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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I just paid $150.00 for diagnostic test to see why my car will not charge with 120Volt level 1 or 220Volt Level 2

I was told my onboard charger needs to be replaced at a cost of $6000.00 for the part plus $1000.00 installation. Two month wait to get the part and must pay for it now or they won't order it.

My car has 254,000 km on it 155,000 miles. I'm out warranty even though I bought an extended warranty

that expired at 200,000 km. My Clarity is less than three years old. Any advice or ideas are appreciated.
 

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Replacing the entire unit would be a rip-off. It’s very likely that there’s a failed component in there that costs less than 5 bucks to replace. In my opinion, this is probably not something you want to rely on a dealer to fix. They want to simply replace the whole thing. You need to find someone who is willing to take the unit apart and troubleshoot/repair it at the component level. The other option would be to look for a used/reconditioned unit. Unfortunately I do not know of anyone who does that type of repair but you’ve got to believe there is someone out there who can do it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I absolutely agree that it's a rip off. Even if i did pay to replace it, the new part is only guaranteed for 1 year or 20,000 km or 12,200 miles.

I could never recoup that money in fuel savings. Fixing what is wrong with it makes sense however trying to find someone who knows how, seems unlikely.

Thankfully I don't have to fix it. I'm going to contact Honda and complain, for what it's worth. With this I want to warn people what might happen. If I had known this I might have passed on buying this model. That said, up until this point I felt it was the best car I had ever bought.
 

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onboard charger needs to be replaced at a cost of $6000.00 for the part plus $1000.00 installation.
I am guessing that is CAD? If so that would be $4,700 and $780 USD.

Thankfully I don't have to fix it.
I assume you mean that you plan to just continue operating the car as a hybrid and not plug it in. There are people who do that, some people simply don't have a place to plug in, and others live where electricity is more expensive than gas. In those cases they use HV Charge to keep the battery charged, even though it will only charge it just over half way they can at least have the benefits of having some EV miles.

However if it can't be plugged in then the car is pretty much unsellable, although I can understand that investing $7,000 CAD in a car with 200,000 km on it is not much of an alternative either. I agree it is unlikely that you will find someone who can repair the charger, however if you can find a mechanic who can source the part from a salvage yard and also hopefully have lower labor cost. Although with the $1,000 quote from the dealer I am guessing the charger is buried somewhere that requires removing other parts to get to it, maybe even removing the HV battery.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yes I am talking about Canadian dollars. I'm not sure if HV charge mode would work or not. Yes I would just operate it as a hybrid vehicle and forget about plugging it in. You're right the car is unsellable however if I can keep driving it until the wheels fall off, I'm OK with that. What I just did was I called Honda and asked for mediation. I'm going to send them the diagnostic report and the cost estimate and see if there is any willingness on their part to negotiate. My thought is they should give me the part and charge me to have it installed. I would spend $1000.00 CAD to fix it. Then they could take my defective part and use it to research what caused it to fail and use that as a way to improve future chargers. I am probably dreaming that they will do this, but dreaming is free!
 

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Another thing to think about. I don’t know for sure but I would assume that the charging unit which receives external power from the J1772 receptacle on the car may be the same unit that also derives power from one of the motor/generators to charge the HV battery. Since the car is still operating correctly in that regard, one would assume that the problem with the “onboard charger” is fairly minor. In fact, for all you know, it could just be a faulty wire/connection between the onboard charger and the J1772 receptacle.

If I were you, I’d take it to another dealer and get a 2nd opinion and I’d also search for an ‘expert’ who might be able to give you a little insight. There must be someone who understands the inner workings of this thing that isn’t as greedy as your typical dealership.

Just a side story to demonstrate how greedy some dealers are: I have a friend who owns a Chevy Equinox. She is single and doesn’t speak English well. She took the car to the dealer for an oil change and they sent her home with a checklist of things that ‘urgently’ needed attention. The principal among these was the need to replace brake pads *and* rotors on all four wheels for which they wanted $600.

I looked at the brakes and determined that the pads were in need of replacement within the next six months (not quite worn down enough to cause the wear indicators to start squealing) and the rotors were in excellent shape with no need to replace. I bought pads for all four wheels for $50 and charged her a modest fee for my labor to replace them. Saved her $500.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
It says they checked the wire continuity. It passed those checks. according to Honda trouble shooting the next step is to replace the battery charger.

Second opinions cost $150.00 each.
 

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Here’s something that might yield some leads: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronics_right_to_repair

There is a growing movement among consumers to demystify the internal workings of electronic devices and to require that companies supply information that would allow an individual to repair them. It might be worth requesting full documentation from Honda using this premise. If documentation including schematics, parts lists, and theory of operation were available for the onboard charger I think you’d find a number of folks who might be willing to repair them at competitive rates.
 

