Loss of Battery Capacity Over Time - 2018 Honda Clarity Forum
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post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-09-2020, 04:29 PM Thread Starter
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Loss of Battery Capacity Over Time

I have a 2018 Clarity and for the most part a happy customer. I've learned to deal with the fact that my dogs are going to regularly set the brake-hold and other transmission buttons (wish they weren't face up as if inviting my dogs paws); however, the steady decline in EV battery life over the past 2 years is getting me really mad. I only use the Level 1 charger that came with the car and recharge nightly. When I first got the car, I was excited to see anywhere from 54-57 EV range reported. The first winter it dropped into the low 40s but rebounded the next summer to right around 50. This past winter it dropped back into the upper 30s and never rebounded even as the Arizona temps got into the 100's. I finally took to dealer today who said there is nothing wrong with the car or battery....and nothing they can do about it. The car is still under warranty yet I've lost over 25% of my advertised EV range and this isn't a problem? If it was a gasoline only engine and in 2 years the MPG dropped by 25% in a vehicle below what it was advertised to provide, wouldn't someone other than the owner agree there is a problem?


Anyone else with a 2 year old Clarity seeing loss of EV range?
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post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-09-2020, 05:39 PM
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Something's not right with your car. My wife's 2018 Clarity Touring hasn't seen this issue. How is the gas (ICE) MPG? Is it still in the low 40s or has it dropped as well?

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post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-09-2020, 07:31 PM
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I have a 2018 and recently seeing full charge EV ranges as high as 57 miles. This has been primarily due to construction on my usual interstate route (70 mph speed limit), so I've been using an alternate route on county roads at slower speeds. Also, temperatures have been moderate so that I can drive all the way to work in the morning with climate system off.
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post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-09-2020, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by mikem12345 View Post
I have a 2018 Clarity and for the most part a happy customer. I've learned to deal with the fact that my dogs are going to regularly set the brake-hold and other transmission buttons (wish they weren't face up as if inviting my dogs paws); however, the steady decline in EV battery life over the past 2 years is getting me really mad. I only use the Level 1 charger that came with the car and recharge nightly. When I first got the car, I was excited to see anywhere from 54-57 EV range reported. The first winter it dropped into the low 40s but rebounded the next summer to right around 50. This past winter it dropped back into the upper 30s and never rebounded even as the Arizona temps got into the 100's. I finally took to dealer today who said there is nothing wrong with the car or battery....and nothing they can do about it. The car is still under warranty yet I've lost over 25% of my advertised EV range and this isn't a problem? If it was a gasoline only engine and in 2 years the MPG dropped by 25% in a vehicle below what it was advertised to provide, wouldn't someone other than the owner agree there is a problem?
The first question we always ask is whether driving conditions or routes have changed. Prior to Covid-19 many people spent each day in stop and go traffic, then suddenly they had the freeway to themselves and were zipping along at 70 mph, which takes a huge hit on EV range.

I am guessing that is not the case for you and you are experiencing much greater than normal battery degradation. Possible causes are the temperatures in the 100's of degrees, not the greatest for a lithium-ion battery. Not that this fully explains it as Clarity has pretty sophisticated battery management, but if the battery was already weak for some other reason the high temperatures may have exacerbated the problem. Another possibility, do you have an idea how long the car sat on the dealer lot? Compare the manufacture date on the driver door jamb with the date of purchase, there is evidence that many dealers do not check and maintain the HV battery level during the sometimes months that a car sat on their lot, and if an HV battery were to fully deplete that would not be a good thing as far as battery life (especially if the battery sat dead in 100+ weather).

Whatever the cause, the important thing going forward is to get your HV battery capacity checked at the dealer. Many people find that if you tell the dealer that the capacity check was not done during PDI like it should have been, they will do it for free. Other dealers will do it for free anyway. Others will try and charge you for it. But even then it shouldn't cost that much because all they do is hook the car up to their i-HDS computer and go to the Electric Powertrain page and look at the Battery Pack Capacity, which is a constantly updated value that is stored in the computer. A result less than 36.6 Ah qualifies for warranty replacement. Most people with healthy batteries get a result in the 50's. If it's lower than that but still above 36.6 Ah they won't replace the battery. But all is not lost since you will now have a numeric value confirming what you are experiencing, and which you can compare with future tests that you can have done, say annually, to see if it declines further or if it stabilizes. The battery warranty is 8 years/100,000 miles (longer in California) so if the capacity drops below 36.6 Ah during that time then you get a new battery.
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post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-10-2020, 09:57 AM
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Thread moved to: Honda Clarity Complaints, Issues And Problems
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post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-10-2020, 10:46 AM Thread Starter
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The first question we always ask is whether driving conditions or routes have changed. Prior to Covid-19 many people spent each day in stop and go traffic, then suddenly they had the freeway to themselves and were zipping along at 70 mph, which takes a huge hit on EV range.

