very few authorized repair centers so most likely you are out of their courtesy range.

Fourth, they only have a couple of service techs to service your car. Whatever you can imagine this means is probably what it means including you car being at the shop for much longer than estimated.

Fifth, Honda dealers and Honda Motors of America are different. When there is a question about warranty work (especially $35k worth) you can expect a lot of finger pointing. Also, read your lease carefully. Ask ahead about the scheduled maintenance. They will tell you they don't know. Feel free to read the lease while you are at the dealer. Most of us do

Sixth, Insurance. This car is not only the most expensive car out of our 5 cars to insure by a country mile, it is the most expensive car we've ever insured.

Seventh, Oil changes. Kind of joke as the car doesn't have oil. But, fear not, it it does have 'special' insulating fluid which gets changed about every 10k-12 to the tune of $265+.

Eighth, hydrogen. Good luck here. Brand new station with 4 pumps near me. Opened in August. I've been 15 times and only twice did I get a full tank. 13 times either partial fill or it didn't work at all. I stopped going. Pumps break down. Lack of fuel. The list goes on and on here and I think this part is pretty well documented. Free hydrogen yes, but you pay in time wasted chasing it.

Ninth, the pumps are not easy to use. There is a learning curve and many are different from one another.

Tenth, don't be surprised when you wait in line 20-30 min waiting for 4 cars in front of you to fill up. Also don't be surprised when you have to help the person in front of you because they can't do it.


Summary, I could go on and on here. There is plenty more. I'm posting this because I don't see this information anywhere. Perhaps it's on The Facebook but I don't have it. Feel free to copy/paste my post to FB.
For anyone about to get into a hydrogen vehicle you have been warned. If you are willing to put up with the high costs and issues because you want to see hydrogen succeed then by all means jump in. When it all works its honestly not a bad experience. But, it's very expensive and it rarely 'all works'.
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Last edited by 1279; 12-21-2020 at 04:11 PM.
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post #2 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-21-2020, 09:49 PM
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Now we know why Honda and Toyota are pushing FCEVs - they're money makers for their service departments.

The tire rotation is cheap. The brake fluid is total BS as DOT 3 brake fluid is good for 5 years before changing. I don't know about the hydrogen maintenance.

There are a grand total of 42 Hydrogen stations in the US - 39 in California and one each in Connecticut, South Carolina, and Hawaii. FCEVs are simply not viable in the US outside a very limited range in California.

The bottom line is that 20-30 years ago Hydrogen as a fuel looked really good - in fact better than battery electric. However, in the intervening years BEVs have improved and batteries have come down in price so much that Hydrogen as a ground transportation power source will never be economical, despite what the oil industry wants you to believe.

One thing that all Clarity owners (myself included) need to understand is that Honda uses the Clarity nameplate for experimental vehicles. The current Clarity is not the first time Honda has use this nameplate - all previous versions were also experimental vehicles.

2018 Honda Clarity Touring PHEV - Forest Green w/Tan interior (wife's car)
2017 Volt LT - Heather Gray; black bow ties, Charcoal VoltShelf
2012 Cruze ECO MT (hail totaled 5/8/17 103,600 miles @42.5 MPG)
2010 Mit Lancer GT MT (traded for ECO @31K miles)
2002 Pont Montana AWD - title to son at college graduation
1990 Pont Transport (traded for Montana @240K miles)
1986 Fiero GT MT (traded for Transport - needed more seats)
1985 Fiero 2M4 MT (traded for Fiero GT @8K miles)
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post #3 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-22-2020, 11:05 AM
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Understand about the tires, battery, wipers, and other normal wear items you are responsible for.

At the time of lease inception, the OP should have opted for the extra warranty that the F&I offers.

I took the tire and maintenance optional warranty for the 3 years and it has paid for itself (4 oil changes and 1 $225 new tire).....

