Major gear mode issue/car turned OFF

Discussion in 'Clarity' started by Douglas Firs, Jun 14, 2019.

  1. Douglas Firs

    Douglas Firs Member

    Had 5 bars of battery left. As soon as we hit big SF hills, car goes into gear mode and does not go off even after we go downhill. Tried toggling EV/ HV, nothing. Turned car off, and it went back to EV when it came back on. As soon as we hit another big hill, went right back to gear mode. When we got to our garage a mile later, it put ITSELF into park and then turned off. This is very, very disconcerting.

    An important detail: despite having 5 bars on display, est. range was low. Every time it dipped under 5 miles, it went into gear mode. Wondering if the car didn’t realize how much juice was left? Maybe forcing shut down was the car thinking battery was critically low? Or maybe it WAS low and the gauge was wrong?? I forgot to check HondaLink when we got home to see the actual percentage but the car charged pretty fast, so I know it had a decent amount of battery left.

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  2. stacey burke

    stacey burke Member

  3. Douglas Firs

    Douglas Firs Member

    We did not run down the EV. This was on a trip back from Tahoe to SF, all in HV mode and HV charge going downhill EXCEPT for a gas stop off and two hills where we didn’t want to hear angry bees. The car drew down from the battery consistently through the trip. This issue ONLY happened when we hit the big SF hills.

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  4. Douglas Firs

    Douglas Firs Member

    PS I want to reiterate that the car had plenty of charge left based on the recharge time. At least 25% if not more.

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  5. stacey burke

    stacey burke Member

    You did run down the EV. When you are using HV it keeps the EV charge near what it was when you started the HV. IF you started HV at the beginning, say having 45 EV it would have KEPT the EV near45 and you would have plenty to go up any big hills. I live in Colorado and drive over the Continental Divide several times a year (275 miles one way). I did experience what you did the first time I drove to Denver. On the way back I did put it in HV before I even left the driveway. I have done this now at least 5 trips and never except for the first time have I had this problem....
    fotomoto likes this.
  6. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member

    Do you really mean "gear mode" as in the gear icon appearing between the wheels:


    I've never seen our Clarity stay in gear mode as you've described. Accelerating up a hill will take our Clarity out of "gear mode," as will allowing the speed to dip below 42 mph.

    When you got to your garage a mile later, did you open the door? That would cause your Clarity to put ITSELF into park and then turn off.
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  7. Douglas Firs

    Douglas Firs Member

    Look, no offense but you don’t understand this situation. We had a full charge when we left. We had 5 bars 7 miles from home, and the EV bars drew down consistently the whole time, and didn’t go down dramatically even when we started having the engine issue in SF. The car recharged less than 3 hours after we got home. It takes 4.5 when it is completely drained.

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  8. Douglas Firs

    Douglas Firs Member

    Our car is not hooked up to garage door opener. I cannot be sure that it was just revving high or in gear mode except for the fact that it sounded exactly like it does in gear mode, even when going down hills. Whatever the case, it did not understand that there was substantial charge in the battery and was going haywire.

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  9. JCA

    JCA Member

    I'm sorry, need to clarify this, since I haven't cleaned out my garage enough to bring the car in yet, nor have I programmed the opener. Are you suggesting that when you press a Homelink button the car goes to Park and shuts off? That would be very weird and annoying behavior, since generally once the door opens...I want to continue driving into the garage. Perhaps I'm misunderstanding.

    Edited to say: Oh never mind, I think you meant "open the car door", not "open the garage door", in which case I agree. Leaving my stupid reading and correction here in case others read it wrong first too.
  10. Douglas Firs

    Douglas Firs Member

    Want to also clarify that this did not happen until we hit Divisidero from Lombard. For those that are not familiar with this street, it is 22% grade and lots of traffic = lots of power needed. It’s entirely possible that, because we we burning a **** ton of battery on this hill, it assumed we would burn through it all quickly. At any rate, what sucks is a) feeling anxious about the car’s performance and b) the fact that it shut itself off.