I am guessing that is not the case for you and you are experiencing much greater than normal battery degradation. Possible causes are the temperatures in the 100's of degrees, not the greatest for a lithium-ion battery. Not that this fully explains it as Clarity has pretty sophisticated battery management, but if the battery was already weak for some other reason the high temperatures may have exacerbated the problem. Another possibility, do you have an idea how long the car sat on the dealer lot? Compare the manufacture date on the driver door jamb with the date of purchase, there is evidence that many dealers do not check and maintain the HV battery level during the sometimes months that a car sat on their lot, and if an HV battery were to fully deplete that would not be a good thing as far as battery life (especially if the battery sat dead in 100+ weather).

Whatever the cause, the important thing going forward is to get your HV battery capacity checked at the dealer. Many people find that if you tell the dealer that the capacity check was not done during PDI like it should have been, they will do it for free. Other dealers will do it for free anyway. Others will try and charge you for it. But even then it shouldn't cost that much because all they do is hook the car up to their i-HDS computer and go to the Electric Powertrain page and look at the Battery Pack Capacity, which is a constantly updated value that is stored in the computer. A result less than 36.6 Ah qualifies for warranty replacement. Most people with healthy batteries get a result in the 50's. If it's lower than that but still above 36.6 Ah they won't replace the battery. But all is not lost since you will now have a numeric value confirming what you are experiencing, and which you can compare with future tests that you can have done, say annually, to see if it declines further or if it stabilizes. The battery warranty is 8 years/100,000 miles (longer in California) so if the capacity drops below 36.6 Ah during that time then you get a new battery.
I'm driving much less due to COVID, but reduction in capacity was prior to COVID and gradual. The 36 EV range I'm quoting is what the car shows me consistently after a full charge and it doesn't seem to matter if it is after being fully depleted battery or only partial. It started the first winter (2018) by dropping to the mid-40s, then rebounded to upper 40s summer 2019, then dropped to upper 30s in winter 2019 and did not rebound at all this summer. Service department at dealership yesterday said they hooked up laptop and it showed everything was fine. I asked for a printout showing capacity, but was told there was nothing to print out. I went up to Service Director who is investigating this further and supposed to call me back today. Only other person I know who also has Clarity here in Phoenix is seeing similar behavior, but not frustrated enough to take it to the dealer yet. I know the big dealership I bought from isn't showcasing Clarity vehicles anymore or even carrying them on the lot, so I'm curious if Honda decided maybe the Clarity isn't a good fit for AZ temperatures over the long term. Just speculation though, nobody at dealership seems to know.
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post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-10-2020, 01:59 PM
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Service department at dealership yesterday said they hooked up laptop and it showed everything was fine. I asked for a printout showing capacity, but was told there was nothing to print out. I went up to Service Director who is investigating this further and supposed to call me back today.
It is typical for dealers to not be aware that there even is battery capacity information. But if you tell them what I said, Electric Powertrain page, look for Battery Pack Capacity, you should get better results. If they still question this tell them to look up Honda Service Bulletin 17-093 which covers PDI items for the 2018 Clarity, on the last page is where it tells them how to check the battery pack capacity. Actually ask them to print the page showing the Battery Pack Capacity so that you will have a copy.

As for not seeing very many Clarities on the lot anymore in Arizona, after 2018 Honda pretty much stopped shipping Clarity outside of California. They exist outside of California but not very many and are relatively hard to find. Many theories about why this is, the most likely one being that Honda makes little if any profit on the Clarity, combined with it being in a category of vehicle (PHEV) that few people seem to know even exists, and with continued low gas prices there just isn't much interest right now in this type of car, although I think there eventually will be.

As for compatibility with Arizona, from what we know the Clarity battery management system is quite sophisticated and includes battery cooling, however this is only available while the car is running or while it is charging. If the car sits for hours in direct sun in a parking lot in 105 degree temperature that makes things somewhat rough for the battery, but we really don't know how much if any harm that it actually causes.