FWIW: There's nothing that says you have to take your tire replacement to a dealer - you can have the tire ordered for half price from Tire Rack or Discount Tires nationwide and have it shipped to your indy....
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post #4 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-22-2020, 12:35 PM
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That was an amazing and thorough write up, very interesting. I think it has always been clear that it would make no sense to actually own a fuel cell vehicle outright (I realize that's not possible for the Clarity FCEV even if you wanted to). But my understanding has been that the Clarity FCEV lease rate is pretty reasonable and combined with the free fuel makes it possible for the average person to drive such an extremely exotic vehicle. Well exotic as far as the propulsion anyway. And as PHEV Clarity owners can attest the car is actually a pretty comfortable car to drive especially in EV mode, which for us is for limited miles but for a FCEV car it's basically driving in EV all the time and with a much higher range than the Clarity BEV.

The only drawback that I was aware of was the fueling stations, and looking at where they are scattered in northern and southern California it's clear that where you live and/or work will really determine if it's feasible for a particular person to drive one. I mean who wants to drive ten miles out of your way just to go fill up your car, but if there was a station closer to home or work then it wouldn't be so bad. And of course a limitation on range for long trips as you have to be able to make the entire round trip on a single fill up, unless I suppose you are driving between southern and northern California and can fill up at each end. But I suspect similar to a lot of EV owners people have another car available for long trips like you do, or else rent a car.

Your post however reveals that it can be more expensive than it seems, so that is really good information to help people keep from getting caught off guard. Although I'm sure some people will still be interested even with the added expenses. Also the high insurance rates and astronomical repair costs seems to confirm what I have suspected that the lease rate in no way reflects the actual cost of the vehicle and that Honda most likely loses money on each lease, but probably considers that as part of R&D. Too bad it sounds like you wound up helping contribute a bit to that as well.
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post #5 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-22-2020, 05:58 PM Thread Starter
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OP should have never boarded the Hindenburg. He was stupid to think it could end up a positive experience.

4SallyPat, The tire replacement was a field failure due to random nail and was not fixed at the dealer. Agree about normal wear and tear parts.

Obermd, The bill is over $600 in labor. WTF? Most of the parts are a $160 filter and another $70 filter. I've never heard of such a filter.

I'm supposed to back there today so they can show me what they replaced. I'm still pissed. Honda North America is no help.

2002, good summary. The overall cost is way more than the lease and some normal wear and tear. We've had Porsches, Jags, Cadillacs and none of them had a $900 maintenance bill in the first 3 years.

$450 to look at the hydrogen system. 3 hours of labor, to look, not fix anything. I've never heard of such a thing. They couldn't tell me what they do other than inspect the exhaust. The mechanic was gone before I picked up vehicle. They also couldn't find the $160 filter. I can't find it either. I see no evidence of parts being moved, grease, new shinyness, nothing.

I was smart enough to know not to buy a hydrogen vehicle but the lease seemed like a good deal and free fuel was a cool option. None of it was worth it and it was a giant mistake on my part. Live and learn as always. Just hope I help someone else if they are thinking about hydrogen.

Dont' even get me started about the constant whining pump from the fuel stack area. It will absolutely drive you batty and never quits.

One more thing while I'm whining, the dealer never answers the phone and never calls back. Infuriating because they are over 30 min from me. Do I dare drive in and see if the mechanic is there? The service manager gave me her direct line as she has in the past but never returns a call. Ugh. Thanks for listening Internets.
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post #6 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-22-2020, 08:22 PM
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Just to make sure that I understand the numbers, at least going from the Honda website the current price is $2878 due at signing and then $379 per month. Then assuming similar miles as you, during the three year lease someone can expect there would be a 1279 service for $900, and about three insulating fluid changes at $265 each, for a total of $1695 in scheduled maintenance. Agree that is pretty mind boggling, but I guess for someone who is pretty determined to get one they probably figure that works out to essentially a $426 per month lease, which some people still might be willing to do. Although based on your experience they should also contact their insurance company ahead of time to find out how expensive it will be and factor that in.