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  11. Douglas Firs

    Douglas Firs Member

    Ok so husband is now telling me, because he was pulling into the garage, that he DID open the door when the car was still on to make sure that the door wouldn’t hit garage (we *barely* fit in. 8 inches on either side). This was a first for him, and I chalk it up to driving 200 miles with an angry toddler.So that solves that. Thank GOD.

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  12. LegoZ

    LegoZ Active Member

    Oh driving with angry children is so fun when other things seem to be falling apart around you. Some things for anyone with a LONG uphill pull there are usually pull offs, I would recommend if you have the time and are concerned pulling off and putting the car in HV Charge mode. Sit there for a while and let the car build up charge. Also if you are aware of this coming up way ahead of time keep the car on with all accessories off including headlights and ac and keep it in HV mode when refueling, this will prevent the downward creep of EV Range as you won’t have to keep reactivating HV More which sets the hold at a new slightly lower battery level each time.
  13. craze1cars

    craze1cars Well-Known Member

    This is an extremely confusing thread. Douglas Firs I think it is because you are using the term “gear mode” for something that has nothing to do with “gear mode”.

    This is causing great confusion and nobody understands what actually happened with your car.

    My suspicion is you mean to say the car engine was loud and revving at high rpm. Some here describe it as “angry bees” where the engine is racing at seemingly odd times. Is this what happened? If yes, it is honestly the polar opposite of what gear mode does...thus our confusion.

    Please start over and use layman’s terms of what the car was doing and reexplain, not using slang or terms from this forum. Then maybe some of us can interpret this better and advise of what may have happened and if it is actual problem, or simply normal operation of the car in a manner you simply hadn’t yet experienced.
  14. insightman

    insightman Well-Known Member

    I'm sorry I didn't write that when you open the CAR door, the Clarity puts itself in Park.

    You don't seem to be using the phrase "gear mode" in the same way others on this forum understand it. I believe that when you hit the big SF hills, your Clarity's engine started up. Then you turned off your Clarity to get the engine to stop running. Before you pulled over and turned off your Clarity, you likely heard the engine running at what sounded like high RPMs, which doesn't happen in "gear mode."

    "Gear mode" is something that happens only in HV (which I personally maintain stands for "Hybrid Vehicle").

    When you press the HV button to tell the Clarity you want to preserve the current state-of-charge in the battery, the Clarity primarily uses the engine to power the car (although it can still shut off the engine in HV). When you're cruising in HV at speeds greater than 45 mph the Clarity may choose to use its most efficient method of propulsion, Engine Drive mode. In Engine Drive mode, the Clarity activates a clutch that connects the engine directly to the gears that drive the wheels. Only in this mode will you hear the engine speed vary in proportion to the road speed instead of racing at higher RPMs. The Clarity indicates Engine Drive mode (or "gear mode") is active by turning on a gear icon between the wheels on the Energy Flow display:

    Last edited: Jun 14, 2019
  15. JCA

    JCA Member

    With the first mystery solved (car automatically goes to Park when door opened, which people may or may not like but is by design), let's focus on the second. Moving past the "gear mode" terminology, which does have an implication that isn't really relevant here -- I think what was meant is that the engine was coming on up the hill, and staying on at high revs going down hills also.

    OP -- do you know if the car was in Econ, Sport, or Normal (neither Econ nor Sport) mode?

    I haven't had the pleasure of driving my Clarity on that part of Divisadero yet; it was certainly fun in a manual transmission Neon! If you accelerate bringing the power meter into the white zone (in Econ mode that *generally* means pushing the pedal past the detent; in Normal or Sport mode it will occur before the detent), the engine will come on. Dragging a 4000 pound car up those steep hills could certainly require engine on and revving pretty high to gain/maintain speed. And I wouldn't be that surprised to find that a steep enough hill could cause it to come on even in Econ below the detent.

    And while I know you weren't in HV mode asking the car to maintain charge, I wouldn't be surprised if the computer, after sensing heavy load for a significant time, is programmed to continue trying to maintain or bring up the charge a bit before letting the engine go idle/off when the load is reduced on the downhill, in case there are more hills coming soon.