Besides high temperatures, another thing that is believed to be bad for battery life is for the battery to be charged to 100%, made worse if it sits fully charged for a long time. Now there is a lot of debate about this as critics of this idea point out that 100% on the gauge is not a full charge, as there is a sizable buffer left on the upper end specifically for this reason. However there is a lot of evidence from battery experience in other electric vehicles that although the buffer helps quite a bit, keeping it charged less than 90% (probably around 80% actual charge) helps even more. And that would seem to be especially true in hot weather.

But for Clarity we really don't know whether this helps or not, or whether it is worth giving up some EV range just for a theoretical extension of long term battery life. However many people's charging habit is whenever they arrive home they plug in and immediately start charging to full, even when they know they won't use a full charge the next day, or they don't expect to even drive anywhere the next day. Maybe that's fine and makes no difference, not enough data to prove one way or the other. But I suspect that this method, although certainly the easiest, may not be the best for battery life, especially in a very hot climate. Unfortunately to charge less than 100% you have to use scheduled charging and estimate all of this yourself. Although using the app works well for me and with a little practice it's not that bad. What I do is if I am pretty sure that I won't need a full charge the next day, I charge to about 85%. If I guess wrong and I drive more than I expected, oh well I burn a little bit of gasoline. However when I know I will use a full charge I do charge to 100%, but I set the timer so that it reaches full less than an hour before I plan to leave. Maybe you already do all of this but if not it's something to consider.
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post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-16-2020, 07:18 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for all the information! The Service Director at the dealership called me back. He said he had some more information from Honda Engineering and was supposed to contact me this week for a follow-up service appointment. I'll share this info when/if the appointment ever happens. I would categorize myself as a "lazy" charger. I used the app to schedule appointments for a while, but with only a Level 1 charger (takes 12-14 hrs to fully charge) and then getting burned on nights when I'd get home after the scheduled appointment time resulting in no charging occurring for the night, I gave it up. Whenever I get back in the garage, I plug in charger and leave it until next vehicle use.
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post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-16-2020, 08:11 PM
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Thank you for all the information! The Service Director at the dealership called me back. He said he had some more information from Honda Engineering and was supposed to contact me this week for a follow-up service appointment. I'll share this info when/if the appointment ever happens. I would categorize myself as a "lazy" charger. I used the app to schedule appointments for a while, but with only a Level 1 charger (takes 12-14 hrs to fully charge) and then getting burned on nights when I'd get home after the scheduled appointment time resulting in no charging occurring for the night, I gave it up. Whenever I get back in the garage, I plug in charger and leave it until next vehicle use.
I can understand not using scheduled charging, but if you ever do start using it again, when you arrive home after the scheduled start time you have a couple of options as I mentioned in another thread. The easiest is to use the key fob to start charging. Although that will charge to full it won't stop at whatever your scheduled stop time was, although your schedule will remain in the system and will run again the next day. Another method if you want it to stop at the previously scheduled time, then instead of using the fob to start charging, use the app to modify the scheduled start time to be five minutes from now (whatever is the next five minute increment) but leave the ending time the same. After a few minutes when the charge session starts, you can modify the start time back to what it originally was, and it will all be back to normal for tomorrow's session. I do it right then because otherwise I will forget and tomorrow it will start at the later time if I forget to change it back. Now if you are trying to get in X number of hours during the session and are starting late, then while you are in there modifying the start time you can set a new end time also. Then again once the new session starts you can immediately use the app to modify the schedule back to what it was.

I have a bigger reason to do all of this which is I have a very cheap time of use rate from 11:00 pm to 7:00 am (five cents per kWh including all taxes) and so that's when I try and do all of my charging, so I use the scheduler almost every night. It's slow using the app, it sometimes takes a minute for it to acknowledge things, but I'm on my couch watching TV while I'm doing it so no big deal.
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post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 09-17-2020, 11:53 AM
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I have a 2018 with 27,000 miles over 15 months while living in Wisconsin. Last summer and fall my SOC got as high as 62 during warm (seldom hot) weather, occasionally tacking on a few more additional actual miles driving under optimal conditions. During this second summer my highest SOC was 57 under very similar driving patterns, anecdotally speaking. Over the entire 15 months I typically charge the battery every day overnight. Now in mid-september I am routinely getting a SOC of 51-53, so I think I have experienced some battery degradation which I would estimate at about 10%.
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