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I'm not sure if HV charge mode would work or not.
If the car continues to operate normally in HV mode then HV Charge will work, as it's just a software routine that changes the HV priorities for maintaining battery charge. Normal HV uses the gas engine to charge the battery, but only up to the "set point" which is the SOC level that it was at when it switched to HV. Or in other words the approximate number of EV miles remaining when it switched to HV. Once you get down to 0 EV miles however it stays there and will not charge back up above 0 miles, unless you are going down a steep hill that generates a lot of regen.

The only difference with HV Charge is that it uses a fixed set point of 58% SOC regardless of what the SOC was when you activated HV Charge. So if for example you are down to 0 EV miles and you switch on HV Charge it will charge to 58%. People who use HV Charge say that the effect on mpg is not that noticeable compared to regular HV. It changes the engine sounds somewhat, as you would expect the engine will run more often and at higher revs than regular HV, but it's not that bad.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
You are correct. HV charge mode does work. I tried it today on my way home. So why won't it charge through the plug port? Isn't that part of the same system for charging the battery? I agree that replacing the entire unit instead of fixing what has gone wrong with it is total BS.
 

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You are correct. HV charge mode does work. I tried it today on my way home. So why won't it charge through the plug port? Isn't that part of the same system for charging the battery? I agree that replacing the entire unit instead of fixing what has gone wrong with it is total BS.
Two separate systems. One of the two electric motors is connected to the gas engine, it is used as a starter motor to spin the engine at startup, then when the engine is running the motor acts as a generator (powered by the engine) providing electricity either to the traction motor to drive the wheels, or to the battery to recharge it. The charging system meanwhile has a completely different task, it receives 120 or 240 AC power and converts it to high voltage DC and sends it to the battery for charging. Same end result, electricity is sent to the battery, but coming from two different power sources. Sort of like the difference between a backup electrical generator at your house and the main power lines coming in. End result is electricity to power your refrigerator, but coming from two completely different sources.

I'm still hoping that you can find a lower cost replacement solution if Honda chooses not to help out.
 

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Wow dude that is a lot of miles in 3 years. Personally I would not sink money into a car with that many miles. As you said, you can just continue to drive the wheels off as if it was a regular (non-plug-in) hybrid car, and that is probably your best bet financially. If you want to get back to a fully functioning PHEV, you could trade it in on a new one, although you won't get much trade-in value for it. With that many miles, the trade value would not be a lot anyway, even if it was in perfect condition. Or, seeing that it is perfectly drivable as it stands, you could sell it outright with proper disclosure of the charging issue and priced accordingly. Not everyone can plug in, and it's pretty nice as a regular hybrid, so I bet someone would snap it up if the price was right. It's way nicer driving than something like say a Prius, and gets better gas mileage than most ICE cars.

When I bought mine, I did it with the expectation that I was buying an experiment. For what it cost me after dealer discounts and federal tax credit, I figure if the car makes it to 100,000 miles, it's paid for itself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I agree that the car is basically still experimental. I too received a huge rebate, $14,000.00 CAD when I bought it in February 2018. The car has already paid for itself twice since I started doing ride share with it, part time! That's the reason the mileage is huge. My plan is to keep it and drive it till it drops. I won't spend huge money to fix the AC charging system, I agree that makes no sense. Thankfully that's all that's wrong with the car. BTW I'm still on the original brakes! There is a hybrid specialist mechanics shop in my city. I've contacted them to see if what I have got can be fixed not swapped like Honda wants to do. All the dealer knows how to do is R&R. No thinking involved in that.
 

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You are correct. HV charge mode does work. I tried it today on my way home. So why won't it charge through the plug port? Isn't that part of the same system for charging the battery? I agree that replacing the entire unit instead of fixing what has gone wrong with it is total BS.
The car's charger also contains an AD/DC rectifier so the battery only deals with DC power. Regenerative braking and HC Charge mode provide DC power directly to the battery. Honda is gouging on the price of the charger.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
It looks like your wife has the identical car to mine color and all. Yes Honda is gouging on the price. Let this be a warning to you all, what could happen, especially if you are out of warranty. Regardless it's still an amazing machine. I just hope nothing else goes wrong. I can still drive it, that's what matters the most.
 

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I just reread your initial post. The Chevy Volt's weak point is the J1772 charging port on the car. If it cracks the J1772 plug doesn't make good contact with the control lines. This will also show the exact same symptoms you're seeing.

Another reason I'd look elsewhere than the on-board charger is that even the DC input from the EV and ICE motors does get managed by the charger, even though there's no AC/DC rectification occurring. Have a good mechanic do an electrical connectivity test of this port before shelling out the money for the charger.
 
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