    Other than the noise, did the car ever feel like it was losing power or wasn't *driving* properly? This can be hard to tell, because some people on hearing the engine rev back off on the accelerator, thinking they lost power when they really didn't. That happened to me the first time I drove our Highlander Hybrid up a hill, saying "whoa" and backing off, then realizing it was perfectly normal for the engine to rev higher to generate more power, and that unlike downshifting wrong in my old Neon, it wasn't going to over-rev and get damaged and I should just drive the car and not worry about it.
  16. Douglas Firs

    Douglas Firs Member

    Since there is no way of editing/deleting this thread to get the confusion out of the way here are the facts, taking into account that there is no way of knowing for sure that we were in gear mode. [All I know is that what we heard yesterday is exactly what the car sounded like the time we drove through the city when we purposefully depleted the battery to see how it drove. And my understanding -- which I guess is wrong -- is that it will go into gear mode without EV left. It's worth noting, though, that the car didn't randomly rev angry bees. It only became loud when we hit a hill and then didn't stop being loud even when we came down.]

    1. We started a 200 mile trip from Tahoe to SF with a full charge.

    2. About 80 of those miles was downhill driving through the mountains. About 115 was highway driving. 5 city, with 1.5 or so involving incredibly steep trafficky hills.

    3. We were in HV for almost the entire trip (we put it into EV for a couple mountain hills and for a gas stop off, and then switched when we got to SF). Towards the end, we put it in HV Charge when going downhill to get some battery back. The battery drew down the entire trip EVEN when we were in HV. Start of trip = full charge. End of trip = 5 bars. We drove in normal mode (not sport or econ) the whole time.

    4. We drove EV when we got to SF. Again, 5 bars of battery showing. There was no issue until we hit Divisidero, the 22% steep grade hill, with bumper to bumper traffic going up. When we ascend, the engine comes on, and extremely loudly, despite there being 5 bars of battery left. I forgot to mention that the blue lines (indicating EV use) on the "tachometer" went completely away. Lines turned all white and stayed white. This, to me, suggests that the car thought that battery was entirely drained.

    5. After we climbed the hill, the engine did not calm down. There was no revving up and down - just a constant very high rev. We tried toggling EV/HV, nothing happened. When we got to a light, we turned the car off and back on, car went back to EV. EV restored, blue lines back on tach.

    6. As soon as we hit another hill--not that big--the engine goes on again very loudly, and again, despite the fact that there is significant battery left. Same deal as before - does not go off when we get over hill. Tach stays white.

    7. insightman helps us discover that you shouldn't open your door while still in drive :) i.e. the car parks itself and shuts off. MYSTERY SOLVED

    8. This might be a red herring, but it's worth noting that the car had no issues at all when I was cruising around the mountains in the Sierra. I posted previously that I drove 67 miles up and down steep hills on EV, and still had EV left. This engine issue never happened.

    So here are my questions:

    1) Why did the car think there was no battery left when there clearly was (and a healthy amount of it! Again, 5 bars on display, battery drew down consistently throughout the trip i.e. nothing funky happened on the display towards the end, and car charged in an amount of time that would suggest it had at least 30%) I will most certainly be taking the car in to be seen because of this and other issues (burning plastic smell from the engine after hauling UP the foothills of the Sierra) but my guess is that the hill was so steep and we were going so slow that the car thought we would rip through the whole battery to a critically low level, and thus blocked us from any EV use. What doesn't make sense to me is that it didn't recalibrate once we went downhill/flat and it only went back to EV after shutting it off...but then only for a little while before we got to another much less intense hill.

    2) Assuming that the car was "right" about there being no battery left, why did the engine continue to rev high, even after we started going downhill...and when we were driving on flat road?
  17. Douglas Firs

    Douglas Firs Member

    We had a fun manual 2000 Toyota Echo before this! I avoided Divis like the plague after rolling back and stalling out on it when we first moved to SF...

    See my new post, the #1 issue is, why did the car think there wasn't any battery left?? Your theory on why it continued to rev high (to generate charge) after climbing the hill makes sense.