Are you able to reset the maintenance messages on the infotainment screen like we can do with the PHEV? We have an ongoing conundrum that we get the infamous A01 code at around 7,000 miles which is for tire rotation, oil change, and inspection. For most of us probably less than 1/3 of that 7,000 miles is using the gas engine, so many people just get the tires rotated (or do it themselves) and then clear the other two maintenance messages (they can be cleared individually). Then change the oil once a year since that is specified in the manual as the maximum regardless of whether you get a message or not. I have yet to hear of anyone having warranty denied or had a lease penalty because Honda was able to prove that someone received a maintenance message for oil change but cleared it, even if the owner can prove that they changed the oil once a year. Maybe it's possible in theory but just seems somewhat unlikely. If the FCEV maintenance messages can be cleared then it seems like you could at least clear the inspection message, and maybe also the brake fluid change message (is that what that really means?) although I suppose it would be more of a risk to clear the filter messages. Does the owners manual have any specific maximums listed for any items like the PHEV does for oil changes? Realize this is too late for you even if possible but maybe it's something other owners could do to avoid some of the highway robbery.
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post #7 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-23-2020, 10:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1279 View Post
OP should have never boarded the Hindenburg. He was stupid to think it could end up a positive experience.

4SallyPat, The tire replacement was a field failure due to random nail and was not fixed at the dealer. Agree about normal wear and tear parts.

Obermd, The bill is over $600 in labor. WTF? Most of the parts are a $160 filter and another $70 filter. I've never heard of such a filter.

I'm supposed to back there today so they can show me what they replaced. I'm still pissed. Honda North America is no help.

2002, good summary. The overall cost is way more than the lease and some normal wear and tear. We've had Porsches, Jags, Cadillacs and none of them had a $900 maintenance bill in the first 3 years.

$450 to look at the hydrogen system. 3 hours of labor, to look, not fix anything. I've never heard of such a thing. They couldn't tell me what they do other than inspect the exhaust. The mechanic was gone before I picked up vehicle. They also couldn't find the $160 filter. I can't find it either. I see no evidence of parts being moved, grease, new shinyness, nothing.

I was smart enough to know not to buy a hydrogen vehicle but the lease seemed like a good deal and free fuel was a cool option. None of it was worth it and it was a giant mistake on my part. Live and learn as always. Just hope I help someone else if they are thinking about hydrogen.

Dont' even get me started about the constant whining pump from the fuel stack area. It will absolutely drive you batty and never quits.

One more thing while I'm whining, the dealer never answers the phone and never calls back. Infuriating because they are over 30 min from me. Do I dare drive in and see if the mechanic is there? The service manager gave me her direct line as she has in the past but never returns a call. Ugh. Thanks for listening Internets.
Given your experience, I'd write a review of this car, including that the dealership never returns calls, and post it somewhere where a lot of people will see it - like on Google Maps. Since the only real complaint about the dealership is a lack of responsiveness (they're using Honda's labor rates most likely) they can't really do anything about it.

Then I'd look for another brand of vehicle to replace your FCEV. The reality is that Honda doesn't care.

2018 Honda Clarity Touring PHEV - Forest Green w/Tan interior (wife's car)
2017 Volt LT - Heather Gray; black bow ties, Charcoal VoltShelf
2012 Cruze ECO MT (hail totaled 5/8/17 103,600 miles @42.5 MPG)
2010 Mit Lancer GT MT (traded for ECO @31K miles)
2002 Pont Montana AWD - title to son at college graduation
1990 Pont Transport (traded for Montana @240K miles)
1986 Fiero GT MT (traded for Transport - needed more seats)
1985 Fiero 2M4 MT (traded for Fiero GT @8K miles)
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post #8 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-23-2020, 10:52 AM
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So if this is a lease, won't you owe excessive miles at the end of the lease return ?