    I don't know about the power issue. I feel like that can be psychosomatic. If I were driving, I would probably perceive a power issue because the engine sounded so troubling, but as a passenger, it didn't seem to struggle. Or at least, not like our Echo did!
  18. JCA

    JCA Member

    Let me start with "gear mode". There are 3 "power source" modes in the Clarity. I'm using Honda's terms from page 14 of the 2019 manual:

    1) Electric (EV) -- electric motor driving the wheels, with the electricity coming solely from the battery.

    2) Hybrid -- electric motor driving the wheels, with the electricity coming from the battery and/or the engine (used as a generator). This is almost always the mode that you get when you accelerate hard, hear angry or busy bees depending on your perspective, etc. I strongly believe this is the mode you're talking about, and recommend you just call it Hybrid, engine running, EV off, or anything, but not "gear mode" because that's confusing people.

    3) Engine -- engine is coupled directly to the wheels. This is what people here call "gear mode" (because it's "indicated by the gear icon" per the manual). This only happens at certain higher speed ranges under steady highway speeds. When coupled like this, there's only one gear ratio, so you'd never get particularly high revs in this mode (unless you were driving 150 MPH, which A. isn't possible in this car, and B. probably wouldn't result in gear mode anyway :)

    Important not to confuse "Hybrid" here with the "HV" switch where you ask the car to try to hold a charge level (which will result in a mix of all of the above driving modes).

    Now, to some of the other points:

    - You mention the power meter turning all white -- I'm pretty sure that happens any time the engine is running; it doesn't mean the car thinks the battery is depleted. You only get a blue portion of the bar when you're actually back in EV mode. If the engine stays running for whatever reason (because it hasn't warmed up yet, because it's anticipating another hill, etc), the bar will stay all white until the engine actually shuts off. I'll double check this later today.

    - Note that 5 bars is really just 3 bars to EV-range-0, which occurs at 2 (sometimes 3) bars. Again, no idea if there are different algorithms for anticipating loads/hills when the charge is at higher or lower levels within the "EV remaining" range. A battery at a low state of charge may well not be able to generate the same peak power, so while for normal driving the battery might be treated as "empty" at 2 bars only, under heavy repeated loads it might do so at 3-4-5. Remember that the battery system in the Clarity can't provide all of the instantaneous current the motor can use even at high charge; that's why the engine has to kick on to add on a boost under heavy acceleration.

    Honestly, the burning smell is the main thing I'd be concerned about and have them check for oil leaks or other issues. The other behavior really doesn't sound unexpected for the kind of driving you were doing. The Clarity is not an SUV with a smooth V-8 powering it up any hill, nor is it a Tesla with a huge high battery pack silently zipping up those same hills. But it doesn't pretend to be either of those; it's a hybrid with enough electric oomph to handle 99% of driving, and a "lawnmower" engine that can be pushed hard to handle the rest. And it's quite a bit cheaper than either of those :)
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  19. Douglas Firs

    Douglas Firs Member

    HV mode makes sense based on your description. Honestly, even when I look at the power use graphic thingy, it often does not make sense when compared to what I *think* the car is doing (but I am aware that the gear icon pops this circumstance we weren't looking at the graphic, hence my incorrect guess)

    I think there is no doubt that the car did funky things when we hit that hill, and whatever it did was a result of the power needed to get us over the hump. But what was most perplexing was the fact that it never went blue/back into EV until we turned the car off and then on again. Like, it seemed stuck in whatever algorithm it went into on the hill and didn't recalibrate when it no longer needed that much energy. Since we've never encountered this issue before, I'm not SUPER concerned about it, at least not from a car losing power standpoint. It's just really unpleasant to drive when the engine is revving that high when it shouldn't be. There's a reason why we all maximize charge on this car!!
  20. Douglas Firs

    Douglas Firs Member

    Oops and one more thing - my recollection is that when you're in EV mode and the engine turns on, you still have blue bar. BUT I don't entirely trust my memory, and it's clear we were watching the "tach" like a hawk when the engine was going it could be the case that it's always white when engine is on, as you point out. You learn something new every day!

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