When I lease a car, I make sure I don't go over miles because not only does the warranty expire before lease end, but the cost per mile over the contracted miles would be expensive.
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post #9 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-23-2020, 02:14 PM Thread Starter
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2002, you are pretty close to the numbers. There were a few more items including more tire rotations. In order to be absolutely sure I follow the lease agreement for maintenance I have allowed the dealer to do all of the work with the exception of the tire. My monthly is $396 with taxes and I believe I put 3800ish down ( all in taxes, title, etc) and got 5k back from the state for a net gain of 1200 of course all but washed out by the last bill. I don't know if I can reset the messages. Honestly the car is not like a regular car so I'm much more timid in doing anything to it myself. If any lights come on I let the dealer handle it.

Obermd, I've tried really hard to give the dealer the benefit of the doubt but this last time I finally reached end of my rope. Everything is done via text including reviewing a $900 4 page invoice and even the $35k warranty work. Bizarro. Do the dealers really think i will review and pay a $900 invoice with my phone and then just come in a pick up the car and go home? I'm trying to figure out what to do. Honda America really does not care. I never received a single communication from them when there was no fuel. Nothing from them when my car was not drivable for 3 weeks and I was without a car. I've opened a case with Honda, haha, regarding the dealer experience with this car. Part of it is Honda's fault, part dealer fault. And then there's my fault for not understanding how it all works. I really thought there would be more interaction with Honda and the dealer regarding the hydrogen experience. The dealer doesn't even know there was a fuel shortage. They didn't know the tires cost so much either. They don't know what makes the whining noise. Honda reps who answer the phone don't know what a Clarity Fuel Cell model is. Sigh. This will be a failed experiment in California. Hope I'm wrong.

4Sally, mileage allowances are 20k per year. That was also a very attractive part of the lease. But, if you want free fuel then the approximate allowance is more like 16k miles/year. After that you will run out of $15k fuel money. The reality though is that it's hard to drive that many miles because you can't really go anywhere. Especially when fuel is scarce and/or hot summer months when the stations all break down. I no longer leave my area without a enough fuel to get home meaning I only fill up at the local stations. I would never trust a remote fuel station. A couple of close calls where I barely made it home and once I drove 20 miles past the 0 mark on miles remaining before empty.

I saw the $160 filter yesterday. Very small 3 pieces. Top part looks like a standard filter with the other parts looking like sponge type you would see in a fish aquarium filter. Anyway, I could not see why it costs $160 but that's Honda, not the dealer. With basic parts costing so much $280 'oil changes' and a $450 inspection requirement every so often even when still very new I just don't see how this car would be a good fit for most people. It's just too expensive and special. Hope this helps someone out there. I'm waiting out my final few months and hoping no more random expensive lights turn on.
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post #10 of 24 (permalink) Old 12-23-2020, 04:47 PM
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The main argument usually presented for hygrogen is the ability to fill at least nearly as fast as an ICE vehicle. This doesn't seem to be your experience.

Other than that, hydrogen is much more expensive and inefficient compared to plug-in vehicles. If CARB did not give such huge credits for hydrogen vehicles, Honda would either have a compelling BEV or need to buy credits from someone like Tesla. Part of the beauty of BEVs is the nearly complete elimination of scheduled maintenance items (nothing in the first 3 years besides cabin air filters and tire rotations - and the usual visual inspections).

And it looks like your dealer is maybe taking advantage of you.
What codes came up on the maintenance minder?
Per your list above, "2" is actually the code for the cabin air filter - "A" would be the ion exchange filter (and the cartridge is ~$30)
https://www.hondapartsnow.com/parts-...exchanger.html
"1" & "7" pop for all Clarity models at 3 years (BEV, FCX & PHEV). There is no real reason to change the brake fluid specifically at 3 years.

"9" is the big $ inspection - not sure how much disassembly is required to get to what they need to see.



The insulating fluid is not changed every 10-12K miles, but every 12 years. It is topped up at maintenance intervals.

If they are charging you "book rate" for those items, I think you deserve to see the book. A reputable dealer would be happy to do so. And there is no requirement that they be done by a Honda dealer to maintain your warranty. It wouldn't be the first case of the highest profit area of a dealership taking advantage of a customer.

Gary

2018 Clarity Electric (Vortex Blue)
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